1. Lunch on a volcano – Although this may not have been my favorite activity, (please refer to my post Paying the Price for Lunch on a Volcano in St. Kitts) in retrospect, and after some intense psychotherapy, I have come to the realization that it’s a pretty amazing experience. You start off at the base of Mt. Liamuiga and trek through dense rainforest led by an able guide who somehow figures out which unmarked path is the right one to ascend to the top. As you trek uphill you encounter the best of the island, the sounds of monkeys, the smell of wet earth under your feet and green everywhere, the most verdant hue of it you’ve ever seen. Finally, about the time when you think you’re going to die, you’re there. A quick shimmy up a cliff face (this is suddenly not sounding fun anymore) and you’ve done it, you’re at the top of a mostly dormant volcano. We unpacked our lunch and for the first time that morning, no one said a word. Instead we all just looked around in awe. Clouds were sweeping in and the effect was an ethereal wonderland, interrupted only by the sounds of hungry mongooses. I won’t lie, this is a tough hike and is not for everyone, but it is also one of those rare memories that you truly will have forever.
2. Rich history – I’m a history buff and the history of the Caribbean is a lot more interesting than most people realize. These small dots of paradise were once the pawns of great kingdoms and empires, and home to outlaws and bandits. Yes, there were pirates, but also a wide array of strange people who just didn’t fit in anywhere else. The islands figured prominently in the European conquest for power and wealth, although today the peaceful island of St. Kitts masks much of that intrigue and war. St. Kitts is also where the ancestor of our third president and the man who may have been president if not for a clause in the Constitution, both intersect. Samuel Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s great-great grandfather, was the owner of a large sugar plantation on the island and is buried in the Middle Island Church graveyard which you can still visit. Alexander Hamilton has a long list of accomplishments. American founding father, first Secretary of the Treasury, economist, lawyer and politician, Hamilton played an influential role in the early formation of the United States and the Constitution that has served the country so well. Hamilton had an inauspicious start in life though as the illegitimate son of two English settlers in the island colony of Nevis. He spent his early childhood in the British West Indies and a difficult childhood instilled in him fierce determination and a desire to get ahead. These unusual tales are just the beginning, there’s much more history to discover all around the island.
3. Relaxed luxury – People usually travel to the Caribbean to relax and detach from modern life, if only for a few days. Thanks to beautiful beaches and stunning resorts, this relaxed luxury is not just possible, it’s one of the highlights of the visit. My stay on St. Kitts was coordinated by the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, one of the few beach resorts on the island. It’s also a relatively new resort and it’s obvious right away that the guests’ every need was considered from the start. Since the island can get hot, the entire resort enjoys a typical Caribbean architecture featuring high ceilings, big windows and fans to help usher in the trade winds. Pools and beachfront access allow guests every opportunity to cool off in the water or sunbathe if some color is needed. In the evenings, world class restaurants and entertainment are available to finish off the day in style. More than anything, the staff at the resort are fastidious in their devotion to creating the best possible experience for guests, making the St. Kitts Marriott a great vacation choice. No matter what you do, it’s not hard to enjoy some of the relaxed luxury for which St. Kitts is so well known.
4. Easy to find the ‘real’ island – St. Kitts is fairly new to tourism and because of that you don’t see a lot of the massive over-development that unfortunately distinguishes some other Caribbean islands. Because of the lack of a highly managed tourism sector, it’s easy to duck below the high gloss of tourist brochures and get underneath to find what’s it’s really like to experience St. Kitts. A walk through town reveals a combination of colonial buildings and colorful new ones, all of which mesh into a fun and distinctive style that can only be called Kittitian. The beach shacks along Frigate Bay are also a great example of local color. A mix of low-key restaurant, bar and dance club, the shacks are the place to be on the island. If you visit during the day, you can sample some of the great food locals get to enjoy every day and in the evenings join new friends as you dance the night away. No matter what you decide to do, just make sure to visit soon, who knows how long St. Kitts will remain ‘undiscovered’ by the masses.
Have you been to St. Kitts? What’s your favorite thing to do there?