Get to know what it’s like to visit this destination.
Getting To Know St Lucia – Cruise Port Guide
If there is one island in the Caribbean where you’ll want to return to year after year, as there is so much to see and do, it is definitely St. Lucia. From a cruise ship perspective, docking in the capital of Castries on the north west coast, provides the main gateway to experience what St. Lucia has to offer. As with many Caribbean islands, this is a destination on a cruise that really should be a place you plan a day away from the town in which you dock. Castries really does not have much to offer but provides sufficient transport options with the amount of willing taxi drivers to take you to all corners of the island. Let our St Lucia cruise port guide point you in the right direction.
The signature image and icons of St Lucia are Gros Piton and Petit Piton, two old volcanic spines that rise majestically 2000 feet out of the sea in the south of the island. When you see these twin peaks appear out of the sea mist, you know exactly which island you are approaching. They are situated near to the town of Soufriere, itself a major highlight with its abundance of tourist attractions including the Sourfriere Estate, Rabot Estate where Hotel Chocolat grow and harvest their cocoa beans and botanical gardens and waterfalls aplenty.
To the north of Castries is the main resort and hotel area of the island, the area of Gros Islet on Rodney Bay. Reduit Beach (pronounced red-wee) is considered to be the best beach on the island and is set in the area of Rodney Bay, with the marinas, shops and restaurants of Rodney Bay Village, including the Bay Walk Shopping Mall, providing ample opportunities for tourists to get everything from a day at the beach.
St Lucian currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar which is set against the US Dollar at a rate of 2.7XCD to 1 USD. US Dollars are widely accepted currency across the island however, just make sure when asking for prices you check what it is you are being quoted in or what is being displayed, especially when negotiating with taxi drivers, or when dining in restaurants.
The Port of Castries has two berths for cruise ships, so its worth making sure you orientate yourself pre arrival. The berth at Pointe Seraphine is better set up for those people who like to shop and also have a drink and grab some light bites within easy distance of the ship. It is an open air shopping precinct and has a good tourist information booth and also a self contained car parking area for all taxis and tour transports. On the opposite side of the harbour you find the Port Castries berth, known as the Place Carenage. Here you come off the ship onto a very narrow quayside, which is quite busy as it is also the commercial port of Castries. Where the excursion transports go from is near to where all the containers are located and it is a bit hectic in this area.
For independents, you have to head out through the Place Carenage shopping area and onto the street to get the taxis; inside the shopping area there is a good duty free, some jewellery stores and souvenirs store, but not as many as at Pointe Seraphine, and a tourist information stand. The fact that the harbour separates the two berths should not pose a problem though, as if you wish to head to the opposite one, as a small water taxi goes between the two across the harbour, and this is usually around $5USD per person for a round trip ticket.
Whilst it might seem idyllic and romantic to find yourself a secluded beach to call your own for the day, it is always best to stick to the popular beach areas for extra security. Whilst it does get busy, Reduit Beach is only around 20-30 minutes from the port and provides ample services for a day soaking up the Caribbean sun and drinking a local Piton Beer.
Destination photos courtesy of Sam Whiteside ©
Key highlights of St Lucia
- The Pitons
- Drive in Volcano
- Sulphur Springs
- Diamond Botanical Gardens
- Rabot Estate
- Toraille Waterfall
- Sapphire Falls
- The Tet Paul Nature Trail
- Morne Coubaril Historical Adventure Park
- St Lucia Distillers Rhythm of Rum Tour
- Rainforest Adventures St Lucia
- Aerial Tram
- Zip Lining
- Jacquot Trail
- Pigeon Island National Park
- Signal Peak
- Fort Rodney
- Pigeon Island Beach
- SNUBA Adventure
- Rodney Bay
- Reduit Beach
- Rodney Bay Village and Marina
Regular cruise line visitors
- Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
- P&O Cruises
- SAGA Cruises
Cruise Expert Insider 🔎 St Lucia by Sam Whiteside
With so much to see and so much to do on this island but usually so little time, just means you’ll have to book another No Fly Cruise to come back. I have always found that when I visit this island I am torn between the natural wonder of Soufriere and the Pitons, and just lying on a beach with a rum punch. What I will say is that, depending on the other ports on your itinerary to the Caribbean, I am sure you will have an island that is more suited to getting to lovely beaches without missing out on key highlights (some islands the highlights are in the fact the beaches). So if you were only going to be visiting St Lucia once I have to say go for it and visit Soufriere and its surrounding areas.
Despite its short distance of only 25 miles (40km), it takes almost 1 ½ hours to transit the winding coastal road from Castries to Soufriere, passing by various picturesque fishing villages and banana plantations, located in the many bays and inlets along the west coast. You will be blown away by the scene in front of you as you literally turn a corner to overlook the town of Soufriere and the backdrop is the majestic Pitons towering over it. It is best to plan for a whole day if you head to Soufriere, just so you can appreciate all the highlights and factor in the travel time.
I am a big fan of botanical gardens and so before you decide whether or not you’re up for the challenge of hiking the Tet Paul Trail for the signature Piton picture, you might want to relax at the Diamond Botanical Gardens, set in the grounds of the former 18th Century palatial Soufriere estate, now tourist hotspot. Wander through the lush rainforest and take in the peace and tranquility of nature, leading you down to the Diamond Waterfall, where the mineral rich soils of St Lucia show up in the multi-coloured cascade here. This is only a short distance away as well from the only drive-in volcano in the Caribbean. A big attraction here are the Sulphur Springs and mud baths. Some of these are accessible to tourists as the temperature of the water is around 110 Fahrenheit or 45 Celsius, which whilst still hot, is still cooler than other springs located in the crater which are heated to around 340 Fahrenheit or 170 celsius. The ‘cooler’ temperature allows visitors to enter and have a mud bath, said by some to have restorative powers.
If you aren’t quite up for the challenge of hiking a trail to view the Pitons (the Tet Paul Trail is the easiest but still quite challenging, around 45 minutes to complete the 0.6 mile loop), you can view The Pitons from a distance as you descend into Soufriere, just ask your taxi driver or check with your excursion guide if they are happy to stop and they are normally very obliging, and with new viewpoints on the road its now safer than before to stop and get that all important selfie snapshot to send home.
Finally, and this has to be a bucket list thing to tick off when in the Caribbean and again why I trump for this adventure over the beach when visiting St Lucia, is the opportunity to swim underneath a waterfall. Just outside Soufriere you can visit the Toraille Waterfall, a 50 foot (15 metre) cascade that drops into a delightfully cooling pool. There are changing facilities here and its fairly accessible too, perfect for that memory to last a lifetime.
So hopefully this has got you in the mood for an action packed and fun filled day, connecting with nature and I am sure you’ll soon be falling in love with St Lucia like so many do on this honeymoon island.
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