[y] St. Kitts Visitors Guide
Lush and tranquil St. Kitts is famous for its commitment to preserving the natural beauty of this unspoiled island. A dormant volcano, Mt. Liamuiga, looms at the center of St. Kitts, dominating the landscape of this 23-mile long island that is just five miles across at its widest point. A paradise for nature lovers, St. Kitts offers a dense tropical forest, black, white and beige beaches, lava formations and plenty of vervet monkey sightings.
The most impressive beaches and wildlife are off the southeast peninsula at and around Frigate Bay. There are nine beaches and lagoons here, as well as a protected wilderness area filled with tropical birds, white-tailed deer, and the black-faced vervet monkeys. Originally named St. Christopher, Columbus named the island after the famous swimmer upon seeing its cobalt blue waters. St. Kitts is nearly an untouched paradise with some of the most beautiful scenery in the Caribbean.
Getting To St. Kitts
American Airlines flies daily between St Kitts and Miami, New York and Boston via San Juan, Puerto Rico. Traveling from Europe or Canada requires flying via Antigua, St Martin or San Juan. Antiguan-based LIAT has daily flights between St Kitts and Antigua and St Martin. Renting a car is the easiest way to see the entire island and there are numerous car rental agencies on St Kitts. You must have a valid license and will have to spend around $20 for a temporary visitor’s driver’s license. Remember to drive on the left.
Where to Eat in St. Kitts
Fresh local ingredients get all the attention from the chefs on St. Kitts. Whether it’s a formal plantation house dining room, beachfront shack, or roadside barbeque, the food is deliciously fresh and usually prepared just as you like. You’ll find a wide variety of cuisines and flavors at the many good restaurants on the island.
Marshall’s (Horizons Villa Resort, Frigate Bay; 869/466-8245), is a hot spot on the island serving amazing international fare from Jamaican chef Verral Marshall. Using only the freshest local ingredients, Marshall creates delicious plates like Portobello-stuffed tortellini with lobster and shrimp in a tomato basil sauce. Reservations are a must at this poolside location with incredible views of the Ocean.
Golden Lemon (Dieppe Bay; 869/465-7260), offers a three-course dinner that begins with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the bougainvillea-covered patio and moves into a candlelit dining room for a more formal dinner. The menu always changes as the owner of the elegant hotel creates his own recipes that never disappoint guests.
Ballahoo (Bassaterre; 869/465-4197), is a fun place for lunch or dinner that is always busy and always playing happy reggae or calypso music. Specialties include chili shrimp, conch simmered in garlic butter, Madras beef curry, lobster stir-fry, and a toasted rum-and-banana sandwich.
Sprat Net (Old Town Road; no phone), serves the freshest fish thanks to the fisherman owner who throws the days catch on the table and lets you select your dinner. Meat is also on the menu and all entrees are served with an ample side of coleslaw and peas and rice. Guests sit on picnic tables at this simple spot on the beach. Cash only.
Rawlins Plantation (Rawlins Plantation Inn, St. Paul’s; 869/465-6221), has one of the finest chefs on the island serving specialties like conch ravioli in lobster sauce or shrimp ceviche with coriander and sour oranges. The four-course prix-fixe dinner is always created with local ingredients. The beautiful room with high, vaulted ceilings is filled with antiques and lovely furnishings.
Stonewall’s (Basseterre; 869/465-5248), serves up a menu according to what’s fresh. Usually available are rib-eye steaks, barbequed ribs, and specialties such as pan-seared tuna with a ginger-wasabi sauce.
Turtle Beach Bar & Grill (Turtle Beach; 869/469-9086), is a popular lunch spot for ribs, coconut-shrimp salad, grilled lobster, and the freshest fish in town. You can feed the monkeys, relax in a shaded hammock, or rent a kayak or snorkel gear. On Sunday afternoon there is live music and volleyball. No dinner.
Where to Stay in St. Kitts
Frigate Bay Resort (Basseterre, 869/465-8935; frigatebay.com), has 40 rooms and 24 studios, all with balconies, and most with a view of the ocean. A shuttle runs to both the Atlantic and the Caribbean beaches, although the Caribbean is just a quick walk. A restaurant serving Caribbean dishes looks out at the pool and offers live entertainment during high season. Hotel guests have golf privileges.
The Golden Lemon Inn & Villas (Dieppe Bay; 800/633-7411 or 869/465-7260; goldenlemon.com) was created by Arthur Leaman, a former decorating editor for House and Garden. The restored 17th-century house offers beautiful rooms with gorgeous furnishings as well as one-or two-bedroom townhouses that have private plunge pools. The restaurant is one of the best on the island, serving a delicious three-course meal. Tennis court, pool, beach, and bar area on the property.
Ottley’s Plantation Inn (800/772-3039 or869-465-7234; ottleys.com), offers some of the most beautiful accommodations on the island. Originally a 17th-century sugar plantation, Ottley’s Plantation Inn sits on 35 acres of rolling lawns and gardens in the foothils of Mt. Liamuiga. Incredible views of the Atlantic and the mountains are abundant at this secluded hillside spot. The towering royal palms frame the great house and stone cottages that are all decorated with wicker and antique furnishings. The suites have private plunge pools. Restaurant, tennis court, pool, spa and croquet are all on-site.
Rawlins Plantation (869-465-6221; rawlinsplantatiaon.com), has views of Mt. Liamuiga and neighboring French and Dutch islands from its 12 acres of manicured grounds. The landscape is lush at this serene and elegant inn with 10 rooms perched at 350 feet above sea level on the Northern end of the island. Guests have mahogany four-poster or brass beds, wicker chairs, hardwood floors, grass mats, and local artwork in the rooms. The restaurant is very good and the inn has tennis and croquet on the grounds.
St Kitts Marriott Resort (Frigate Bay; 869/466-1200 or 800/228-9290; Marriott.com), was St. Kitts’s first large beach resort. The 237 guest rooms are in the main building and 15 other three-story buildings on the property. The grounds are well-maintained and beautiful with many fountains. The main building contains a replica of Christopher Columbus’s Santa Maria. The rooms have nice tile floors and comfortable furniture. There are six restaurants on-site, as well as an 18-hole golf course, five tennis courts, three pools, health club, spa, beach, snorkeling, boating, six bars, piano bar, casino, nightclub, video game room and shops.
Timothy Beach Resort (Frigate Bay; 869-465-8597 or 800/288-7991; timothybeach.com), is the only hotel directly on the Caribbean beach in luxurious Frigate Bay. We are nestled beside the calm Caribbean and a five-minute walk from the Atlantic. The powder blue stucco buildings have comfortable, fully equipped, townhouse-style units, which can be blocked off to form standard rooms. The beachfront Sunset Café serves Caribbean-Continental fare. Steps away from the Caribbean and a five-minute walk to the Atlantic, the resort is close to many water sports and has its own pool and bar.
St. Kitts Weather
The yearly average temperature is 79 degrees here and annual rainfall averages 55 inches. The humidity level is low, and constant northeast trade winds keep the islands cool.
Activities & Attractions in St. Kitts
This nature lover’s haven offers outstanding hiking, tropical rain forest, glorious beaches, golfing, fishing, boating and diving or snorkeling through underwater reefs and wrecks.
On St. Kitts, the best white sand beaches are on the southern end of the island. These include Sand Bank Bay, which is probably the best, Frigate Bay, Friar’s Bay, White House Bay, Banana Bay, and Cockleshell Bay. The eastern side of the island, facing the Atlantic has surf, and the northern part of St. Kitts has black, volcanic-sand beaches.
VISIT THE CAPITAL
Basseterre is one of the prettiest Caribbean capitals with its elegant, Georgian architecture, and the amazing green hills in the background.
Brimstone Hill-a fortress that was more than 100 years in the making is a fantastic outlook over the western coast. Known as the “Gibraltar of the West Indies” and a National Park since 1985. The hill offers views of forested mountains, cultivated fields, the historic town of Sandy Point and the neighboring islands of Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Barts. The Citadel has remained virtually intact and houses many canons and a small museum and visitor’s center.
DIVING & WATERSPORTS
Local dive operators are ecology-minded and continue to protect the reefs. Most sites are within a short boat ride from shore. Some favorites include Monkey Shoals, Coconut Tree Reef, Nags Head and Sandy Point. Snorkeling, jet skiing, parasailing, and windsurfing are also popular pastimes on the island.
There are many local captains and boats available for hire, by the day or week. Catamaran cruises are a highlight of trips to St. Kitts. Blue Water Safaris (Basseterre; 869/466-4933; bluewatersafaris.com), offers snorkel trips for two or full-day cruises for groups of any size.
The Royal St. Kitts Golf Course (Frigate Bay; 869/466-2700), is an 18-hole championship course that sits between the Caribbean and the Atlantic with amazing views and challenging holes. Greens fees are approximately $115 for 18 holes.
Both St. Kitts and Nevis have a good many trails leading into the mountains and rain forests. The local guides are especially informative and can identify local flora and fauna. You may arrange for a guide through your hotel. Greg’s Safari offers full and half-day guided hikes 869/465-4121
- Royal Beach Casino, Marriott Resort, Frigate Bay.
- BAMBU’S (Basseterre; 869/466-5280), has covered the place in the material of the same name. The ceiling, bar, railings, mirrors, benches, are all bamboo. Local artworks hangs on the walls, there is a big-screen TV for sports and a small dance floor that gets crowded on the weekends.
- BOBSY’S (Basseterre; 869/466-6133), is a local favorite for karaoke and dancing.
- CIRCUS GRILL (Basseterre; 869/465-0143), offers a great happy hour with views of the harbor.