Whether you are visiting from a nearby island or it is one of your stops on your cruise ship adventure, many times you may only have one full day to explore a Caribbean island. But as I have found on past trips, a day is plenty of time to truly get a feel for an island. I’ve taken my experience from a week-long stay and put together a fun-filled itinerary for visiting St. Kitts for the day.
You’ll most likely be arriving at Porte Zante in the capital city of Basseterre. I have explored Basseterre and would highly advise you not to waste any time here but to venture out to the rest of the island. Nothing much besides tourist traps and cheap souvenirs can be found in the capital city. Although I do have fond memories of enjoying a homemade smoothie and getting my picture taken with local monkeys, if I only had a day I would definitely not choose to spend any time here. It just doesn’t give you the local vibe or relaxed feel of the island.
I’d first suggest deciding how you want to get around the island. You’ll have two main choices – renting a car or hiring a taxi. If you decide to get a car rental and explore St. Kitts at your own pace, here are a few things you should know. There are rental cars in the capital city, and they will cost you around $45 per day, $10 for insurance, and another $24 for a local St. Kitts driver’s license. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may or may not need to reserve ahead of time. They do drive on the left side of the road, so this will take some getting used to if you haven’t done it before. On the plus side, it is fairly calm traffic with no stoplights and only a few roundabouts. The other thing I’ll caution you on is that many times you will be driving up steep hills (this island isn’t flat!), so be sure they give you a car that can handle hills. The price and flexibility of driving yourself around are both huge bonuses.
If you decide to go the taxi route, I’d suggest finding yourself a driver for the day (driver from our trip pictured below). Someone who will drive you around to various locations and who either sticks with you for the whole day or someone you can call various times during the day whenever you want to move on to your next stop. If you do hire a driver to stick with you, it will cost you around $30 per hour give or take. Taxi prices per location are about $20 per 2-3 miles. It definitely adds up, so just be sure when you use taxis to nail down your plan of attack for the day in order to minimize your driving time and distances. With a driver you also get someone who will give you lots of history of the island, interesting tidbits, and point out places to visit you might not have thought of. There are definitely pros and cons to both.
Before you set off, you may need to stock up on snacks and bottled water. I found Ram’s Supermarket to be a great place for both of these things. Ram’s has various locations around the island including Basseterre. Another overall suggestion I’ll make is to stick to the southern side (Caribbean side) of the island. Although both sides are beautiful, the Caribbean side has much calmer beaches if you plan on going into the water. I’d also suggest avoiding Cockleshell Bay. It was the only beach I found disappointing. Although it is pretty and has decent snorkeling, this beach is crowded and packed with people!
These next few suggestions take you on a logistical path from the northern part of the island to the southern part. You may not have time for all stops depending on how much time you want to spend at each location, but it will give you a great list of options to choose from.
The first stop is Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. I should preface this by saying I haven’t actually been to Brimstone like I have all the other places I’ll recommend. It was on the list of things to do but (as with all vacations it seems) I ran out of time. I did, however, drive by it, as well as research it before the trip and feel it would be worth your visit. Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is $10 per person and is open daily from 9:30am – 5:30pm. A historic site on St. Kitts, Brimstone offers not only an opportunity to learn about the history and preservation of the fortress, but a chance to climb up high for an amazing view of the island. So don’t forget your camera! Nature trails are also located here and your chance of spotting monkeys is quite high.
The next place I’d recommend visiting is Romney Manor Gardens. Eight acres of gorgeous flowers and tropical trees will welcome you here at this manor dating back to the 1600’s. Only five different families have owned these acres over the years, and for the bulk of the time these families working on growing and distilling sugar cane. Today you can wander around the botanical gardens, while taking in the backdrop of the rainforest.
It was one of the most relaxing places I found in St. Kitts. Such vivid shades of orange and pink where everywhere. Keep an eye out for the 400 year old Saman tree. Covering almost a full ½ acre, it shouldn’t be too hard to miss. Admission is a very reasonable $3 per person. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30am – 4:00pm from May through October. From November – March they are also open Saturdays from 9:00am – 1pm.
Located at Romney Manor Gardens is Caribelle Batik. Caribelle offers high-quality batik products made from various fabrics. It has become one of the most sought after products of the island. You’ll be able to watch workers demonstrate their techniques while providing you a history of their craft. You’ll also be able to shop! Shirts, dresses, cloth pieces, scarves, wall hangings and more can be found here. I bought both a cloth picture of a hummingbird and a magenta scarf with a palm leaf print to take back home with me to remember my trip.
By now it will be time for lunch! One of the best meals I enjoyed at St. Kitts was found at Frigate Bay – Chinchilla’s Mexican Restaurant and Bar. At this casual stop, you’ll dine outdoors at picnic tables facing directly towards the Caribbean Sea. Not only is the food outstanding but the view cannot be beat. A guy walking by the table yelled out to “order the fajitas” and his suggestion didn’t disappoint. The black beans were probably the best black beans I’ve ever had in my entire life.
After enjoying lunch, I’d continue heading south to visit South Friar’s Bay. It is a less crowded beach, offering great views. Speaking of great views, you won’t want to miss pulling over at Timothy Hill Overlook. Here you’ll find one of the best views of the island. A unique trait about this spot is that you’ll be able to differentiate the different bodies of water by their colors. The Atlantic Ocean will be on your left and Caribbean on your right, only separated by the thin strip of land. You’ll want to allow a few extra minutes just to stand here and take it all in.
Next keep continuing south to White House Bay. You’ll have to look hard for this spot, as it is definitely off the beaten path. In fact, you may even have the entire beach to yourself like we did! It is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the feeling of remoteness or to head out for some snorkeling. You’ll be able to snorkel directly off the beach here at one of St. Kitts best snorkeling spots. Sunken ships, reefs, and a boat anchor are just a few of the things you’ll find snorkeling. We headed out to the rock located in the picture below (far out at where the right side of the mountain base meets the water) and circled around it before coming back.
And if you have time to grab some early dinner before ending your day trip to St. Kitts, I highly recommend dining at Salt Plage in Christopher Harbour. It is only a short drive from White House Bay. In fact, you can see if from the bay if you look off to your left. They open at 4pm. Salt Plage is the perfect combination of Caribbean elegance and relaxation. Highlighted as one of the best beach bars in the Caribbean and voted as one of the top eight beachside cafes in the world by Conde Nast Traveler, I’d say without a second thought that it was my favorite meal of the trip. I enjoy a place not only with delicious food but with a moving atmosphere. Salt Plage nailed both!
We enjoyed our dinner relaxing on a huge couch on the dock, providing the perfect location to capture the St. Kitts sunset. I enjoyed a meal of fresh, grilled fish with a lemon garlic butter and local herbs. Alongside the fish came four (yes four!) assorted sides of cheesy breadfruit, mixed veggies, green figs and creamy cucumber salad. It was the perfect way to sample a variety of local side dishes. We were in no rush and stayed here enjoying the food and our view for several hours.
Additionally, if you are a golf addict such as myself, I’ll suggest you put Royal St. Kitts Golf Club at the top of your agenda. Located at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, you’ll find this 18-hole championship courses offers you many ocean views, pristine greens, and an unmatched atmosphere. It was definitely one of my favorite courses to play! Rates will vary depending on the time of day you play and time of year you visit. If you only have time to play 9 holes, I’d play the back 9 as it offers much better ocean views. I greatly enjoyed teeing off this hill with the ocean right in front of me.
When you finish playing and want to continue enjoying the view in the air conditioning, stop in for a bite at the Clubhouse Grille. Overlooking the 18th green and Atlantic Ocean, Clubhouse Grille offers a variety of appetizers and sandwiches with a West Indian and Caribbean taste. I was so hungry after golfing that I devoured this entire ½ pound burger and all the fries that came with it. Vacations are for splurging!
Paths Less Traveled Ranking: 2 footprints
Paths Less Traveled Ranking Explanation: Overall I’d give these St. Kitts locations 2 footprints. The exception would be White House Bay with 1 footprint, where you’ll be almost guaranteed to have the place to yourself.
*In each of my articles I will provide a Paths Less Traveled Ranking. This ranking system is from 1 footprint to 5 footprints with 1 footprint being very remote and off the beaten path and 5 footprints being very populated.