Where You're Docked
Most ships anchor at Place Carenage or Pointe Seraphine, both within walking distance of downtown Castries.
On Foot: Downtown Castries is within easy walking distance of both Pointe Seraphine and Place Carenage.
By Taxi: Taxis are readily available at the dock or from downtown. Regulated taxi operations are available at most places throughout the island. A ride from Castries to Rodney Bay will cost about $16 for up to four people. Be sure to agree on a price before you get in -- and specify which currency you'll be using.
By Car: There are several car rental companies waiting at the port, with rates starting at about $2050 per day. You can also rent 4 x 4 vehicles starting at about $60 per day. Unless you have an international driving permit, you'll need to purchase a temporary permit ($20). Note that St. Lucians drive on the left.
By Bus: St. Lucia's public transportation system consists of colorful, privately owned minivans, often painted with whimsical names (we rode on one called "Big Time"). They're mostly used by locals and are the cheapest way to get around the island -- for example, a ride from Castries to Rodney Bay costs less than a dollar per person. The bus station is in downtown Castries within walking distance of the cruise terminals.
Staying in Touch
There's an Internet cafe at Caribbean Travel on Micoud St., Castries. The cost is $205 E.C. (less than $2 U.S.) for 30 minutes of access.
What to See and Do
- The area in and around the 18th-century city of Soufriere is one of the loveliest parts of the island. Located in the shadow of the Pitons, Soufriere was once the capital of St. Lucia back when it was a French colony, and today its colorful buildings with gingerbread trim still hold plenty of historic charm. This is home to the Soufriere Drive-In Volcano, where you can get up close and personal with a collection of multicolored sulfur pools -- an extraordinary sight, but be prepared for the stench!
- A more fragrant option near Soufriere is the Diamond Botanical Gardens & Waterfall (72058-42059-72056205), where you can stroll through acres of lush flowering plants and trees and even go swimming in one of the mineral baths near Diamond Waterfall. Originally built by King Louis XVI of France, the estate is now owned by the descendents of its 18th-century owners. Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 205 p.m., Sundays and holidays 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
- One of those much-hyped (but still fascinating) attractions is the Pitons. These twin mountains, whose peaks rise right out of the ocean for almost a half-mile, are on the island's southwest coast. If you're really ambitious (and have an extra-long day in port), it's possible to hike up Gros Piton; be warned that it's a challenging and time-consuming climb, and you'll need both a guide and permission from the St. Lucia Forest & Lands Department. For most travelers, the best way to see the peaks is from the water; most cruise lines offer boat excursions that sail along the coast. They are also visible as you drive in and around Soufriere.
- Fun for both children and adults is a visit to Pigeon Island, at the very northwest tip of St. Lucia. Once home to a group of Carib Indians and later a pirate hideout, today the island is part of the St. Lucia National Trust, with beaches, a restaurant, and the historic remains of the barracks and garrisons where the French and English once fought for control of St. Lucia. Learn all the compelling history of the island at the Museum and Interpretive Centre, housed in the former British officers' mess building, which has been restored to the way it looked in 1808. Don't miss a hike up to the hilltop ruins of Fort Rodney for sweeping views of the sea and the mainland. Daily 9 a.m. - 205 p.m.
- Vendors have gathered for more than 100 years at the Castries Market and adjacent Craft Market to hawk fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, and local crafts. Baskets, wood carvings, pottery and hand-screened clothing are all excellent buys. Monday - Saturday 6 a.m. - 205 p.m.
- Go duty-free shopping at Pointe Seraphine, a harborfront shopping complex in Castries offering imports like designer perfumes, crystal and china, as well as wood carvings and other local handicrafts. The island's finest silk-screened fabrics and clothing are offered at Bagshaws Studio and Shop, located two miles from Castries. Most stores in Castries are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with a break for lunch, and from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
- Those interested in snorkeling should head to Anse Chastanet or Anse Cochon to explore spectacular reefs, colorful marine life and -- at Anse Cochon -- an old sunken ship.
- Try your hand at deep-sea fishing. Mako Watersports (798-42052-0412) motors the "Annie Baby" out of Rodney Bay Marina, welcoming both neophytes and experienced fishermen. Reservations are highly recommended. Half- and full-day tours are available.
Where to Eat and Drink
- For nouvelle Caribbean cuisine and gorgeous views of the Pitons, head to Dasheene Restaurant & Bar (Ladera Resort, Soufriere, 72058-42059-7323, noon - 2:30 p.m.), perched on a mountainside above the sea. The fresh catch of the day is always a good option.
- Chill out and watch the world (or at least a bunch of yachts!) go by at The Lime (72058-42052-0761), a casual bar and restaurant overlooking busy Rodney Bay. "Liming" is a Caribbean term for relaxing, and you'll do just that over reasonably priced Creole favorites like seafood and jerk chicken.
- Also in Rodney Bay is The Charthouse (72058-42052-811205), one of the longest-established restaurants on the island. Menu options include steak, ribs and fresh seafood.
- In Vigie Marina, The Coal Pot (72058-42052-20520566, Monday - Friday, noon - 2 p.m.) offers a blend of international cuisines and is intimate and romantic. Reservations are highly recommended. Ferry service is available from Point Seraphine.
- Green Parrot (72058-42052-3399, noon - 2 p.m.), set on Morne Fortune above Castries Harbor, provides panoramic views of the island. Cuisine is West Indian blended with Creole and international styles. Reservations are essential.
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