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St Kitts made simple

Cheryl Harewood

St Kitts made simple

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It was great to be back in St Kitts – one of my favourite places.

As I disembarked from the cruise ship, I was amazed at the development of the cruise area and how many tourists were in the city of Basseterre.

Restaurants and shops selling souvenirs of all sorts abounded, as well as restaurants. Two large cruise ships carrying over 5 000 passengers had docked and these passengers wasted no time in trying to find bargains as they patroniseD the shops.

I did what I love to do. After picking up a souvenir or two, I headed to the bus terminal and caught a public taxi, which took me to along the island’s coast.

I had visited St Kitts so many times that I knew there was no need to see the island by taking any specialised tours.

I surveyed the land from where I was sitting and felt like St Kitts had improved tremendously.

After seeing the country area and where many of the residents lived, I came away with the conclusion that the people of St Kitts were still the friendly, polite and accommodating people I’d always know them to be.

A ferry trip over to Nevis was not possible that day because of time constraints and my three travelling partners were only too happy to see the island for the first time.

St Kitts and its sister island Nevis – officially known as the Federation of St Christopher and Nevis – are said to consider themselves “The Secret of the Caribbean”, and mass tourism has had little impact on these two delightful islands to the east of Montserrat.

Despite its small size, St Kitts is mountainous and its shape is like that of a cricket bat or chicken drumstick, if you can imagine that.

It is a mere 23 miles long and five miles across at its widest point. With winding coast lines, it covers a total area of almost 65 square miles.

Since the island’s sugar export industry closed down a few years ago, tourism has become increasingly important. Various hotels have been built in the resort area of Frigate Bay and the cruise ship complex at Port Zante has been expanded in recent years.

The main places of interest in St Kitts are all located within a short distance of each other. Port Zante, the purpose-built cruise ship complex, seems to grow larger each year. It hosts cultural acts, displays and exhibitions as well as an array of duty free shops featuring everything.

Pelican Mall, on Bay Road, is home to many duty free shops and cruise ship passengers waste no time purchasing T-shirts, gifts, sportswear and jewellery.

Independence Square was known as Pall Mall Square until St Kitts and Nevis achieved self-rule in 1983.

The Circus is the most obvious landmark in downtown Basseterre. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear people say, “meet me at The Circus”.

Together with the Treasury Building, and viewing the St George Anglican Church, there are many things a cruise ship passenger can do.

North-West of The Circus, at the head of Church Street, is St George’s – the largest religious structure in Basseterre. It resembles an English parish church in style and is surrounded by well kept gardens.

A tour around the island takes about three to four hours and when you visit St Kitts you might want to visit places such as Bloody Town. This is where the British and French massacred over 2 000 Caribs in 1626. The Caribs were believed to have been planning attacks against the recently arrived Europeans

Despite their superior number, the unfortunate Caribs were no match for the combined English power

Old Road Town was where St Thomas Warner, his family and 14 followers landed in 1623 and founded the first British settlement in the West Indies.

Other places of interest include Wingfield Estate, which represents the old tobacco and 250-year-old sugar and rum industry.

This estate is also home to the much newer zip line technology, where visitors can fly through the trees and lush vegetation.

Romney Manor will give you the opportunity to watch local craftswomen producing colourful batiks. The area is also the location of Caribelle Batik Factory.

Black Rocks is where solidified lava flows.

Then of course, there is Brimstone Hill, the most impressive historical site on the island. It is a massive fortress perched on a volcanic outcrop and sits 800 feet above sea level.

St Kitts Railway is another popular attraction. This double-decker train winds its way around the main coastline, on narrow gauge tracks that were built between 1912 and 1926 to haul sugarcane from the plantation to Basseterre.

It passes through miles of sugarcane fields and also offers great views of rainforest, beaches and neighbouring islands. A smartly dressed conductor and a local choir give visitors the opportunity to relax and be entertained as they travel along.

Southeast Peninsula is the narrow peninsula beyond Frigate Bay and is designated a tourist zone. This was opened to visitors by the building of a new road in 1989.

It is in this area that you’ll find the islands most beautiful white-sand beaches.

Green vervet monkeys also roam freely on The Peninsula and keen bird watchers will find much of interest at Great Salt Pond and Little Sea Pond.

There are a host of things to do in St Kitts, such as scuba diving, body surfing, windsurfing and hiking are all yours for the taking.

Local cuisine is a “must taste”. And perhaps you can sink your teeth into goat stew – a mixture of goat, breadfruit, papaya and dumpling in a tomato sauce.

Or if you like a quiet, peaceful place to live, then you’ll enjoy the beautiful island of St Kitts.