Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom The entrance to Reggae Beach, one of the many beautiful, family-friendly beaches on St. Kitts.
The beaches alone are worth the trip to St. Kitts.
The island’s best beaches (and its cruise ship dock) are on the south end of the island. But I believe St. Kitts’ best spots are on the northern 2/3 of the island. That’s where you’ll learn about the island’s history and experience its friendly culture (really, EVERYONE will say ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good evening’ to you).
St. Kitts is largely unspoiled by tourism, and that means families can have some unique experiences here. Including the following.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom Cannons line the top of Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park in St. Kitts
If you only have time to do one thing in St. Kitts, make it this.
This enormous fortress, built by African slaves for the British military, is still largely in tact (one reason it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site). After watching a little introductory movie, you can climb stone stairs up to the top, and walk along the cannon-lined fortress with sweeping views of neighboring St. Eustatius and Nevis. Inside the fortress, wander in and out of the little rooms converted into mini-museums and displays, filled with artifacts.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom
The inside of Brimstone Hill Fortress is full of little museum rooms.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom A woman demonstrates how they make batike patterns at Romney Manor in St. Kitts
Located on the beautifully landscaped Romney Manor — they frequently brag that it was once owned by President Thomas Jefferson’s great, great, great grandfather — you can watch the wax process of making batike clothing and art. It’s a short and interesting presentation, and there’s large gift shop. I got myself a cute batike bathing suit cover-up wrap for $26. Even our tour guide bought himself a new shirt while we were there.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom Some freshly made batik prints hang-dry in St. Kitts.
3. Have fun on the beach.
Snorkel off the beach in the calm waters of Frigate Bay beach, (locals call it the “party beach” because they host big bonfires on Thursday nights). Bonus: down the street is an “amusement center” — which is basically an outdoor park of inflatable jumpys. (I’d go early, before the plastic gets too hot).
Reggae Beach is also a festive setting. The beach bar is decorated with T-shirts and license plates, and you might hear a Jimmy Buffet playing. Rent snorkels and kayaks, snap pictures of the few caged monkeys, or swim out to a floating platform that has a few chairs on it.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom South Friars Beach in St. Kitts is next to the Carramba Beach Club
A fancier, more modern beach is South Friar’s Beach, next to the Carramba Beach Club. Pay for wooden plank lounge chairs with cushions and umbrellas, and you can eat in the club’s upscale, open to the beach restaurant. There are no water sports — but it’s clean and there are beautiful mountain views.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom The St. Kitts Railway is a unique was to see the island.
Definitely the most unique way to see a Caribbean island. An entertaining narrator points out sites as the train slowly wobbles along (it goes only 10 mph). I wouldn’t recommend this for little kids, mostly because it’s a 2-hour ride, plus a bus ride back to the start, and it’s often packed shoulder-to-shoulder with cruise ship passengers. But for older kids, it’s a great way to get an overview of the island and learn a little bit about it. It was adorable seeing the St. Kittitian kids wave as the train rolls through their back yards.
I also loved the super-sweet, complimentary sugar cane cookies they handed out mid-ride.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom A sugar cane cookie is a complimentary treat served on the St. Kitts Railway.
5. Watch for monkeys.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom The green vervet monkeys, hanging out on the grounds of Ottley’s Plantation Inn in St. Kitts.
The Green verve monkeys are everywhere on the island. They’re like squirrels in Chicago. They’re harmless, and they annoy the locals. Still, it’s fun to see them. I saw one while having a massage.
6. Zipline through the forest.
I personally did not try this in St. Kitts, but it’s been recommended by other parents. Ziplining is a trendy activity on most Caribbean islands, so I’m not sure ziplining here is much different than anywhere else (see a video of our ziplining experience in Puerto Rico). But it’s one of those activities that, when you get home, everyone will be talking about.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom Ottley’s co-owner Marty Lowell points out a water-shooting palm tree on the rainforest tour.
This easy hike will take you past “the tree,” a water-shooting palm tree, an interesting bamboo art sculpture, and more. It’s hosted by Ottley’s Plantation Inn co-owner, Marty Lowell, a former Botanist and funny guy. Be sure to stay and eat at the historic inn’s delicious restaurant.
8. Try St. Kitts foods.
My kids are not big “try-ers” when it comes to food. But I am. While I didn’t get to St. Kitts’ goat water or saltfish — two St. Kittitian specialties, I did try the conch soup. Served at the Ballahoo Restaurant, overlooking the bustle in downtown Basseterre, it was flavorful but not too fishy.
The grilled lobster at Ottley’s, followed by a scoop of green pistachio ice cream, was my favorite thing I ate the entire trip. It was so good, I ended up scraping every last bit of lobster out of that tail, like I was digging for gold.
Photo by Jamie Bartosch/Suburban TravelingMom This photo of the lobster disk at Ottley’s Plantation Inn does not do it justice. It’s delicious!
What sets St. Kitts apart from other is that it’s developed just enough that you can have all your creature comforts, but not feel like you’re in a tourist trap (unless you’re on the small stretch of shops and bars where the cruise ships dock, in the main city of Basseterre).
And that makes it a great place to create family memories.
Jamie Bartosch is an award-winning newspaper reporter in suburban Chicago. She loves to travel, and blogs for TravelingMom.com from the viewpoint of a "typical suburban mom." Her goal is to provide honest, useful information to help families save time, money, and make the most of their family vacation. A married mother of two, Jamie grew up in the Chicago suburbs, lived in the city for 16 years, and is now back in the suburbs raising her two kids. Learn more about her at www.JamieBartosch.com