The kids had a long 4-day weekend in October, so of course, I looked into were we could go! We had miles on a legacy airline, which meant we could travel like real people with confirmed seats. That in and of itself was exciting. Now – where to go? After much research, we settled on St Kitts. It is part of the Leeward Islands, in the Eastern Caribbean. St Kitts is an English-speaking volcanic island, with rain forests, arid beaches and wild monkeys. Another plus was that it was only a 2-½ hour flight out of Miami with no time change. That put it in the same category as flying domestic – with a passport of course!
Once we arrived at the small airport, air stairs were brought up to the forward and aft aircraft doors. It took about 20 minutes to clear customs and immigration. Then it was off in one of the readily available taxis. It was a flat rate based on how many passengers and destination. 10 minutes later we were at the Marriott, which happened to be the only major hotel chain on St Kitts.
The Marriott was located on Frigate Bay. We arrived in the open breezy lobby and were greeted with a choice of a cold Carib Beer or a virgin tropical punch to enjoy while we got checked in.The friendly staff got us our room key and then we were off to one of the 3 pools. The main pool had a swim up bar, music and a hot tub. There was a wonderful breeze, not too hot and no bugs to worry about! We decided to stay on hotel property the first day. We had dinner at the Bohemian Grill, casual dining right next to the beach. At night, there was live music in the lobby. We are now officially relaxed!
The next day we set up a taxi for the standard 4 hour island tour around the north part of the island. Since it was settled by the Brits, they still drive on the wrong- I mean – left hand side of the road. Most taxis are vans that can seat 7-8 passengers and are air-conditioned. There is a lot of history on St Kitts starting in the late 1400s with rich sugar and tobacco plantations. I won’t bore you with all that- but it made the kids history class come alive. We started out toward Basseterre, the capital and saw the cruise ship port. Even though we had told our driver we were not interested in any shopping, he insisted that we walk around for a few minutes. We think that was a mandatory stop that they all must do. So after a few minutes of looking around the souvenir stores filled with trinkets made in China, we were off again. Then through downtown, with its historical sites – which only took about 10 minutes. Back at the other edge of the harbor, locals had little stands that sold freshly caught fish, fruits and vegetables. As we drove up along the coast and inland, we saw some Amerindian Petroglyphs carved into boulders on the side of the road.
Next stop – an old sugar factory; The Wingfield Estate est. 1625. That was the perfect stop for the kids to get out and stretch their legs. There were restrooms and not much else, except the picturesque setting. We were wandering around the ruins, when a local boy came up to us with his pet monkey named Patrick. The kids were recharged for sure! He was so cute! We gave him a few bucks and got back in our taxi.
5 minutes up the road was the Romney House and Caribelle Batik with its beautiful and peaceful gardens. We were right up against the rain forest with gorgeous views of the lush vegetation around Mt Liamulga.
Brimstone Hill Fortress was next on the list. We paid our entrance fee and the taxi squeezed in through the tiny archway in the old massive walls and we drove up to the parking lot. We had lunch at the tiny greasy spoon by the visitors center. It was quick and we didn’t want to waste any time. The views from here where spectacular in all directions.
Instead of staying to the standard tour route, which goes around the north side of the island by the Black Rocks, we decided to turn back and go to the South Peninsula instead. We headed to the South Peninsula, which they refer to as the Narrows. We stopped at Shipwreck Beach. This was the perfect ending to the day. There was a small beach bar, snorkeling, swim out platform, and wild African Green Vervet Monkeys!
On our final full day we took the ferry to Nevis. Since it was a Sunday, we found out that not all the ferries run. We chose to take the smaller car ferry out of Major’s Bay on the Narrows, instead of the main ferry in Basseterre. When the driver dropped us off we thought he was leaving us on a deserted beach – there was nothing! But, soon we saw the ferry arrive and we gave a sign of relief.
We had the hotel set up a taxi for us on Nevis. The hotel had given us his number and we asked our driver to call him and alert him when we were on our way. They use that method of communication a lot on St Kitts. It was a short 15 minute boat ride over to Cades Bay on Nevis; which had an even smaller ferry dock. Good thing we had a taxi lined up because there was nothing around!
Our driver was a tall cheerful local named Ozzie who, we soon found out, knew Nevis and all the people on it, it seemed. The only thing I had on my agenda for Nevis was to see the secluded Four Seasons Resort, so that was our first stop. After a cool afternoon drink we explored the tranquil grounds and beach.
So now what? We asked Ozzie’s guidance on what else there was to see on Nevis. He took us on a full island tour in just 2 hours! We drove through the capital of Charlestown. Then by a natural hot spring that runs into the ocean. The locals were sitting in the “hot tub” to sooth aching joints. There were over 60 churches on this little island and they were all full of life that Sunday afternoon. Most were from 1700s.
Then up into the farm country and past quant gingerbread houses. We had lunch at the most breathtaking old sugar mill; Montpelier Plantation Inn. Words can not even start to describe the tranquility of this setting. It had old world and new seamlessly blended together. We ate at Indigo on the patio overlooking the ocean. Ozzie got us back to the ferry just in time. He wasn’t worried since his cousin was the captain on the ferry and he assured us they would not leave without us. We felt so important – ha ha.
Back on St Kitts, our taxi was waiting for us (since Ozzie had called). On our way back to Frigate Bay he stopped by The Pavilion – a gated hidden oasis with a huge wow factor. The restaurant and pool had views that were amazing. They have home sites for sale within the same community… just in case you were interested….
Back at the Marriott, we headed to the wide beach that lays in front of the hotel to do a little snorkeling.We had dinner at our new local hangout, Rituals. It kinda looked like Starbucks. A coffee-house, but with a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. It was walking distance to the Marriott and afforded a good value. This was another amazing trip. We want to return one day as there was still so much to see and do, that we did not have time for.
ttps://www.hertz.com/rentacar/reservation/- They drive on the left and there are no traffic lights.
Local taxi drivers are eager to get your business and have business cards readily available for you to call them whenever you want.
US dollars are excepted everywhere
1/2 day island tour approx. $60-$70 for 4 passengers
1/2 day rain forest hikes approx. $60 pp
Ferry to Nevis approx. $10-$12 pp one way depending on which ferry
You can rental snorkel gear at the beaches and hotel or bring your own.
A good read :
“Ozzie’s Odyssey, My life before and after the MV Christean went down”, by Oswald Tyson