What to do on St. Kitts – the island tour
On our first day on St. Kitts, Maynard, our lovely driver took us for the island tour to get a better idea of what this little island is all about. It was the easiest way to find out what to do on St. Kitts within 3 hours.
Around 48,000 inhabitants live nowadays on the 68 square miles of St. Kitts. There are 4 Universities, 3 beer companies, 3 hospitals and 2 ports (Port Zante and Christophe Harbour) on this just 13 miles long island. Surprisingly, more than 90% literacy is found on St. Kitts and since 2005 25% of St. Kitts forms a national park.
We started our tour at Marriott hotel in Frigate Bay and continued to Basseterre, Port Zante with cruise ships and public market where you can see local life on Saturday mornings just outside of the ferry terminal on Bay Road. Then we rode through the Caribbean (Southern) side of the island to the Atlantic side on the North and to the East.
If you don’t look at the map, you would easily miss the famous historic place where in 1626 the British and the French came together to destroy the power of the Carib Indians. More than 2,000 Caribs were killed at now so called Bloody Point, after a local girl betrayed them because she was in love with an enemy.
During the island tour, we pulled over to see the Brimstone Hill Fortress from a viewpoint. There was a lot of vegetation around the viewpoint and an odd painting on the stone overlooking the Caribbean sea. Only later on I found out what the painting means.
An older local lady came over to talk to us when we were taking photos of the coast and the fortress. We found out that Muriel was selling local crafts just a few metres to the left of the viewpoint. She started tearing off the leaves of the bush around us explaining us their local use. Almost all the herbs and plants on St. Kitts are used for medicinal purposes, such as lemon grass for flu, or basil tea for stomachache and for a good sleep (I might get some basil tea next time when my insomnia hits me again!)
Muriel, running around us in a blue light dress with flowers, let us smell french thyme and lemon sage, and also touch the silk cotton we could see flying in the air (it comes from the Silk Cotton Tree called Kapok – Ceiba pentandra).
My friend Judith offered Muriel some cash for her kindness but she proudly refused. The lovely local lady just wanted to pass on some of her knowledge so we didn’t think that it was just wild goats eating all the leaves in the bush, but they could be used to cure different illnesses. I kindly asked Muriel to take a photo with us and she happily agreed. No fuss, no hassle, no pushing us into buying anything. Just pure heart and friendliness was waiting for us on St. Kitts.
Then we continued through the Old Road Town which was the first town built on St. Kitts even before the capital Basseterre. It was here where the British first arrived, were greeted by the locals but then later on the British massacred the local inhabitants at the mentioned Bloody Point. Sadly, one of the not pleasant historical facts on St. Kitts island.
Afterwards, very quickly from the van, we spotted a very funny tree – the rum tree – covered with empty rum bottles just to show the local appreciation of the rum.
A few minutes later we arrived to the fertility rock with Carib petroglyphs. According to the legend this is where you should come if you want to get pregnant and all the magic you need is just touch the rock. Our guide, Maynard, laughed that it works for both women and men. Not sure if he meant men would get a belly (most probably a beer belly) or what kind of ”pregnancy” he talked about. Anyway, none of us touched the rock as we are not planning to have babies any time soon.
Our next stop was Caribelle Batik where a well-known batik is made and sold. The property is very beautiful, with colourful plants and flowers, like a small botanical garden. We could observe a quick explanation about how batik is made and learn that it can take up to 9 days to make a piece of cloth. Then we walked through the batik shop with clothes, shirts, dresses, sarongs, and even batik bags for little rum bottles. All these were here in abundance but none of them was cheap. But it kind of makes sense if they have to spend a few days, or even a week working on a piece of cloth, then $50 is not that much for all that work put in it.
After a super colourful half an hour thorugh the Caribelle Batik and a WC break, the van took us through the village Middle Island with one of the oldest churches in the Caribbean. Maynard mentioned briefly the cotton business on St. Kitts years ago before the sugar production began. The cotton was indigenous here but the sugar was brought to the islands.
Our next, the longest, stop was at the Brimstone Hill Fortress, the dominant part of the island. As the name says, it took us some time to get to the top of the hill horning at every corner to avoid any car coming down running into us. Once on top, we visited the Fort George Museum opened in 1982 with the video slides explaining the main historical facts.
After the guys tried their first expensive Carib beer on St. Kitts at the little restaurant down the fortress, we could continue passing through the village Sandy Point famous for its Amazing Grace (setting of a dramatic story behind John Newton’s song) and then St. Paul’s village with the green house of the Prime Minister just between all the other local houses. I found it funny just to hear Maynard saying ”the first house on your right is where the Prime Minister lives.” It looked like any normal house painted green, nothing fancy, nothing spectacular.
Then we got to another lovely place – Dieppe Bay named after the French who settled down in this area. It is here at the natural Dieppe reef where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean sea and thus provides a great place for snorkeling. I hope to prove it right next time and see amazing underwater life at this place 🙂
St. Kitts being a volcanic island with Mount Liamuiga volcano forming the Western part of the island, still shows its volcanic origin nowadays. The best place to see it apart from the Mount Liamuiga volcano crater is the place on the Atlantic side of St. Kitts called Black Rocks. Black Rocks, situated close to the town Saddlers and Tabernacle, are volcanic rocks of black colour that fell off during the volcano eruption hundreds of years ago. They form the rocky coast now. Around them a few stalls can be found with street food, fresh coconut water, and souvenirs.
Then we followed all the way down to the East of St. Kitts to observe the hilly South East Peninsula. The viewpoint with the peninsula on the right side and North Frigate Bay on the left has made it to my favorite place on St. Kitts island.
My trip to St. Kitts and Nevis islands was a press trip organized by the St. Kitts Tourist Board in the collaboration with local agencies, restaurants and hotels. All the opinions in this article are my own as usual. Thanks a million to the tourist board, Zarina and Maynard.
***It took me more than 6 hours to write this post.