Forget Bermuda, Jamaica and St. Barts. St. Kitts is the Caribbean island that offers a quiet escape with beautiful beaches and a lush oasis away from modern life. We found the must-see places
It’s no secret the Caribbean is gorgeous with its iconic sandy white beaches, blue waters and gorgeous scenery, but we’re spoiled for choice. Which island is the best for your vacation getaway?
The untouched St. Kitts offers an answer to travelers who truly want to get away from it all – it’s the quiet, peaceful answer for those who want to avoid touristy Jamaica, built-up St. Bart’s and the honeymooning masses in St. Lucia.
If party-goers make you want to head for the hills, St. Kitts is the ideal place to truly escape the crowds. This is your chance to have a digital detox, relax on the sandy beaches and soak in the tranquil atmosphere.
Go there now, while it’s still unspoiled.
Cockleshell Bay Beach
Largely regarded as the best sandy beach in St. Kitts with its beautiful views of Nevis, this haven is also excellent for water sports. Hit the beach bars to rent watersport equipment like body boards, kayaks, jet skis and snorkels. Sun lovers will be able to rent umbrellas and lounge chairs.
South Friars Bay
For vacationers looking for a long stretch of sandy white beach, you’ve come to the right place. This beach is popular with locals and offers great swimming and decent snorkeling. After relaxing in the sun, grab food at Carambola Beach Club (see below) or any of the other beach bars along the strip.
Majors is located near where the ferry drops off Nevis passengers. It’s lack of beach bars and crowds are what make it the perfect place to swim and relax without the annoyance of noise and crowds. If you have time, hope over on a ferry to nearby island Nevis for Oualie Beach, where the snorkeling is superior and Pinney’s Beach, which is one of the best beaches and sand in the area.
It’s highly recommended that you grab a book and get horizontal – whether nestled under a tree on a green, lush hill or on the beach, but for those more actively inclined, there are plenty activities to keep you occupied.
The rainforest and hills on the island make it ideal for walking. For those who want to see the best views on the island, hike the dormant volcano Mt Liamuiga. It’s the island’s highest point of elevation at 3792 feet above sea level. A two-hour hike will take you through lush rain forest, but beware that it’s not for the faint of heart. The slopes make it a good challenge for new hikers. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the crater. Guided tours are on offer but it’s possible to go it alone for experienced hikers.
But why stay on the ground? Take advantage of the stretches of rainforest in St. Kitts – it’s actually one of the few places in the world in which the rain forest has actually grown in recent years. For thrill seekers, a fantastic way to experience it is to strap yourself into a zip line and soar through the trees. Don’t worry – it’s all supervised as the tour operators guide you through the jungle.
Below your feet, you’ll see a green canopy of trees flying by. Also, look out for the monkeys – they were brought over by the French and never left. Try Sky Safari Tours.
The history of St. Kitts is fascinating. As the largest producer of sugar in the world at that time, the fight for St. Kitts included several turf wars between the British and the French. These battles were often fought at Brimstone Hill Fortress from 1690 to 1783, until the Treaty of Versailles, which granted ownership to the British.
It’s also one of the best vantage points on the island to take in the coastal views.
If you want to see the entire island (68-square miles) then don’t miss the scenic (sugar) railway where you can relax with rum punch while the green scenery and dramatic ocean views glide by.
For a day trip, take the ferry to Nevis and check out Pinney’s Beach.
St. Kittitian food has a diverse range of influences in the island’s history ranging from African, French, English, Portuguese, Indian, Spanish and even Jewish influences from as far back as 17th century. The cuisine in St.Kitts hasn’t reached Michelin- star levels, but the local delicacies like fried plantains, conch soup and goat curry should definitely be sampled. It’s the fresh fish and lobster that’s the island’s biggest draw, though.
On the shores of Cockleshell Beach, dine at Spice Mill for their signature lobster, fish soups and home-made dips. The menu changes seasonally and the atmosphere makes this perfect for date night or for group dinners upstairs in the breezy dining area or a cocktail at the bar on the beach.
Carambola Beach Club
Head to this beach club for South Friars Bay for great food in a stunning locale. Take advantage of the fresh fish, cocktails and other island fare if you can resist dipping into the clear waters.
The best place for a sunset cocktail in St. Kitts is Salt Plage. Stroll on the beach before settling down with a glass of rum punch, the drink of the island, on the white-washed booths. Be sure to keep an eye on the horizon to spot the “green fairy” – just as the sun is about to dip below the horizon, the red sphere turns into a green dot – poof! – and then the sun is gone.
The St Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Casino is an option, but is far from inspiring. It’s functional with a nice enough beach and pool, but the boutique hotels (below) in St. Kitts make the island experience truly special.
This gem is nestled in the hills and is one of the best places to stay in St. Kitts. You could spend days here, laying in a hammock, relaxing and dipping into the plunge pool. It also has some of the best Western food on the island so if you’re missing fish tacos or a good salad, head here. Take a dip in the pool, relax in a hammock, get a massage and explore the onsite rainforest trail.
This luxury resort is partially open and slated to be finished this year. Situated on the slope of Mount Liamuiga, the property includes guest houses and villas and is situated among the mango trees and monkeys. Head here for the plunge pools rather than beach (although there will be a shuttle bus to the beach). For excellent mountain and ocean views, Kittitian Hill is a no-brainer. Bonus? The Champagne Brunch at Belle Mont Farm’s ‘The Kitchen’ restaurant is also becoming legendary in St. Kitts.
If you hop over to nearby island Nevis, check out Nisbet Plantation Beach Club offers beautiful accommodation on beautiful lawns and it’s a stone’s throw from the beach. There’s a bar and restaurant right on the beach. For even more upscale accommodation, Montpelier Plantation is a former sugar mill that has been transformed into a boutique luxury hotel with a gorgeous pool and restaurants.
The island is rapidly changing. For yacht-lovers, look out for the newly built Christophe Harbour, on the southeastern end. The superyacht marina opened last month and the development is still growing – a new Park Hyatt is also in the works. Also indicative of the changes sweeping the island, is the VIP lounge at the airport, complete with a car service and fresh drinks upon arrival, which is in anticipation of the new jet set crew bound for St. Kitts.
So when’s the best time to go? Now, right when the island is still relatively untouched and tranquil.
It’s a 10-hour flight from London via British Airways but for Americans, at just a three-hour flight from New York (and direct flights from Charlotte, Miami, New York and Atlanta), a tropical escape couldn’t be easier.