Natural beauty, well-preserved ecosystems, low humidity, white-sand beaches and tastefully designed resorts make these tranquil islands two of the Caribbean’s most appealing destinations.
St. Kitts and Nevis Basic Travel Information
Location: In the Caribbean Sea, about one-third of the way between Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago
Size: 100 square miles (Saint Kitts, 64 square miles; Nevis, 36 square miles). See Map
Religions: Anglican, other Protestant, Roman Catholic
Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollar, which trades at a fixed rate of about 2.68 to the U.S. dollar, which is also accepted by most stores and businesses
Area Code: 869
Tipping: 10 to 15 percent
Weather: The average temperature is 79 degrees. Hurricane season is June to November.
St. Kitts and Nevis Flag
St. Kitts and Nevis Activities and Attractions
On St. Kitts, two of the top dive sites are Nag’s Head and Booby Shoal. Off Nevis, Monkey Shoals has reef dives up to 100 feet deep. St. Kitts’ principle historic attraction is Brimstone Hill Fortress, dating to 1690; its well-preserved battlements are the centerpiece of a park with walking trails. On Nevis, some of the most intriguing spots include Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace, a Jewish Cemetery containing gravestones dating from 1679 to 1768, and the ruins of what is thought to be the oldest synagogue in the Caribbean.
St. Kitts and Nevis Beaches
St. Kitts’ finest beaches can be found in the southern part of the island. Of these, Sand Bank Bay is probably the best, with pristine white sand and lovely views of Nevis. Northern St. Kitts has beaches with black and gray volcanic sand, including Belle Tete in Sandy Point and Dieppe Bay beach, which has good snorkeling. The most famous beach on Nevis is Pinney's Beach, with calm, shallow water that’s perfect for wading and swimming. Oualie Beach, north of Pinney’s, has good diving and snorkeling opportunities.
St. Kitts and Nevis Hotels and Resorts
The Four Seasons on Nevis is perhaps that island’s finest hotel, with a beautiful reflecting pool, a good choice of restaurants, plus tons of activities for children of all ages. The St. Kitts Marriott Resort is by far the island's biggest hotel, drawing the majority of U.S. visitors to the island. Other choices include The Golden Lemon, where some of the suites come with private pools; Ottley’s Plantation Inn, which houses one of the island’s best restaurants, The Royal Palm; and Rawlins Plantation, which has unique rooms in a former sugar plantation.
Nevis is known for its luxury plantation hotels, the recently reopened Four Seasons resort, and has a variety of more modest (and affordable) accommodations, too.
St. Kitts and Nevis Restaurants and Cuisine
Most of the restaurants on St. Kitts serve continental cuisine flavored with local spices or using locally caught seafood like spiny lobster and crab. The food on Nevis is less reflective of international tastes. Local favorites include curries; roti, a thin pastry filled with curried potatoes, chickpeas and meat; and pelau, which is a combination of rice, pigeon peas and meat. Stonewalls in Basseterre has an open-air bar where you can enjoy Caribbean specialties. Beach bars like that at Turtle Beach serve surprisingly good food.
St. Kitts and Nevis Culture and History
Arawak Indians, followed by Caribs, were the earliest known inhabitants of the islands, which were discovered by Columbus in 1493. The French and the British traded control of the islands before the English got control for good in 1783. The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, established as an independent nation in 1983, is a democracy. The culture on St. Kitts and Nevis is rooted mainly in West African traditions of the slave population imported to work on the sugar plantations. British influence is seen chiefly in the official language.
St. Kitts and Nevis Events and Festivals
The St. Kitts Carnival, which lasts from December to mid-January, and the Music Festival in June are two of the biggest, most exciting events on these islands. Carnival is held at a special village in Basseterre, and highlights include a New Year's Parade, "j'ouvert" dancing, and the crowning of the carnival king and queen. The Music Festival is also held in Basseterre and attracts major international stars like Michael Bolton and Sean Paul.
St. Kitts and Nevis Nightlife
South Frigate Bay is the nightlife capital of St. Kitts, lined with popular beach bars like Ziggy's, the Monkey Bar, and the Shiggedy Shack. The 24-hour Royal Beach Casino at the Marriott is one of the largest in the Caribbean and features table games, slots, and a race book. As is the case on many of the quieter Caribbean islands, the bulk of the nightlife on Nevis centers on the hotels; the Four Seasons is where you’ll find most of the organized entertainment.