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St. Kitts is a very scenic island.  Its lush green mountains tower over a gently sloping coastal plain.  The island is volcanic in origin.  A string of mountains run along the spine of the island, soaring up to 3,936 feet (1,200 meters).  They are too steep for inhabitation but contain tropical rain forests with hummingbirds and green monkeys.
 
St. Kitts, the first English settlement in all of the Leeward Islands, was in British possession until 1983, when this island, along with Nevis, declared their independence and formed a tiny, two-island nation. The pioneering and energetic spirit of a move such as this lives on and is quite recognizable in the demeanor of the islanders. Friendly and helpful, but not likely to take guff, the citizens of St. Kitts are extremely proud of their heritage and ancestry, as well they should be. However, British traditions, such as the sport of cricket for instance, remain a strong influence on the inhabitants.
 
For years, St. Kitts suffered because it was basically a one-resource nation, with all of its monetary revenue coming from sugarcane. This made the health and wealth of the island extremely fragile, especially considering its vulnerability to hurricane damage. Hurricane Hugo in 1990 caused what was then thought to be permanent devastation. But through perseverance and a rapidly growing tourist economy, St. Kitts rebounded stronger than anyone could have thought. Travelers have just recently begun to discover the wonders of St. Kitts, and as a result, tourism is expanding every year, and the economy is at an all time high.
 
An interesting situation is brewing in St. Kitts, and it has to do with its partner island Nevis. Nevis is attempting to break off its partnership from St. Kitts, and as a result trying to steal a lot of the new thunder that St. Kitts has acquired. As a result of the verbal war that is being waged, prospective tourists can find great deals on St. Kitts as the two islands compete to control the tourism cycle in the Leeward Islands.
 
The natural beauty of the island remains unspoiled, so hopefully you will have a chance to get there soon. Unlike many of the neighboring islands in the Caribbean, St. Kitts is still relatively uncrowded, and the white-sand beaches stretch for miles. The 18th-century architecture of St. Kitts is magnificent, and the extravagant man-made buildings are complemented fantastically by the lush rain forests that encapsulate the majority of the island. This is exactly what makes St. Kitts so incredibly exciting. The diversity all around the island is amazing, as locals can be seen shirtless wearing sandals, while others prefer to suit up in thousand dollar linens while sipping martinis in one of the posh dining facilities.
 
St. Kitts, under British rule till 1983, Nevis and this island, formed an independent dual island country. The locals are amiable and helpful, and take intense pride in their culture and ancestry. However, British colonial leftovers, for instance sill have great influence on the life of locals.

Despite facing tumultuous natural calamities, this port has fought back with determination and a rapidly burgeoning tourist economy. Vacationers have off late begun to explore and appreciate the beauty of St. Kitts, as a result of which tourism is steadily growing.
In the squabble for one-upmanship and tourism glory between St. Kitts and Nevis, the tourist wins hands down. Both the islands offer great deals in a bid to outdo the other.
 
St Kitts is comparatively less touristy and less crowded compared to other glitzy Caribbean hotspots. It’s marked by its spectacular natural beauty, and miles and miles of pristine white sand beaches. St Kitts is characterized by both breathtakingly beautiful man-made creations such as architecture and gorgeous natural rain forests. This diversity is what makes it appealing for travelers. You will find all sorts of locals from the bohemian shirtless ones to the all suited booted types sitting in post restaurants.
 
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships calling at St. Kitts dock at Port Zante, which is a deepwater port directly in Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts.A brand new 27 acre cruise-ship/pier-marina in Basseterre. Scheduled for completed in 2003, at this time, the domed welcome center/pier are being utilized, but the shops and restaurants slated to be part of the complex
 
The cruise-ship terminal is right in the downtown area, two minutes' walk from sights and shops. Taxi rates on St. Kitts are fixed, and should be posted right at the dock. If you'd like to go to Nevis, several daily ferries (30 to 45 minutes, $8-$10 one-way) can take you to Charlestown in Nevis; the Byzantine schedule is subject to change, so double-check times. Although the city proper of Basseterre is within walking distance, a plethora of taxis are available for your convenience at the pier. Fares are fixed, but, prices can be negotiated and vehicles can be hired by the hour.
 
Cruise passengers often book their tours of Basseterre onboard ship as organized shore excursions. However, the town is quite small, and some people choose to explore it independently. Others look to save money by booking various tours once they disembark directly with various operators, and several of these will have offices prominently located around the port area. Just about everything available on the island can be purchased at the port, including scuba diving and snorkeling excursions, rides on the scenic railway, visits to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Brimstone Hill Fortress, and even treks to the summit of Mount Liamuiga. Brimstone Hill Fortress is a 38-acre complex of bastions and barracks built by the British and one of the best examples of a 17th- and 18th-century military fortification in the Caribbean. On a clear day, the view includes six islands: Nevis, Montserrat, Saba, St. Barth's, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten. Kids love to cross the dry moat, admire the six-foot thick walls, explore the parade grounds and walk trails in search of the island's green vervet monkeys.
 
Things To See and Do
The island's capital Basseterre (it was named by the French, meaning lower ground) has a relaxed, slightly ramshackle appearance, with paint peeling from some of the fine Georgian buildings.
Basseterre. On the south coast, St. Kitts's walkable capital is graced with tall palms and flagstone sidewalks; although many of the buildings appear run-down, there are interesting shops, excellent art galleries, and some beautifully maintained houses. Duty-free shops and boutiques line the streets and courtyards radiating from the octagonal Circus, built in the style of London's famous Piccadilly Circus.

However, the little city is undergoing modernization. The main square – once the site of a slave market – was formerly known as Pall Mall and the area around the adjacent green clock tower and water fountain is known as Piccadilly Circus, or The Circus. While it is difficult to spot many similarities with their namesakes, the Circus is as good a spot for people watching as the London original.
 
 
The British colonial town of Basseterre is built around a so-called Circus, the town's round square. A tall green Victorian clock stands in the center of the Circus. After Brimstone Hill Fortress, Berkeley Memorial Clock is the most photographed landmark of St. Kitts. In the old days, wealthy plantation owners and their families used to promenade here.
 
Try to visit the marketplace, especially on a Saturday morning. Here country people bring baskets brimming with mangos, guavas, soursop, mammee apples, and wild strawberries and cherries just picked in the fields. Tropical flowers abound.
 
Another major landmark is Independence Square. Once an active slave market, it's surrounded by private homes of Georgian architecture.

You can negotiate with a taxi driver to take you on a tour of the island, costing from $80 for a 3-hour trip; most drivers are well versed in the lore of the island. You might want to make lunch reservations at either the Rawlins Plantation Inn or the Golden Lemon. For more information, call the St. Kitts Taxi Association, the Circus, Basseterre (tel. 869/465-8487, until 10pm).
 
The island's most popular attraction is the St. Kitts Scenic Railway (tel. 869/465-7263; www.stkittsscenicrailway.com). In double-decker and air-conditioned railcars, you're taken on a panoramic tour of the most spectacular scenery the island has to offer. The upper level features a spacious, open-air observation deck. The narrow-gauge railway follows the old sugar-cane train tracks, taking in the best vistas of mountains and the Caribbean Sea. You can enjoy a service bar and live musical entertainment. The train is boarded at Needsmust Station. This is certainly the quickest and easiest way to see all "St. Kitts in a nutshell," especially if you're a cruise-ship passenger with limited time. The 50km (31-mile) ride costs $89 for adults, half-price for children. Trips last 3 1/2 hours, with departure daily at 8:10am. Sometimes a second daily tour will be announced if business merits it.
 
If you want to go on a "safari" in the sky, Sky Safari Tours at Wingfield Estate (tel. 869/466-4259; www.skysafaristkitts.com), on the site of an old sugar plantation, leads cable-line treks that zip through St. Kitts Rainforest at speeds of up to 80kmph (50 mph), from as high up as 76m (250 ft.) above the ground. Most tours vary from 1 1/2 to 2 hours, costing $89 per person and $65 for children 14 and under. Tours begin at 8am daily, shutting down around 4 or 5pm when the last cable line comes in.
 
Brimstone Hill Fortress (tel. 869/465-2609), 14km (8 3/4 miles) west of Basseterre, is a major stop. This historic monument, among the largest and best preserved in the Caribbean, is a complex of bastions and barracks ingeniously adapted to the top and upper slopes of a steep-sided 240m (787-ft.) hill. The fortress dates from 1690, when the British attempted to recapture Fort Charles from the French. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children.
 
Today the fortress is the centerpiece of a national park, with nature trails and a diverse range of plant and animal life, including the green vervet monkey. It's also a photographer's paradise, with views of mountains, fields, and the Caribbean Sea. On a clear day, you can see six neighboring islands. Visitors can enjoy self-guided tours among many ruins and restored structures, including the barrack rooms at Fort George, which contain an interesting museum. The gift shop stocks prints of rare maps and paintings of the Caribbean. Admission is $8, half price for children. The Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is open daily from 9:30am to 5:30pm.
 
You can visit the site where a large tamarind tree in the hamlet of Half-Way Tree once marked the boundary between the British- and French-held sectors. It was near the hamlet of Old Road Town that Sir Thomas Warner landed with the first band of settlers and established the first permanent colony to the northwest at Sandy Point. Sir Thomas's grave is in the cemetery of St. Thomas Church.
 
A sign in the middle of Old Road Town points the way to Carib Rock Drawings, all the evidence that remains of the former inhabitants. The markings are on black boulders, and the pictographs date from prehistoric days.
 
Into the Volcano
 
Mount Liamuiga was dubbed "Mount Misery" long ago, but it sputtered its last gasp around 1692. This dormant volcano on the northeast coast is one of the major highlights for hikers on St. Kitts. The mountain's peak often lies under cloud cover.
The ascent to the volcano is usually made from the north end of St. Kitts at Belmont Estate. The trail winds through a rainforest and travels along deep ravines up 788m (2,585 ft.) to the rim of the crater. The actual peak is at 1,138m (3,734 ft.). Figure on 5 hours of rigorous hiking to complete the round-trip walk.
The caldera itself is some 120m (394 ft.) from its rim to the crater floor. Many hikers climb down into the dormant volcano, but the trail is steep and slippery, so be careful. At the crater floor is a tiny lake, along with volcanic rocks and various vegetation.
 
Greg's Safaris (tel. 869/465-4121; www.gregsafaris.com) is the most competent and best-accessorized trekking outfitter in St. Kitts, maintaining seven different four-wheel-drive Land Rovers for access to some of the island's toughest terrain. Owner and founder Greg Pereira charges $95 per person for 9-hour hiking tours of remote regions of his island, recommending that participants be reasonably fit and that they carry a dry shirt (the one you'll wear will get drenched with perspiration) and a waterproof bag or knapsack for transport of bottled water and your camera. Hikes go up the sides of Mount Liamuiga ("fertile isle" in Carib) and include a picnic lunch and a rum-based drink or two at the conclusion of the day's hiking. Treks include a guide and running commentary on the island's topography, sociology, ecology, and history. The same outfit also offers half-day rainforest explorations for $65 per person.
Basseterre is best seen on foot for its wonderful architecture and affable locals. Independence Square is an intriguing venue for spotting 18th century architectural masterpieces.  St. George's Anglican Church at Canyon Street is also worth visiting.
 
Mount Liamuiga and Black Rocks
Not for the faint-hearted or the unfit, the steep hike to the crater of dormant volcano Mount Liamuiga rewards walkers with great views of neighbouring islands from St Kitts' highest point, at 1155m. Guided tours start in Belmont Estate and take about two hours each way. Dramatic cliffs formed by the erupting volcano many years ago can be seen at Black Rocks, near the village of Saddlers. It's a breathtaking sight – despite the presence of cheap souvenir and snack stalls.
• Tour companies include Kantours (+1869 466 2098, kantours.com); Tropical Tours (+1869 465 416, tropicalstkitts-nevis.com); and O'Niell's Tours (+1869 665 1384)
 
Brimstone Hill Fortress
As one of the earliest of Britain's colonies, St Kitts was so highly prized that the vast Brimstone Hill Fortress was built to defend it. Standing 240m above sea level, it is a breathtaking complex, constructed in about 1690 by African slave labour. It now houses a museum that gives a good insight into what life would have been like for the soldiers living in the dramatic surroundings. Once called the Gibraltar of the West Indies for its domination of 18th-century battles, Brimstone is now a Unesco world heritage site. It is worth also climbing up a little further to Monkey Hill for the coastal views.
• Taylors Range, Basseterre (+1869 465 2609, brimstonehillfortress.org). Open daily 9.30am-5.30pm
 
St Kitts Scenic Railway
The prettiest way to see St Kitts is from The Sugar Train, the island's scenic railway that trundles around the coastline – it's the only one of its kind in the Caribbean. The colourful double-decker train was formerly used to transport sugar from plantations to factory. Built between 1912 and 1926, the railway remained in use until 2005, when sugar production ceased. These days it is popular with cruise-ship passengers and during the journey a group of a cappella singers steps aboard to sing calypsos. It sounds cheesy, but the views of plantation houses, disused mills and lush vegetation are great. Allow about three hours.
Needs must Train Station, Basseterre (+1869 465 7263, stkittsscenicrailway.com). Timetables vary: Nov-April several daily departures; May-Oct limited schedule
 
Bloody Point
About a mile west of Basseterre on Old Road, you find Bloody Point, a spot that represents a grim moment in Kittitian history. This was where, in 1626, about 2,000 Carib Indians were massacred by joint French and British forces, pre-empting a plan by the Caribs to drive the foreigners from the island and take back their native land. Legend has it that the blood from the slaughter ran for three days. There's not much here these days apart from a plaque, but the road from this point sweeps up to a headland from where you can clearly see the islands of Saba and St Eustatius – so it's a good stop for photographs.
 
Petroglyphs, adjacent to Romney Manor
St Kitts is dotted with intriguing rock carvings, or petroglyphs, made by the original Carib inhabitants before the Europeans arrived in the 17th century. The most prominent are on two large rocks at the approach to the Wingfield Manor Estate, adjacent to Romney Manor. They look slightly crude, as if newly painted over in white, yet these rock drawings are very much authentic and are said to be in their original location. Some experts think they depict images of the Carib Zemi, or gods, although others believe they were fertility symbols.
 
Romney Manor and Old Road
Old Road was the first British town in the entire Caribbean. Sir Thomas Warner landed at Old Road Bay on 28 January 1623 with 15 settlers. Just above Old Road Town is the 17th-century Romney Manor sugar estate, now home to Caribelle Batik. Artisans at the workshop provide live demonstrations of the batik process, and sell their products here as well. Best of all are the beautifully restored gardens surrounding the manor and featuring a magnificent saman tree said to be 350 years old. Nearby, the church of St Thomas – the first Anglican church in the British Caribbean – is still standing.
 Caribelle Batik, near Basseterre (+1869 465 6253, caribellebatikstkitts.com). Open daily 9am-5pm
 
Piccadilly Circus, Basseterre
The island's capital Basseterre (it was named by the French, meaning lower ground) has a relaxed, slightly ramshackle appearance, with paint peeling from some of the fine Georgian buildings. However, the little city is undergoing modernisation. The main square – once the site of a slave market – was formerly known as Pall Mall and the area around the adjacent green clock tower and water fountain is known as Piccadilly Circus, or The Circus. While it is difficult to spot many similarities with their namesakes, the Circus is as good a spot for people watching as the London original.
 
Rainforest
Even though St Kitts covers just 176 sq km, more than a quarter of it is a designated national park largely composed of rainforest that is said – unusually – to be expanding. There are a number of trails to follow, none of which is very challenging and most of which offer good wildlife viewing: you will probably see cheeky green vervet monkeys swinging through the trees and elegant displays of hummingbirds, as well as lizards and mongooses. At certain points there are natural springs where it is possible to swim. Take a good local guide to show you the largely hidden bird life and identify the fascinating plants.
Guide companies include Greg's Safaris (+1869 465 4121, gregsafaris.com) and Poinciana Tours (+1869 665 1459, poincianatours.com)
 
National Museum, St Kitts
The lovely pedimented colonial building on the Basseterre waterfront is the Old Treasury Building, dating from 1894. It now houses the National Museum, run by the St Christopher National Trust, and offering an overview of the culture and heritage of St Kitts and Nevis. The Treasury Building was once also known as the gateway to the island because its archway was the point of entry from the pier for passengers arriving by ship. The old pier has long since been replaced by an apron from which you can see Port Zante and the new cruise-ship dock, which has a lively craft market.
+1869 466 2744, stkittsheritage.com. Opening times vary by season
 
Fairview Great House and Gardens
This French colonial mansion dates back to 1701 and is set in two lush acres. It has been well restored and today visitors can see how it would have been furnished and decorated as an elegant private home. The original kitchen and bathing room – which used heated rocks to warm spring water for the tub – still exist. There is a restaurant, Nirvana (+1869 465 3021, nirvanafairview.com), which serves local dishes and sometimes runs cookery classes. The great glory, though, is the garden – with interpretive signage and monkeys and birds galore.
+1869 465 3141. Open daily 9am-5pm

Port Zante, is a striking twenty-seven-acre cruise ship pier and coast that had been from the unearthed from the sea. The neo-classical design sporting port features beautiful fountains, walkways, and a shopping mall complex. There are several crafts shops and dining outlets here.
Black Rocks is a nice place for exploring erstwhile volcanic eruptions. Catch exotic rock formations now at this popular photo shoot site.
 
Other things to do in Basseterre St Kitts include visiting one of the beaches. Many will gravitate to Frigate Bay, which boasts the liveliest and popular beaches on the island. In addition to calm Caribbean seas, a long stretch of golden sand, and good snorkeling, the beach is dotted with numerous beach bars, music venues, and casual dining spots. The beach is about a four-mile drive and if you don't have car rentals, a taxi will be happy to take you and then come back for you at the appointed time. If you happen to be staying on the island in a more remote location, you might come to Basseterre for a little nightlife or to attend special events. The city and the beach around Frigate Bay are the locations of many of the major events during the annual Carnival (Christmas season) and Culturama (July).
 
Brimstone Hill. This 38-acre fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is part of a national park dedicated by Queen Elizabeth in 1985. After routing the French in 1690, the English erected a battery here; by 1736 the fortress held 49 guns, earning it the moniker Gibraltar of the West Indies. In 1782, 8,000 French troops laid siege to the stronghold, which was defended by 350 militia and 600 regular troops of the Royal Scots and East Yorkshires. When the English finally surrendered, they were allowed to march from the fort in full formation out of respect for their bravery (the English afforded the French the same honor when they surrendered the fort a mere year later). A hurricane severely damaged the fortress in 1834, and in 1852 it was evacuated and dismantled. The beautiful stones were carted away to build houses.
 
The citadel has been partially reconstructed and its guns remounted. It's a steep walk up the hill from the parking lot. A seven-minute orientation film recounts the fort's history and restoration. You can see remains of the officers' quarters, redoubts, barracks, ordnance store, and cemetery. Its museum collections were depleted by hurricanes, but some pre-Columbian artifacts, objects pertaining to the African heritage of the island's slaves (such as masks and ceremonial tools), weaponry, uniforms, photographs, and old newspapers remain. The spectacular view includes Montserrat and Nevis to the southeast; Saba and St. Eustatius to the northwest; and St. Barth and St. Maarten to the north. Nature trails snake through the tangle of surrounding hardwood forest and savanna (a fine spot to catch the green vervet monkeys-inexplicably brought by the French and now outnumbering the residents-skittering about). Main Rd., Brimstone Hill. Admission charged.
 
Romney Manor. The ruins of this somewhat restored house (reputedly once the property of Thomas Jefferson) and surrounding replicas of chattel-house cottages are set in 6 acres of glorious gardens, with exotic flowers, an old bell tower, and an enormous, gnarled 350-year-old saman tree (sometimes called a rain tree). Inside, at Caribelle Batik, you can watch artisans hand-printing fabrics by the 2,500-year-old Indonesian wax-and-dye process known as batik. Look for signs indicating a turnoff for Romney Manor near Old Road. Old Road.
 
St. Kitts Scenic Railway. The old narrow-gauge train that had transported sugarcane to the central sugar factory since 1912 is all that remains of the island's once-thriving sugar industry. Two-story cars bedecked in bright Kittitian colors circle the island in just under four hours (a new Rail and Sail option takes guests going or on the return via catamaran). Each passenger gets a comfortable, downstairs air-conditioned seat fronting vaulted picture windows and an upstairs open-air observation spot. The conductor's running discourse embraces not only the history of sugar cultivation but also the railway's construction, local folklore, island geography, even other agricultural mainstays from papayas to pigs. You can drink in complimentary tropical beverages (including luscious guava daiquiris) along with the sweeping rain-forest and ocean vistas, accompanied by an a cappella choir's renditions of hymns, spirituals, and predictable standards like "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad." Needsmust. Admission charged.
 
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
There are tons of dive sites in and around St. Kitts. Bloody Bay Reef makes for an adventure packed underwater exploration spot. Witness the spectacular yellow sea fans here, in addition to other fascinating marine creatures. Nags Head is another exciting dive site. This is more geared for the thrill seekers. Reef sharks are found in abundance here, and this spot is only for the most experienced divers. Pro-Divers (869/466-3483) is one of the most renowned snorkeling and scuba diving company in St Kitts.
 
Greg's Safaris: Explore the rainforest on a guided hike. Greg's Safaris combines a Land Rover drive along St. Kitts' west coast with a two-hour trek through a rainforest mountain valley. (869-465-4121)
Sky Safari Tours: Glide through the treetops on a Sky Safari Tours zip-line adventure located on Wingfield Estate. (869-466-4259)
 
Romney Manor: Stroll the grounds at Romney Manor, once owned by Thomas Jefferson's grandfather. Today, the botanical garden houses also houses Caribelle Batik, the island's preeminent producer of handmade batik clothing. (Old Road, Basseterre; 869-465-6253)
 
Diving and Snorkeling: Though unheralded as a dive destination, St. Kitts has more than a dozen excellent sites, protected by several new marine parks. The surrounding waters feature shoals, hot vents, shallows, canyons, steep walls, and caverns at depths from 40 to nearly 200 feet.

Dive Sites -- Among St. Kitts' rewarding dive sites is Booby Shoals, known for its tropical fish, stingrays and Hawksbill turtles. Experienced scuba enthusiasts who can handle strong currents should head to Nag's Head, where they can swim with eagle rays, lobsters and reef sharks. Pro-Divers arranges scuba and snorkeling expeditions. (Fisherman's Wharf; 869-660-3483)
Hiking.Trails in the central mountains vary from easy to don't-try-it-by-yourself. Monkey Hill and Verchild's Peak aren't difficult, although the Verchild's climb will take the better part of a day. Don't attempt Mt. Liamuiga without a guide. You'll start at Belmont Estate-at the west end of the island-on horseback, then proceed on foot to the lip of the crater, at 2,600 feet. You can go down into the crater-1,000 feet deep and 1 mile (1.5 km) wide, with a small freshwater lake-clinging to vines and roots and scaling rocks, even trees. Expect to get muddy.

Nevis: Take a ferry to less-traveled Nevis, rimmed by coral reefs and miles of white-sand beach. Six vessels operate the route, which takes about 45 minutes. One-way fares cost about $8 for adults and $4 for children under 12. (Schedules change by ferry but service generally runs daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
 
Beaches
Best for a Half-Day Visit: There are half a dozen white-sand beaches along the island's narrow southeastern peninsula. One of the best areas is the two-mile stretch between Cockleshell Bay and Banana Bay, where you can swim, snorkel or down Carib beers and rum punch at Lion's Beach Bar.
Best for the Dedicated Beach Bum: Lacking restaurants, Sandy Bank Bay combines calm surf with relative privacy.
Best for Active Types: South Frigate Bay is popular for swimming, windsurfing and water-skiing. Further south, Turtle Bay is another popular beach for windsurfing. With a sunken tugboat attracting schools of fish, White House Bay is great for snorkeling, and Conaree Bay is popular for body-surfing.
 
Eating Out
At some point during your visit, you should eat sugar directly from the cane -- and an occasional vendor, some of them positioned in downtown Basseterre at the corner of Fort and Cayon Streets, will sell you a stalk for around $2. Strip off the hard exterior of the stalk, bite into it, chew on the tasty reeds, and swallow the juice. It's best with a glass of rum. Tourist officials are quick to point out that the local economy is no longer based exclusively on sugar cane in particular, or on agriculture in general, but you'll nonetheless spot lots of flourishing sugar-cane fields, especially in isolated regions of (northwestern) St. Kitts.
 
Sprat Net, Old Road
Fish and lobster don't come any fresher than at this local-to-the-bone establishment in Old Road, the first British settlement in the Caribbean. That's because the proprietors are among the island's best-known fishermen, who decided in the mid-1990s that, rather than just sell their daily catch, they might as well cook it first. The result is a sprawling wooden structure right on the Caribbean waterfront, where you can watch your fish or lobster be cooked on large grills in an open kitchen. You eat at unpretentious wooden picnic tables; the crowd is predominantly local and decidedly lively, and there's often live music on the menu, too. Prices are moderate.  + 1869 466 7535 or +1869 661 1901
 
Sweet Cane, Basseterre
This unpretentious establishment is proof that good food, efficient service and consistency are the most important ingredients in a successful restaurant. With its eclectic and fairly ambitious menu, it would be easy for this Port Zante eatery to get a few things wrong – but not only have I never had a meal here that wasn't excellent, I've never spoken to anyone who has. Which is a remarkable recommendation, given that Kittitians are appreciative of good food and don't hesitate to say when a meal is not up to their high standards. Sweet Cane's menu includes specials such as Cajun grouper, roast beef in red-wine sauce, shrimp penne pasta, excellent burgers, jerk chicken, lasagne, seafood gratinée and oxtail with garlic mashed potatoes. The decor is bright and cheerful, and the location – in the Basseterre cruise-ship complex – is convenient, if not particularly entrancing. Prices are moderate and value is outstanding. 
+1869 866 4305 or +1869 665 7628
 
Shiggidy Shack bar, St Kitts
Located at the opposite end of The Strip to Buddies, Shiggidy Shack is right on the beach – you can sit with your feet in the sand at some tables – and is one of the longest-established of the popular bars jostling for business. A traditional gathering place for the St Kitts expat crowd, and also popular with tourists staying at nearby hotels, Shiggidy Shack has a menu heavy on seafood straight off the grill, with lobster and excellent fish burgers its star attractions. Among the others are live entertainment and karaoke nights – and, yes, reasonable prices. +1869-465-0673 or +1869-762-3983, www.mrxshiggidyshack.com
 
Buddies Beach Hut, The Strip
The biggest establishment on The Strip – a line of beachfront watering holes that stretch the length of Frigate Bay South – Buddies offers an ambitious and well-executed menu that includes ribs, chicken, lobster, fish and burgers. These are all cooked with Caribbean flair and served with excellent rice or fries, and (a bonus here) beautifully crisp vegetables. Again, the crowd is largely local and lively, particularly on Friday evenings, when the downstairs bar is sure to be hopping – and the upstairs dancefloor even more so. Prices are moderate ... and if this is starting to sound repetitive, that's deliberate: St Kitts has an assortment of upmarket restaurants with tabs to match, but the 10 recommended here are all reasonably priced and offer good value for money. +1869 465 2839
 
Jamrock Beach Bar on South Friars Bay
South Friars, just after the first major hill on the south-east peninsula highway, heading south from Frigate Bay. Jam Rock is a comparatively recent addition to the growing array of bars and restaurants on the island's most popular beach. It is a Jamaican-owned establishment and the menu offers a variety of JA specialities, among them jerk pork and chicken. But the hands-down winner is their succulent fillet of grouper smothered in a delectably creamy sauce – it might not be authentically Caribbean, but contented regulars choose it time after time. +1869 469 1608
 
Sunset Beach Bar, South Friars
South Friars and one of the longest-established beach operations on the island. The current incarnation of the Sunset is down the beach from the original location, now occupied by the swish Carambola restaurant, but owner-chef Olivia is still at the helm, and still delivering authentic local food and Caribbean hospitality. Sunset veers away from the usual beach-bar grilled staples with a limited menu of home-cooked stewed chicken or steamed fish served with peas and rice. Prices? On the low side of moderate.
 
Rituals Sushi, Frigate Bay North, St Kitts
A sushi restaurant in St Kitts? Not so long ago, you'd have been laughed off the island if you suggested it, but the recently opened Rituals Sushi – opposite the Frigate Bay golf course, in the middle of a string of touristy restaurants – is the real deal. The chefs know what they're about, whether it's the excellent sushi they're preparing or an interesting selection of mainly Japanese dishes. The kimono-clad waitresses are friendly and efficient, and you have the choice of eating on a pleasant patio or in the elegant, Asian-themed interior. Prices are on the high side of moderate, but it is excellent value given the quality and consistency Rituals Sushi delivers. +1869 466 0161
 
PJ's Bar and Restaurant, Frigate Bay North
A Kittitian institution, PJ's was in business long before most of the restaurant owners on Frigate Bay North had even heard of St Kitts, much less opened their doors. Owners Pat and Jude shut up shop for a couple of years, but decided to reopen earlier this year. Their return was warmly welcomed by a legion of local regulars, who had missed propping up the bar at the front of the restaurant, and they are often joined by tourists from the nearby Marriott hotel. Pizzas are front and centre of PJ's menu, along with a selection of mainly Italian-themed dishes. Prices are a shade on the high side of moderate. +1869 465 8373 http://www.pjsrestaurantstkitts.com/
 
Bombay Blues, Frigate Bay North, St Kitts
Consistently excellent, authentic Indian food – in pleasant surroundings overlooking the golf course on Frigate Bay North – makes Bombay Blues a favourite with food-savvy locals. I've never heard an uncomplimentary word about the food or the service. The menu is standard Indian fare, with a wide selection of curries, tandoori offerings, breads and vegetarian dishes, but these are impeccably executed, with discerning use of seasonings and spices. A la carte prices are excellent value on the high side of moderate, while the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet is a terrific deal at a shade under £10. +1869 466 0166 or +1869 662 7599
 
El Fredo's Restaurant and Bar, Basseterre
A lunchtime favourite with the Basseterre business crowd, El Fredo's is a cosy hideaway oozing Caribbean charm and chic. The menu is strictly local, with offerings such as stewed conch, goat water stew (a much-loved St Kitts and Nevis Saturday treat), fried or steamed snapper, stewed oxtail, pigtail soup and jerk chicken. And, as they say in St Kitts, the food bang good. The background reggae is a welcome bonus and it's virtually impossible not to be drawn into conversation with Kittitians lingering over a post-lunch rum or Carib. Hang a left at the foot of Fort Street, Basseterre's main drag, and El Fredo's is a short stroll along the Bay Road waterfront. Prices? You guessed right – moderate. +1869 466 8871 or +1869 764 9228
 
For a sumptuous Sunday Brunch, head to Golden Lemon. They serve the most awesome four course dinners in town. Located in Dieppe Bay, the ambiance of Golden Lemon is formal and the decor nicely done up. Stonewall's (869/465-5248) is the ultimate drinks venue on the island. St. Kitts. Don’t leave without trying their inspiring cocktails.
 
Breakfast: Ballahoo Restaurant – To be truthful, most Kittitians eat breakfast at home. But if you skip the cruise ship buffet, walk over to the center of Basseterre and check out this restaurant, where you can sample local dishes, including saltfish in Creole sauce and oat porridge with banana.
 
Lunch: Rawlins Plantation Inn –The sugar culture was a great part of St. Kitts’ history, so to understand the island, you’ll want to visit at least one of its sprawling plantation estates. Some are yawn-worthy, but not Rawlins, where the tour includes flourishing fruit orchards and sprawling manicured gardens. Afterward, sit down for the authentic West Indian buffet, featuring grilled plantains, jerk chicken, grilled mahi mahi, and Johnny cakes (fried cornmeal patties). The buffet is frequented by both tourists and locals, so a reservation is a good idea.                                                                                                                              
 
Dinner: Spice Mill Restaurant – For an early dinner before the ship sails, check out one of St. Kitts’ newest spots. A combo of beach club and gourmet restaurant, this two-year-old establishment on Cockleshell Beach serves grilled local wahoo, mahi mahi souvlaki, and wood-fired pizzas, as well as good local rum punch.
 
Dessert: American Bakery – End your visit with a cooling sorbet made with sorrel — a popular island fruit — at this bakery, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the port.
 
Beach Bars: Relax at one of the island's clusters of beach bars, either on "The Strip" on South Frigate Bay or on Cockleshell Bay and Banana Bay beaches on the island's southeastern peninsula. At the latter, children will love Wilbur, a 700-pound pig who resides at the Reggae Beach Bar.

Basseterre's Marketplace: Basseterre's Marketplace on Saturday morning is the place for people-watching, as well as for buying flowers, mangos, guavas, apples and wild cherries. Get there early; vendors start clearing out around 9 a.m.
Carib Petroglyphs: North of Basseterre near the entrance to Wingfield Manor Estate are Carib petroglyphs. Etched on huge, black rocks, they offer a glimpse into the lives of the people who originally discovered the island.
Bloody Point: Bloody Point is the haunting site where French and British troops massacred more than 2,000 Caribs in 1626. The view of Mount Liamuiga is spectacular.
 
The Ocean Terrace Inn's Fisherman's Wharf, Fortlands (tel. 869/465-2754), has a live band every Friday from 8 to 10pm. It's not "after dark," but the Turtle Beach Bar and Grill, Turtle Bay (tel. 869/469-7611), on the southeast peninsula, offers a live steel band daily from 12:30 to 3pm; on Saturday, it's beach disco time. There's no cover at either place.
 
A few other nightspots come and go (mostly go). Currently, islanders hang out at Bobsy's (tel. 869/466-6133), clearly signposted from the roads leading into Frigate Bay. Another local dive, Henry's Night Spot, Dunn's Cottage, Main Street, Cayon (tel. 869/465-3508), has a loyal following, as does the Oasis Sports Bar, at Frigate Bay (tel. 869/466-1814), where a medley of large-screen TVs broadcast current or repeat views of major sports events from the worlds of American or European football, baseball, or basketball. At the Marriott Resort at Frigate Bay, the Royal Beach Casino (tel. 869/466-5555) lures gamblers to its large casino with slot machines and games of chance with croupiers. For the high roller, there are private salons. And if you opt for an exploration of the casino within Marriott, you might as well explore a bit, since that resort contains at least six bars.
 
Shopping
The good buys here are local handicrafts, including leather (goatskin) items, baskets, and coconut shells. Some good values can also be found in clothing and fabrics, especially Sea Island cottons. Store hours vary but are likely to be Monday to Saturday from 8am to noon and 1 to 4pm.
 
If your time is limited, head first for the Pelican Shopping Mall, Bay Road, which contains some two dozen shops. Opened in 1991, it also offers banking services, a restaurant, a philatelic bureau, and the administrative offices of the St. Kitts Tourist Office. Some major retail outlets in the Caribbean, including Little Switzerland, have branches here. Also check out the offerings along the quaintly named Liverpool Row, which has some unusual merchandise, and Fort Street.
 
Associated with the island's burgeoning cruise-ship industry, Port Zante is a shopping mall built just after the turn-of-the-millennium directly on landfill that was dumped into what old-timers designated as Horseshoe Harbor. Cruise ships can berth at quays immediately adjacent to Port Zante, in a way that's replicated in Barbados, and whose role model the St. Kittitians copied. The Queen Mary stops frequently, disgorging passengers who shop, shop, shop. Port Zante, whose name derives from an ancient Greek myth, is the home of about 60 shops, with emphasis on things that glitter, especially jewelry. Although there are dozens of shops purveying upscale goods, one of the noteworthy, best-established shops is Linen and Gold (tel. 869/465-9766), which offers a limited selection of gold and silver jewelry, usually in bold modern designs. But the real appeal of this shop is its tablecloths, doilies, and napkins, laboriously handcrafted in China from cotton, linen, and polyester. The workmanship is as intricate as anything you'll find in the Caribbean.
 
Ashburry's, the Circus/Liverpool Row, Basseterre (tel. 869/465-8175), is a local branch of a chain of luxury-goods stores based on St. Maarten. This well-respected emporium sells fragrances, fine porcelain, Baccarat crystal, designer handbags, watches, and jewelry at prices 25% to 30% below what you might pay in retail stores in North America; the selection is similar to dozens of equivalent stores throughout the Caribbean.
 
Spencer Cameron Gallery, 10 N. Independence Sq., Basseterre (tel. 869/465-1617), is set on a dusty plaza ringed with businesses and residential clapboard-sided houses, near the center of Basseterre, and with an exterior brightly painted in tropical colors, this is a leading art gallery. On display are scenes of St. Kitts and Nevis by Brit Rosie Cameron-Smith, along with works by a handful of other mostly West Indian artists. Rosey ("a good-natured English lass in the Tropics") is well known on the island for her paintings of Kittitian Carnival clowns, monkeys, and figurative work, and she also produces greeting cards, postcards, calendars, and lithographs.
 
The finest gallery on St. Kitts is Kate Design, Mount Pleasant (tel. 869/465-7740; www.katedesign.com), set in a carefully restored West Indian house, on a hillside below the Rawlins Plantation. Virtually all the works on display are by English-born Kate Spencer, who is well known throughout North America and Europe. Her paintings of island scenes range in price from $200 and have received critical acclaim. Also for sale is a series of Ms. Spencer's silk-screened scarves, each crafted from extra-heavy stonewashed silk.
 
Island Hopper (known as "The Big Shop of the Little Island"), the Circus, below the popular Ballahoo Restaurant, Basseterre (tel. 869/465-1640), is one of St. Kitts's most patronized shops, with the biggest inventory of any store on the island. Notice the all-silk, shift-style dresses from China and the array of batiks made on St. Kitts. About half of the merchandise is from the islands.
 
Caribelle Batik, at Romney Manor, Old Road, about 15km (9 1/4 miles) west of Basseterre (tel. 869/465-6253; www.caribellebatikstkitts.com), is the most unusual factory in St. Kitts. It was built around 1625 as a manor house for sugar baron Lord Romney. For years, it has been used as the headquarters and manufacturing center for a local clothier, Caribelle Batik, whose tropical cottons sell widely to cruise-ship passengers and tourists from at least three outlets in the eastern Caribbean. The merchandise ranges from scarves to dresses, along with an extensive collection of wall hangings and cushions. In 1995 a tragic fire and hurricane completely gutted the historic building. The manor has now been rebuilt and extended. Consider a stopover here if only to admire the 2 hectares (5 acres) of lavish gardens, where 30 varieties of hibiscus, rare orchids, huge ferns, and a 250-year-old saman tree still draw horticultural enthusiasts. Entrance to the gardens is free.


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