The formal name for St. Kitts is St. Christopher, but no one bothers with the formality. This is an island to enjoy in carefree spirit. Sightseeing and scenery here are outstanding, and most of the activities come at a modest cost. Budget travelers to this Eastern Caribbean nation will find memorable moments don't have to involve expensive hotels or fancy meals. Enjoy a few simple pleasures in St. Kitts.
Not far from the capital of Basseterre, you'll find Caribelle Batik, a former sugar plantation with some of the most beautiful gardens in the Caribbean. The gorgeous tree in front is at least 350 years old, and it reminds visitors this spot has a long history.
In fact, it was once owned by Sam Jefferson II, a relative of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. In the early 17th century, it was acquired by the Earl of Romney, and the area is also known as Romney Manor. The word batik refers to an art form practiced on the premises (see below). A taxi ride from the port can be negotiated, so if you make friends on a cruise ship, split the cost and enjoy some of the loveliest gardens you'll find anywhere.
At Caribelle Batik and other places in St. Kitts, you can witness batik artists at work. Popular in the Caribbean and West Africa, batik is a waxing technique used on a cloth to produce distinctive designs for wall hangings and clothing. Larger and more intricate patterns can become quite expensive, and the cost is justified by the hours of painstaking work involved. But many batik pieces are affordable and make great souvenirs of an Eastern Caribbean vacation.
Brimstone Hill Fortress
Brimstone Hill Fortress is perched on an 800-foot hillside that affords commanding views of not only St. Kitts but nearby islands and the sea. For centuries, warriors have recognized its strategic importance. Today it is important as a tourist destination, and you'll find plenty of tour buses here. But don't let that fact discourage a visit. Photographers will enjoy the many possibilities afforded by the location and the historical remnants like cannons and barracks that have been well-preserved.
The impressive, rugged coastline south of Dieppe Bay on the north coast is known as Black Rocks. It was created after a volcanic eruption pushed rocks into the sea. Not a lot of explanation is needed beyond that--it's a spot of breathtaking beauty set among the sugarcane plantations (although those are disappearing on the island). It's often possible to negotiate a day tour out of Basseterre that includes several sites. If you're a sucker for scenery, be sure Black Rocks is included on the itinerary.
Basseterre on Saturday is a busy place. The Carnival Destiny arrives in port, but that's only part of the reason for the excitement. Saturday is Market Day here, and people arrive to do their weekly shopping. Many others arrive to sell their fresh produce, artwork and other items. A walk around town is free, but the experience is invaluable. You'll see and smell native barbecue and stews cooking in street stalls. It's a great place to watch people and experience life on St. Kitts. If your schedule permits, it's well worth the investment of time.