With its laid-back and unspoiled Caribbean charm, the island of St. Kitts offers lush green landscapes on the slopes of Mount Liamuiga and a peninsula where you’ll find the island’s best beaches. Whether you’re looking for adventure, history or beach time, there’s something on St. Kitts for everyone; and everything is within an easy taxi ride of Port Zante, where your cruise ship will dock.
Families with young children looking for a relaxing day on the beach will find everything at Cockleshell Bay beach, a 15-minute taxi ride from the cruise terminal to the end of the southeast peninsula. The water is shallow and calm, and there are plenty of beach bars to rent a sun lounger and buy drinks and snacks. Once the little ones have tired of playing in the sea, “rush slowly” to Reggae Beach Bar and Grill for excellent seafood with a water-sports rental shop next door.
Families with teenagers seeking an adrenaline-packed couple of hours should try out the zip-line tour through Sky Safari Tours at the Wingfield Estate. The tour includes five different zip lines that range from 10 feet high to 250 feet high. And for parents who don’t want to soar like a bird, you can wander around the old sugar mill or visit the Caribelle Batik workshop at Romney Manor, which are on the same site. This is an excursion best booked through your cruise since Sky Safari Tours has an exclusive arrangement with most cruise lines. Children must be at least 6 years old and weigh a minimum of 60 pounds.
Visit an Upscale or Rustic Beach Club
Couples looking for relaxing beach time together will love South Friars Bay. Located on the Caribbean side of the island, it’s known for its long stretch of golden sand and calm waters. For elegant beachside pampering with a bar, restaurant and indoor seating, as well as loungers on the beach, try Carambola Beach Club. You can rent a chair at this upscale beach club for $10, and then just pay for your food and drinks at the bar. If a rustic beach shack is more your style, then head to the other end of Friars Bay to ShipWreck Beach Bar and Grill. Here, you can rent a beach chair, swing in a hammock or prop up at the bar with a chilled beer and fish tacos while watching the vervet monkeys play nearby.
Hike Mount Liamuiga
Couples looking for a physical challenge with the reward of views over the whole island can trek up Mount Liamuiga, the extinct volcano at the heart of St. Kitts. Going under the rainforest canopy, it’s a demanding hike that’s best done with an experienced guide such as O’Neil Mulraine of O’Neil’s Rainforest Tours, who often takes honeymooning couples up to the edge of the mile-wide crater. The full-day hike takes two to three hours each way, allowing time to see a freshwater lake and steaming vents; you’re best to allocate the whole day to this activity.
Explore Basseterre, Then Lounge Poolside
Groups of friends who want to explore the island’s capital of Basseterre — and have some relaxing time by the pool — should visit Palm Court Gardens (day pass $12), which is within walking distance of Port Zante, where cruise guests disembark. You’ll find tranquil botanical gardens and views over the bay toward Mount Liamuiga, as well as lounge chairs by the pool. Swing in a hammock, admire the vintage Rolls-Royce or shop for jewelry in the Shell Works Boutique. Drinks and home-cooked dishes are available in the restaurant, and the gardens are close enough to Basseterre for some in your group to relax here while others explore the sights of town.
Play on the Water
If you and your friends are the kind of cruisers that can’t lie still on a beach for more than 30 minutes, check out the range of water sports available at St. Kitts Watersports at Cockleshell Bay beach. There’s something for everyone, from glass-bottomed kayaks (like snorkeling without getting wet) and stand-up paddleboards to flyboarding, which is basically a water jetpack/hover board that propels you up to 30 feet above the sea. If you want to try them all, buy an all-day action pass from St. Kitts Watersports to get a taste of five different water sports. Jet-ski tours are also available to take you to snorkeling spots nearby Shitten Bay (be sure to ask how it got its name).
If you’re traveling alone and love to eat (who doesn’t?), go on a food tour with A Taste of St. Kitts. From the port you’ll walk along the seafront, stopping to try local Kittitian specialties such as salt fish and Johnny cakes at Palm Court Gardens and Ocean Terrace Inn, as well as tasting local fruits from street vendors and cakes at The Gallery Cafe. The tour incorporates fascinating stories about the island’s history and places you’ll pass by. If you want a food tour that focuses more on the local beach bars and beachside restaurants, check out the Beach Tour. You’ll need to take a taxi to the southeast peninsula of the island (15 to 20 minutes) for the beach tour. Be sure to book either tour in advance.
Catamaran Tour and Snorkeling
Adventurous solo travelers will enjoy a half-day catamaran tour of St. Kitts, taking in the coastline and turquoise water with plenty of time for relaxing and swimming. You’ll mix with about 40 guests and be taken to snorkeling spots on the island. Drinks, lunch and use of snorkel equipment are included. Book as a cruise excursion or through one of the local operators, such as Blue Water Safaris.
Go on the Scenic Railway Tour
For older visitors who want to see the verdant landscape of St. Kitts in comfort, the Scenic Railway Tour will take you on the narrow-gauge railway that originally connected all the sugar plantations. You can feel the breeze upstairs, or stay cool downstairs in the air-conditioned compartment while you’re served fruit juices or rum punch. As you move along the coast over tall steel bridges, the guide explains the history of the sugar plantations that grew the valuable sugar cane crop on the fertile volcanic soil of Mount Liamuiga. The return journey from the north of the island back to Basseterre is normally made by tour bus or by catamaran, which provides another perspective of the island. The St. Kitts Scenic Railway tour can be booked on your cruise ship.
Explore Wingfield Estate
Older travelers who want to discover the history of St. Kitts should take a 15-minute taxi ride to Wingfield Estate to explore the restored buildings of the old sugar mill, rum distillery and stone aqueduct. A short walk up the hill brings you to the 400-year-old saman tree and botanic gardens of Romney Manor, the Great House of the estate. It is now home to Caribelle Batik, where you can see a demonstration of colorful batik fabrics being made.