Castries is the capital of Saint Lucia. It is known for palm-lined Vigie Beach and as a port of call for cruise lines, with duty-free shopping near the harbor. The city’s design is in a grid pattern.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit St. Lucia is between May and June. These late-spring months offer wonderful weather temperatures.
Top Places to Visit in Castries
1. Marigot Bay
Marigot Bay, arguably the most beautiful bay on St Lucia, is best viewed from a vista point on the road between the main Caribbean coastal route and the bay itself. Lush hillsides plunge to the pretty palm-fringed beach, and yachts bob on the bay’s blue waters. The harbor is so deep and sheltered that the British fleet supposedly hid here from the French by covering their masts with palm fronds.
2. Pigeon Island National Park
Across from Rodney Bay, Pigeon Island National Park, is one of St. Lucia’s most important historic attractions. Strategic lookouts on the island allowed the British to monitor the movements of French troops in Martinique during their struggle for control of St. Lucia. Today a causeway connects the island to the mainland and visitors can hike up to the lookout point and enjoy panoramic views of St. Lucia’s northwest coast. Also on the island are the ruins of the military buildings used during battles between the French and English, an interpretation center describing the island’s fascinating history, a small restaurant, and two white-sand beaches.
3. Morne Fortune
From 1803 to 1844 the British made St. Lucia’s capital, Castries, a major naval port and built fortifications on Morne Fortune, the mountain overlooking the harbor. It was here that some of the most brutal battles between the French and English took place. Today Morne Fortune, meaning “Hill of Good Luck” still offers stunning views of Castries and the harbor from its scenic overlook. On a clear day, visitors can see all the way to Martinique. The original fortifications still stand and visitors can visit a monument as well as old military buildings and cannons. The northern side of Morne Fortune is home to Government House, the official residence of St. Lucia’s Governor General, set amid beautifully landscaped private gardens.
4. Castries Market
The colorful Castries market, at the eastern-most point of Castries harbor, is a great place to experience a slice of local life on St. Lucia. Merchandise ranges from handicrafts to locally grown fruits and vegetables. Shoppers can buy batiks, woodcarvings, gift baskets of spices, banana ketchups and oils, hand-made brooms, hot-pepper sauces, and the usual souvenirs. While the market is open every day, the most active day is Saturday.
5. Derek Walcott Square
Named after St. Lucia’s Nobel Laureate, Derek Walcott Square is a great starting point for a walking tour of the capital, Castries. Its most famous landmark is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The cathedral exemplifies a Victorian variation on a Romanesque design and features an Italianate-style clock tower centered on the square. Opposite the cathedral, sits the restored public library and a series of brightly painted gingerbread colonial buildings with verandahs overhanging the sidewalk.