Castries is the capital of St Lucia, located in the northwest of the island and home to approximately 11,000 people. It has excellent transport links, with air, land and sea access. Those who come to St Lucia via other Caribbean islands will have a birds eye view of Castries as they descend into the George F. L. Charles airport. International flights land at Vieux Fort, and the main East-coast road leads directly from there to Castries, with no shortage of public or private-hire minivans to make the scenic one and a half hour trip.
Castries also boasts a deep harbour, which allows the city to play host to international quality cruiseships. Some of the major liners stopping at Castries include Aida and Celebrity X cruises, and it is not uncommon to see three cruiseliners in the harbour at any one time.
If your ship docks on the city-side of the harbour, the first place you will meet when you step off the ship is La Place Carenage, a duty free mall selling fine jewelry, Rolex watches, tobacco, alcohol and more tax free products. Upstairs it has two restaurants that overlook the harbour. Try Pirates for an open air dining veranda, an array of exotic cocktails and a mix of classic Caribbean cuisine amongst some familiar favourites.
Other ships dock at the far side of the harbour, near a white pyramid building and fishing boat moorings. Though La Place Carenage is only a ten minute walk from here, you may prefer to try Pointe Seraphine, another duty-free shopping haven. When you've had your fill of shopping, take a short walk past the sports complex and discover Vigie Beach, a welcoming stretch of white sand lapped by the gentle waves of the Caribbean Sea.
Another popular option is to head down to the food market, where local farmers sell their produce through a network of friendly lady stallholders. If you strike up conversation, you will also find that some of the stallholders grow their own produce in their gardens. If you are staying in self-catering accommodation, you can pick up tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, pumpkin, chives, cabbage and bananas, to name but a few. Why not try some tropical fruit and vegetables? Depending on the season you might find golden apples, sugar apples or love apples (none of which are much like regular apples!), an abundance of mangoes, or creamy avocados. If you're feeling adventurous try a breadfruit, a large green food shaped a little like a football that has a beige centre. Boiled, chopped and deep fried, it makes an excellent alternative to french fries or potato wedges. Fried plantain is another delicious choice.