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St. Kitts

St. Kitts Vacation Tips

St Kitts beach
St. Kitts beach.
A steep dive into the small St. Kitts airport gives a resort 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.

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

St. Kitts-Nevis (pronounced Nee-vis), which is actually two islands packed close to each other, is the 20th most popular beach vacation in the Caribbean, according to statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

That makes it a quiet getaway because of the moderate tourism, beaches, shopping and attractions. Crowds are rare and taxis are easy to find, even in the parts of the capital city Basseterre where tourists rarely venture.

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.

Quick Travel Tips


  • Top attractions are the scenic railway, Brimstone Fortress and Mount Liamuiga Volcano.
  • Day trips include the nearby islands of Nevis and St. Eustasius.
  • The best time to visit for low risk of rain is December through April.

Where is St. Kitts?


St. Kitts is about 235 miles south to southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It lies only 55 miles south of St. Maarten and 60 miles west of Antigua, which makes all three islands common destinations on eastern Caribbean cruises.

Hotel and Resort Tips


Hotel and resort visitors will fly into Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, which is only two miles from Basseterre and less than 10 miles from most of the hotels. Hotels are mainly clustered at the southeastern end of the island.

St. Kitts is mostly a hotel beach vacation with only a few all-inclusive resorts. It also has only a few international hotel brands including St. Kitts Marriott Resort. Nevis island, which is a quick ferry ride from St. Kitts, has the Four Seasons Resort that focuses on luxury-minded visitors with generous budgets.

Other than Four Seasons at more than $1,000 a night, a handful of boutique hotels cost $300 to $400 a night while most of the others cost $200 to $300 a night. St. Kitts hotels are a bit more expensive than some other Caribbean destinations.

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 some other islands. But the somewhat recently built cruise complex with plenty of shopping and dining has boosted tourism for both the island and Basseterre.

The best things to do 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.

Beaches


St. Kitts is not as well know for beaches as much as some other islands in the Caribbean. It's one reason why there are fewer hotels on the island. But the hotels that are available are mostly on beaches.

Nearly all of the best beaches on St. Kitts are on the southern end of the island. Four of them are near Basseterre and the majority of the hotels. They are Half Moon Bay, North Frigate Bay, South Frigate Bay and South Friars Bay.

Anyone who takes a taxi or rents a car can take a quick drive to the southern coast for some good beaches with fewer crowds. Cockleshell Bay has one especially interesting feature. Visitors can take a water taxi on a seven-minute ride to the neighboring Nevis Island.

Tourism / When to Go


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. Tourism drops to a low point for the year in September and October 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 goes from July to October. Rainfall is especially high in September. Light dress is normal for the island's consistent weather. Nudity is not permitted at public beaches.

Transportation / Getting Around


Anyone who plans to get around St. Kitts on their own should rent a car, but we made do without one. Taxis are the better option for the most part. Current rates are normally available at the airport and hotels.

Ferries are available for day trips to Nevis island. They take cars and passengers from the ferry terminal in Basseterre to Charlestown, the capital of Nevis. The ride takes about 45 minutes. The ferries run 10 times a day between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays. They have an extra 9 p.m. ride on Fridays and extra 8 and 9 p.m. rides on Saturdays.

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.

St. Kitts Hotel Map

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January 10, 2020
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