Towering mountain peaks, cool turquoise waters, centuries-old sugar plantations… what would a trip to a Caribbean island be without a little exploration of the land? With a rich history, lush rainforest, pristine beaches and innumerable things to see and do, St. Kitts provides an off-the-beaten track experience just waiting to be discovered.
Among St. Kitts’ most impressive features is Brimstone Hill Fortress, set on a volcanic outcropping almost 800 feet above the sea and boasting the island’s most spectacular view, which spans as far as Nevis, St. Eustatius, Saba and even St. Barts on a clear day. Known as the “Gibraltar of the West Indies,” Brimstone Hill began construction in 1690 by slave labor during British rule as a refuge fortress in times of war. It is the only man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean and sprawls over 38 acres.
A favorite from St. Kitts’ growing roster of attractions is the St. Kitts Scenic Railway, affectionately nicknamed the “Sugar Train.” The railway uses the same tracks that were originally built in 1912 to carry sugar cane from the various plantations dotting the island to the Sugar Factory. Today, the train whisks passengers on an unrivaled scenic tour of the island on deluxe double-decker cars. Along the way, a dedicated choir in traditional dress serenades train passengers with folkloric tunes, and sugar cakes and beverages are served. Taking about 2 1/2 hours to circle the island along the coastline, the journey offers a unique perspective on the island’s culture, people, views and history.
In addition to these distinctive attractions, St. Kitts offers a wealth of activities to keep everyone entertained. Two of the most frequently enjoyed things to do are shopping and touring. Throughout the island, stores offer locally-made crafts or duty-free designer goods with outlets clustered in historic downtown Basseterre and Port Zante. A variety of eco-tours provide the chance to glimpse one of the island’s playful green vervet monkeys, turtles, many bird species, and tropical plants and flowers. Alternately, taxi drivers and tour operators have a menu of guided excursions and enjoy showing off their island to visitors.
Sports-minded vacationers can play tennis or croquet, go fishing for yellowtail snapper, wahoo, tuna and more or golf at the recently refurbished Royal St. Kitts Golf Club. Adventurers will want to make the challenging full-day hike up the slopes of dormant volcano Mt. Liamuiga. Watersports from windsurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking to snorkeling, diving, snuba or sailing are all popular activities on island, as are ATV-ing, horseback riding and ziplining above the rainforest canopy. Gamers will delight in trying their luck at the island’s exclusive casino. Those who enjoy nightlife will not want to miss the Frigate Bay Strip, a series of beach bars where live music is often played and visitors “lime” alongside the genuinely friendly locals. Visitors can also indulge in a spa treatment, eat at one of several dining establishments, take a day trip to Nevis via catamaran or ferry or simply soak up the sun.