Only a 40 minute flight from Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport takes you to the sister islands of Saint Christopher (aka Saint Kitts) and Nevis in the Caribbean. Winair offers several flights a day, and I was on the first one of the day, eager to make the most of my two days in St Kitts and Nevis.
After breezing through the check-in and security process, we were on board Winair’s Twin-Otter DHC plane headed south across the clear blue waters. The plane first made a stop at Nevis to pick up passengers that were headed back to Sint Maarten. After Nevis, it was only about 5 minutes back to our final destination of St. Kitts.
Arriving in Saint Kitts
The airport is small, and was virtually empty this early on a Sunday morning. I quickly realized that unlike the United States, most countries slow down on are closed on Sunday. It was pretty quiet that morning, but there were still a few cabs waiting around outside the airport, ready to take us into town.
We had prearranged for a rental car from Bullseye Auto Rental, and they were kind enough to come pick us up at the airport to take us to their rental location, not far from the airport. We completed our paperwork and prepared the car for our journey. St Kitts is part of the British West Indies, so you drive on the left side of the road.
Though it has over a population of over 40,000 people, St. Kitts is much smaller and less developed compared to its neighbor, Saint Martin/Sint Maarten. Our plan for the day was to drive around the island, stopping at the different sights along the way.
1 | Basseterre
Basseterre is the capital of St Kitts, and it is here where the massive cruise ships dock in Port Zante. When we arrived around 9am the stores were just starting to open up in preparation for the ship that would be docking later that morning. We grabbed our coffees at the port and proceeded to explore around the island.
2 | Romney Manor
Our first stop was the Old Rum Distillery at Romney Manor. Romney Manor is most known for being the home of Caribelle Batik, which specializes in this creating and selling clothing and fabrics made by this unique method of producing colored designs on textiles. Unfortunately, Caribelle Batik is not open on Sundays, but the ruins of the former rum distillery just outside remains open daily for exploring at your leisure and you can learn more about how rum was produced in the past by processing sugar cane.
3 | Fairview Great House and Garden
After exploring the distillery, we headed back east towards our next stop, Fairview Great House and Garden. The house is a restored 18th century Great House, the former home of many notable Englishmen. There are several rooms to explore, including the dining room with its antique silverware and a master bedroom with panoramic views of the sea. There is also a small room that contains displays and information about the past and current owners of the house.
Outside, there is a modest botanical garden and a neat fountain in the shape of the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. After taking a walk through the grounds, we had lunch at the Asian restaurant onsite, the Fairview. Don’t be alarmed by the menu prices, which are in East Caribbean Dollar. The restaurant accepts USD as well.
4 | Brimstone Hill Fortress
After lunch we continued to the Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and arguably the most iconic landmark in the Caribbean islands. Built between the 1690s and 1790s, the fortress represents one of the largest military communities of the 18th century. The drive up to the fortress is long, winding and narrow. St. Kitts is also known for its green vervet monkeys, and we passed many of them on our drive through the wilderness up to the fortress.
After paying a $10 entrance fee per person, we passed through the main gates and parked our car in a field adjacent to the visitors center. There are many different buildings that make up the fortress, but the primary attraction is the Fort George Citadel at the very top of the mountain. After stopping by the visitor center to watch a short introductory video, we made our way to the top. From the top of the citadel, there are spectacular 360 degree views of Saint Kitts and the majestic Caribbean Sea. With cannons mounted all around the citadel, it was obvious why the British chose this spot to defend themselves from the French.
Inside the citadel is the museum, where there are several rooms providing information on the history of the fort, from its inhabitants, the surrounding wildlife, and the current restoration project.
5 | Driving Around the Coast
Continuing our drive around the island, we passed by many remains of old sugar plantations, their chimneys still sticking out among the overgrown trees and bushes. They are relics of the past, reminding us of a time not so long ago in which the island relied heavily on slave labor to operate these mills and machinery.
We circled around the northern side of the island, passing the black sand beaches, formed as a result of Mount Liumaga, the volcano from which the island emerged.
6 | Friar’s Bay
Completing the loop from where we began at the airport, we continued on south towards Friar’s Bay, where most of the usual tourist activity lies. It is here that you will find the Royal St. Kitts Golf Course, at the massive St. Kitts Marriott Resort. This is the main tourist strip, and there are several resorts dotting the shore line, as well as many restaurants, bars and tour guides and activities like ATV island tours and watersports.
Though the island itself is relatively small, there is a wide variety of things to see and do. For us, after a long day of bouncing around the island to see the different historical monuments, attractions and sites, we opted to simply stake out a lounge chair on the beach and relax, watching the sun set over the calm Caribbean sea.
Have you been to St Kitts? What were some of your most memorable moments? Let us know in the comments!