When I started planning my first trip to St Lucia, one thing I put high on my list was a visit to the country’s capital city.
Unfortunately, it’s not safe to visit many cities around the world if you’re a tourist so I spent a lot of time figuring out if it was safe to visit Castries.
I did end up visiting for myself and so, in this post, I’d love to share all of my thoughts on how safe the city is and what you should expect.
This post is super honest and I won’t hide anything from you that seems a bit dodgy.
Table of Contents
Is Castries Safe To Visit?
After visiting for myself, I can say that Castries is definitely safe for tourists but there are a few things to be aware of.
In general, I felt perfectly safe wandering around the city on my own however I did spend a large portion of my day with a guide.
For me personally, I felt a lot more comfortable coming to the city knowing I’d have a local guide that knows the city well and can keep me safe.
I didn’t want to wander into any dodgy areas by myself without realizing!
This is the walking tour that I booked and I can highly recommend it. My guide was absolutely fantastic – he told me so many interesting things about the city and took me to all of it’s hidden gems.
After finishing my tour, I did then wander around for a few hours on my own and still felt perfectly safe.
I did research the city extensively beforehand so I knew what I was getting into and I discovered that the crime rate against tourists is very low so it’s safe to walk around by yourself.
Crime definitely does still exist in the city and I’ll get into it more later in the post.
If you do choose to visit then you should definitely exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Here’s an overview on safety in Castries, St Lucia:
- Overall Castries is perfectly safe to visit if you’re a tourist. In fact, it’s a super common cruise ship port.
- The most common form of crime against tourists is pickpocketing and occasionally mugging.
- Begging and pushy sellers are very common but don’t pose much of a safety risk.
- Taking basic safety precautions will protect you from most crimes.
- Most crime occurs after dark so don’t walk around Castries alone late at night.
- Stick to the main tourist spots and you should be fine.
If you’re worried about safety at all then I’d recommend booking onto a Castries walking tour.
You’ll get a local guide who will show you around all of the city’s best attractions and keep you safe. You’ll see things like the Castries Central Market and Derek Walcott Square.
Some areas of Castries are safer than others and there’s definitely some areas you should avoid as a tourist. I list the exact places to avoid later in the post (including a map).
The safest area in Castries is the area surrounding the cruise port. This is a popular docking site for various cruise ships and so this area is filled with shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.
You’re absolutely fine to walk around this area by yourself and you shouldn’t be in danger. You may be approached and asked for money but a polite ‘no’ usually does the trick.
Pickpocketing is the most common crime against tourists (as it is in most cities around the world). You can prevent most instances by keeping your valuables out of sight.
I crossed my bag over my body and wore it on my front to ensure it was in sight at all times and had no issues at all.
Be especially on guard in busy areas or at festivals like the Carnival as this is the most common time that thieves target tourists.
They are ideal for storing important things like credit cards, IDs and a bit of cash.
Violent crime against tourists is incredibly rare and isn’t really something you should worry about in Castries although you should be aware of your surroundings at all times.
After searching the internet, I couldn’t find any examples of violent crimes against tourists occurring in Castries (that’s not to say they’ve never happened but are clearly extremely rare).
Worryingly, the murder rate in St Lucia has hit an all time high recently.
It’s worth noting though that this statistic refers to St Lucia as a whole (not just Castries) and tourists aren’t really being targeted.
Gang violence is the main cause for the increase in murders meaning most deaths occur to locals involved in the gangs and not tourists.
Robbery & Theft
Whilst you don’t really need to worry about violent crime in St Lucia, you still need to be vigilant as pickpocketing, theft and even muggings occur often in Castries.
Tourists are often targeted as they usually have a decent amount of cash on them and may be seen by some locals as ‘rich’.
I found several news reports about tourists being mugged in Castries.
In one incident, two men tried to steal a gold chain from a tourist’s neck and in another two men tried to steal a cruise passenger’s bag.
There was also one report of tourists being robbed at gunpoint in Serenity Park in 2019.
Luckily, nobody was hurt but it seems that Serenity Park is a hotspot for theft and muggings so it’s best to avoid it.
That being said, most theft against tourists is low-key including pickpocketing or taking something that has been left unattended.
For example, you shouldn’t leave your belongings unattended on the beach whilst you go for a swim and you shouldn’t leave your bag on a table whilst you use the restroom.
Villa rentals are usually safe but there have been reports of them being robbed from time to time so look into the security of your rental before booking.
Unfortunately these kinds of issues do happen in most countries around the world. Personally, I live in the UK and our home has been robbed twice.
I’m sure you have similar stories from your own country so it definitely shouldn’t put you off from visiting.
If safety is your utmost concern then opt for a resort instead as they are much safer than villa rentals. Most of the resorts, especially the fancy ones, have 24-hour security to keep you safe.
Being mugged or robbed was definitely my biggest fear when visiting Castries but I needn’t have worried. I never felt unsafe and never felt like I was being followed or targeted.
Begging & Pushy Vendors
A fairly common occurrence in Castries is begging. It’s not uncommon for people to approach tourists to ask them for money. This happened to me several times.
Most of them are friendly enough and will leave you alone if you ask them to.
Sometimes you might have to ask them a few times to leave you alone. Occasionally you’ll come across someone who is a bit more persistent or even aggressive but this is rare.
Generally these people won’t harm you but it can be a bit annoying.
Aside from begging, persistent sellers are also common in Castries. They will usually try to sell you souvenirs or tours.
This type of selling is very common in Castries. If you walk around town for an hour or two, it’s highly likely that you’ll be approached at least once.
Be wary of sellers offering you things as a ‘gift’ and then asking for a donation. Never accept anything from a street seller if you don’t want to pay for it even if it’s offered as free.
Although it can be a bit irritating being approached all the time, it isn’t much of a safety concern.
Try to remember that St Lucia isn’t a prosperous country and these people are just trying to make a living. They will usually leave you alone when they realize that you’re not interested.
Areas to Avoid in Castries
Castries is generally a safe place to visit if you’re a tourist but there are a few areas that you should definitely avoid.
I read through tons of forums beforehand to figure out where to avoid and I also asked my local guide to confirm where I should avoid.
The first thing to know is that you should only walk around Castries during the day time. Avoid walking around at night as this is when most crime occurs.
You should also avoid dimly lit areas in the day and evening time.
Downtown Castries is the best place to explore especially around the cruise port. It’s busy, friendly and there’s lots to see and do.
The main shopping and restaurant area, Castries Central Market, Place Carenage, Derek Walcott Square, Vigie Beach and the cruise port area are all perfectly safe to explore on your own.
Here’s a map of Castries showing which areas are safest:
In general, just stick to the main well-populated areas and you should be fine. A general rule is that if you think an area looks like somewhere tourists don’t belong then avoid it.
The main place that you should avoid in Castries is the area opposite the shipping dock with shacks. This is different to the cruise port which is perfectly safe.
This part is known to be a little shady with several tourists saying they were harassed and felt unsafe here.
One visitor even said they were told by a police officer to leave the area as they were being targeted and escorted them back to safety.
You should also avoid Serenity Park as there have been frequent reports of muggings there.
Here’s a map of Castries showing which areas to avoid.
To get a sense of what the city is like, take a look at the below video.
You’ll see YouTuber Matt James wandering around Castries all-day giving his impressions of the city.
As you can see in the video, Castries appears to be safe for tourists and Matt has a great time exploring the city.
It’s worth noting that Matt does tour Castries with a guide. You can actually book onto the exact same Castries walking tour here (I also did this tour and can only say good things!).
What Are People Saying?
I spent a lot of time reading through forums to see what people were saying about safety in Castries, St Lucia.
Some travelers, like the one below, said they had visited St Lucia 25 times and had never encountered any issues at all.
There were a few people who reported they were approached by locals who asked them for money. Most people left them alone after they said ‘no’.
I found very few negative comments about safety in Castries. Most people said they often wandered around the city alone and had never encountered any issues.
Although Castries is perfectly safe to visit, Rodney Bay in the north is generally considered to be the safest place for tourists. Soufriere is also safe to visit.
I’d recommend booking onto a Castries walking tour if you’re worried about safety in Castries at all.
You’ll be able to explore the city and all of its best attractions with a local guide who knows the area well so you can just sit back and enjoy your day without worrying at all about being the target of a crime.
Tips for Walking Around Castries
It’s fine to walk around Castries in the daytime but it’s essential that you keep your wits about you and avoid flashing valuables.
Castries is worth visiting if you’re in St Lucia so don’t let the small amounts of crime put you off.
As I mentioned, theft is the main crime against tourists in Castries so it’s essential that you take all basic precautions that you would in any other city.
Here’s some basic precautions you can take to keep you safe:
- Be careful with expensive items (like jewelry, phones and cameras). Leave them in the hotel room or keep them concealed when walking around.
- Never leave valuables unattended (including in a restaurant or on the beach).
- Don’t have too much cash on you. Just bring enough for the day and leave the rest in your hotel room.
- Avoid walking around in poorly lit areas or at nighttime.
- Don’t have too much to drink. This could make you more of a target.
- Women should be particularly careful. Avoid quiet, dimly lit areas and try to travel in a group when possible.
It’s worth remembering that St Lucia is considered third world and around 20% of people there live in poverty.
As I’m sure you’re aware, poverty often leads to crime but as a whole the people of St Lucia are friendly – they appreciate tourists and the value that they bring to their economy.
St Lucia’s economy relies heavily on tourism and most locals know that so they don’t want to do anything that might put tourists off from visiting.
Is St Lucia Safe for Tourists?
St Lucia, as a whole, is also perfectly safe to visit. According to Statistica, around 1 million tourists visit St Lucia every single year and most visits are trouble free.
Having said that, there are a few things you should be aware of.
Firstly if you visit during St Lucia’s hurricane season, there is a risk of tropical storms and hurricanes.
These are rare and can easily be avoided by visiting outside of the hurricane season which runs from June until November each year.
Next, St Lucia has a volcano but it doesn’t really pose much of a safety risk as it hasn’t erupted since 1766. In fact, the volcano is actually a tourist attraction.
Luckily, volcanic eruptions don’t just happen suddenly.
They can be easily predicted so if the volcano showed any signs of erupting, the area surrounding it would be evacuated immediately with plenty of time to spare.
When it comes to wildlife, you should know that there are venomous snakes in St Lucia but these types of snakes are rare and only live in certain areas of the island (where tourists don’t go).
This means you won’t come across one as long as you don’t go off walking in remote areas all on your own. Always stick to the main tourist areas like Rodney Bay and you’ll never see a snake.
Water Safety in St Lucia
Whilst swimming is safe in St Lucia, you do need to be aware of a few things when it comes to the ocean.
Firstly, you do need water shoes in St Lucia to protect your feet. The seafloor is often littered with sharp rocks, pieces of coral and the occasional sea urchin.
Bull sharks have never been spotted in St Lucia so this isn’t a concern at all.
Other sharks do frequent the waters around St Lucia but these are only the friendly, non-human-eating nurse and reef sharks.
Whilst sharks aren’t a concern, unfortunately jellyfish are.
St Lucia’s jellyfish are not the type that can fatally wound you (thankfully) but they could give you an unpleasant sting if you’re not careful so watch out for them.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this post on Castries St Lucia safety. I hope it puts your mind at ease if you’re thinking of visiting Castries.
Another great thing to do whilst in St Lucia is take a day trip from St Lucia to a nearby island. There’s loads to choose from including Martinique, Barbados and Dominica.
Need more help planning your St Lucia vacation?