Banana plantations, sugarcane crops, powder fine sands and mountain peaks characterize the scenery with the twin-mountains of the Pitons rising out of the sea. Another spectacle is the bubbling springs of the steam-shrouded Qualibou Volcano.
Culturally speaking, St Lucia’s heritage mixes considerable British and French influences with the Caribbean’s African roots and the island’s aged Carib Indian traditions. This unique fusion of cultures is evident at every turn, from the neatly-painted colonial-style plantations and French-laden patois to St Lucia’s easy-going Caribbean friendliness and hospitability. Castries’ deep sea port, built in 1948, is used year-round by cruise liners. It contains duty free shops at Point Seraphine and La Place Carinage and is home to umpteen restaurants and dozens of harbour-side bars.
Renowned for its stunning volcanic terrain, lush rainforests, rolling meadows and pristine beaches, St Lucia is cooled by a refreshing trade wind – a blessing during the soaring summer highs.
It has been hailed one of the most beautifully located Caribbean cities, and Castries certainly boasts an enviable spot. Edged by verdant, green hills on an expansive bay, the capital is alive with dawn-’til-dusk hustle and bustle. Boats, buses, cars and taxis ferry people to and fro as passengers disembark at Point Seraphine to delve in Castries – and beyond.
• Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
• Derek Walcott Square (named after the island’s Nobel Prize-winning poet)
• Morne Fortune (Hill of Good Luck)
• Vigie Beach
• Malabar Beach
• Choc Beach
• La Toc Beach
St Lucia Tourist Board
1 Collingham Gardens, London SW5 0HW, UK
Tel: (020) 7341 7000.
Castries’ main shopping hub is Pointe Seraphine, a dedicated retail zone set around a pretty plaza. More than 30 stores stock an array of local speciality goods, from handmade crafts to island produce. St Lucia’s unique batik and silkscreen designs are used in a variety of items, from clothing to table linen. Other quality items include beaded jewellery, straw-woven hats, rugs, bags, sandals and wood carvings.
Seafood features on every St Lucia menu, from local langouste (lobster), tatiri (a small fish, deep-fried and eaten whole) and lambi (conch) to fried jackfish. Robust Caribbean favourites include pepper-pot stew and callaloo soup served with fried plantain accompanied by sauces that mix deep Creole flavours and West Indian piquancy with traditional French cooking styles.
When to go:
St Lucia’s hot, tropical climate is tempered by cooling trade winds throughout most of the year. For the driest months, visit December to May. Showers are more likely June to November.
1km (0.6 miles).