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St Kitts - History and Tranquillity

10 Favourite things to do in St Kitts

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Travel Reviews
- The Caribbean - St Kitts

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St Kitts - History and Tranquillity

10 Favourite things to do in St Kitts

St Kitts - History and Tranquillity

St Kitts
I am no expert on the Caribbean. Truth to tell, this was my first visit to the islands. Friends had described their vacations to some other Caribbean islands with enthusiasm, but those things over which they so passionately enthused kinda left me thinking that I might stay home! Perhaps it’s an age thing. I wanted a holiday filled with calm and beauty, but punctuated with a reggae opportunity at a distance from my bedroom window, and perhaps just a hint of adventure - enough to give a thrill but not enough to increase the cost of the holiday insurance policy. I found St Kitts.

St Kitts isn’t over-developed by tourism. It retains many original features, to use estate agent ‘speak’. It’s a lush island made up of three groups of volcanic peaks, rainforest and a peninsula where sits the popular Marriott Hotel and its associated fine beach. It offers vacationers a high standard of both accommodation and food just yards from that sun-kissed strand. It’s on the Atlantic coast but any self-respecting tourist will want to also boast that they have toasted their toes on a beach that is lapped by more gentle Caribbean waves, and that other water mass is just a short walk away.

St Kitts This island has a long and colourful history which began with the second voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1493. He spotted the island but sailed on past. The island is thought to be named after either that navigator or the patron saint of travellers, St. Christopher - Kitt is a diminutive of the name Christopher. Englishman Thomas Warner arrived with fourteen other settlers in 1624 to found the first English colony in the Caribbean. The island was already inhabited by Arawaks and Caribs.

A couple of years after the establishment of the English settlement, Pierre Belain d'Esnambue landed with a small group of French settlers. He had the support of Cardinal Richelieu to establish French colonies in the Caribbean, and the cardinal became a shareholder in the Compagnie de Saint-Christophe. The new arrivals evidently changed the dynamic between colonists and the indigenous population: a massacre ensued which wiped out the original inhabitants.

The Europeans had the island to themselves but continued, in true Anglo-French fashion, to war against each other.  St. Kitts has a UN World Heritage Site designation for Brimstone Hill Fortress & National Park, for those who are interested in battles. The Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 ceded the entire island of St Kitts to Great Britain and in 1727 Basseterre became the island's capital.

St Kitts The colonists developed initially tobacco and later sugar plantations and brought African slaves to work the land. St Kitts soon became a leader in sugar production in the Caribbean. In 2005, due to falling profits, the Government closed both the cane fields and the sugar factory. The commercial industry has ceased but sugar cane can still be found growing in un-tended fields.

Wingfield Estate offers visitors a chance to take just a glimpse back in time to see how a plantation worked. It was populated by owners and slaves but those workers not only cut the cane but had skills in the blacksmiths shop as well as the rum distillery. The first owner was Sam Jefferson and that name might sound somewhat familiar. He was the grandfather several times removed of Thomas Jefferson, who was the third president of the U.S.A. By 1775 the American Revolution was being fought and there were 68 sugar plantations on St. Kitts, which equates to one for every square mile.

The Wingfield estate followed the trends of the day and first grew tobacco and indigo which gave the blue dye for clothes. The present owner says that tobacco still grows whenever the ground is disturbed. Sugar and rum were the next to be produced and that continued here till 1924. The aqueduct and buildings can still be seen, although the estate now boasts the lighter industry of batik printing. The great plantation houses of Golden Lemon and Rawlins might open in years to come but Ottley's is now a luxury hotel which caters for discerning independent guests.

St Kitts has more than a quarter of its land devoted to a National Park with a rainforest that is increasing in size. One can walk in the cool quiet of lush vegetation with just the sound of a stream to add to the sense of uninterrupted tranquillity.  Vervet monkeys will likely be your only companions. For those with a yen for that aforementioned hint of adventure then there is zip lining. For the untutored, that’s a few minutes of sliding down a cable with, mercifully, a harness between you and the forest canopy. I would counsel taking a couple of rides as you will likely have your eyes closed for the first one. It’s an exhilarating and fun experience that I can highly recommend and the nearest thing to flying possible without baggage restrictions or need for lipstick in a clear plastic bag. The in-flight movie is in HD and 3D.

St Kitts This small but marvellously appointed island is, as yet, relatively unspoilt. It presents the visitor with calm and quiet. It has those vibrant reggae bars but they are not obtrusive. The beaches are stunning and the rainforest should not be missed. One can find good food everywhere, and a rum punch will never be far away. It’s an island that still retains visible history and charm in a beautiful setting. St Kitts offers something for everyone so take your dancing shoes, hiking boots and flippers, and enjoy some refined adventure.

The Marriott Hotel St Kitts

The Wingfield Estate 

St Kitts Tourist Board 

travel reviews

10 Favourite things to do in St Kitts

st Kitts This is a stunning little island that offers so much. There are hot golden beaches, cool and tranquil rain forests, history, food, adventure and entertainment.

It’s an ideal Caribbean location for those with children. It’s safe, with a relaxed pace of life. Some folks like days filled with activities and others want to occupy themselves with tanning. St Kitts has many facets.

1. Stay in a hotel on the beach

The Marriott has a perfect location, and it is indeed on a beach lapped by Atlantic waves. There is a huge free-form pool and a flock of sun beds both by that pool and on the sand. It’s a one-stop resort for guests who are content to enjoy the sun, frequent the hotel restaurants (the Italian one, La Cuchina, is outstanding) and have a few hours in the cool of the casino.

st Kitts

2. Visit the Rainforest

One might assume that a trek to the Amazon would be in order, if you want to visit a real tropical jungle. But St Kitts has its own and it’s even expanding. O’Neil Tours offers guided walks of various lengths with a guide (perhaps Mr. O’Neil himself) who will give an enchanting insight into the flora and fauna of these unspoilt forests. There are medicinal leaves, fruits, monkeys, streams and exotic plants aplenty.

Phone: +1 869.465.3107

3. Visit Wingfield Estate

Hire a car for a day and do a circuit of the island. St. Kitts is about 168 sq km (65 sq mi) and approximately 29 km (18 mi) long. There are lots of small villages around the coast as well as historic sites, churches, bars and stunning views.

St Kitts became celebrated initially for the cultivation of tobacco and then for the production of sugarcane. On your drive around you will find The Wingfield Estate, which offers a glimpse of life on a historic sugar plantation. One can still see architectural features; there’s lots of information on sugar refining and even rum distilling. The amateur engineers in the party will be in their element.

4. Caribelle Batik

st Kitts While the boys are musing on ancient stills and aqueducts the girls might like to learn about batik. This is a printing process that involves the often intricate application of wax to fabric and the use of various coloured dyes to produce beautiful and vibrant fabrics. The shop will tempt with shelves of multi-coloured cotton.

5. Lunch at El Fredo’s

This simple and rustic restaurant should be on the St Kitts bucket list of any serious food lover. It’s owned and run by Ken and Jasmine, who have been feeding both regulars and tourists for several years and they have garnered rave reviews. Jasmine is the chef and she had developed a menu that showcases local dishes from local ingredients. The conch is particularly good here.

st Kitts

6. Enjoy the Caribbean Coast

That sea is just as blue in real life as it is on postcards. One can walk from the Atlantic to the Caribbean in a matter of minutes: St Kitts is an island shaped like a paddle and it’s only a short trot across the handle to find the other water mass. The Caribbean is usually calmer than the Atlantic. One can enjoy truly warm water and perhaps go snorkelling or sailing. Cockleshell Beach might be a short drive from your hotel but this small strand can be your corner of paradise.

7. Enjoy a cocktail at Salt Plage

Visit Salt Plage, which is newly opened in Whitehouse Bay. The latest addition to Christophe Harbour offers a stunning bar from which to watch the setting sun. It’s sophisticated and stylish and offers the signature Salt Pond Jumbie. This is destined to be a must-be-seen-at jet-setters’ watering hole.

st Kitts

8. Visit the capital of Basseterre

This is the main town but it isn’t overly touristic. One can enjoy a refreshing young coconut - drink the water and then scoop the delicious jelly flesh. Buy a pineapple - cut while you wait. Find a spot in the shade and admire the immaculately turned-out children in their crisp school uniforms. Take pictures of unique architecture.

9. Cooking class at Nirvana Fairview

A lasting souvenir of your St Kitts visit could be a recipe or two to take home. The Nirvana Fairview Estate offers cooking classes that will enable you to create a Caribbean feast. The grounds are filled with exotic fruit trees and plants so you can see where some ingredients are grown. They can also provide a celebrated afternoon tea to be enjoyed along with a dip in their own pool.
st Kitts

10. High-wire adventure

If you are the sort that craves thrills then you will want to go zip lining. I am not overly courageous and I am a woman of a certain age but after two ‘flights’ I was addicted. For the untutored, this is a ride hooked to a cable. One flies above the rainforest canopy at great speed and with a sense of freedom. This is a must-do and will compensate the adolescents for behaving so well at lunch.

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