Castries, a busy commercial city that wraps around a sheltered bay, is St. Lucia's capital and home to some 65,000 residents. Morne Fortune rises sharply to the south of town, creating a dramatic green backdrop. The charm of Castries lies almost entirely in its current liveliness, rather than its history, because four fires between 1796 and 1948 destroyed most of the colonial buildings. Freighters (exporting bananas, coconut, cocoa, mace, nutmeg, and citrus fruits) and cruise ships come and go frequently, making Castries Harbour one of the Caribbean's busiest ports.
Castries and the north are the most developed parts of St. Lucia. The roads are straight, mostly flat, and easy to navigate. Rodney Bay Marina and most of the resorts, restaurants, and nightspots are north of Castries, and the beaches in the north are some of the island's best. Pigeon Island, one of the island's most important historical sites, is at the island's northwestern tip. Marigot Bay, about 15 minutes south of the city, is both a yacht haven and a lovely destination for landlubbers.