Although Castries itself may not be highly recommended as a destination for snorkeling on St. Lucia, tourists planning their getaway here don't have to worry – there are plenty of top snorkeling sites within easy reach.
The thing about Castries is that looks can be deceiving. Hotels and resorts line the beaches, and from the shore conditions look great. Visibility is often between 25 and upwards of 100 feet and water temperatures are never lower than the upper-70s in degrees Fahrenheit, while the surf generally remains calm and inviting. You can certainly grab your snorkeling gear and head out into the waters of any beach in this town and not be bothered. The problem is, the underwater landscape is less than thrilling. Sure, you'll probably see a few rays hiding in the sandy bottoms, but the true sites to be seen are best accessed by boat.
Many of the island's best snorkeling sites are about 20 to 30 minutes away by boat. You can access them by participating in a sailing boat charter, as many captains are happy to stop and let their guests do a bit of snorkeling. There are also tour guides that specialize specifically in taking their guests to the top snorkeling destinations including the Coral Gardens and Anse Cochon. One of the more popular options is to hook up with your local dive center. Most allow snorkelers to travel along with them as they take divers out – that is, if they don't offer a snorkel-specific tour of their own.
When you do make it out to the gorgeous underwater sites, you'll be treated to several different colorful and shapely species of coral that form into healthy reef systems dotted with sponges and sea fans. Clownfish, parrotfish, barracudas, seahorses, eels, stingrays, and even sea turtles can be seen in these areas.
For some people, the most enjoyable snorkeling is located off shore.
If you're ready to go snorkeling during a boat trip, you might want to contact Barefoot Holidays. Barefoot Holidays offers half day, full day, and evening excursions, as well as tours from hotels in Vieux Fort and Soufriere. These include both land and sea activities, most notably island tours, day sails, and whale watching.
Another option to consider is Carnival Sailing. Sail through the beautiful Caribbean Sea as part of either a full day tour, half day tour, or sunset cruise. They make sure you see the best of the island and its waters, while offering a great spread of snacks and drinks. They're located in Bisse.
Still another option is Herod's Island Tours. Herod's Island Tours specializes in both land and sea excursions. With them you may spend the day on the Caribbean Sea or stop to relax a while on shore.
View the following chart for details on boat trips and day sails that provide snorkeling opportunities.
|Barefoot Holidays||(758) 450-0507||Downtown Castries|
|Carnival Sailing||(758) 452-5586||Bisse|
|Herod's Island Tours||(758) 716-6540||Downtown Castries|
If you're looking for someone offering snorkel rentals, excursions, or similar services, you can check with Dive Fair Helen. Depending on the day, the conditions, and your preferences, they will usually take their snorkeling tours to Soufriere, Anse Cochon, the Pitons, or Anse Chastanet. They are situated in downtown Castries.
Another place catering to snorkelers is Eastern Caribbean Diving. Explore the underwater world with a team that is professional and courteous when you choose this dive center that is PADI International Resort Association Member to help you get your snorkeling adventure started.
A third place to consider is Scuba Steve's Diving. Specializing in guided tours that the whole family can enjoy, this watersports center and tour guide operator wants their guests to experience the best of the island with them at your service. They're located in Gros Islet, easily reached by taxi North-Northeast of central Castries.
Check out this table for details on 3 companies that offer services of interest to snorkelers.
|Dive Fair Helen||(758) 451-7716||Downtown Castries|
|Eastern Caribbean Diving||(758) 453-3483||La Brelotte Bay, 3.6 mi. North-Northeast of Central Castries|
|Scuba Steve's Diving||(758) 450-9433||Gros Islet, 5.5 mi. North-Northeast of Central Castries|
For more information about snorkeling, including useful tips and suggestions for beginners and "pros" check out this comprehensive Caribbean snorkeling page.
By now, you're surely intrigued by the possibility of snorkeling during your Castries vacation. A great way to begin is to book your snorkeling excursion in advance of your trip so that you can ensure you have time to spend participating in the sport – and you may just find a good deal waiting for you if you book early.
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