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Saint Kitts and Nevis travel guide - Travel S Helper

Saint Kitts and Nevis

travel guide

The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, sometimes referred to as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, is a West Indies two-island nation. It is the smallest sovereign state in the Americas, both in terms of size and population. It is located in the Leeward Islands group of the Lesser Antilles. The nation is a Commonwealth realm, with the British monarch as head of state (now Queen Elizabeth II).

Basseterre is the capital city on the larger island of Saint Kitts. The tiny island of Nevis is located about 2 miles (3 kilometers) southeast of Saint Kitts, separated by a narrow waterway known as “The Narrows.”

Anguilla, a British colony, was formerly included in this union, which was referred to collectively as Saint Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. The islands of Sint Eustatius, Saba (Netherlands), Saint Barthélemy, Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten, and Anguilla are located north-northwest. Antigua and Barbuda are to the east and northeast, while the tiny uninhabited island of Redonda and Montserrat, which presently has an active volcano (see Soufrière Hills), are to the southeast.

Saint Kitts and Nevis were among the Caribbean’s earliest European settlements. Saint Kitts was the site of the Caribbean’s earliest British and French colonies, and as such has been dubbed “The Mother Colony of the West Indies.”

The country consists of two main islands, St. Kitts and Nevis. The highest peak is Mount Liamuiga in St. Kitts at 1,156 metres.

The islands are volcanic in origin, with large central peaks covered by rainforest; the steeper slopes leading to these peaks are mostly uninhabited. Most of the population of both islands live closer to the sea, where the terrain becomes flatter. Numerous rivers flow down from the mountains on both islands, providing fresh water for the population. St. Kitts also has a small lake, a salt pond.

The national bird is the brown pelican.

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Saint Kitts and Nevis - Info Card

Population

47,606

Currency

East Caribbean dollar (EC$) (XCD)

Time zone

UTC-4 (AST)

Area

23,200 km2 (9,000 sq mi)

Calling code

+1 869

Official language

English

Saint Kitts and Nevis | Introduction

Demographics Of St. Kitts and Nevis

African origin 75.1%, African-European 12.3%, mixed race 5.3%, East Indian and East African-Indian 5%, other 3.3%, South Asian ethnicities 3%.

In July 2000, the population was 42,696, with an average life expectancy of 72.4 years. Emigration has historically been very high, and these high levels have led to a steady decline in the country’s population of about 25 % since the peak of about 51,100 in 1960.

Emigration from St Kitts and Nevis to the United States :

  • 1986–1990 : 3,513
  • 1991–1995 : 2,730
  • 1996–2000 : 2,101
  • 2001–2005 : 1,756
  • 2006–2010 : 1,817

Religion

Most of the inhabitants are Christians, mainly Anglicans and other Protestant churches. Roman Catholics are served by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgetown (in Barbados), while Anglicans are served by the Diocese of the North East Caribbean and Aruba.

Language In St. Kitts and Nevis

The language of St Kitts and Nevis is English. However, if you have never been to the Caribbean, you may have difficulty understanding the dialect spoken by the locals, or more precisely Creole, which is based on English but does not sound like it at all to the untrained ear. For example, “a-come” means “come”, “a-knock” means “knock”. Most striking is the simplification of pronoun usage as in “I and I”, which replaces all other pronouns such as they/them, we/me, your, their/their and our. Caribbean patois has its roots not only in African languages (Western, Central and Nigerian), Standard English, Scottish and Spanish, but also in Persian Arabic and Sanskrit. Unusually, the end result is not only a language but also a philosophical statement that emphasises the group rather than the personal relationship.

Economy Of St. Kitts and Nevis

St. Kitts and Nevis is a federation of twin islands whose economy is characterised by the predominance of tourism, agriculture and light industry. Sugar has been the main export product since the 1940s, but rising production costs, low world market prices and government efforts to reduce dependence on sugar have led to increasing diversification of the agricultural sector. In 2005, the government decided to close the state-owned sugar company, which had been making losses and contributing significantly to the budget deficit.

Former sugar plantations dominate the landscape of St. Kitts. Many sugar cane fields are being burnt to make way for land development, especially in the north of the island, in the parishes of Saint John Capisterre and Christchurch. The agriculture, tourism, export-oriented manufacturing and offshore banking sectors are growing and now play a larger role in the country’s economy. The growth of the tourism sector has become the main source of foreign exchange for Saint Kitts and Nevis. The country has also developed a thriving garment assembly industry and one of the largest electronic assembly industries in the Caribbean.

St. Kitts relies on tourism to boost its economy. Tourism on the island has been growing since 1978. 587,479 people came to St. Kitts in 2009, up from 379,473 in 2007. This growth represents an increase of almost 40 percent in two years. With the growth of tourism, the demand for holiday real estate is also increasing.

In an effort to develop tourism, St. Kitts hosts its annual music festival.

St Kitts and Nevis also acquires foreign direct investment through its citizenship-by-investment programme, which is outlined in its Citizenship Act 1984. Interested parties can acquire citizenship if they pass a government background check and make an investment in an approved real estate project.

Entry Requirements For Saint Kitts and Nevis

Visa & Passport for Saint Kitts and Nevis

Nationals of the Commonwealth, the Organisation of American States (except the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the following countries do not require a visa: Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, South Korea, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Kingdom of the Netherlands*, Qatar, Norway, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

  • Includes Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten and the Netherlands in Europe.

Visa applications must be sent by post to the Embassy in Washington, D.C.. You must include the original completed application form (you cannot copy and mail the form), your passport (valid for at least 6 months after your visit to St. Kitts and Nevis), 2 passport photos and the visa fee ($50). You will also need to include the postage fee. The normal fee is $5, but if you want overnight express shipping, the fee is $15.75.

How To Travel To Saint Kitts and Nevis

Get In - By air

  • There are daily flights from San Juan, PR, with American Eagle, and via the British Virgin Islands/Tortola. American Airlines flies three times a week from Miami (more flights during the tourist season), twice a week to New York. Delta Airlines offers non-stop flights to St. Kitts from Atlanta.
  • From the UK, British Airways offers non-stop flights from London Gatwick. These flights operate once a week on Saturdays.
  • From Canada, there is a non-stop charter flight from Toronto to St. Kitts from 19 December to April with Sky service.
  • Leeward Islands Air Transport (Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Thomas, San Juan, Tortola) DHC8-100, 300

Get In - With the boat

Basseterre has a cruise terminal and a marina.

Take a catamaran tour or go snorkelling with Blue Water Safaris or Leeward Island Charters.

You can also charter a boat with No Problem Boat Charters.

For the ferry from St Kitts (Majors Bay) to Nevis (Cades Bay), you can take the Sea Bridge, which runs from 8am to 7pm (sailing times).

How To Travel Around Saint Kitts and Nevis

Get Around - By train

There is a scenic rail tour that runs through parts of the narrow-gauge railway once used by the sugar mill. When more than one large cruise ship visits the island, organised train tours can fill the train.

Get Around - By car

Taxis and buses are plentiful in St Kitts. Be sure to negotiate the cost of the ride in advance. Be especially careful if the fare is quoted in US dollars.

Temporary driving licences are available, as are several car rental agencies.

In St. Kitts, there are many popular tour guides who will take you around the island. One such guide is Thenford Grey’s Island Tours or Grey’s Island Excursions [www].

Get Around - By bus

Microbuses are the island’s public transport system. They are much cheaper than taxis and can be stopped on the way. When they are full, the driver flashes his lights and moves on. The service does not usually extend to Frigate Bay or the southern peninsula. This is the domain of taxis.

Taxis and buses use the same format as microbuses, with the difference that taxis have a yellow number plate and begin with the letter T and buses have a green number plate beginning with the letter H. Bus fares vary, in 2005 they ranged from 1.25 EC to 5 EC, depending on the length of the journey.

Accommodation & Hotels in Saint Kitts and Nevis

  • St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino, +1 869 466-1200. In the Frigate Bay area of the island. Only a 10-minute drive from the airport and the capital Basseterre. The resort offers 573 rooms and suites. North Frigate Bay Beach, a championship golf course and the largest Vegas-style casino in the Caribbean all contribute to an excellent holiday experience. The resort also offers a revitalising spa, meeting facilities, the Pirates of St. Kitts Kids Club programme, eight restaurants and two lounges.
  • Ottley’sPlantation Inn. The hotel is situated on a former plantation estate about 5 miles from Basseterre on the Atlantic coast of the island. It offers rooms in the large house and several cottages on the grounds, some with infinity pools. The Royal Palm is the property’s restaurant, built on the ruins of the old sugar refinery. It also offers destination wedding packages.
  • Ocean Terrace Inn. It is located in the Fortlands area of Basseterre, overlooking the main harbour (Port Zante) as well as the deep water port of Bird Rock across the bay. There are several OTI operated restaurants including the Pool Bar and Grill, Waterfalls and Fisherman’s Wharf across the road (on the waterfront).

Things To See in Saint Kitts and Nevis

Of course, with an area of only 261 km2, St Kitts and Nevis has a somewhat limited (but not lacking!) range of typical sights. But this is no disadvantage for visitors to these two small islands, as they have all the enchanting natural beauty of the Caribbean.

Its strategic location made St. Kitts a focal point for colonisation and for European nations in their struggle for power over the West Indies. The settlers quickly developed sugar plantations and imported African slaves, laying the foundation for the islands’ colourful culture. The festivals, arts and crafts and other manifestations of this culture are now among the islands’ main tourist attractions, as are the ruins of the many plantations. The Scenic Railway, which follows the tracks of the old sugar railway, is a great way to see the best of it. But nothing makes the islands’ history more tangible than the impressive and well-preserved remains of Brimstone Hill Fort. This is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area and even some of the neighbouring islands. On Nevis, only a few ruins and a few cannons remain of Fort Charles, the Charlestown fortification.

Basseterre is a pleasant place and has some interesting sights, including St George’s Anglican Church and Independence Square, where the slave market was once located. The impressive 1894 Old Treasury building, originally the gateway to Basseterre, is an important historical site, but it also houses the National Museum, which has exhibits on the island’s history, identity and independence.

The island’s scenery is lovely, with panoramic views of green rainforest-covered hills as well as beaches and, of course, the bright blue sea. The main road around the island takes you to most of the sights, some great beaches and several villages. The hike to Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano on St. Kitts and the highest peak on the islands, is particularly popular and worth it for the great views from the top.

Things To Do in Saint Kitts and Nevis

The dive sites are numerous and beautiful and are suitable for both beginners and experienced divers. There is of course a wide and colourful range of reefs and marine life to see, but also shipwrecks and caves. For beginners, Monkey Shoals and Friars Bay Reef are good sites that are easily accessible. Sandy Point is a national marine park for its beautiful coral heads and marine life. The wreck of the River Taw, the wreck of the M.V. Talata and the recently sunk wreck of the Corinthian are popular sites. Turtle Bar is of course famous for its many turtles, but you will also see them frequently at Frigate Bay Reef. For more experienced divers, the strong currents at Nags Head are a nice challenge, and the large selection of fish at the aquarium is a good place to visit.

Food & Drinks in Saint Kitts and Nevis

There are many dining options in St Kitts. Some of the most popular restaurants are:

  • Sprat net – Vieille route
  • Ballahoo Restaurant. Basseterre.
  • Marshall’s, Frigate Bay.
  • Chevy’s Beach Bar & Grill, Pinneys Beach, Nevis, +1 869 469-0055.
  • PJ’s Bar and Restaurant. Frigate Bay.

There are many beach bars in Frigate Bay and on the south-eastern peninsula.

Culture Of Saint Kitts and Nevis

English is the only official language. St. Kitts Creole is also widely spoken.

St Kitts and Nevis is known for a number of musical celebrations, including Carnival (18 December to 3 January in St Kitts). The last week of June is dedicated to the St Kitts Music Festival, while Culturama Week in Nevis runs from late July to early August.

Other festivals on the island of St. Kitts include Inner City Fest, in February in Molineaux; Green Valley Festival, usually around Whit Monday in the village of Cayon; Easterama, around Easter in the village of Sandy Point; Fest-Tab, in July or August in the village of Tabernacle; and Capisterre Fest, around Independence Day of St. Kitts and Nevis (19 September) in the Capisterre area. These celebrations usually include parades, street dances and salsa, jazz, soca, calypso and steelpan music.

The film Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985) was shot in St. Kitts.

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