Relaxed white sand beaches, a lush green mountainous interior, engaging heritage sites, and authentic Caribbean food; St. Kitts, the gateway island, is also home to a World Heritage site, the colossal Brimstone Hill Fortress, and a unique scenic railway that trundles around the coast.
There are many reasons to journey to our island of a thousand treasures. To splash in warm, iridescent waters along pristine island shores. To dive ancient shipwrecks and virgin coral reefs. To sway to a soca beat, sipping local rum around a bonfire on the beach. St. Kitts is small enough to see in a day and big enough to explore for a lifetime.
Christopher Columbus first spotted St. Kitts in 1493, when it was populated with native tribes, but the Europeans didn’t colonize until the British arrived in 1623. Its strategic location and valuable sugar trade led to an advanced and luxurious development that was among the best in the Colonial Caribbean. There are approximately 12 beautiful, white sandy beaches on this island. Few of these beaches such as Frigate Bay South, Turtle beach, Banana Bay, and Pinney’s Beach have a restaurant and bar and live steel band nearby. The other beaches are either undeveloped or secluded such as Cockleshell, Sand Bank Bay, and South Friars.
BRIMSTONE HILL FORTRESS
Lovers of history can spend part of the day at the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. Built during the English and French dual occupation of the island from 1627 to 1713, the Fortress almost acts as time capsule to showcase just how seriously the various colonial powers took protecting their international assets. You can roam the grounds of the Fortress, see the island from up above, and gaze out to the horizon for any possible invaders.
Once a historic plantation with almost 400 years of operational history, Romney Manor is now seen as somewhat of an artist haven. The grounds were used as a sugarcane plantation until the 2000s. However, unlike other historic sugarcane plantations on the islands, they freed their slaves upon arrival and paid them to work, the first plantation to do so. Now, the grounds are used as an active archaeological site to learn more about sugarcane production as well as an artist studio where traditional art forms are practiced.
FAIRVIEW GREAT HOUSE & BOTANICAL GARDENS
This 18th century Great House was restored to its former glory with large focus to its historical significance. Step back in time as you wander through the dining room with its sixteen seat mahogany dinner table and antique silver service, as well as the Historical Room that chronicles the fascinating past of Fairview. What worth’s the visit is a leisurely stroll through the Botanical Garden filled with local flora. Do keep an eye on the monkeys who love to feast on the fruit trees on the property.
ST. GEORGE’S ANGLICAN CHURCH
First erected in 1670 as a Roman Catholic Church by French Jesuits and named Notre Dame, over the centuries this ancient church has faced bloody battles, fire, and even natural weather disasters, each time restored or completely rebuilt. In 1706 Notre Dame was burnt to the ground during the Anglo-French War by English soldiers billeted there. The church was re-built by 1710 and re-named St. George’s. From the 1720’s, it became a place of worship for the Anglicans. It was damaged again in the fire of 1763, and once again restored. The earthquake of 1842, followed by the hurricane of 1843, reduced it to ruins, and an entirely new building was planned. But the congregation continued to worship in the ruins until a new church was consecrated on the 25th March 1859. Seven years afterwards, it was gutted in the Great Fire of 1867; and was re-roofed, and restored in 1869. In a series of hurricanes since 1989, the church was again damaged but restoration work has since been undertaken on the building.
NATIONAL MUSEUM of St. KITTS
This comprehensive museum, which was dedicated in 2002, is housed in St. Kitts’ historic treasury building. Constructed from hand-cut limestone in 1894, the building is still known as the gateway to Basseterre, thanks to its imposing size. Inside, three galleries trace the history of St. Kitts from the island’s indigenous inhabitants to its independence in 1983. Visitors can learn about the sugar, slave, and rum trades as well as carnival customs, and see the traditional dress on display.
While there is plenty of nightlife to indulge in, the general vibe of the island is a more relaxed one. The dance clubs are not the loud, thumping establishments found on other islands. Instead, they’re more relaxed and focus a bit more on relaxation. There is a variety of establishments to indulge in, but there is nothing wrong with getting a table at a seaside cocktail lounge and watching the sun sink into the water.
Competitive sports are not the standard on St. Kitts. However, water sports are king, and thanks to several massive sports complexes on the island, you can learn a new skill. Whether you want to take up kitesurfing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, or something in between, you’ll be able to learn on St. Kitts.
While St. Kitts doesn’t have the huge blow-out festivals that a lot of other Caribbean islands do, there is still plenty of opportunities to enjoy a local music festival. The ever-popular St. Kitts Music Festival draws visitors and performers from all over the world to enjoy the sounds of jazz, reggae, and R&B.
Get ready to travel to St. Kitts. This beautiful island is getting ready to open its borders in October. In a press briefing today, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris announced that the Federation expects to reopen its borders, October 2020. This would allow for the resumption of air and sea commercial traffic carrying international passengers into the Federation’s ports.
St. Kitts is easily reached by air from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and continental Europe. A wide range of non-stop, connecting, and charter flights are scheduled daily, serving Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) just north of the capital city of Basseterre. SKB also serves flights from several Caribbean nations, including San Juan, Antigua, St. Martin, St. Thomas, Charlotte, and our sister island, Nevis.
If you are planning a cruise of the Eastern Caribbean, you can book a cruise through St. Kitts and enjoy the island for the day. You’ll land at the port city of Basseterre where you’ll get to explore the beaches and jungles of this emerald spot of the Caribbean.
Once you get to the sunny shores of St. Kitts, you can get yourself a rental car to explore the beautiful island and all of its natural wonders.
Robert L. Bradshaw was St. Kitts and Nevis’ first national hero first named National Hero. He was born in the Saint Paul Capisterre Village in Saint Kitts to Mary Jane Francis, a domestic servant, and William Bradshaw, a blacksmith. He was raised by his grandmother after his father moved to the United States when Bradshaw was nine months old. He attended St. Paul’s Primary School and completed seventh grade, the highest level of primary education available in Saint Kitts at the time.
At 16, Bradshaw became a machine apprentice at the St. Kitts Sugar Factory, where he began to take interest in the labour movement. In 1940, he left the sugar factory following a strike for higher wages and joined the St. Kitts and Nevis Trades and Labour Union as a clerk. Bradshaw succeeded Joseph Matthew Sebastian as president of the union in 1944.
In 1963 he married, Millicent Sahaley, a Kittitian-Lebanese. They had one daughter, Isis Carla Bradshaw, together. His first daughter, Etsu, is from an earlier relationship.
Bradshaw supported the cause of the sugar workers and was one of the political stalwarts of the country. In 1945 he became president of the recently created St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Labour Party. He entered politics in 1946 and won a seat in the Legislative Council in the elections that year, later becoming a member of the Executive Council. In 1956 he was Minister of Trade and Production for St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. During the short-lived West Indies Federation (from 1958 to 1962), Bradshaw was elected to the Federal House of Representatives and held the post of minister of finance for the Federation.
After the break-up of the Federation, Bradshaw returned to St. Kitts from Trinidad. In 1966 he became Chief Minister, and in 1967 the first Premier of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, then an associated state of the United Kingdom. Under his leadership, all sugar lands as well as the central sugar factory were bought by the government. Opposition to Bradshaw’s rule began to build. The opposition was especially great in Nevis, where it was felt that the island was being neglected and unfairly deprived of revenue, investment and services by its larger neighbor. Bradshaw mainly ignored Nevis’ complaints, but Nevisian disenchantment with the Labour Party proved a key factor in the party’s eventual fall from power. Opposition in Anguilla was even stronger, with the Anguillans evicting St. Kitts police from their island and holding referendums in 1967 and 1969, both times voting overwhelmingly to secede from St. Kitts-Nevis and remain a separate British territory.
In 1977 Bradshaw traveled to London for independence talks with the United Kingdom government.
Bradshaw died on 23 May 1978 of prostate cancer at his home in Basseterre. He was succeeded by his former deputy, Paul Southwell. He is buried in Springfield Cemetery in Basseterre.
The twin-island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis is known for its beautiful scenery and a more relaxed atmosphere than elsewhere in the Caribbean. Tourists returning from visiting the islands often have stories of taking a rainforest tour, snorkeling in the warm water, spotting a sea turtle on the beach, or watching a troop of monkeys run across the road. The monkeys in particular have become part of the landscape and culture.
Although you’re not guaranteed to see a wild monkey if you visit St. Kitts or Nevis, it’s hard to miss the influence monkeys have had on the islands. On St. Kitts, you can hike up Monkey Hill or enjoy a rum punch at The Monkey Bar. One of the best dive sites on Nevis is called Monkey Shoals. Travel guides note which nature trails offer visitors a good chance to spot monkeys and photographs of monkeys feature prominently on the websites of tour companies. Promotional materials published by an official tourism agency speak of “comical” monkeys and the sounds of monkeys “chattering in the trees.” You can find monkeys on postage stamps issued by the islands, and monkeys have even made their way into local proverbs.
Lovers of nature will delight in an opportunity to explore the island with Greg’s Safari. You’ll head up into the mountains on one of the custom-made Land Rovers and then hike through or drive through the luscious jungle. You’ll get to see all sorts of animals, such as monkeys, birds of paradise, and maybe even more.
Hurricane Irma hit St. Kitts and Nevis hard in 2017. While the islands have done a good job at recovering, there is still work to do. You can donate to the St. Kitts and Nevis Red Cross Society to help further these efforts and help the nation prepare for any future disasters.
Animal lovers out there can make an impact in the life of shelter animals on St. Kitts by donating to the Basseterre Animal Rescue Centre. Any amount is helpful because it takes a lot to keep these cats and dogs happy and healthy while waiting for their “forever homes.”