7 Ways to Experience St Kitts Right Now
St. Kitts has been one of the fastest growing travel destinations over the past decade, adding resorts like the Park Hyatt at Christophe Harbour and the Koi Resort on Half Moon Bay, as well as new attractions like the St. Kitts Eco Park and the Sky Safari Zipline at Romney Manor. On an island with ample opportunities for adventure — or the option of finding a quiet spot on Turtle Beach and doing not much at all — here are our picks for St. Kitts’ must-see attractions right now. (For more on the island’s health protocols, see here).
Take a Trip on the St. Kitts Scenic Railway
Sugar was once king on St. Kitts, and while cultivation has all but vanished from the island since 2005, the Sugar Train rattles on, now filled with tourists rather than sugarcane. The St. Kitts Scenic Railway offers excursions in open-air, double-decker train cars over 18 miles of narrow-gauge tracks built between 1912 and 1926. Roughly half on rail, half by tour bus, the tour includes long stretches along the northeast coast of St. Kitts, passing by the ruins of old sugar plantations, over tall railway bridges spanning deep gauts, and offering views of sites like the Brimstone Hill fortress and Mt. Liamuiga.
The mighty fortress looming over St. Kitts west coast is as dusky as its name implies. Hewn from local volcanic rock, the fortress was raised and improved — largely using labor from enslaved people — over the course of a century starting in 1690 as British colonists sought to protect their settlements from French naval attack. The quality of the fort’s construction (as well as subsequent restoration efforts) is such that the place looks like the garrison might have fled the place only yesterday. Set on 800-foot Brimstone Hill, the polygonal fortress is open daily for tours that explain the citadel’s long history and also offer spectacular views from its still sturdy battlements.
Tour Basseterre, the Capital of St. Kitts
Basseterre is “town” on St. Kitts, the capital city and center of commerce for the island’s 50,000 or so residents. The only place on St. Kitts that you’re likely to employ words like “busy” or “bustling,” Basseterre’s crowds are a mix of locals and cruise ship passengers disembarked at the pier at nearby Port Zante. The flavor of the place, however, still tilts away from touristy, and Basseterre is full of interesting historical relics. The central traffic hub, known as the Circus, is a nod to London’s Piccadilly Circus, with a prominent green clock known as the Berkeley Memorial at its center, for example.
Summit Mt. Liamuiga
It’s never too hard to break a sweat in the tropics, but you’re likely to be drenched by the time you reach the summit of 3,792-foot Mt. Liamuiga — not just the high point on St. Kitts but also the entire Leeward Islands. Formerly known as Mount Misery, the peak is a stratovolcano that has mostly slumberesd since the mid 19th century, although local earthquakes prove that Mt. Liamuiga isn’t quite dead yet. Several trails snake up the mountain to vantage points overlooking the dormant caldera near the summit; the roughly four-mile hike from the village of St. Pauls takes between 3 and 4 hours to complete. Local guides can lead you though the rainforest to the top.
Shop and Zip at Romney Manor
Romney Manor cobbles together enough fun stuff to appeal to almost every interest. History? The grounds of Romney Manor and the Wingfield Estate have it in abundance, from Carib petroglyphs to the ruins of a sugar plantation and a historic home that once belonged to the great, great, great grandfather of Thomas Jefferson. Shopping? Souvenir hunters will love the vivid colors of the clothing for sale at the Caribelle Batik factory, and visitors can also see how these handmade shirts, dresses, wraps, and more are made on-site. Adventure? The Sky Safari zip line at Romney Manor has five lines, with some spanning a 250-foot deep valley and the Wingfield River, including a dual racing line. Nearby are hiking trails that allow you to explore the surrounding rainforest.
Eat at a Beach Shack on Frigate Bay
If you’re staying at the St. Kitts Marriott, you’re in luck: one of the island’s most authentic dining and nightlife scenes is just a short walk from your hotel. Frigate Bay on the southwest coast of St. Kitts is lined with seemingly tumbledown beach shacks serving local food and strong drink, but appearances aside many of these eateries have been in operation for generations. Mr. X’s Shiggedy Shack is probably the most famous; like its neighbors, the open-air bar/restaurant serves up a mix of live music, grilled chicken and seafood, pizza and potent rum cocktails.
Get Your Obligatory Selfie on Timothy Hill
A single snaking road leads to the beaches, bars and resorts on the southern end of St. Kitts, which remains a relatively undeveloped part of the island. As you enjoy the up and down journey (St. Kitts is literally made of hills), be sure to stop for pictures atop Timothy Hill, which offers a panoramic view of the island, including the narrow strip of landing separating the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.