The island of St. Kitts, one half of the twin island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis, has a relaxed and authentic Caribbean charm. Discover the island’s sugar history, hike through the rainforest, get active on the water or just relax on one of the island’s picture-perfect beaches. Taxis are readily available around the cruise port terminal to explore any one of these popular sites if you want to explore on your own. Here are our top 11 things to do when you cruise to St. Kitts.
For Experienced Hikers
The mountains that form the backbone of St. Kitts are covered with natural rainforest, teeming with birds and home to the Vervet monkeys. The most demanding hike is to the top of Mount Liamuiga, which is best done with a local guide and definitely requires a good level of fitness. The six-mile hike should take a little under three hours to complete, and once you make it to the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views.
For Casual Hikers
For a less difficult hike, head to the Sky Safari Zipline at the Wingfield Estate where you’ll find a trailhead that you can walk on your own. A stream trickles beside the trail, and aerial roots and vines tangle in the tree canopy. It’s a peaceful walk but it’s not as quiet as you might expect due to its close proximity to the Sky Safari ziplining activities.
This narrow-gauge railway was built in the 1920s to transport sugar cane from the plantations around the island to the processing factory in Basseterre. While sugar production has ceased, visitors can still board the double-decker St. Kitts Scenic Railway, passing over the steel bridges with views over the fields on the slopes of Mount Liamuiga. Rum punch is served while the guide gives an entertaining account of the sugar industry on St. Kitts, and at the end you’ll return by bus or by catamaran to where you started. The departure time varies but most cruise lines offer this excursion and it only take about three to four hours. Giving you a little time to do some exploring on your own.
There are plenty of watersports options on St. Kitts, from glass-bottomed kayaks to exhilarating flyboarding that uses water jets to shoot you high in the air. While most beaches will have kayaks, snorkels or paddleboards to rent, the best range of water crafts and activities can be found at St. Kitts Watersports on Cockleshell beach. If you want to get some snorkeling in, ask about their jet-ski safari, during which you'll be taken to nearby snorkeling spots.
If all this activity sounds too much and you just want to lime (another word for relax) like a local, we recommend a taxi ride to the beaches on the South East peninsula. Cockleshell Bay is one of the most popular beaches on St. Kitts, with a wide range of beach bars and lounge chairs to rent, although it can get crowded if there are multiple ships in port.
Frigate Bay, only two miles from capital Basseterre is one the liveliest of them all. This is where you'll be able to windsurf, swim, and even water-ski. Oh, yes—and drink fruity cocktails or whatever your beach beverage of preference may be.
For a quieter option, try South Friar's Bay, where you can rent a lounge chair at the Carambola Beach club or grab a hammock at the more rustic Shipwreck Beach Bar at the other end of the beach.
Looking for something a bit more remote? The black sands of Dieppe Bay are one of the St. Kitts most unusual beaches. This is the Atlantic side, so you'll do less swimming, and more getting your feet wet. After lunch at the nearby Golden Lemon hotel, slather on the SPF and settle in a beach chair. Whether you choose a book or a Nook, chances are you won't get much reading done before you fall into a sun-kissed slumber.
Located on the grounds of the St. Kitts Marriott Resort in Basseterre, this 18 hole par-71 course has extraordinary layout boasting water hazards on 10 holes, 80 bunkers and a multitude of coconut palm trees along the Atlantic Ocean. The Royal St. Kitts Golf Club’s 125 acres of lush grass allows golfers to play two full holes on the Caribbean Sea and three complete holes on the Atlantic Ocean. These views will for sure make your friends back home jealous.
If you want to explore more than just the capital city, consider booking a tour that will literally take you around the entire island of St. Kitts. You will visit some of the most historically significant places, such as the Brimstone Hill Fortress, Caribelle Batik, Timothy Bay and Romney Manor, to name a few. All cruise lines offer an island tour, usually by way of bus. It’s a great option if you want just a sampling of information but not a great option if you want to explore at your own pace with some beach time.
The stone chimneys and windmills of a once-thriving sugar industry can be found all over St. Kitts, especially at Wingfield Estate. Here, you can visit the ruins of an old sugar mill for a look back at what the island was like during the boom of the sugar industry. The aqueduct once brought water all the way from the slopes of Mount Liamuiga to power the mill wheel. The old rum distillery on the property has been uncovered and there are now plans to start making rum again in the future. The estate is included on most island tours, but there are information signs if you visit independently by taxi; entry is free.
Just a short walk from Wingfield Estate is Romney Manor, the estate's Great House named after the Earls of Romney who owned it for 200 years. With green lawns, flowering shrubs, colorful butterflies and the sounds of exotic birds makes this a peaceful setting. Just on the edge of the gardens is where the rainforest starts and where you’ll see a majestic 400-year-old Saman tree. Also on the grounds is the Caribelle Batik workshop, where you can watch demonstrations on ancient dyeing techniques and even buy a colorful batik handicraft or scarf to take home. Tip: If you can, head there as soon as you get off of the ship to avoid the high temperatures. The gardens are also a great spot for photos.
At Fairview Great House you’ll get a glimpse into the lifestyle of a wealthy plantation owner in the 18th century. The outside of the house has elegant porches and balconies that have been well maintained over the years. Inside, you’ll find a dining room decorated with antique silver, and upstairs is the bedroom where Prince Charles stayed when the house was a hotel. Some tours also include a rum tasting or cookery demonstration, and after your visit you can enjoy the well-kept gardens. The house is close to other historic sites such as Wingfield Estate and Brimstone Fort.
A winding road brings you up through narrow stone gatehouses to Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was built by the British colonial powers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Known as “The Gibraltar of the West Indies,” the fortress supported the ambitions of the English to dominate the sugar-rich islands of the Caribbean. The most spectacular views of the surrounding areas are from the top of the stone citadel, with an impressive array of canons pointing in all directions. The fort can be reached by taxi and is included on most island tours. Entrance fee is $10.
From the minute you get off the ship you can start exploring the capital city. Here are a few things to look out for, in order of when you will see them.
- From Port Zante, pass through the archway of the impressive 19th century Old Treasury building built of black volcanic stone.
- Head upstairs to the small National Museum where you’ll find fascinating insights into the history and culture of St. Kitts, with colorful carnival costumes and national dresses on display.
- Then go back to the street to the Circus roundabout (St. Kitts has no traffic lights!) and look for the green Berkeley Memorial clock, a well-known St. Kitts landmark.
- On Fort Street and Bank Street, you’ll pass market stalls and food vendors selling anything from fruit smoothies to local lunchtime dishes.
- Nearby is the shady Independence Square, which was once the island's slave market. The small doors at the base of nearby colonial houses lead to basements where the people slept before they were sold.
- On the square is the delightful Gallery Café, where you can see the work of local artists and grab a snack in the small café and courtyard garden.