Why would you go on holiday to St Kitts and Nevis in the Carribean?
Yes, they have good weather, hot without being too hot, not too much rain.
Yes, they have good beaches, clear seas and good watersports.
Yes, there is great, local food.
But the real reason is Limin. You would go to St Kitts to lime. Limin in the St KItts way of being laid back. To kick off your shoes and sit back, perhaps enjoying a Ting in the Sting cocktail at a beach bar at sunset or digging your feet in the sand at one of the dreamy white sand beaches and watch the world go by.
Being laid back is the Caribbean way of life, it is the main reason we go to the Caribbean.
St Kitts is the smallest country in the western hemisphere, and is shaped a bit like an upside down guitar. It is thought to have been the first of the Caribbean islands to be discovered by Christopher Columbus, with its name coming from a contraction of that of Columbus. It was originally called , because of its richly fertile and volcanic soil. That soil helps to produce some of that great local food.
We’ve got some work to do before we head off to the beach. We are going to have a quick look at some of the history and culture of the island that you might encounter.
The island was first populated by three distinct groups of natives, who called the island Liamuiga Island, of the Fertile Island, fertile because of its rich volcanic soil. You will soon be eating the benefit of that soil in the delicious local food. The Island was first seen by Westerners when Christopher Columbus saw the island on his second voyage, and named the island after the patron saint of explorers and travellers, St Christopher. That was soon shortened (affectionately) to St Kitts.
The English came and then the French. The English and the French massacred the local Indians at a site known as “Bloody River.” The English then brought their co-operation with the French to an end, and defeated them.
The Island and its sister, St Nevis became known as the Gibralter of the Caribbean because of its domination of the sugar trade, fuelled of course by slavery. St Nevis also became popular as a spa retreat for its thermal baths.
St Kitts and Nevis were members of the British Commonwealth until 1983 when they obtained independence. However, the two islands are now pursuing two slightly different paths, particularly since the decline of the sugar industry in 2005 with St Kitts looking forward at new and more exclusive hotel and tourism developments, while St Nevis perhaps looks backwards at its historical background.
In terms of visible history now, you will want to see the abandoned sugar factories and old mills. You will want to visit the Unesco rated British fort, Brimstone fort, well preserved and a reminder of the might of the British Empire.
You will enjoy the colonial splendour of the Romney Manor, now celebrated for its production of Batik arts and crafts.
Those familiar with the history of Antigua will be aware that a young Horatio Nelson was stationed there. He often visited the Woolward family where he met the recently widowed Fanny. They married at the church in the Montpelier Estate in Nevis, and then subsequently returned to the family home in Norfolk, and before Nelson commenced his famous liaison with Emma Hamilton.
One of the features of the St Kittians is their friendly nature, from smiling children waving at you though to helpful locals showing you the best of their island. It makes St Kitts a very safe Island for travellers. While development is increasing, St Kitts retains its Caribbean soul in its music, its food, and of course in its limin.
The beaches in the Caribbean are among the finest in the world, and those in St Kitts are no exception, aided perhaps by the fact that St Kitts is still relatively undeveloped, so there are less people here. Most of the well known beaches are to the south, but at the far North of St Kitts is the beach of Dieppe Bay, famous for its black, volcanic sand and where the Atlantic and Caribbean seas meet. The beach itself is protected by a reef, which make it ideal for swimming and of course snorkeling.
At the furthest point South is Banana Beach. This is a little more difficult to get to, requiring either a car or a taxi, but is definitely worth the effort. Peaceful, soft sand, swaying palm trees, is this not the epitome of a Caribbean beach?
By way of contrast South Frigate Bay, on the Caribbean side of the island is action packed, with shacks and cafes providing food and drink as well as the party vibe, and restaurants serving up fine food. There is plenty of wind surfing, water skiing and other water sports available.
You could be chillin and limin at Reggae Beach, or getting your adrenaline pumping as it is also the centre of St KItts Water Sports with jet skiing, kite boarding and the like. If you want to rush more slowly, why not take a glass bottomed kayak out and see what lies beneath you.
Diving in St Kitts
Many of the hotels and resorts on St Kitts will offer preliminary diving courses, first in the pool to familiarise you with some of the basics, cleaning your mask, clearing your ears, breathing under water, giving an OK sign and general moving around under water. You are then taken out by boat to experience the real thing with dives up to 30 foot. That is quite deep enough for an inexperienced diver on a first dive. You are of course supervised by experienced PADI divers.
Diving is a great experience and one that every capable swimmer should try, particularly in the Caribbean where the waters are calm, clear and warm. One of the more carefully controlled activities is swimming with turtles, controlled for obvious reasons. At certain times of year, you can visit the nesting grounds, which may well be the unexpected highlight of your visit to St Kitts.
For more experienced divers there are some excellent dive sites. More than 400 ships have sunk off the coasts of St Kitts, so there is a wide variety from which to choose. The reefs shelter a huge range of fish and sea creatures. Other notable diving experiences include the Hot Vent, a volcanic flume and cave diving.
A more gentle hike is through the rain forest, although it is definitely advisable to take a guided walk so that you can really take note of and appreciate what you walking through, the plants and trees with their medicinal properties, rare plants, the wildlife and everything that puts the magic into a rain forest.
There are no shortages of land based adventures in St Kitts. Let’s start with something tough. Hiking to the top of Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano and, at 3792 feet, the highest peak in the Caribbean, is a tough ask, but the views when you get there are so well worth it. On the way up you will certainly hear and see a great deal of wildlife, including Velvet Monkeys if you are lucky. And then it’s 3792 feet back down again.
Instead of walking under the rain forest canopy why not fly over it on one of the 5 zip lines that St Kitts has to offer. The highest, at 250 feet, has some spectacular views of St Kitts, assuming you can keep your eyes open at 80 km an hour!
And of course, horse riding. This will be a fairly gentle ride with well mannered horses, but is a good way to see parts of St Kitts that you might not otherwise see.
There are some amazing luxury hotels on offer, as you would expect from any Caribbean island. Nestled on the beach or cliffside with amazing infinity pools overlooking the sea, there is something for everyone. Hotels like the Park Hyatt in St Christopher Harbour offer the sort of luxury you would expect from such a global brand coupled with the excellent and friendly service you will experience in St Kitts. The Park Hyatt offers 126 rooms, including 48 suites, all facing out to the sea and many with private balconies. The rooms are pale, polished wood, light and airy and extremely comfortable. The hotel has an on site restaurant, fitness centre and the Sugar Mill Spa and Sanctuary. Your children will enjoy Camp Hyatt with plenty of activities to keep them not just occupied but intrigued and engaged by everything that St Kitts provides. They are, after all, the visitors of tomorrow.
Something completely different and unique, to this part of the world at least, is the Belle Mont Farm, a sustainable eco-hotel where the owners have a vision of bringing people together to benefit both locals and visitors.
The resort includes a village of artists and artisans, sharing their knowledge and work. The food is from farm to table, or net to table. It is not some rough and rugged experience. It is luxurious, but it is luxury with a twist of its own, illustrated perhaps by the world’s only edible golf course. You will come here if you want to experience something different, slow and with space to explore. To explore what? The island, perhaps yourself?
I will provide in depth reports on the hotels of St Kitts in subsequent posts, so please keep checking in to my blog if you are interested in visiting the island. I am a St Kitts Specialist, so have a great deal more information available and can help you plan the perfect Caribbean getaway.
St Kitts is a perfect Caribbean destination if you are looking for
- Local and Authentic food and drink
- Dreamy white sand beaches
- Natural beauty and adventure
- Strong history and culture
- Friendly, welcoming people
It is less busy than some of the other Caribbean islands, at least for the time being. That may well change as more and more visitors discover what St Kitts and Nevis have to offer.
More information is available at the Tourist Board https://www.stkittstourism.kn
You might also be interested in my post on Antigua, another jewel in the Caribbean and with 365 spectacular beaches. https://inspirationtravel.co.uk/blog/three-reasons-to-visit-antigua-now/