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St. Kitts

St. Kitts Travel Tips and Visitor Information

St. Kitts Independence Square
Independence Square in Basseterre, St. Kitts. © 2017 Scott Bateman
A steep dive into the small St. Kitts airport gives a visitor only a few minutes to see a domineering, extinct volcano covered with lush vegetation.

It is surrounded by a thin strip of humanity along the coastline by the Caribbean Sea. The air approach offers one of the best views of the island.

Visitors who arrive by cruise ship will get a much different view with the massive cruise terminal. It has made St. Kitts one of the better cruise destinations in the Caribbean.

Once on the ground, the rolling hills near the mountain unveil the capital of St. Kitts, Basseterre, along with the usual assortment of neighborhoods, resorts and large vacation homes.

This is an eastern Caribbean island you visit for a quiet vacation because of the light tourism level and moderate shopping. Crowds are rare and taxis are easy to find, even in the parts of the capital city where tourists rarely venture.

It is certainly an island to visit for long days on the beach, staring at the blue-green water and occasionally drifting off to sleep with work and responsibilities left far behind.

As the day winds down, go for a walk to numerous nearby restaurants. Like most Caribbean destinations with lighter tourism, the people are friendly and eager to make a good impression. English is the official language.

St. Kitts-Nevis (pronounced Nee-vis) is the 20th most popular place to visit in the Caribbean.

5 St. Kitts Travel Tips

Top attractions are the Basseterre cruise terminal, the scenic railway, Brimstone Fortress and Mount Liamuiga Volcano.
The best time to visit for low risk of rain is December through April.

St. Kitts cruise mall
The St. Kitts cruise terminal is really an open-air mall. © 2017 Scott Bateman

St. Kitts Attractions

St. Kitts & Nevis (Nee-vis) promotes itself as an ecotourism destination because it is quiet and undeveloped compared to many other islands. But the somewhat recently built cruise complex has boosted tourism for both the island and the capital city of Basseterre.

Unique attractions elsewhere on the island include climbing the dormant Mount Liamuiga volcano -- but only for very fit people.

The St. Kitts Scenic Railway is one of the few active railroads in the Caribbean. It once transported sugar cane; the rail cars are now suitable for tourists.

The well-preserved Brimstone Hill Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 1690.

Tourism / When to Go

Cruise visitors simply need to have their ship ID cards available when leaving the ship and returning. U.S. citizens need a passport to enter the country, while Canadian citizens need proof of citizenship.

About 350,000 people visit the island annually with about twice as many people visiting the island via cruise ships than via stopover.

December through March are the most popular months to visit, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. September and October are the least popular months because of heavier than normal rainfall from the Caribbean hurricane season.

Our week-long stopover visit proved to be a quiet one more suited for couples. Coincidentally, we observed far more couples than families on the island.

St. Kitts Weather

Tropical, tempered by constant sea breezes; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November).

The hurricane season is July to October. Light dress is normal for the island's consistent weather. Nudity is not permitted at public beaches.

Currency / Tipping / Taxes

Currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. Although U.S. bills are accepted most everywhere, U.S. coins are not.

Leave 10-15 percent in restaurants, do not tip taxi drivers and do not tip at hotels, which normally add 10 percent automatically to each bill. Rooms and meals have a 7 percent tax.

Culture / Geography

English is the dominant language. The economy is driven by tourism, manufacturing and offshore banking.

The island is 69 square miles and has a population of about 32,000 people. Basseterre is the capital.

Despite lush vegetation on some parts of the island, much of it is arid as we saw on our catamaran snorkeling tour along the coastline of the island.

Sources / More Information

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

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August 12, 2017

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