Our family’s long-anticipated vacation of fun and relaxation to the Caribbean happened almost seven years ago already, in July. The trip came and went in the blink of an eye. When it was over, we had the sunshine under our skin, but most importantly, we collected there long-lasting memories that we treasure since then.
Seven of us (my husband, my son and daughter-in-law, my sister and her two children, and myself) spent 10 days on the tropical island of St. Kitts named after Christopher Columbus’ patron saint, St. Christopher. The visit to the 68-square mile island with its population of 36,000 is complete when a visit to Nevis, its smaller sister island, is also included for at least a day (36-square miles, population 10,000).
St. Kitts is very special to our family. My husband, Steve, worked on the island for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the late 1980s. He was the first manager of Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. He still has friends on the island!
I was lucky to visit St. Kitts with him first time in April of 2003 when we met with his friends and had a great time there. But this trip from seven years ago was extra special because the day of our arrival was my son’s birthday. Because the visit happened off season (yes, July is off season in the Caribbean), we were able to stay at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort (with reduced fees) enjoying its Atlantic-Ocean beach every day, its various pools, and numerous restaurants.
We did many activities together as one big group. We rented a minivan for two days and Steve got a chance to revisit driving on the left-hand side of the road. He was a good driver mastering the roundabouts (there are no traffic lights on the island!). Of course, we visited Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park for a day, where Steve turned out to be an excellent and unique travel guide, and where everyone of us were happy to meet some of his friends from the “old days”.
One day we drove around the island, mainly by the shore, enjoying the magnificent scenery and stopping at Caribelle Batik, where they make the island inspired batik on the grounds of an old sugar plantation. Nearby we toured the ruins of a partially restored rum distillery.
We went on a guided safari (Greg’s Safaris) to the rain forest and learned about the various plants and flowers, hiked for a few hours, and finished the safari with a picnic. We tasted various tropical fruits, special goods baked on the island, and got to make and drink our own rum-punch.
Our primary beach was the windy Atlantic Ocean beach at Frigate Bay, full of seaweed, but we also visited the various black and white sand beaches with clear water and hot and smooth sand, such as Timothy Beach, Cockleshell Beach, and Reggae Beach. The young ones went jet skiing and snorkeling, even kayaking, while the rest of us enjoyed the warm waters of the Caribbean. There were times when we just hung out around the pool at the resort enjoying some soca music and sipping some special cocktails.
We visited Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts a few times, where the center, the Circus, houses a clock in the middle of the traffic circle and where many taxis are waiting for wandering tourists. Typical wooden West Indies style houses with their wooden shutters stand by the houses that reflect the colonial heritage of the place (St. Kitts was the first British Colony in the West Indies). Independence Square is dominated by a cathedral and a huge flamboyant tree, the island’s national flower, giving shade to locals and tourists alike.
The country no longer lives from the sugar cane industry, it moved to a tourist-based economy in 2005. Port Zante greets the many people arriving to the island via cruise ships. The tourists can shop happily in duty-free shops as they walk toward the National Museum and beyond.
We bought a variety of local fruits at the produce market in Basseterre and enjoyed their unique flavors.
Going to a cricket match one night to see a game between St. Kitts and Guyana, turned out to be great fun. We experienced the tropical rain that interrupted the match three times while watching it from our seats and later walking in it as we searched for a taxi back to the hotel.
Our day trip to Nevis was excellent. The 45-minute ride on a passenger ferry took us from Basseterre to Charlestown, the capital. After visiting the Alexander Hamilton House (the birthplace of one of the founding fathers of the USA) and taking a short walk in the town center, we chose swimming and sunbathing on the fantastic Pinney’s Beach in place of visiting the numerous historic plantations. The crystal-clear water and the peace of the surroundings reminded us in every minute of our stay that we were truly in a tropical paradise.
Our days on the island went fast and we fully enjoyed the sun, the water, the authentic Caribbean scenery, and each other’s company. I am regularly dreaming about another visit to this special and beautiful two-island country of St. Kitts and Nevis!