Saint Kitts and Nevis
|Currency||East Caribbean dollar (XCD)|
|Population||38,958 (July 2006 est.)|
|Country code||+1 869|
|Time zone||UTC -4|
As if it were the custom in the Caribbean, St-Kitts and Nevis changed hands many times between English and French, which has left it a heritage of cities with names from both countries. Contrariwise, the architecture there is very Anglo-Saxon (Style Victorian) with driving on left and especially in downtown Basseterre: Circus Place the reproduction of the 'Berkeley Memorial Clock'.
The islands became an associated state of the United Kingdom with full internal autonomy in 1967. The island of Anguilla rebelled and was allowed to secede in 1971. Saint Kitts and Nevis achieved independence in 1983. In 1998, a vote in Nevis on a referendum to separate from Saint Kitts fell short of the two-thirds majority needed.
There are also several ancient British fortifications which have been restored with minutiae and reproducing the tiniest details of original construction. St-Kitts and Nevis will be called to be developed in the near future, in fact many projects are in progress or completion, notably vast dockings to accommodate the largest liners and cruisers with terminals, loading docks, etc.
What is really remarkable on St-Kitts and Nevis is the natural aspect. Many tropical birds which one rarely finds elsewhere are present in great concentration in the nature and there are also the famous monkeys which, it is said, were introduced by the pirates. An all-new road permits going to the southeast end of St-Kitts (Turtle Beach) where one feels that a certain febrility in the air will make of this part of the island an appreciated place. Indeed, one has only to take a little adventure in the underwoods with some fruit in hand to see oneself quite soon surrounded by monkeys coming gently to meet one to get fed. For the inhabitants of the islands, on the other hand, the monkeys are not perceived as big a joy, for these pretty little hairy beings plunder the harvest and nose around everywhere they can go.
Tropical tempered by constant sea breezes; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November).
With coastlines in the shape of a baseball bat and ball, the two volcanic islands are separated by a three-km-wide channel called The Narrows; on the southern tip of long, baseball bat-shaped Saint Kitts lies the Great Salt Pond; Nevis Peak sits in the center of its almost circular namesake island and its ball shape complements that of its sister island. The highest point is Mount Liamuiga (St Kitts) at 1,156 meters.
Citizens of Commonwealth countries, Organization of American States (except the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and the following countries do not require visas: Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, South Korea, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Kingdom of the Netherlands*, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, UK and the United Arab Emirates.
- Includes Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten in addition to the Netherlands in Europe.
Visa applications must be mailed to the Embassy in Washington, D.C. Included in your submission should be the original completed application form (you cannot copy the form and send it), your passport (valid for at least 6 months after visiting Saint Kitts and Nevis, 2 passport-size photographs and the visa fee ($50). You must also include the mailing fee. The normal fee is $5, but if you want express overnight postage, the fee is $15.75.
- Daily flights are available from San Juan, PR on American Eagle, as well as through British Virgin Islands/Tortola. American Airlines flies three times a week from Miami (more flights during the tourist season), twice a week to New York. Delta Airlines has non stop service to St. Kitts from Atlanta.
- From Britain, British Airways has non-stop flights from London Gatwick. These flights are once a week, on Saturdays.
- From Canada, there is a non-stop charter flight from Toronto to St. Kitts beginning December 19th until April with Skyservice.
- Leeward Islands Air Transport (Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Thomas, San Juan, Tortola) DHC8-100, 300
There is a cruise ship terminal as well as a marina for yachts in Basseterre.
Take a catamaran/snorkel excursion with Blue Water Safaris or Leeward Island Charters.
You can also charter a boat with No Problem Boat Charters.
For the ferry from St Kitts (Majors Bay) to Nevis (Cades Bay) you can take the Sea Bridge which runs from 8AM till 7PM (sailing times).
There is a scenic railway tour that goes through portions of the narrow gauge railroad formerly used for the sugar mill. If more than one large cruise ship visits the island, organized train tours can fill the train.
Taxis and buses outnumber those needing them in St. Kitts. Be sure to negotiate upfront the costs of the trip, pay special attention if the fare is in US or EC dollars.
Temporary drivers licenses are available, as well as several car rentals agencies.
Micro buses form the public transportation system on the island. These are much cheaper than taxis and can be flagged down while in route. If they are full the driver will flash their lights and proceed on. Service does not generally extend to Frigate Bay or the Southern Peninsula. That is the domain of taxis. Taxis and Buses use the same format of Micro buses, the difference is that taxis have a yellow license plate and start with the letter T and buses have a green one which starts with the letter H. Bus fare varies but in 2005 was between 1.25 EC and 5 EC depending on length of trip.
The language of Saint Kitts and Nevis is English. However if you have never visited the Caribbean before you may have difficulty understanding the patois, or more correctly the Creole language, spoken by the locals which is based on the English language but to the untrained ear sounds nothing like it. For example "a-come" means coming "a-knock" means knocking. Most notable is the simplification of use of pronouns as in "I and I" which replaces all other pronouns like she/he, we/my, yours, hers/his and ours. The Caribbean patois has its roots not only in African languages (west, central and Nigerian), standard English, Scottish and Spanish but also Perso-Arabic and Sanskrit. Unusually the end result is not just a language but also a philosophical statement which emphasises the group relationship rather than the personal.
Of course, with an area no larger than 261 km2, Saint Kitts and Nevis has a somewhat limited (but not absent!) array of typical sights. It's hardly a set back for visitors to these two small islands though, as they have all the enchanting natural beauty of the Caribbean.
Its strategic location made Saint Kitts a colonial hotspot and a focus point of European nations in their struggle for power over the West Indies islands. The colonial settlers rapidly expanded sugar plantations and imported African slaves, thus laying the foundations for the islands' colourful culture. Festivities, crafts and other displays of that culture are among the islands' main tourist attractions now, as are the ruins of the many plantations. The Scenic Railway, travelling on the tracks of the old sugar train railway, is a great way to see the best of them. However, nothing makes the islands' history as tangible as the impressive and well preserved remains of the Brimstone Hill Fortress. It's both a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provides some stunning views over the surrounding area and even some nearby islands. Only a few ruins and some cannons remain of Fort Charles on Nevis, the fortifications of Charlestown.
Basseterre is a pleasant place and has a view sights, including St. George's Anglican Church and Indepence Square, once the site of the slave market. The impressive 1894 Old Treasury building, originally the gateway to Basseterre, is an important historic sight but also houses the National Museum with expositions on the history, identity and independence of the island.
The islands' countryside is lovely, with panoramic views of green hills covered in rain forest as well as beaches and of course the bright blue sea. The main road circling the island will take you to most points of interests, some great beaches and several villages. The hike up Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano on St. Kitts and the highest peak of the islands, is particularly popular and worthwhile for the great views from the top.
Diving sites are ample and gorgeous, serving both beginning and experienced divers. Of course there's a broad and colourful range of reefs and sea life to see, but also ship wrecks and caves. For beginners, the Monkey Shoals and Friars Bay Reef are good and easily reachable sites. Sandy Point is a National Marine Park for its beautiful coral heads and magnificent sea life. The Wreck of River Taw, M.V. Talata Wreck and the more recently sunk Wreck of the Corinthian are popular sites. Turtle Bar is of course famous for the many turtles that roam the site, but you'll also commonly spot them at Frigate Bay Reef. For more experienced divers, the strong currents at Nags Head are a nice challenge, and the broad range of fish at Aquarium is a good spot.
- Leeward Islands Charters. Basseterre.
- Just in the Sun Boutique, Marriott Resort, Frigate Bay, St. Kitts
- Splash Boutique, TDC Mall, Basseterre, St. Kitts.
- Island Living, e-mail: email@example.com. 35 steps from the anchor on the pier, Charlestown.
See also discussion of this topic under BasseTerre.
Contrary to the myth that all Caribbean countries are expensive, prices on Nevis are pretty reasonable. Fuel is expensive as it has to be imported but as the island is small you won't be using that much anyway. Many everyday products can be bought at a reasonable price and depending where you go eating out is affordable for most. Fresh food although limited in choice by American and British standards is also reasonably priced.
There are many dining options in St. Kitts. Some of the popular restaurants are:
- Sprat Net - Old Road
- Ballahoo Restaurant. Basseterre.
- Chevy's Beach Bar & Grill, Pinneys Beach, Nevis, ☎ +1 869 469-0055.
- PJ's Bar and Restaurant. Frigate Bay.
You'll find lots of beach bars located in the Frigate Bay and South East Peninsula.
- Lion's Beach Bar, Cockleshell Beach.
- Sunshine's Beach Bar and Grill. Pinney's Beach on Nevis.
- Reggae Beach Bar and Restaurant, Cockleshell Bay.
- Yachtsman Grill, Nelson Springs Nevis (between Four Seasons and airport), ☎ +1 869 469-1382. noon to 10. Idyllically located on the beach facing St. Kitts with Mt. Nevis in the background. Enveloped by lush gardens. Beach lounge chairs. $10-$40usd.
- The St. Kitts Marriott Resort and The Royal Beach Casino, ☎ +1 869 466-1200. In the Frigate Bay area of the island. Just a 10-minute drive from the airport and capital city Basseterre. The resort offers 573 rooms and suites. North Frigate Bay Beach, a championship golf course and the largest Vegas-style casino in the Caribbean help provide an excellent vacation experience. The resort also features a revitalizing spa, meeting facilities, the Pirates of St. Kitts Kids Club program, eight restaurants and two lounges.
- Ottley's Plantation Inn. Located on and old plantation estate about 7 miles from Basseterre, on the Atlantic side of the island. Offering rooms in the Great House and several cottages around the grounds - some of which come with their own plunge pools. The Royal Palm is the restaurant on the property, built on top of the ruins of the old sugar refinery. They also offer destination wedding packages.
- Ocean Terrace Inn. Is in the Fortlands area of Basseterre, overlooking the main harbor (Port Zante) as well as the Deep Water Port across the bay in Bird Rock. There are several restaurants run by OTI, including the Pool Bar and Grill, Waterfalls, and Fisherman's Wharf across the street (down on the waterfront).
- Reggae Beach Bar and Restaurant, Cockleshell Bay.
The Mount Liamuiga hiking excursion offered by many cruise ship lines involves some climbing, at times necessitating the scaling of rocks by hand. To reach the last lookout, you have to grab onto a rope and hoist yourself onto a rock ledge and climbing over large fallen trees.
The trails are not marked, and consist of little more than a space between two trees, or two rocks and can be muddy, there is little shelter from the rain, and no toilets.
It is important when in the city and other public places (airport, downtown, stores) to be sure to wear shoes and a shirt. It is a sign of disrespect to be wearing beach attire in the city. Loud public swearing is also looked down upon and you can be fined for it.