- Boudoux Lucille/Shutterstock
- Castries, St. Lucia, is the top trending winter vacation destination of the year, according to new data from travel search site Kayak.
- The Caribbean city is popular for its proximity to picturesque beaches with white sandy shores and beautiful water.
- Visitors can also pick up local goods and produce at the Castries Market or relax in the shade at Derek Walcott Square.
The Caribbean has always been a popular winter destination for winter vacations, and new data from travel site Kayak shows that interest in a winter Caribbean vacation is even higher than it has been in the past few years.
According to Kayak, tourism took a dip after much of the Caribbean was hit hard during the 2017 hurricane season. Many of the affected cities have started to recover and rebuild, leading to renewed interest in travel.
Kayak says searches for Castries have recently spiked by 150%, making it the top trending winter vacation destination of the year. Its nearby picturesque beaches and unique architecture make it easy to see why it’s such an in-demand tourist destination.
From bustling cruise ports to its proximity to serene beaches, these photos will have you dreaming of a vacation in Castries.
Castries is located in the northern region of the Caribbean island country of St. Lucia.
- Google Maps
It is both the capital of and the largest city in St. Lucia.
Visitors traveling by plane will land in the George F.L. Charles Airport.
The airport is adjacent to Vigie Beach, which is a popular tourist spot.
However, many people make a stop in Castries during a cruise.
Those taking a cruise will arrive at either La Place Carenage or the more spacious Pointe Seraphine. According to IQ Cruising, both ports exit right onto the main streets of Castries. Some smaller ships will sometimes arrive at the Industrial Port.
Pointe Seraphine and La Place Carenage are popular thanks to their duty-free shops.
Visitors can peruse local crafts and fashion at both. According to USA Today, shoppers may even be able to get a discount when showing a passport or airline ticket in the hugely popular La Place Carenage Shopping Plaza.
According to IQ Cruising, La Place Carenage offers low-price souvenir shops, while Pointe Seraphine offers more high-end options.
The Castries Market is another popular shopping destination located not far from the terminals.
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The market is open Monday through Saturday and is a good option for people looking for more local, handmade goods.
Several local vendors line the market with fresh produce for sale.
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The market has been a staple for fresh produce since it was built in 1894.
Stalls with crafts and local handmade goods can also be found in the market.
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It’s remained a go-to destination to get authentic, one-of-a-kind good from local vendors.
Derek Walcott Square is another popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
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The public park is surrounded by buildings featuring the city’s signature architecture.
A 400-year-old monkey pod tree sits at the center of the square.
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The centuries-old tree sprawls over a majority of the large park, offering a bit of shade from the Caribbean sun.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception isn’t far from the center of Walcott Square.
- Ian Gratton/Flickr
According to the City of Castries website, construction on the church was started in 1894 by a priest named Father Tapon and was designed by Father Scoles, a priest from Demerara.
It was completed in 1897 and later declared sacred by Archbishop Dowling in 1931. The building finally became a cathedral in 1957 when Bishop Gachet was consecrated and Castries Diocese was established.
Colorful, ornate paintings and large windows line the inside of the cathedral.
- DEA/GIO’PALAZZO/Getty Images
The interior features a mural by St. Lucian artist Dunstan St. Omer, who is one of the Caribbean country’s leading artists.
According to All About St. Lucia, the artist made his mark by creating several paintings in Catholic churches throughout the island. He was given the honor of designing St. Lucia’s flag when the island became an independent nation in 1979, and he was also granted a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2010.
Visitors can also catch a glimpse of the Government House, or go on a tour.
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The house is the official residence of the Governor-General of St. Lucia and sits at the top of Morne Fortune, a sprawling hill and residential area that offers scenic views of the island. The current incarnation of the house was built back in 1895, after the first was destroyed in 1817 and the second was abandoned in 1865, according to Caribbean information site Caribya.
Tours are available by appointment only. It’s open Tuesday and Thursday between 10 a.m. and noon, as well as from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., according to Caribya.
Of course, no trip to Castries is complete without a trip to its nearby stunning beaches.
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There are several beaches in the area to choose from, each with a slightly different environment.
La Toc Beach is one of the closest beaches to visit.
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Caribya describes the crescent-shaped beach as “calm and clean” and a tourist hotspot.
La Toc Beach is home to the popular Sandals Regency La Toc resort.
Guests who stay three nights or longer can even get a free wedding ceremony included with their stay.
If you want to stay nearby, Vigie Beach is closest to the airport.
Visitors can see views of Pigeon Island in the distance, which the Saint Lucia National Trust’s website says can be visited year-round with an $8 USD entry fee for tourists or $10 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($3.70 USD) for residents. It’s home to two beaches, several dining options, and a panoramic view of the Northwest coastline.
While most visitors hit the beaches during the day, Vigie Beach also offers a stunning view of the sunset.
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Caribya notes that the beach is free of mostly free of resorts and hotels, so it makes for a rather peaceful place to relax.
Marigot Bay is a similarly serene beach that’s farther away from the airport and cruise ports.
The beach is about a 30-minute drive south of Castries and remains a popular destination for visitors due to its picturesque views.
Marigot Bay is known for its swooping palm trees.
Its white sand and beautiful clear water make it a relaxing escape from the bustle of the markets and cruise ports.
If you’re willing to travel a bit farther, Rodney Bay is another popular destination with a more bustling beach.
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It’s located about six miles from the center of Castries.
Compared to Vigie Beach, Rodney Bay’s Reduit Beach is lined with more restaurants and bars for a livelier feel.
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Reduit Beach is Rodney Bay’s most popular destination thanks to its shimmering turquoise water.
With so many nearby beaches, it’s not tough to see why Castries has seen a 150% spike in search traffic on Kayak this year.