A Brief Travel Guide: Castries, Saint Lucia
Destination Travel St Lucia | St Lucia Things to Do
Castries the capital of Saint Lucia is often used as a cruise ship landing hub and a center for exploring the rest of the Saint Lucia attractions. However the city itself has much to offer. With a small population of 11,000, Castries is a port city that is bustling with life. The heart of the city is its vibrant market area.
Castries is eminently photogenic. It is surrounded by a sheltered bay where enormous cruise ships anchor at the foot of the 2795 feet high Morne Fortune. This is a colonial city founded by the French, and its history is evident in the few colonial edifices that remain despite the two major fires that destroyed most of its historic buildings.
If you love to island hop, Castries makes a great base with its catamaran-filled waters. And if you love shopping, make sure you arrive there with maximum overdraft.
Plan Your Travel: Getting in and Around The Island
The airport is also next to Vigie beach, and you can walk down the two (2) miles to the city center as long as you don’t have too much luggage.
Many people enter the city through the many cruise ships that anchor at Port Seraphine. The main pier houses an open air mall where visitors can shop duty free while they wait for their ship to leave.
There are also several ferries that operate to the neighboring islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique and others, though these can be expensive.
Buses are the cheapest and most fun way to get around the city. These are usually small vans that can hold between 10 to 14 people.
Buses also go to Gros Islet and Soufriere.
The bus operators often play a mix of country and Caribbean music which introduces some local flavors in the transportation.
Taxis are also plentiful and useful to get around to the rest of Saint Lucia.
Things to See & Do
Even if you don’t leave Castries to explore the rest of Saint Lucia, you will find plenty of things to do there. Start out by exploring the historic buildings of the Derek Walcott Square, named after the island’s two famous Nobel Laureates.
The square houses the handsome Castries Public Library building. The square is also home to a monkey pod tree that is 400 years old.
The colorful murals and West Indian iconography of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception may interest you if you want to take a look at an important Caribbean place of worship that was built by the French.
If you want to learn about environmental concerns, head to the excellent visitor center at La Place Carenage called Our Planet. There you will find life-size holograms, wind and snow machines, immersion tunnels and other interactive exhibits that will keep you engaged and entertained for a few hours.
South of downtown Castries lies Morne Fortune, which houses a modest museum and a military cemetery that are remnants of the Anglo-French battles that raged in the region.
Morne Fortune also offers some of the most stunning views of the Caribbean in this part of the world.
If you’re in Castries in July, you will be in time for the Carnival, during which the city is vivid with processions, costumes and calypso. A competition to choose a Carnival Queen is also a big draw for locals and lucky tourists.
If you love the sea, then catamaran sailing is for you. You can spend an entire day on a catamaran leaving from the Castries harbor, sailing along the west coast.
These tours take you to Saint Lucia’s lava outcrops of Pitons at Soufriere 40 minutes south and the clear waters of Marigot Bay closer to Castries. They offer you plenty of time to take a break between stops and a dip in the bay dotted with palm trees and cocktail bars.
Take a helicopter tour of the city and the entire island, discovering hidden coves, skimming the Caribbean Sea, flying over the Pitons before you return to the Castries airport.
Shopping & Dining
Castries is heaven for shoppers. You can start at the duty free open air shopping mall at Port Seraphine. There you will find everything from souvenirs, art, jewelry, rums and liquor and other items.
Another great mall to buy gifts at is the La Place Carenage on Jeremie Street in downtown Castries. The air-conditioned mall opens six days a week and you can get discount rates against your airline ticket and passport.
Another great place to shop is at the local goods market on Jeremie Street which is the perfect place to shop for Caribbean spices, local produce, and crafts in adjacent fresh produce and artisans’ markets.
There are plenty of reasonable local eateries along the downtown market and down all the way to Jeremie Street. You will find plenty of local Saint Lucian food here, including fresh vegetables and fruit, curry, stewed and jerk dishes, fish and the famous coal pot.
Also try the meat and vegetarian roti while you’re there.
For a small city, there are some excellent international eateries in Castries.
You can expect to find delicious Creole cuisine at the Caribbean Pirates Restaurant and Bar, Haute French and Pacific Rim fusion at the Chez Paul Restaurant, delicious crayfish at the specialty restaurant called Bon Appetit and food with wonderful views of the harbor at the San Antoine.
There is also a warm and friendly KFC.
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Nightlife & Entertainment
St Lucian locals love their nightlife and music, and Castries is no different. The resorts are major hubs of entertainment. Downtown Castries also has several dancing clubs that play a variety of music styles.
On St Georges Street is Banana Split, which offers live music and frequent wild nights.
The Green Parrot features costumes, limbo dancing and singing on several nights. For English drinks, fish and chips, head to Mel’s Tavern. And if you’re in town during the Saint Lucia Jazz festival in May, you are likely to find music and parties on every street.
About the author: Andrew Prince is the sales and marketing contact at Vacation Rental St Lucia. We provide some the finest accommodation and tours options on the island. Contact us today ……We got space for you.
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