Compared with many Caribbean ports of call, Castries is a relatively quiet place. Despite being the capital city of St. Lucia, Castries is surprisingly low key and doesn’t have the hustle and bustle that is often associated with other popular cruise ports. However, don’t let the toned down nature of life here fool you – there is still plenty to do in this part of the West Indies. With a history dating back to the early 1600s – when the French founded it – Castries and the surrounding area has an ample number of things to see and do, and you’re not going to be bored in such lush, stunning surroundings.
Sightseeing & Things To Do
Although you won’t find a wild and raucous party atmosphere in Castries, you are sure to be won over by its quiet charm and its stately streets. If your ship is going to be in port for a decent length of time, make it a point to head out a bit and see some of the surrounding areas. While you’re at it, treat yourself to some tempting West Indian fare and pick up a souvenir or two – you’ll be sure to look back on your visit to Castries with fondness.
Castries proper is a relatively small, compact place. If your ship will be stopping here for more than a couple of hours, you should consider checking out one of the following attractions:
A huge part of the fascinating history of St. Lucia and Castries occurred on and around this tiny island. Carib Indians once made it their home, pirates wrested it from their control and the French and the English set up garrisons and other buildings here. Today, you can wander around and learn a bit more about the intriguing past of this serene place.
Diamond Botanical Gardens & Waterfall
Take a dip in the soothing mineral baths at the foot of a gorgeous waterfall, or just roam the paths and encounter fantastic plants and flowers at the Diamond Botanical Gardens & Waterfall.
If you have the extra time, make a point of going out to Choc Beach. Located about 20 minutes from central Castries, Choc Beach is a seemingly endless stretch of sand and clear, sparkling water that will make it impossible to forget that you’re in a tropical clime.
Those who feel like getting out and really stretching their legs a bit should head over to the Pitons. These are twin mountains that are just as much fun to view from afar as they are to hike up. If you have the time and the desire to hike up, try Gros Piton – be warned, though, that it is a very strenuous hike! Once you get to the top, though, the rewarding view makes the climb well worth it.
Even if you only have a very limited amount of time to spend in Castries, you can easily get some good shopping done. That’s because Port Seraphine – where many cruise ships dock – also has a huge array of duty free shops and other places to part with some cash. You’ll find some truly great deals on a wide range of goods – and you’ll be able to jump right back on board in no time flat.
Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship
If you come to Castries, pick up a piece of original Caribbean art while there. There are art galleries right in town where you can find watercolors and other works from local artists. Upon arriving home, you can have it framed and it can serve as a reminder of your splendid time in St. Lucia.
Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine
Despite its relatively compact size, Castries boasts its own fair share of great eateries. Sample some of the phenomenal West Indian fare while here. Not sure what to try? Any one of the “jerk” dishes – such as jerk chicken or even jerk goat – are always a safe bet. Goat stew is another popular dish, and it comes in many different varieties and variations. The point is to try and get a taste for what the people of the West Indies enjoy eating – and to discover that the food here is truly delectable.
When, Where, and How
When To Go
With a rainy season that runs from June to December, most seasoned travelers to St. Lucia and to Castries would agree that visiting between December and March is the best bet if you want to enjoy the very best weather. However, there’s no truly “bad” time to be in Castries, and the weather is generally mild and pleasant year-round.
Where You’re Docked
Cruise ships that come to Castries may dock at one of two different terminals – Port Seraphine or Port Carenage. Fortunately, neither one of this is far flung; from either spot, it is a very short stroll over to the main part of Castries. No major commuting is necessary, and this is why it’s not uncommon to see swarms of cruise ship passengers milling about.
Which Cruise Ships Go Here?
Most of the most popular cruise lines have itineraries that feature stops at Castries. A few of the major cruise lines that stop in Castries are Royal Caribbean, P & O Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruises, and Princess Cruises. However, there are many other choices in terms of dates, ships, days at sea and in port when it comes to Castries.