With the historic Morne Fortune as a backdrop, Castries is the charming capital and seaport of the Caribbean’s St. Lucia. A noted tourist spot, the diverse cultural city is filled with eateries and “rum shops” (aka bars) that translates into colorful nightlife, markets, shops and cathedrals. There is a marked French and Indian influence on the menus with seafood, plantains, creole style entrees and green figs in abundance. Be sure and sample the local Piton beer, Chairman’s Rum or do as the locals do and order a “shandy” that is a concoction of ginger ale, lemon and beer.
Visitors can get a glimpse of the Creole culture through authentic activities such as cocoarina dancing and make your own chocolates after a tour of a cocoa grove. For the sports minded, hike Morne Fortune or Fort Charlotte, spend a day catamaran sailing or simply sunbathe in nearby Marigot Bay (true film buffs might recognize the location in the film Dr. Dolittle). And you can also explore the island and see monkeys or take a zip line in the rain-forests of Soufrière or hike the Piton mountains (note it is 3,000 feet above sea level so not for the faint of heart!)
Shopping for local treasures can be found at the Castries Market and just a steps away from the cruise ship terminal. Other shops line the streets of Sir Derek Walcott Square which is home to the St. Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival. One of the more charming shops is Caribelle Batik where the working studio makes purses and jewelry in the popular colored textile style in a charming Victorian Caribbean mansion. Pink Plantation House offers hand-painted ceramics and art in addition to local dining with spectacular views while Vendor’s Arcade is the perfect spot to find jewelry, basketwork, textiles, spices and rum.