St. Kitts and Nevis
St.Kitts and Nevis are a twin island, independent Caribbean nation. Saint Kitts became home to the first Caribbean British and French colonies in the mid-1620s. Along with the Nevis, Saint Kitts was a member of the British West Indies until getting independence in September 1983.
The town of Basseterre is the heart of the island with Port Zante at its waterfront. A few blocks up from the port is “The Circus”, a traffic circle and traditionally it has been the town’s focus, with a number of businesses anchored there.
Where Your Ship Docks
The cruise piers are located at Port Zante an area that keeps expanding and most of the towns Circus shops have relocated there. The Port Zante shopping center was developed by a partnership of private developers and the government a few decades ago and, in 2013, a cruise ship pier was opened and again doubled its docking space in 2018.
Disembarking – This port has developed cruise ship piers with good infastructure and a shopping district but the ease of disembarking varies by the individual ships gangway designs. For passengers using wheelchairs there can be a moderate ramp incline to deal with.
Port City Characteristics – This port has an average wheelchair infrastructure typical of Caribbean towns. Outside the port area there are moderate inclines and sidewalks can be narrow. Intersection crosswalks may have curbs or other wheelchair obstacles.
While Port Zante has its’ share of duty free regulars like Diamonds International it also has some real local gems worth seeking out. One of the island’s biggest successes over the years has been Caribelle Batik. Started in 1974 they have earned a reputation for quality clothing, wall hangings and accessories. The factory and main gift shop are located at Romney Manor out of town, but a major outlet store can be found at the port.
Transportation – Ship tours and taxis are probably the best way to see the island and for getting around. There are a number of rental car agencies near the port and a typical day rate runs about US$50.
Currency – Eastern Caribbean dollar, which maintains a fixed exchange rate of 2.7-to-one with the United States dollar. The US dollar is almost as widely accepted as the Eastern Caribbean dollar and most credit cards are welcome.
Rum – While most Caribbean islands have their own rums with associated bragging rights, St. Kitt’s claim to fame has rested on a unique cane distillation. In the 1980s Baron Edmond de Rothschild established a distillery with the intent of creating a unique cane spirit more akin to vodka than rum. This clear, highly filtered spirit was named CSR for Cane Sugar Rothschild and developed a sizable following. In 1996 the distillery was sold to Demerara Rum the distillers of El Dorado in Guyana. Demerara has maintained a presence on St. Kitts and CSR is still blended and bottled here and remains associated with this island.
Points of interest in Basseterre include the National Museum near Port Zante and St. Georges Anglican Church a few blocks up the hill. Built in 1635 the church’s outer walls are of heavy stone and the roof is covered in slate.
Sited on the southwest coast of St. Kitts, about 12 miles from town, is Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fortification is a complex of walls, cannon placements and buildings established by the British in the sixteen hundreds to defend the island. It is also the largest fort in the Caribbean.
If you are looking for beaches, watersports and snorkeling, head out to the southeastern tip of the island to Cockleshell Bay and Turtle Beach. The area features nice beaches, windsurfing and excellent near-shore snorkeling. Cockleshell is a popular destination for locals for a day of beach, swimming and picnics. The beach is home to Reggae Beach Bar & Grill that serves good food and drinks. We prefer Turtle Beach for snorkeling but it does have less facilities nearby.
If you are going to be spending more time on St. Kitts there is regular ferry service over to Nevis, St. Kitts sister island. The trip is well worth the time as Nevis is less developed than St. kitts and has some really spectacular premium resorts including The Four Seasons.
The twin island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis are a frequent port of call on Caribbean cruises and are home to the first outposts of Britain and France in the region.