The 6 Best Things To Do In Castries, St Lucia

So, you’ve booked your dream trip to the paradise island of St Lucia – yay!

So, you’ve booked your dream trip to the paradise island of St Lucia – yay! When doing research, you’ll find a host of information about the tourist hot spots in the south of the island, Soufriere and the north of the island, Rodney Bay. However, the island’s capital, Castries, shouldn’t be written off, and it’s definitely worth spending time exploring the city.

1. Castries Central Market & Vendors Arcade

The perfect place to mingle with locals, grab fruit and veg or pick up those touristy holiday souvenirs – Castries Central Market and the Vendors Arcade are a great way to experience the hustle and bustle of this small city. You’ll find both of these indoor and covered markets located down on the waterfront not far from where the cruise ships dock, with the entrance to the market facing the water and the vendors arcade opposite. You can’t miss the local vendors with their tabletop offerings!

At Castries Central Market, you’ll find a mixture of food stalls, beverages, clothing, and souvenirs. Whereas at the vendors arcade, there aren’t any food options available. Immerse yourself in local Caribbean culture, chat to the lovely welcoming vendors and embrace all the wonderful colours this place has to offer – you won’t regret it.

2. Morne Fortune Viewpoint or Castries City Viewpoint

For beautiful, panoramic views across the capital city of St Lucia and further north, head to Morne Fortune Viewpoint. A short, steep and winding drive out the south side of the city, you’ll find a viewing platform to your left and a few local vendors selling drinks, snacks and souvenirs. From here, you’ll be able to take in breathtaking views of the ocean, Vigie airport and the city of Castries. On cruise ship days, you’ll also be able to get an almost birds-eye view of the cruise ship in Castries harbour.

Looking from right to left, you’ll notice the traditionally colourful and sparse Caribbean homes meander down the hill, gradually getting more populous as it meets the busy city, which features many larger buildings. One taxi referred to them as “our skyscrapers”. They were possibly 8-10 stories tall.

Unfortunately, while you can still visit the viewpoint, the platform itself is in need of some TLC, so part of the deck is actually closed. Although, this doesn’t hamper your view at all.

A cool thing to note: you’ll notice when you arrive at the viewpoint of the big house behind you. This is actually the Governor General’s House! We drove up his driveway at first, thinking we’d arrived at the viewpoint – we were quickly met by large electronic gates which signalled; we were in the wrong place!

3. Meadows Battery & Married Women’s Quarters

When taking a drive around the airport and Vigie Beach area, we stumbled across this hidden gem by complete chance. Built in 1898 by the British to defend the island from the French, Meadows Battery & Married Women’s Quarters now sits derelict but is an amazing spot to explore! Take in views across Castries and the Caribbean Sea, watch planes come and go on the runway right in front of you, and take incredible pictures.

You won’t find much history about the Battery and Women’s Quarters, we did attempt to look online and couldn’t find much, and there aren’t any signs around. However, it does leave much to the imagination. With the ruins of army barracks, women’s quarters, ammunition and shell storage, old cannons, prisoner cells and incredible views it’s easy to picture what this place was once like.

When you arrive, you may think the buildings are the main event of this hidden spot. However, while they’re incredibly impressive, if you head further past them, you’ll come across the underground shell storage rooms and a staircase that heads down through a dark tunnel and opens out to incredible views across the Caribbean Sea and back to Castries harbour. In this spot, we saw the most beautiful, crystal clear, turquoise water lapping onto a tiny, hidden cove behind the rocks. Since we visited, we’ve seen this is a good spot for snorkelling and cliff jumping.

This was definitely one of our favourite spots in Castries, perhaps even in the whole of Saint Lucia. We’d have loved to spend more time there, stay for sunset (the perfect spot), and explore all the buildings and outbuildings thoroughly, but we didn’t have enough time. When we go back to St Lucia, this hidden treasure will definitely be on our list to revisit!

Just a short drive or walk around the corner from Meadows Battery, you’ll find Vigie Lighthouse. This is more of a well-known spot than the battery, perhaps because you can see it from many places around the capital. Sadly, we didn’t have time to make our way over there. We’re gutted we missed it as it looks like a cute little lighthouse.

4. The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Cathedral)

Did you know that St Lucia is home to the largest Cathedral in the Caribbean?! Welcome to The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

We were lucky enough to visit this huge, beautiful Cathedral when a service was in full swing. With open doors to the public (literally), it was hard not to be drawn in by the many people singing, dancing and enjoying the service inside the beautiful architecture of this Cathedral. Built in 1767, the interior design, decorated by St. Lucian artist and National Cultural hero, Dunstan St. Omer, stunned us both!

When there isn’t a service, this cathedral is open to visitors and is enthralled by the historical significance and stunning architecture. Although it’s located in the middle of a busy, built-up Caribbean city, where it feels like it doesn’t quite fit, a visit to this Cathedral is guaranteed to make you forget what’s outside the doors and give you the perfect, eye-opening escape from all that hustle and bustle.

5. Tapion Shoal

Located on the south side of Castries, you’ll find Tapion Shoal on Tapion Road. We initially spotted this place when we were on the north side of the harbour at Meadows Battery, where we saw a group of people walking across the stepping stones and climbing up the side of what appeared to be a tiny island cut off from the mainland. We decided to take a drive and discover for ourselves. After parking up, we took a short walk up and around the coastline, in the general direction of where we knew land met the ocean.

What we found was Tapion Shoal! What looks like a miniature version of Shutter Island (one of the best films ever!), is actually the navigation beacon for the south side of Castries Harbour. There is a staircase going from the mainland, falling into the Caribbean Sea and continuing up the other side of the island. We expect there was some form of walkway here once upon a time. We couldn’t see where the staircase led to on the tiny, stand-alone island, which only added to our curiosity! The water below is shallow and lined with rocks and stones, so on a calm day, it should be a fairly easy crossing. Unfortunately, it was a windy and choppy day for us, so we didn’t brave crossing over. If you get the chance to go, we imagine it’s more than worth it!

6. Vigie Beach

Just on the outskirts of Castries, you’ll find Vigie Beach. Adjacent to the tiny airport runway, this long stretch of white sand and crystal clear water is the perfect escape from the busyness of the city centre and traffic-ridden roads. As you get closer to the airport, you’ll see several cars parked up. They tend to be parked here all day. Fear not. This doesn’t mean the beach is packed with people – they’re taxi drivers waiting for passengers to arrive.

The beach itself is long and relatively wide, making it perfect for a stroll, to lay and relax or go for a swim. When you’ve soaked up some hot Caribbean sun and are ready to grab a Piton to rehydrate or for something to eat, you’ll find two bars on an elevated decking area opposite the airport exit – Eugny’s Place and Petra’s Cafe. They serve a mixture of drinks and food options and often have a BBQ lit. The large covered seating area shared by the two bars is the perfect place to escape the sun for a little while.

The Perfect Place To Stay – Hotel Bel Jou, Castries

The Bel Jou Adults Only Hotel makes for the perfect base for a relaxing and romantic getaway as well as being perfectly located for exploring Castries and Saint Lucia as a whole. Resting upon a hill to the north side of Castries, if you’re looking to escape busy, beachfront family resorts – Bel Jou is the ideal hotel for you. Also, if you’re exploring further afield, this is an amazing spot as it’s a short 20 – 30 minute drive to Rodney Bay, and you’re a little closer to all the touristy must-dos on the South West of the island.

Spacious, light, modern, and super clean rooms have balconies overlooking pools, the Caribbean Sea, and Castries itself. We felt welcomed and special from the moment we arrived, which is why we speak so highly of it as a must-stay hotel in St Lucia! Every member of staff we encountered was friendly and attentive but never overbearing – they set the tone for a perfectly relaxing break. The food was delicious, and the a la carte evening menu had enough to cater for everyone, whatever you’re craving.

Staying in a hotel should be an experience – from start to finish. And sometimes, it’s hard to find a place that has it all. But when we reflect on the surroundings, amenities, food, staff, extra touches and the overall experience at Bel Jou, we can confidently say it really is a hotel that goes the extra mile!

I hope this blog has helped you plan an exciting trip to Castries!

Thanks so much for reading, and if you have any questions or if I can help you in any way, please email or DM me on Instagram.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe for exclusive content, an insider scoop on our daily travels and to hear first-hand when a new blog has been posted!

@laaurenjade xx

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