Castries (Castries; or Kastris) is located in a natural harbor at the junction of the Gulf of Port-Kastris and the peninsula of Vaga. One third of the entire population of Saint Lucia lives here. The city, named after the Marquis of Castries, was founded in the 18th century by the French, later it went to the British crown and only at the end of the last century became the capital of an independent state. Today, Castries is a hospitable port for cruise ships, the tourist heart of the West Indies.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Saint Lucia is 184,401 (2021).
How to get to Castries
Not far from the city, almost next to the beaches of Vigi, is the George FL Charles airport, which receives planes from Puerto Rico, Martinique, Barbados, Trinidad and Antigua.
If you are flying in from New York, Miami, Atlanta and Toronto, then your plane will land at Hewanorra Airport, located on the other side of the island. There is a helicopter service between the airports. You can also get from Hewanorra to Castries by taxi, which will take about a couple of hours (and will cost about 80 USD).
In addition to cruise ships and private yachts, a ferry arrives in the harbor of Castries from Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Taxis can be hailed on the street, at the door of the hotel, or ordered by calling 452-1599. Always agree on a fare before traveling.
The main transport artery of the island surrounds it with a loop. Private bus service, not regulated by the schedule, connects the city with the south and north of the island. A trip to the south will cost 1.5 USD, to the north – 7 USD. Buses stop anywhere, but only if they have empty seats; You can buy a ticket for the trip from the driver.
Drivers often richly decorate the interior of their buses and carry passengers to fiery Caribbean music.
You can rent a car from Avis and Hertz agencies at both airports. The cheapest car (that is, without air conditioning) will cost 65 USD. For excursions inland, it is better to take an off-road vehicle. Renting scooters and motorbikes is only for experienced riders, as local drivers tend to be quite aggressive.
Water taxis are one of the mainstays of the business of local residents who will take you to any point on the coast or take you for a walk and a sightseeing tour.
Cuisine and restaurants
Traditional Caribbean cuisine based on fresh fish, vegetables, fruits (only bananas are used in cooking up to 15 types), goat stew, chicken and curry is widely represented in restaurants and cafes of the city. Try roti – flatbread with vegetables, meat and curry.
The best restaurants in the city are The Coal Pot, which combines Caribbean products and a French approach to cooking, and The Green Parrot, which offers guests international cuisine. Many small restaurants favored by the locals can be found in the Jeremy Market area and Derek Walcott Square.
Duty free shops are located at or near the port at La Place Carenage and Pointe Seraphine malls. Souvenirs can be bought at the Jeremy Market. Ideal for gifts and as souvenirs, local artisans, jewelry and, of course, Caribbean rum: dark – Chairman’s Reserve and light – Crystal Lime.
The beaches of Castries
The nearest white sandy beach to Castries is Vigi, located 2 km north of the city, in close proximity to the airport. Also within reach are the beaches of Choc Beach, Malabar Beach and La Toc. All beaches are municipal and access to them is free.
Topless sunbathing is prohibited on the beaches of Saint Lucia.
Attractions and attractions of Castries
The only area that survived a series of devastating fires that engulfed the city in the 18th century is Columbus Square. On the square is the largest cathedral in the city – the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (the largest in the Caribbean), built in the late 19th – early 20th centuries. Another local attraction grows on the square – a 400-year-old samsan tree, under the spreading crown of which city picnics are regularly held.
King George Park is located in the northeastern part of Castries, behind it is a complex of government buildings, including the La Pavilion Museum, which displays exhibits on the history and culture of St. Lucia.
To the north of Castries is the Pigeon Island National Park – a historical monument of the times of the colonial wars between France and England, the ruins of an 18th century castle have been preserved in the park. Here you can see a lot of exotic plants and birds, including the “local celebrity” – the Jaco parrot.
In the north of the island, on the edge of a cliff, the church of St. John hangs over the sea. In addition to the legends associated with the happy rescue of sailors, this church is known for the fact that the scenes of the wedding of the sensational musical Mama Mia were filmed in it.