Most of my planning involves a travel schedule that is curated well in advance. I usually have an rough idea in mind, pitch for work or make space if I’m invited somewhere and then fill in the rest later so it’s always a fun surprise to throw in a spontaneous trip now and again. When a friend who lives in a Caribbean island has a few days free from work and sends out an invitation for a visit, you make it happen. This is why I like to hoard airline miles, in case a last minute flight is too expensive to pay for then I have a back up, so for $15.60 I headed to St. Kitts for a few days to visit a childhood friend and for some R&R. The island is totally manageable for a quick getaway so here are some of my suggestions for the ultimate weekend in St. Kitts.
Start with Sundowners
Happy hour, cocktail hour, sundowner, whatever your name for it, having a cold & boozy beverage as the sun meets the sea creates an instant mood for relaxation. Start your weekend in St. Kitts off right by getting over to Friars Bay to take in a few cocktails while admiring that iconic vacation view, a Caribbean sunset. Shipwreck Bar is a perfect vibe for just the kind of scenery you are seeking. It’s a little quirky spot right on the water, this watering hole is a place for locals & visitors alike.
Spend your Saturday morning picking up those essential souvenirs. Find unique local works at the Gallery Cafe & Art Gallery, located right in Independence Square. This is the place for a quick breakfast, smoked wahoo on a bagel or homemade baked goods are the perfect accompaniment to supporting the arts.
Romney Manor has the history, the scenery and the art all tied into a historic property. The classic Caribelle Batik is created here, you can watch the women work on their craft and purchase a one of a kind piece. Batik is a process of dying textiles while applying wax to create sections void of color. It is a method you don’t always find, especially by hand so this is a special process. You may find more interest in the gardens than in the shops on the property, be sure to find the famous 400 year old Saman tree. It’s a marking of the past and has been on the property since it was an old sugar plantation in colonial times.
Keeping with the sugar plantation vibe, you’ll find a lot of these dotting along the island as this was a major crop for them in the 17th century. It’s worth learning a little about the complex history of the industry and trade route while on the island. You’ll have a better appreciation of the architecture and everything that went into its establishment. The Ottley Plantation is on a sprawling green acreage at the foot of Mt. Liamuiga. It has those picturesque views of the Atlantic, a peaceful outdoor seating area with plunge pool. If you can’t snag a room here (Check their site as they were renovating shortly after we visited and may be closed for an expansion project) be sure to have a leisurely lunch on the property.
Hit the Beach
A weekend in St. Kitts is not complete until your toes have touched sand. There are beautiful beaches all over the island, each with the views, the sand and surf you are craving when traveling to the Caribbean, but we had our best lazy day at Cockleshell Bay. It’s a stretch of beach with a view of Nevis, this is where you can come and spend the day relaxing on a lounge chair, taking in the vibes. There are several beach bars along the bay but the two I’d recommend would be Spice Mill or Reggae Beach Bar. They are both great places for an afternoon rum punch. Find a comfy chair, a good book and escape.
Take a Ferry to Nevis
Nevis is the other small island next door so when spending time here you get two islands for the price of one trip. It has similar British Colonial architecture, similar landscape with, if you can believe it, less crowds. For less than $10 and in 45 minutes you can be across the channel and on the shores of Nevis for a quick day trip. The ferry takes cars or you can easily go by foot if you don’t have your own transportation. Get the departure schedule HERE.
Much like St. Kitts, Nevis has it’s share of stunning beaches, we opted to spend a Sunday at Chrishi Beach Club, on Cades Bay, just a short walking distance from the ferry point. If beach time isn’t for you there is a peak hike on the island similar to those on St. Kitts. You could also opt for a more educational visit by taking a day tour or checking out their botanical gardens
Take a Hike
There’s activity enough for those not interested in a long weekend of lounging. The landscape has a trio of prominent volcanic peaks, and there are trails to hike the dormant hills if you want a little bit of a challenge to your trip. You can go alone but I’d recommend asking a local guide, they are knowledgable about the area as well as the vegetation & history which will add to your day trip.
Travel Tip: There is a great photo opportunity that will give you an idea of how lush the landscape really is with the backdrop of the powerful oceans at its side. On the way to Christophe Harbor in the south of the island, there is a break in the winding road that opens up to a view of the “Cradle of the Caribbean” where the Atlantic meets with the Caribbean Sea with a narrow isthmus separating the two. It’s that ONE shot that will sum up your whole trip.
Go for a History Lesson
Designed by the British army, built by the African slaves, Brimstone Hill Fortress is a UNESCO heritage site that is a preserved example of the past of the island. A weekend in St. Kitts can also be well rounded if you sprinkle in a little bit of education in between your beach novels and spike punches. There’s the Sugar Train which can be a nice way to see the island. It is a little too crowded with tourists for my taste and when I was there we had access to our own car so if you are more adventurous I’d recommend getting out on your own and exploring St. Kitts for yourself. The capital is Basseterre and has some classic Georgian style buildings, a main square that served as a slave market years and years ago. There are a couple of museums in town if you want to escape the sun and head back into time.