Who says the Caribbean can’t be visited on the cheap?
On a recent trip, I defied odds and spent a full day soaking in the lush sights and sounds of Saint Lucia for under $10 dollars. Below is a sample tour itinerary that I crafted for your next budget trip to Saint Lucia.
Starting/Ending Point: Begin in Castries, St. Lucia’s capital.
Duration: 5 hours
Activity Level: Keep in mind this itinerary requires a moderate amount of walking on mostly flat surfaces.
Prominent Sites Visited: Reduit Beach (Rex St. Lucian Hotel), Pigeon Island (including Fort Rodney), Downtown Castries (e.g. Central Market)
Things to Bring: Swimsuit, Goggles, Beach Towel, Walking Shoes, Sunscreen, Camera for Photos, Spending Cash (no brainer!)
Begin in Castries.
Walk around Castries as you make yourself to the minibus terminal located about a 5 minute walk from the dock and duty free shopping area. The minibuses heading to the northern part of the island are located on Jeremy Street. If you get lost, ask a local along the way. They were very friendly and helpful to me. Upon arriving by foot at the minibus terminal, you will need to board it heading north. Eventually, you will want to get off in Rodney Bay at the “Mall” (several locals called the small retail/shopping complex by this name) minibus stop.
Warning: Make sure you chat with the minibus driver to confirm the final destination for the minibus and the total fare. One of the minibus drivers tried to charge me more than the actual fare because he didn’t realize that I knew the cost of the trip.
Castries to Rodney Bay “Mall” Stop Bus Fare: Approximately $2.25 Eastern Caribbean Dollars or .75 cents (USD)
Bus Ride Duration: Approximately 35-40 minutes (various depending on frequency of stops)
Walking from “Mall” Minibus Stop to Reduit Beach: 15 minutes
After arriving at the “Mall” minibus stop, head straight down the road to the left of the “Mall”. Follow signage to Reduit Beach. You will come across the Rex St. Lucian Hotel. You can either walk through the hotel courtyard (pass the entrance security gate) or you can walk down a bit farther and enter the beach. I walked for less than 15 minutes before reaching Reduit Beach, a beautiful beach that’s considered one of the premier water sport rental sites in St. Lucia. I didn’t rent any gear from the beach as resorts normally charge hefty prices for gear or equipment rental. Instead, I relaxed and swam a bit. The water is very clear at this beach. One can catch views of Pigeon Island including Fort Rodney from here. If you look carefully, you can also see the Pirate Ship snorkeling excursion that tourists often book off the coast of Pigeon Island’s beach.
There is NO admission/entrance fee to this beach.
From Reduit Beach, head to Pigeon Island.
Walk back to the main road and catch the minibus heading north (same direction as before). Get off at the stop closest to Pigeon Island/Fort Rodney (the stop closest to “The Landings/Sandals Grande” aka the Sandals Resort at Pigeon Island. From here it’s a 45 minute scenic walk to the entrance of Pigeon Island Park or you can catch a taxi for approximately $5 dollars. The minibus that runs from Castries to the northern part of the island (the line I took from Castries) does not stop specifically at Pigeon Island.
Upon arriving at Pigeon Island, you must pay a $5 dollar park entry fee. Once inside the park, you have access to Pigeon Island’s Beach, multiple hiking trails, and access to the small museum located inside the park. Perhaps Pigeon Island’s most famous landmark is Fort Rodney. From there, you can get an amazing view of St. Lucia with particular emphasis on Rodney Bay and Reduit Beach. On a clear day, you can also see the French island of Martinique at a distance. The hike up to Fort Rodney takes about 20 minutes. It’s a fairly easy hike to the base of the fort. From there, there is some fairly vertical stairs/walkway and I would not recommend it for anyone who has mobility problems. After climbing the small set of steps, you are at the top of Fort Rodney.
After catching glimpses of St. Lucia from the top of Fort Rodney, hike back down the hill. Relax at Pigeon Island’s Beach. The water isn’t as clear as Reduit Beach. Relax under some of the trees or take a swim around the rocks. If you look carefully, there are various fish species in and around the rocks. The waters here are very calm as well.
After relaxing at the beach, walk to the other side of the park and check out the museum. The museum provides a small historical narrative about Fort Rodney, Pigeon Island, and St. Lucia. It’s not spectacular, but it is humbling and historically fascinating. After the museum, take a moment and enjoy the sights and views from this side of the park. There are waves crashing along the rocks and a view of private homes in the distance. When you are ready, leave Pigeon Island and head back towards Castries. Again, you can either walk 45 minutes or pay $5 for a cab ride back to the minibus stop closest to Pigeon Island.
From the minibus stop, take the minibus back to Castries.
Pigeon Island (closest stop) to Castries: Approximately $2.50 Eastern Caribbean Dollars or $1 USD
Bus Ride Duration: Approximately 40-45 minutes depending on frequency of stops
Arrive back in Castries and explore the downtown area. Venture into the Central Market where you can barter for souvenirs and get them for less than the stores near the waterfront/dock. Walk around town and grab a snack from one of the many vendors on the street.
Costs of this trip:
Transportation: $.75 cents + $1 = $1.75 roundtrip
Pigeon Island Park Entrance Fee: $5
Total Cost = $6.75
Optional Taxi Costs: $5 (from Reduit Beach to Pigeon Island) and $5 from Pigeon Island to nearest minibus stop. = TOTAL $10
**Note that this itinerary does not include the optional taxi costs listed above nor does it include any discretionary spending for meals and souvenirs.**
Written and contributed by Pottinger