Castries, St Lucia

Castries, St Lucia

The disabled cruiser visiting Castries will be delighted to see that the cruise terminal in St. Lucia has great wheelchair accessibility. Ramps have been installed throughout the arrivals area for easy access, and inside the arrivals hall you will experience wide flat and smooth areas.

Due to the hilly terrain of many other Caribbean islands that limit access to nature sites, St. Lucia does have several options that have been made wheelchair accessible. The fishing Village of Anse La Rayes is a unique picturesque setting, with accessible routes around the central square and pier. Another must see when in St. Lucia is the accessible Diamond Botanical Garden with the breathtaking Diamond waterfall.

Tourism is a very important in St. Lucia. Everywhere you go and stop, you will see several vendor stands and markets. In the big local market right by the cruise port, there are several ramps throughout the market place with some more steep than others. Inside the market, you will see mostly flat surfaces with some mild uneven areas. Some areas have stairs so you will need to ask for the ramped routes.

For the Disabled Cruiser, St. Lucia disabled access presents several accessibility challenges. For one, there are very few accessible vans available and you should book your St. Lucia accessible transportation months in advance. In general, restaurants, hotels and residential buildings have stairs at the entrance without wheelchair ramps or if they do, they are very steep, except perhaps major hotels and retail areas. Buses and taxis do not have special accommodations for disabled persons. The lack of fully accessible restrooms are prevalent throughout the island. Nevertheless, wheelchair access is sufficiently good enough that disabled cruiser can visit the island and have an enjoyable time.

Castries, St Lucia

Castries is the capital of the Caribbean island of St Lucia, located between Martinique and St Vincent. It is the largest of the Windward Islands.

Places of interest include Soufriere, an 18th century city located in the shadow of the twin Pitons (the famous mountain peaks of St Lucia), Diamond Botanical Gardens and Waterfall and Pigeon Island, on the north west tip. Once home to Carib Indians and a former pirate hideout, it is now part of the St Lucia National Trust and features beaches, a restaurant and the historic remains of the barracks and garrisons where the French and English once fought.

For snorkeling, head to Anse Chastanet or Anse Cochen. Helicopter tours and an 18 hole golf course offer visitors even more choice.

A lovely stretch of white sand can be found at Choc Beach, a 20 minute taxi ride away from the dock area.

Where You’re Docked

The Cruise Terminal at Pointe Seraphine in Castries is on the outskirts of town. There is a small shopping precinct at the terminal and taxis are also available. A water taxi operates between the harbor and another shopping mall, La Place Carenage in the center of town. Castries is within walking distance from the cruise terminal.

Car hire is available at the dock area and buses run from the station in downtown Castries, although they often do not run on a set schedule.

Ships may also occasionally anchor and tender passengers ashore at other locations such as Pigeon Island, Rodney Bay and Soufriere.

Good to Know

Public transportation in St. Lucia often does not run on a set schedule. Buses wait until they’re full before departing. If short on time, you might want to find another option.

Be aware that drive times on St. Lucia’s many winding roads can be longer than you might think. Allow extra time to get to and from port.

Getting Around

On Foot: Although you can walk from Pointe Seraphine into downtown Castries, it’s a long walk — about 20 to 30 minutes. La Place Carenage is downtown, so you can easily walk to the markets. The Disabled Cruiser will encounter, sidewalks (if they exist) are very uneven and will only occasionally have ramps at intersections. Pedestrian crossings are also very infrequent. 

By Taxi: Taxis are readily available at the dock or from downtown. Regulated taxi operations are available at most places throughout the island. A cab ride from Pointe Seraphine to downtown Castries takes about five minutes and costs about $4 per person. A ride from Castries to Rodney Bay will cost about $25 for two people. Be sure to agree on a price before you get in, and specify which currency you’ll be using. Water taxis are also available to ferry passengers from Pointe Seraphine to La Place Carenage; cost is about $5 roundtrip. For the Disabled Cruiser, there are only a couple of accessible vans available in St. Lucia and they fill up fast. You should book your accessible transportation months in advance to make sure you will enjoy your visit.

By Car: There are several car rental companies with kiosks at the port; rates start at about $60 per day. Unless you have an international driving permit, you’ll need to purchase a one-day permit ($12). 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. A ride from Castries to Rodney Bay costs about $1 per person. The bus station is in downtown Castries, near the markets.

Currency 

The local currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar. You can generally use American dollars anywhere on the island, although you may receive change in local currency. ATMs are plentiful in Castries and other major tourist areas.

Language

English is the official language, but locals often speak Kweyol, a French-influenced patois based.

Shopping

Go duty-free shopping at Pointe Seraphine. This harbor front shopping complex in Castries offers imports including designer perfumes, crystal and china, as well as wood carvings and other local handicrafts. Art & Antiques in Pointe Seraphine showcases work by island artists including Llewelyn Xavier, whose works are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. The shop sells reproductions of his work as well as original watercolors, prints and oils. Prices range from $300 for prints to $500,000 for a large oil painting. Other island artists are represented, too.

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.

Points of Interest

  • The Pitons – The majestic twin peaks of the Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, seem to rise straight from the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Each mount, created from hardened lava, towers over 2,000 feet in the air.
  • Sulphur Springs Drive-In Volcano – The island boasts the world’s only drive-in volcano. Enjoy a short tour of the crater and see the bubbling pools letting off puffs of odorous steam. Unfortunately, while the Disabled Cruiser is able to drive to view some of the parts Sulphur craters, to enter the main viewing platform and the Sulphur baths, you will have to navigate very hilly terrain and several flights of stairs.
  • Diamond Botanical Gardens – Explore the nature trails and step into a world where waterfalls gush from the mouth of a volcano, hot mineral springs fill the baths with age-old medicinal waters and flora and fauna abounds. Disabled Cruisers in wheelchairs can access much of the area, but are limited to the main loop. There are a few side paths which aren’t handicap accessible.
  • Soufriere – Established in 1746, Soufriere is the island’s oldest town, and the reputed birthplace of Napoleon’s Empress Josephine. Be sure to visit the marketplace with its colorful murals and gingerbread trim. The Disabled Cruiser can enjoy the lower part of the town with its French atmosphere. Very colorful houses and restaurants lining the sea front with the lovely Pitons in the background.
  • Pigeon Island – This 40-acre islet is a beautiful nature park reflecting a thousand years of history. Visit the Museum and Interpretive Center, housed in an elegantly restored 1808 British officers’ mess building.
  • Marigot Bay – This lush yachtsman’s haven has been seen in films including “Dr. Doolittle” and “Fire Power.” You’ll want to see why author James Michener called it “the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean.”
  • Morne Fortune – Enjoy the sweeping views from this 17-century strategic outpost. Visit the Iniskilling Monument, erected in 1932 to honor the Regiment who captured the Morne for the British in 1796.

St Lucia Accessible Excursions

St. Lucia is one of the most scenic volcanic islands in the Caribbean. This beautiful island welcomes visitors drawn to its exotic tropical landscape, superb beaches, crystalline waters, and colorful marine life.

Private Accessible St. Lucia Island Driving Tour

This 6 hour accessible St. Lucia island driving tour begins when you are greeted by your private driver/guide at the cruise dock and escorted to your comfortable, air-conditioned accessible van with a ramp. The accessible van is equipped with a portable ramp to enter the vehicle and the disabled visitor can stay seated in the wheelchair during the drive if desired.

Your tour will visit the busy, local Castries market. Using a wheelchair friendly route through the market, your guide will escort you through the many fascinating vendor stands showing you some of the local produce, artifacts and spices. You will also stop in Anse La Ray and visit the small center square to explore firsthand. Take a stroll down the small pier, make your way around the charming little city streets with traditional small cottages, and visit the beautiful old cathedral from the early 16th century. Your private guide will lead you using wheelchair accessible routes.

As your accessible St. Lucia tour continues to Soufriere, the volcanic island will provide some amazing views, including the Pitons. While the Pitons volcano site is not wheelchair accessible, you can still see them from afar and snap some beautiful vacation photos. Upon arrival in Soufriere, you’ll experience one of the only fully accessible waterfall views in the world at the popular Diamond Botanical Garden. The path in the garden is accessible with no steps or steep inclines. At the end of the Gardens, you’ll see the amazing Diamond Waterfall right in front of you. 

After a full day of exploring this beautiful paradise island, you will slowly start making your way back to Castries where your guide will safely get you back to your ship before departure time.

Accessible St. Lucia Beach Excursion

This 4 hour Accessible St. Lucia Beach Excursion is an affordable and fun way to experience St. Lucia. The tour will start when your private driver picks you up at the cruise dock in a ramped van, and escorts you to Virgie Beach, an accessible beach with several wonderful amenities including snack shops, accessible restrooms, and a ramped access to most areas. You will also be provided with a special beach wheelchair to help you navigate the sand easily.

After 3 hours of beach time, soaking in the sun and enjoying the beautiful views, your driver will return to pick you up, and escort your group back to the cruise dock in the accessible van.