Cruise and Beach Destinations
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St. Kitts

St. Kitts Vacation Review: First Agony, Then Enjoyment

St. Kitts resort
St. Kitts Marriott Resort and The Royal Beach Casino. © Scott S. Bateman

This St. Kitts vacation review is based on a nine-day visit to the island.

Our trip to St. Kitts was the most painful and one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever taken. In fact, for the first three days, it was absolutely agonizing.

St. Kitts is an up-and-coming cruise port in the Caribbean because of upgrades to the cruise docks outside of Basseterre, the capital of the island.

But St. Kitts also has some high-quality hotels and resorts for people who want to stay longer. Our first visit was a long-term stay.

The Arrival

Our small plane swooped down toward the airport and gave us a clear view of the island, which is small but dominated by the large and extinct Mount Liamuiga volcano in the middle.

The island is covered in green, but much of it is spare. A part of the island does have a tropical rain forest.

The airport is small and has few tourists coming and going. The island itself is ranked 20th in popularity for Caribbean destinations. Not surprisingly, that makes it a quiet place to visit when a cruise ship isn’t in port. It’s ideal for people who favor relaxation over activities.

A drive from the airport through the capital, Basseterre, revealed likewise a quiet Caribbean town. Outside of the town, we drove through and around numerous hills that were dotted with the small homes of locals and the large homes of retirees and the wealthy.


We stayed at St. Kitts Marriott Resort and The Royal Beach Casino. It is the dominant resort on the island with excellent facilities and a nice beach.

Beaches were white and clean; the sea was the standard beautiful turquoise of the Caribbean.

Weather was perfect. We were approached quite often by local vendors on the beach, but they were generally polite and would leave us alone with a polite no thanks.

The Agony

On the first day there, a small discomfort in my tooth erupted into a full-blown and agonizing infection. The pain was so bad that no amount of aspirin or other over-the-counter painkillers would bring it under control.

I mention this because of an important lesson about island health facilities.

After three days of agony, I started looking for a dentist. At that time, St. Kitts had only two part-time dentists. The first challenge was finding one. The second challenge was getting time with him because his other business was running a restaurant.

The dentist arrived at the office to meet me wearing a T-shirt and shorts. It was not a first impression that inspired confidence. It turns out that the dentist knew exactly what he was doing and prescribed everything I needed to make the pain go away within hours.

What was the lesson learned? When going to smaller Caribbean islands, it is a good idea to check on the availability of medical facilities beforehand if there is any remote chance of a health problem.

Attractions and More

The end of the pain was replaced by the enjoyment of the attractions on St. Kitts.

The island has the full range of attractions that Caribbean visitors come to expect: ATV rides, snorkeling and diving, and numerous other attractions.

It also has some unique attractions. The nearby island of Nevis, which is known for its hiking and other natural activities, is 2.5 miles off the coast of St. Kitts. Ferry rides take about 45 minutes each way.

Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved New World forts in the Caribbean. The St. Kitts Scenic Railway, which encircles the island, is a rarity in the Caribbean. Visitors to Mount Liamuiga can drive to the 1,000-foot level and climb the remaining 2,000 feet to the top of the smaller peak.

Although we ate mostly at the resort, there are a fair number of decent nearby restaurants. Shopping is available almost entirely in Basseterre. All of the locals were nice and seemed sincerely interested in promoting tourism on the island, which is common for islands that aren’t overwhelmed with visitors.

Whether visiting by cruise or by plane, St. Kitts is a worthwhile trip for anyone planning a vacation in the Caribbean.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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