If I could give you one piece of advice when visiting St Kitts, it would be to ensure that you make the most of the opportunity to explore. Unique amongst the Caribbean’s offering of paradisiacal retreats, St Kitts is one of two islands that form the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis; and while both are equally as alluring, each offers a different take on a Caribbean escape.
St Kitts is the largest of the two islands and very much feels as such when you’re there. Animated vendors line the streets of its capital Basseterre, rows of brightly painted homes sit huddled amid lush rainforest, and Frigate Bay’s vibrant nightlife pulsates with its own intoxicating soca beat; rivalling some of the better-known Caribbean hotspots.
In contrast, across the narrows the tranquil shores of Nevis are without a single traffic light nor even a hint of rush hour madness (unless you count the goats and donkeys that wander rouge along the asphalt). Nevis is unspoilt, relaxed, and easy-going; its population of just over 12,000 live by the mantra “Rush Slowly”; nothing is hurried here.
St Kitts Itinerary Suggestions
The first time I visited St Kitts I was fortunate enough to spend a little over nine weeks house and pet sitting at a property that looked out over one of the island’s most picturesque swathes of sand, Turtle Beach. Lined with windswept palm trees it is far removed from the hustle and bustle of Basseterre; here the vibe is calm and the views idyllic. The only human activity comes in the form of kite surfers who appear when the Atlantic wind whips the bay into a frenzy of white peaks.
Tucked away on the tip of St Kitts’ southern peninsula, Turtle Beach is the ideal destination for anyone seeking respite from the melee of island life. If you’re staying on St Kitts, take a taxi or rent a car and drive out of Basseterre up into the peaked landscape of the peninsula; there’s plenty here to occupy an entire day.
Foodies take note; pick up a jonny cake (savoury doughnuts stuffed with fried chicken or saltfish) for the journey from Mrs Moore at Eat To Live Snackette which is located across from the National History Museum in Basseterre. It’s a true taste of West Indian cuisine and will line your stomach well in lieu of a little afternoon libation.
If you’re looking to soak in some of the island’s rich culture head north up the west coast to Brimstone Hill Fortress which is quite possibly the most spectacular historic site in the Caribbean. The panoramic views from the Citadel alone will validate this claim however the UNESCO World Heritage Site has much more to offer than just a scenic lookout.
The first West Indian island to be colonised by Europeans, during the late 17th and 18th century St Kitts saw many battles as the French, Spanish, and British fought for dominance in the region. Spend a couple of hours wandering around the ruined structures that surround the impressive Fort George Citadel and snap a picture from the battlements; on a clear day you can see the islands of Sint Eustatius rising from the ocean around 7 miles away.
From here get back in your car and continue north along the island’s only road which soon begins to meander between the tempestuous Atlantic coast and the fertile slopes of Mount Liamuiga; it’s here you’ll discover one St Kitts most dynamic resorts.
A Scenic Place to Stay on St Kitts
If you haven’t already booked accommodation for your trip to St Kitts you simply must consider Belle Mont Farm at Kittitian Hill; a sustainable community of luxury villas – the property is spearheading ecotourism in the Caribbean. Offering a restorative, mindful retreat, its 400 acres of organic farmland and lush forests sit nestled in the foothills of Mount Liamuiga and play host to luxurious private cottages and villas built by local tradesmen in a modern-colonial style.
As the name suggests culinary culture is king at Belle Mont Farm where the philosophy of sustainable living and farm-to-table food is embedded in their restaurant menu and programme of weekly events. I can highly recommend The Farm, an al fresco communal dining experience hosted at a 30 foot long table. Comprising family-style platters of just-picked garden greens and perfectly roasted farm-grown veggies, this plant-based feast is served up with fresh fish and lobster caught by local fishermen at Dieppe Bay; just down the hill from the hotel.
The old stone farmhouse which houses the restaurant and pool boasts truly magnificent views of the island’s west coast (it has a similar outlook to Brimstone Hill Fortress) and is the perfect setting for lunch. I’ve never managed to check in to one of the cottages for a night, however every time I visit St Kitts I take my friends and family here to eat; trust me the views from the terrace never lose their appeal.
Although I’m perfectly happy on land with a picturesque island view and a rum punch in hand, I have to tell you that my favourite thing to do when I’m in St Kitts is to go sailing; there’s really no better way to see the island than from the ocean. Rising out of the azure blue waves, the verdant peaks of Mount Liamuiga and cloud-shrouded Mount Nevis are a truly spectacular sight.
Captain and Marine Biologist Miles Denne at Nevis Yacht Charters offers the best sailboat rental in the Federation. Opt for a half or full day skippered excursion and you’ll be one of the privileged few who get to see some of the most secluded parts of both St Kitts and Nevis.
Miles Denne’s itineraries incorporate routes that take in the coastlines of both islands (including St Kitts’ picturesque Turtle Beach) and a snorkelling stop or two. The waters off the coast of both St Kitts and Nevis rise from depths of around 1000 metres and as such are almost always gin-clear in the shallows. I often see turtles, stingrays, and sometimes dolphins and migrating humpback whales too!
One of the advantages of visiting St Kitts is that if you choose to, you can enjoy a multi-island escape. Neighbouring Nevis is easily accessible via a 10-minute journey by water taxi, and there’s a car ferry that operates every hour. As such, I feel as though I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention some of my favourite Nevis attractions.
My Mini Guide to Nevis
My home for almost two years, I fell in love with Nevis because its beaches are understated and undeveloped. Very little property and just a handful of tasteful resorts line the water’s edge; there’s seldom anyone around to beat you to the optimum spot on the sand although you may see one or two people you know. Quite a few famous faces retreat to Nevis to avoid the Caribbean’s crowds.
My favourite places to hangout are Turtle Time at Pinneys Beach (think relaxed beachside vibe), the Golden Rock Inn (a traditional plantation property that has been restored by eclectic New York artist-owners Helen and Brice Marden), and Chrishi Beach (a Scandi-owned and styled beach bar that serves the most delicious cocktails).
Although the island has one well known branded hotel (Four Seasons Resort), I’d take the opportunity to immerse yourself in Nevis’ rich heritage and check into a historic property such as The Hermitage or the Montpelier Plantation. Dating back to 1687 when one Sir Hans Sloane discovered the desirable mountain-side location, Montpelier has a rich history of sugar production, romance, and hospitality.
Encompassing 19 contemporary plantation rooms that boast a simplistic blend of symmetry, clean lines, and the colours of the lush gardens and azure ocean, a stay at Montpelier will elevate your experience of the island there’s no doubt. I checked in for a three night stay during one of my first trips to Nevis and enjoyed a truly blissful escape from reality; something that Nevis as a whole is incredibly well equipped to facilitate.
Have I convinced you that the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis is the ideal Caribbean destination you’re looking for?
About the author
Charli is an adventure enthusiast and travel writer with a penchant for adrenaline highs and crunchy peanut butter. Author of one of the UK’s top travel blogs Wanderlusters, she craves Caribbean travel experiences and has spent time living on St Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, and Barbados. Follow her on Instagram to feed your wanderlust.