St Kitts

St Kitts and Nevis is a federal two-island nation in the West Indies. It is the smallest sovereign nation in the Americas, in both area and population. St Kitts has the only UNESCO World Heritage site (Brimstone Fortress) in the Leeward Islands. We have visited this island twice. The first time we rented our own vehicle and visited Brimstone Fortress (an imposing sight atop Brimstone Hill, nicknamed the “Gibraltar of the West Indies”), and Turtle Beach (on the SE peninsula). Our second visit was more relaxing, with the day spent getting a bit tipsy beneath a beach umbrella at the lovely South Frigate Bay.

17 Mar 2010: Believe it or not but we got up early on our cruise! We were awake by 0630 and hit the gym, with Becky running a few miles on the treadmill while Robby opted for the elliptical. Self serve breakfast was fine, and we requested beach towels from our room steward, Sebastian. Today’s port of call was St Kitt’s, an island we had already visited before. So today was going to be a beach day. Armed with a bottle of rum, we were off the ship by 0800 to explore the city center of Basseterre for a few minutes in search of a grocery store to get some coke. We stopped by the tourist information office for some recommendations on what beaches to hit, and were surprised when they told us to avoid our first choice beach (South Frigate Bay) since it was supposedly lacking sand and not very big. Of course, we disregarded their advice immediately afterwards! A short taxi ride to South Frigate Bay cost $10, and we wandered down the relatively empty beach taking photos and admiring the view when we befriended some locals who persuaded us to use their chairs and umbrella for $10. They also offered a drink deal of 6 drinks for $10….deal! They loaded us up with drinks and ice and we enjoyed our self-made rum & cokes before switching over to beer. Near the edge of the pier, pelicans were dive-bombing for fish, so Becky headed out to take some photos. Very cool! The pelicans were having a field day as there were schools of tiny fish as far out as the eye could see. Perhaps it was the alcohol or else Robby was unaware of his man strength, but he snapped our beach umbrella in half trying to adjust it. He felt so bad that he volunteered to give Becky’s Celebrity bag away, and gave a $10 donation to ease his remorse. In any case, we had a wonderful time at beautiful South Frigate Bay and have to disagree with the tourist information office staff who told us to avoid this beach. Our taxi driver on the way back to port was hilarious, dancing a little jig for us in the parking lot along with his buddy. The sun in the Caribbean is no joke, and Becky definitely got a bit too much of it today. C’est la vie!

10 Apr 2007: We visited St Kitts towards the tail end of our Easy Cruise itinerary. It was the last island for us to visit, sandwiched between St Martin and Antigua. St Kitts is the sister island to Nevis, which we had visited earlier in the week. St Kitts has a mountainous interior, surrounded by wide beaches. We had read that the St Kitts scenic railway would be an interesting ride, but after talking to some folks who had already experienced it, we decided to pass. Instead, our plan for the day was to visit the Brimstone Hill Fortress, dine at Sprat Net Bar & Grill, and hang out on Turtle Beach. But first we needed to find a rental car (taxi rides are bloody expensive).

The car rental agencies in St Kitts were packed with other day-cruisers looking for transportation. We ran around to Hertz, Avis, and Caines Rent a Car before finding a minivan capable of transporting all of us. Renting on St Kitts is not a budget experience! We were quoted the rock bottom rate of $105 for a 7 pax minivan (excluding CDW), and negotiated to return the vehicle at 9 pm. Unbelievably, the standard practice is to return the vehicle at 5 or 6 pm, even though most folks only have the vehicle for half a day (and are still charged for a full day’s rate).

Armed with a St Kitts road map, we made our way out of Basseterre on the coastal road towards Palmetto Point. It was a bit tricky navigating our way out of Basseterre, but as long as we kept the ocean to our left, we knew we were headed in the right direction. The drive to Brimstone was pretty scenic, although the roads were narrow and at points we’d have to stop to allow oncoming traffic the right of way to pass by. Brimstone Hill Fortress commands a high vantage point, and we took heed of the signs warning us to honk around corners. There are quite a few blind spots, and only the foolhardy would go careening up that hill at breakneck speed. Entrance tickets were EC$20 per person, and we opted to hire an audio tour guide.

Brimstone Hill Fortress enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status and for good reason. It is a magnificent remnant of history, and we were so glad that we stopped for a visit. The gift shop/museum plays a short video providing a brief overview of the site. We learned that this fortress served as a British garrison, which was overtaken by the French who seized it in 1782. The Treaty of Paris forced the French to return the fortress the very next year, and the British revamped and expanded the fortress to build upon their earlier mistakes. Afterwards, we were hungry for lunch, so we headed down towards Sprat Net Bar & Grill on Old Road Bay. Unfortunately, it was closed for lunch (open for dinner only) so we decided to drive onward to Turtle beach on the eastern side of St Kitts.

We were wondering if we were heading in the right direction to get to Turtle Beach Bar & Grill because the eastern half of the island is pretty desolate. Once we caught a glimpse of the Great Salt Pond, we knew that Turtle beach was just around the corner. We were greeted by our super friendly hostess, who beckoned us to a breezy corner table with a fine view of Nevis and the bay. After our late lunch orders were placed (conch ceviche, fresh mahi), we had to fight off the cheeky green vervet monkeys who were brashly hopping nearby our table trying to swipe a quick bite of French fries. Our waitress showed us an ingenious trick. The vervet monkeys are scared of frozen ice. Armed with a pitcher of ice, we watched as she flung ice cubes towards the monkeys who dispersed in fear. Our late lunch hit the spot, and afterwards, we dispersed to enjoy the facilities of Turtle beach. Some of us lounged in the chaise chairs by the beach, while others befriended Wilbert, a massive boar who weighs over 500 lbs. Some fishermen had returned with their catch of the day, and they proudly displayed their trophies on the pier. The kitchen’s chef hurried down to the waterfront to carve up the fish into fresh steaks, and fed the scraps to the massive stingrays hovering just below the dock.

Just before sunset, we drove out to White House Bay to watch as it disappeared below the horizon. We were in search of the green flash, but it eluded us. The sunset was magnificent, and it gave us all time to reflect on our busy day.

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