1. Lush Volcanic Vistas Dominate St. Kitts
Dramatic views are a constant companion on St. Kitts. The rainforest-clad peaks rise like spires from the mottled-blue Caribbean sea. The island is perhaps best known for it’s cruise ship port, but this emerald gem has so much more to offer beyond the requisite dockside shopping malls. Eco-adventures abound from the vibrant reefs to the lush rainforests. The capital Basseterre beats with the rhythms of steel drums. And countless white-sand beaches offer idyllic escapes.
2. Walk with the Redcoats at Brimstone Hill Fortress
St. Kitts was the first British colony in the Caribbean, and the redcoats’ towering fort was once known as the “Gibraltar of the West”—it’s volcanic vantage point offering lines of sight to nearby Nevis, St. Eustatius, and Saba. Today the Brimstone Hill Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best preserved colonial forts in the New World.
3. Caribbean Christmas Sorrel
No visit to the Caribbean during the winter high-season is complete without a sip—or even better, a tall glass—of the local sorrel drink. The jelly-like flowers of the sorrel plant are infused along with regional spices like citrus, clove and ginger to make a thick, sweet and spicy concoction that is to the Caribbean holiday season what eggnog is stateside.
4. Line-Dried Batik
A long-practiced handicraft originated in Indonesia, batik is a textile colored through a unique wax-and-dye process. Women paint the patterns with brushes dipped in melted wax before dying the fabric (the waxed areas remain uncolored) and the process is repeated many times to create multi-colored works of art. Caribelle Batik has a batik shop along with a demonstration area where visitors can get a first hand look at the process in action.
5. American Origins at the Middle Island Anglican Church
This now crumbling church was the first Anglican church in the Eastern Caribbean. And for centuries, the surrounding cemetery has been the final resting place not only of West Indies English Governor Sir Thomas Warner, but also his good friend Samuel Jefferson, the great, great, great grandfather of American president Thomas Jefferson, whose family got its New World foothold on St. Kitts.
6. Touch the Fertility Rock
Ancient Carib petroglyphs are one of only a few remnants of the native peoples who populated this and surrounding islands as far back as 2500 BC. These, on the grounds of the historic Romney Manor along with Caribelle Batik, are thought to be fertility touchstones, and legend says that women who touch the rocks will soon be with child.
7. Spend a Day on Reggae Beach
Inside of Cockleshell Bay, Reggae Beach is one of a handful of secluded spots fringing the narrow tail that juts off the southern end of St. Kitts. The beach overlooks Nevis, and the beachfront Reggae Beach Bar and Reggae Beach Watersports offer water taxis and Hobie Cats to visitors who want to continue by boat to the neighboring island. Cockleshell Bay itself is an equally great spot to spend a day sipping drinks from a sun lounger or sailing, jet-skiing and snorkeling in the bay.
8. Go Four-Wheeling Through the Island Interior
The steep mountains of St. Kitts conceal a verdant rainforest interior, where monkeys swing through wild fruit trees. Kantours is one of a handful of local tour companies that offer guided ATV excursions through the island forests. And while you’re kicking up mud around hairpin turns, you’ll also have a chance to stop for stunning vistas, explore colonial ruins partially reclaimed by the jungle, and guides will point out medicinal plants and herbs along the way.
9. Beach Bonfire at The Shiggidy Shack
The twice-weekly beach bonfire (Tuesdays and Fridays) at The Shiggidy Shack is a can’t miss carnival of thumping reggae, calypso and cover music. Throw in piled plates of jerk chicken, BBQ ribs and fresh lobster, wash it down with a cold Carib or three, and you’ll be well on your way to a late night of barefoot dancing in the sand.
10. Zipline the Valley of the Giants
St. Kitts’ Sky Safaris zipline starts amid the ruins of a colonial-era rum distillery and aqueduct on Wingfield Estate. Show up a bit early, because these grounds—still a working archeological site—are well worth exploring. The zipline itself is a high-flying ride comprising 5 lines, the longest of which stretches 1350 feet, 250 feet above the rainforest. The lines crisscross the island’s biggest river, and boast excellent views to the sea down the length of the Valley of the Giants.