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  • half-moon-bay-st-kitts.jpg - View of sweeping Half Moon Bay on the Atlantic side of St. Kitts, seen from Monkey Hill.
  • Nevis-vervet-monkeys - Vervet monkeys act as nature's alarm clocks on Nevis.
  • view-bay-st-kitts - View of a bay from the taxi ride to South Friars Beach on Saint Kitts.
  • view-beach-nevis-st-kitts - View of Nevis from St. Kitts.
  • brimstone-hill-saint-kitts - The historic fortification of Brimstone Hill on St. Kitts.
  • Brimstone-Hill-Fortress-2a.jpg - The Infantry Officers Quarters of Brimstone Hill Fortress on St. Kitts.
  • Brimstone-Hill-Fortress.jpg - View of the Prince of Wales Bastion at Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park on St. Kitts.
  • drone-frigate-bay-north2.jpg - Drone image of the coastline of Frigate Bay in St. Kitts, looking north.
  • St-Kitts-view-from-Brimstone-Hill-Fortress - Brimstone Hill Fortress on St. Kitts was built largely from quarried blackened basalt rock from 1690 to 1790.
  • Nevis-Peak-Charleston - Looking down on Charlestown from Nevis Peak, a volcano on the island of Nevis.
  • Nevis-sunset - A perfect sunset on the tropical island of Nevis in the Caribbean.
  • Nevis-boats-fishermen - Fishermen's boats line a beach on Nevis.
  • Nevis-Golden-Rock-Plantation-Inn - The Honeymoon Suite at Golden Rock Plantation Inn on Nevis.
  • brimstone-hill-st-kitts - Brimstone Hill Fortress on St Kitts.
  • view-nevis-st-kitts - View from St. Kitts, looking toward Nevis.
  • Nevis-Botanical-Gardens - The Botanical Gardens of Nevis, a fragrant collage of palms, orchids, water lily ponds, bamboo groves and other tropical flora.
  • Saint-Kitts-windmill-ruin - An old windmill on Saint Kitts in the Caribbean.
  • nicola-town-st-kitts - Nicola Town, a colorful outpost on the scenic Caribbean island of St. Kitts.
  • st-kitts-panorama - The harbor at Basseterre, St. Kitts.
  • shipwreck-beach-st-kitts - Rafting off Ship Wreck Beach, St. Kitts.
  • St-Kitts-inside-Brimstone-Hill-Fortress - Inside Brimstone Hill Fortress on St. Kitts. It's the second-biggest fortification in the Caribbean.
  • starfish-on-St-Kitts - A starfish, or sea star, on Saint Kitts in the Caribbean.
  • ottley-plantation-st-kitts - Ottley's Plantation Inn, a luxury resort with exquisite views on St. Kitts.
  • Saint-Kitts-old-mill-ruin - Ruins of an old sugar mill on Saint Kitts.
  • St-Kitts-sunset.jpg - A sunset in St. Kitts as seen from Silver Spirit.
  • St-Kitts-panorama.jpg - A panorama of Wingfield Estate, a collection of colonial-era ruins that were part of St. Kitts' first plantation.
  • st-kitts-zipline.jpg - A cruise passenger gets ready to take a zipline ride in St. Kitts.
  • drone-frigate-bay-north.jpg - Drone image of the narrow beach and coastline of Frigate Bay in St. Kitts, looking north.
  • snuba-1.jpg - A look at snuba — a combination of snorkeling and diving — during an outing in St. Kitts.
  • Lowering-the-mast.jpg - A crew member lowers the mast during a tour aboard the Spirit of St Kitts.
  • drone-frigate-bay-st-kitts2.jpg - Drone image of Frigate Bay in St. Kitts, with the Atlantic on the far side and Caribbean on the near side.
  • Nevis-home-Nevis-Peak - A home on Nevis Peak on the island of Nevis.
  • Wingfield-Estate-St-Kitts.jpg - Wingfield Estate, a collection of colonial-era ruins that were part of St. Kitts' first plantation.
  • Brimstone-Hill-Fortress-4.jpg - Ruins of the Jumbie Barracks of Brimstone Hill Fortress on St. Kitts.
  • Brimstone-Hill-Fortress-5.jpg - The St. Kitts flag flies at half staff over Brimstone Hill Fortress on St. Kitts.
  • Brimstone-Hill-Fortress-6.jpg - Brimstone Hill Fortress is a well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site in St. Kitts.
  • Brimstone-Hill-Fortress-bell.jpg - Bell at Brimstone Hill in St. Kitts, the largest and best preserved fortress in the Caribbean.
  • Brimstone-Hill-Fortress-cannons.jpg - Smoke from a cannon volley at Brimstone Hill Fortress? Nope. A brushfire below in Sandy Point Town, St. Kitts. The island of St. Eustatius looms in the distance.
  • Brimstone-Hill-Fortress-interior.jpg - The interior of Fort George Citadel at Brimstone Hill in St. Kitts, one of the best preserved historical fortifications in the Americas.
  • drone-frigate-bay-south.jpg - Drone image of pretty Frigate Bay in St. Kitts, looking south.
  • drone-frigate-bay-st-kitts.jpg - The aquamarine waters of Frigate Bay in St. Kitts (drone photo).
  • marvin-taxi-driver-st-kitts.jpg - JD Lasica: "We met Marvin, a personable taxi driver, and arranged for him to give us a daylong tour of St. Kitts."
  • timothy-hill-lookout-st-kitts.jpg - The Timothy Hill lookout, with the Atlantic at left and tamer Caribbean at right in southern St. Kitts.
  • beach-cocktail.jpg - Beach + tropical cocktail = the perfect way to unwind.
  • wind-surf-in-st-kitts.jpg - Windstar Cruises' 310-passenger flagship Wind Surf in St. Kitts.
  • leeward-island-cruises.jpg - During a snorkeling expedition from Leeward Island Cruises on St. Kitts.
  • st-kitts-houses.jpg - Houses line the coastline of St. Kitts.
  • wingfield-estate-st-kitts.jpg - The ruins of Wingfield Estate on St. Kitts include a sugar factory and mill, rum distillery, great house, cafe and gift shop. It dates to 1625.
  • Getting-outfitted-for-zipline.jpg - Getting outfitted for a zipline tour in St. Kitts.
  • Carib-beer.jpg - Carib beer served during a catamaran outing in the waters of St. Kitts.
  • royal-st-kitts-golf-course.jpg - The Royal St. Kitts Golf Course in Basseterre, St. Kitts, offers 18 championship holes on over 125 acres of irrigated, lush island terrain.
  • Leeward-Islands-Charters.jpg - Saint Clare, a crew member of Leeward Islands Charters during a catamaran outing in St. Kitts.
  • passenger-and-monkey-1.jpg - Watch out for locals who put green vervet monkeys on the heads of tourists for photo opps, as with this genial cruise visitor in St. Kitts.
  • st-kitts-street-festival-1.jpg - A festive street performance in St. Kitts and Nevis.
  • view-from-Brimstone-Hill-Fortress.jpg - View from the citadel atop Brimstone Hill Fortress on St. Kitts, which stands nearly 800 feet above the Caribbean.
  • castella-audain-taxi-assoc.jpg -  Castella Audain of the St. Kitts Taxi Association on the cruise pier in Basseterre, St. Kitts.
  • Brimstone-Hill-Fortress-2.jpg - Ruins of the Artillery Officers Quarters at Brimstone Hill Fortress on St. Kitts.
  • Brimstone-Hill-Fortress-3.jpg - Brimstone Hill Fortress on St. Kitts was designed by British military engineers and built and maintained by African slaves.

St. Kitts & Nevis travel guide: What to do & see

our guide

The vibe

As if it were the custom in the Caribbean, St. Kitts & Nevis changed hands many times between English and French, which has left it a heritage of cities with names from both countries. On the contrary, the architecture in these Leeward Islands in the West Indies is very Anglo-Saxon (Victorian style).

 
  RELATED GUIDE
 
 
 

The 65-square-mile island of St. Kitts and Nevis became an associated state of the United Kingdom with full internal autonomy in 1967, the smallest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere. St. Kitts (often spelled out as Saint Kitts) is home to the capital, Basseterre, while Nevis lies about two miles away, across a shallow channel called "The Narrows." The island nation has 50,000 residents. 

Basseterre is  one of the oldest towns in the Eastern Caribbean. This small town has two city centers: Circus Place, a tiny roundabout with the Berkeley Memorial Clock, which is focused on tourism, and the Independence Square with its historic buildings like courthouse and cathedral. A highlight of both islands is their lush, tropical forests and raw natural beauty, including many rare tropical birds.  

Cruise ships that call on St. Kitts & Nevis

Top reasons to go

  • St. Kitts' dormant volcano, Mount Liamuiga, is the island’s highest peak and offers spectacular views over the countryside.
  • Brimstone Hill Fortress is a national park and an UNESCO World Heritage Site at the same time; a steep walk up from the parking area will reward you with an amazing view.
  • Local artisans sell items such as Batik cloth, which is a great souvenir.
Drone image of the narrow beach and coastline of Frigate Bay in St. Kitts, looking north.
JD Lasica / Special to CruiseableDrone image of the narrow beach and coastline of Frigate Bay in St. Kitts, looking north.

Top things to do & see

Circus Place & Independence Square

As you depart your cruise ship, you will pass through a large archway, which houses the National Museum. Continue through Basseterre (also spelled Basse-Terre ) to the Circus, an area with shops and restaurants frequented by visitors to St. Kitts. Then go east to Independence Square where you will find the courthouse, Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Guadeloupe de Basse-Terre, and other historic buildings. Leave time to browse at the Amina Craft market on your way back to your ship.

Nature

The island of St. Kitts  is full of possibilities for day trips. Take a rainforest walk, including a well-maintained trail above Romney Manor that travels along and across the Wingfield's river. This is probably the best marked trail, complete with ropes and steps.

Beaches & diving

If you scuba dive, there are numerous shipwrecks to explore. St. Kitts offers a variety of beaches to explore, including Cockleshell, combining white powdery sand beach and restaurants and bars, and Turtle beach, which is a little more remote but teeming with fish in the water.

You can catch the ferry from St. Kitts to Nevis (pronounced NEE-vis) for a very enjoyable day. Majors Bay features a nice beach, and it is near to where the ferry from St. Kitts lands. 

View of Nevis from St. Kitts.
Daniel / Creative Commons BY-SAView of Nevis from St. Kitts.

Family-friendly options 

Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, is a small, pretty town, with a Main Street lined with Georgian stone buildings. Take a tour of  the Hermitage Plantation' in St. John, built of lignum vitae wood in 1640, is the oldest surviving wooden house still in use in the Caribbean today.

St. Kitts' scenic railway was originally built between 1912 and 1926 to transport sugar cane to the central sugar factory in Basseterre. It offers gorgeous views over farms, small villages and historic windmills. In order to make the 30-miles-loop around the island, a distance of 12 miles (19 km) is organized by bus. A round trip takes about 3 hours.

Best bets for dining

While the two islands are small, there is no shortage of good food and drink. Right in the center of Basseterre, you'll find Ballahoo, which features French food and views of the lovely downtown. 

If you're looking for something more romantic, Marshall's Restaurant in Nevis won't disappoint. Its dining room is poolside and provides ocean views, and local flavor can be found with dishes including conch ceviche and lobster thermidor. 

Another great option is Yachtsman Grill, which is located on the beach facing St. Kitts with Mt. Nevis in the background. Enveloped by lush gardens, seafood is the main cuisine here, or you can choose to relax on a beach lounge chair and enjoy cocktails (lounge chairs can be rented from $10 to $40). 

A perfect sunset on the tropical island of Nevis in the Caribbean.
unknown / Courtesy of Nevis Tourism AuthorityA perfect sunset on the tropical island of Nevis in the Caribbean.

Events

St. Kitts is perhaps best known for its annual music festival, with performers ranging from Michael Bolton to Nas. It's generally held in June. 

Fun facts

  • Alexander Hamilton was born in Nevis — otherwise he would have likely been one of the first U.S. presidents.
  • St. Kitts & Nevis were among the first islands in the Caribbean to be settled by Europeans.
  • When Christopher Columbus discovered the island, he named it for his patron saint, St. Christopher. Later, it was shortened to St. Kitts, his nickname.
  • St. Kitts has one of the few remaining operational rail tracks in the Caribbean.
  • St. Kitts now gets more than 1 million cruise ship visitors a year. 

Best time to go

The climate for these islands is tropical, tempered by constant sea breezes. There is little seasonal temperature variation; however, the rainy season is from May to November.

When you arrive

Docking information

Port Zante is the cruise ship pier in Basseterre. From the pier, it is a 15-minute walk into downtown Basseterre.

Getting around

Taxis and buses both use micro buses. Official taxis can be identified by the yellow license plate starting with the letter "T" or "TA." Make sure you agree upon the price with the driver before entering the taxi. During night time, between 10 pm and 6 am, a 50% surcharge is added to the standard price.

St. Kitts and Nevis are connected by ferry service, which takes about 45 minutes and offers lovely views of the two islands.

Free Wi-Fi

  • Sweet Lime, Port Zante, Basseterre
  • Caribe Cafe, The Sands, Bay Road, Basseterre
The historic fortification of Brimstone Hill on St. Kitts.
jthetzel / Creative Commons BYThe historic fortification of Brimstone Hill on St. Kitts.

Need to know

Documents: A passport is required. 

Language: The language of St. Kitts & Nevis is English. However, if you have never visited the Caribbean before you may have difficulty understanding the Creole language, spoken by the locals, which is based on the English language but to the untrained ear sounds nothing like it.

Currency: The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$). 

Shop hours: Stores are typically open between 10 am and 5 pm Monday through Saturday. While is Port Zante, you will find excellent duty-free shopping on an array of luxury goods.

Tipping:  In restaurants, a 10% to 15% tip is recommended and taxi drivers will happily receive a tip of 10% though it’s not required.

Dress: Make sure to wear shoes and shirt in the city and in public places. Wearing beach attire in the city is taboo.

ShoreFox and Wikivoyage contributed to this article. 

Your take

Have you been to St. Kitts & Nevis? Please share a story, tip or discovery. What was the highlight?

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Overheard

 “Speaking of Cockleshell, be mindful of where you set your mojito — the green vervet monkeys who call this beach  home are just as fond of the drink as tourists and would-be expats.”

Islands magazine

“From Basseterre, get your heart pumping with a half-day hike into the rainforest of St. Kitts with stops to sample fruits along the way. For a more serene experience, catch the ferry to the slow-paced island of Nevis and hire a cab to explore its lush beauty.”

Lonely Planet

“We arrive at Romney Manor, greeted now by the smell of hot wax. Demonstrations start daily at 8:30 a.m. as local women paint wax designs on fabric, then dip and dye to create brightly colored patterns. The finished product is sold on site, making me grateful I stopped for souvenirs while my wallet still bulges.”

Islands magazine

“Cockleshell Bay, on the rocky peninsula below Basseterre, has two miles of white sand and calm blue waters.  Sea cliffs provide a windbreak for the snack shacks, and umbrellas shade napping parents as teenagers splash. Next to the Reggae Beach Bar, a carved memorial to a pet pig bears this marker: WILBUR, LIVED DE LIFE, RUSHED SLOWLY. Taking this to heart, I tested the barstools on the peninsula one afternoon. Spice Mill owner Roger Brisbane poured me a Ting-and-passion-fruit punch to pair with his fried-grouper sandwich.”

Travel + Leisure

 

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