Located in the Caribbean and part of the Leeward Island archipelago, Saint Kitts and Nevis is a stunning tropical paradise, perfect for any holidaymaker, regardless of budget. The country itself consists of two islands, the larger island, Saint Kitts, (formerly known as Saint Christopher) and the smaller island of Nevis, which is situated some 3 km south-east of Saint Kitts. One of the first colonized territories in the Caribbean, Saint Kitts and Nevis today possesses a flourishing tourism sector, which though badly hit after September 11, is thriving once more.
Saint Kitts and Nevis has the smallest land area and population of any nation in the Americas. However, this does not leave it lacking in terms of history and culture. The island’s beaches famed for their ‘sugary sand’ are some of the most pristine in the world. Opportunities for snorkelling, diving and even rainforest hiking abound. The cities of Charlestown and Basseterre (which is the nation’s capital) are quaint colonial harbour towns where life goes on at a leisurely Caribbean pace as it has done for centuries. Nevertheless, island nightlife proves excellent; Saint Kitts possesses a wealth of fine brasseries, clubs and bars which provide their visitors with a taster of the Caribbean’s celebrated calypso and steel pan music. A useful list of island hotspots may be found here.
- Currency: Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$) US$1.00 = EC$2.70 However, American dollars, travellers checks and major credit cards are welcomed.
- Time: (UTC -4)
- Language: English
- Telephone Services: Country Code +1-869
- Emergency Numbers: For up-to-date information, enquire at your hotel/hostel
The islands’ yearly average temperature is a pleasant 79 degrees Fahrenheit. The trade winds which blow in from the north-east are largely responsible for keeping the islands cool. As such humidity levels are also low. Average annual rainfall is 55 inches.
Things to do and see
St Kitts and Nevis has much to offer visitors, particularly in terms of its history and culture. St. Kitts has always proved popular with tourists. The island’s largest town, Basseterre combines stylish Georgian architecture with a relaxed Caribbean atmosphere. Sandy Point, the second largest town on the island, was built during the 17th century and became the focal point of the island’s tobacco trade. Of particular interest to tourists are the large tobacco warehouses constructed during this period by the Dutch West India Company. Reminders of its bloody colonial past litter the island. The petroglyphs carved on boulders located on the edge of St Kitts’ Wingfield Estate are a testament to the island’s pre-colonial history.
Charlestown, on the neighbouring island of Nevis has been constantly ranked among ‘the most modest and charming cities of the Caribbean islands’. Locations of interest include the home of Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the United States Treasury and Memorial Square, which honours those residents of the island killed during the two world wars. Perhaps one of Nevis’ most famous residents was British Admiral Horatio Nelson and it was on the island that the young British captain wed a local girl, Fanny Nisbit. It is therefore not surprising that the island’s Horatio Nelson Museum possesses one of the largest collections of Nelson memorabilia in the world.
Like other Caribbean destinations, St. Kitts and Nevis are renowned for their pristine beaches. The beaches of Sand Bank Bay, Frigate Bay and Friar’s Bay are famed for their clean white sand and are located to the south of St. Kitts. Those visitors wishing to engage in a spot of water-skiing will no doubt wish to head out to Frigate Bay where jet skis can be rented. Pinney’s Beach on the island of Nevis is rarely crowded and makes for the perfect getaway. Holidaymakers wishing to engage in water-sports such as surfing are likely to find that the beaches located on the eastern (Atlantic) coast of St. Kitts are better suited to their needs. Sailing is another popular activity and boats are available for hire all through the week. Snorkelling and scuba diving are highly recommended as the islands’ tropical waters are home to some of the most stunning wildlife.
The islands of St. Kitts and Nevis are excellent destinations for anyone looking for an outdoor holiday. The islands are volcanic formations and as such their hilly slopes provide abundant opportunities for walking and hiking. Many tourist companies organize excursions into the islands’ verdant rainforests; these trips are a must for any avid backpacker. Be sure to find yourself a local guide as these individuals are particularly knowledgeable when it comes to providing information about the islands’ flora and fauna.
If beaches and water-sports are not your thing, then you might be interested in trying out one of the islands’ three top golf courses. The stunning Trent Jones Golf Club, on the island of Nevis is internationally ranked. Horse rides across the islands are often popular with tourists. Most hotels or hostels will help you make arrangements for such excursions through the rainforests. The twelve races held each year at the Indian Castle Track on the island of Nevis are a must for any equestrian fans visiting the islands.
No airlines currently fly to St Kitts and Nevis from Europe. However, it is possible to obtain a connecting flight from the United States. American Eagle, American Airlines and US Airways all offer flights to the island. A number of local airlines may be used for inter-island transport. However, fleets are not always maintained to an international standard. Thus it is often wiser to travel between islands by boat, especially as this provides an excellent opportunity to take in magnificent views. Information on ferry services is available here. Car rental services are available on both St. Kitts and Nevis.
Given its status as a major tourist destination, the islands boast a number of excellent hotels. Many of these are located only a stone’s throw away from St Kitts and Nevis’ finest beaches. For backpackers or those travelling on a budget, cheaper alternatives are available.
The list below provides contact information for those St. Kitts and Nevis holiday residences which offer the best value for money.
Rock Haven Bed & Breakfast
P.O. Box 821
Frigate Bay, St. Kitts, W.I.
Phone 869 465 5503
FAX: 869 466 6130
Glimbaro Guest House
Cayon Street, Basseterre, St. Kitts
Phone: 869 465 2935
Fax: 869 465 9832
Inn at Cades Bay
Phone: 869 469 8139
Fax: 869 469 8129
Health care issues
Because the islands are a prime tourist destination, local authorities have put much effort into ensuring that visitors need not worry about contracting tropical diseases during their stay. However, it might be wise to get vaccinated against malaria and take adequate insect repellent if you are intending to spend time in the rainforest. Clean drinking water is obtained generally from the islands numerous volcanic springs. However, if you are unsure, it is always best to boil water before consuming it. Most hotels have doctors on call 24 hours a day if the need arises.
stkittsnevis.org, the website of the Permanent Mission of Saint Kitts and Nevis, is a useful source of information to visitors.
If you want to get a feel of the island from the point of view of its residents, then sknvibes.com may prove interesting.
Further information about the islands may be obtained by contacting the following organizations.
St. Kitts Tourism Authority
Pelican Mall, Bay Road
P.O. Box 132
Basseterre, St. Kitts, W.I.
Phone: 869 465 4040
Fax: 869 465 8794
Nevis Tourism Authority
Charlestown, Nevis W.I.
Phone: 869 469 7550
FAX: 869 469 7551
St. Kitts Tourism Authority
10 Kensington Court
London W8 5DL
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7376 0881
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7937 6742
Nevis Island Estates
Lower Froyle, Alton
Hampshire GU34 4LT Phone: +44 (0) 14 2052 0810