St. Kitts. The Lush Green Beach Island. By Train, Bike or Taxi You Must Visit a Beach
First sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493, the British and French fought over this beautiful island for centuries. In 1983 St. Kitts, and its sister island of Nevis, became fully independent.
Port Zante, in the capital of Basseterre, today welcomes an endless stream of cruise ships at its simple but well located dock that usually hosts 2 ships. Tourism and cruising is a key source of revenue for St. Kitts after the collapse of the sugar industry, which is something I have covered in an article I wrote on a previous visit (click here to read that article).
The calm image of imposing ships docked in the beautiful Caribbean Sea at Port Zante, contrast with a difficult history that includes the massacre of thousands of indigenous Carib Indians, use of over 1700 slaves on the sugar plantations and now the struggle to replace the revenues from the traditional sugar growing industry.
Today St. Kitts is all about tourism, and cruise passengers play a major part in that. Although there now is a large and very busy international airport, and you see planes arriving and leaving constantly to the United States, Europe and the other islands. If on a cruise, then stepping off a cruise ship, it is a short walk to the entrance into Basseterre, the capital. Here the tourism board, and a very efficient taxi rank system, will help you plan a trip to one of the stunning beaches in St. Kitts. For this is the best thing to do on this island in my view.
There are other excursion options, like cycle tours and the old sugar train, but getting to the beach is magical. A taxi to one of the beaches will only cost you around $7 per person.
My favourite beach, although not as popular as some like South Frigate and Turtle Beach, is the South Friars Beach. It is quiet, with a good sandy beach, great swimming and some good snorkelling too. Like most beaches on the island, there are patches of rocky and coral reefs where sea urchins are which have terrible spikes, so you either need to wear protective rubber shoes – or ensure you stick to the marked swimming areas. It costs about $20 for 2 chairs under the wooden and palm tree leaf covers. It also has a beach bar serving cajun chicken and burgers.
After a trip to the beach, spend some time exploring the town of Basseterre. You should pass through the duty free tax free shopping malls and into the old town. While at times is can be a bit messy, it is always vibrant and busy. Visit the famous “Circus” with its large green clock in the centre, and where streets linked to it colonial past like Liverpool Row, Fort and Bank Street lead off it. All around are old colonial buildings.
Closer to the dock is the more modern, and less authentic and traditional duty and tax free shopping areas. Here you can buy diamonds, watches and other designer goods. This is a very popular area, and St. Kitts is known as a good port to shop in. Occasionally, locals will lay on street dancing and entertainment.
St. Kitts is a beautiful island, and one of my favourites. I do think going to the beach is a must, as also the drivers always make they take on a scenic route to see the beauty of the island and a selection of beaches.
Watch my video tour of St Kitts, including the beaches, dock and Basseterre:
If going to the beach is not enough for you, here are other popular and well liked trip options:
• Bike tour, including visiting the beach. This we did on our last trip and was great for getting a feel for the history of the island.
• St Kitts Railway. This is one of the most popular trips. Dating back to 1912, it used to deliver sugar cane from the fields into Basseterre. Now a double deck train runs on the lines and shows you huge parts of the island.
• Nevis sail away. You can also go on an all day trip that takes you to the sister island of Nevis.
• St.Kitts Cycle tour and observations from a previous trip to the island I did
• All my photos of St Kitts on Flickr