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On a St Kitts holiday, you'll gaze upon luscious mountains, wander multicoloured beaches, dine in luxury Georgian buildings, and never want to go home...

One half of the two-island nation officially called the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, St Kitts encompasses the best of Caribbean culture. Lounging between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the island is home to dense rainforests and stretching mountains. But breathtaking, untouched landscapes are just one reason why holidays to St Kitts are so popular.

It's easy to fly here from the UK, making it a popular destination for many Brits. As well as losing yourself to verdant hills, and relaxing on tropical beaches, you’ll soon learn that St Kitts has a charm that spans its every inch. A visit to the capital, Basseterre, offers a sample taste. Here, brightly coloured homes rub shoulders with colonial buildings and plazas – there's even a square based on Piccadilly Circus in London, with a Victorian-style clock tower! Elsewhere, bustling resorts teem with lively bars and fine restaurants to enrich your nights before tomorrow’s next adventures.

And so many things to do! The island features the renowned championship golf course, Royal St. Kitts Golf Club. Well worth “spoiling” a good walk there one afternoon. And why not spend some time exploring fortresses, climbing a dormant volcano and, most importantly, catching some Caribbean sun! You'll find it draped over the gardens near the settlements of Boyds and Monkey Hill, and, of course, the beaches. The sands here come in all different shades – ranging through white, grey and black – and St Kitts' variety doesn't stop there.

 

Culture and history

Originally inhabited by the Kalinago Native American people, St Kitts was revealed to Europe by Christopher Columbus in 1493. He named the island ‘St Christopher’, although this was shortened to ‘St Kitts’. Several Europeans colonies were established in the 16th and 17th centuries, during which time the conquering powers waged war on both the doomed indigenous islanders and each other.

Britain controlled both St Kitts and Nevis by 1712, after fighting off the French – who named current capital Basseterre – and the Spanish. St Kitts was used for sugar cultivation, and became the British Empire’s richest colony. This remained the island’s economic forte until the Great Depression of 1929, which saw prices and living standards decline. The sugar cane industry eventually collapsed in 2005, and now the island is reliant on tourism. Although St Kitts gained independence from Britain in 1983, it still retains the monarchy.

From thousands of miles away, Britain's culture still echoes strong in St Kitts. Half of the religious community is Anglican, although there’s a significant number of Rastafarians, too. British traditions like Guy Fawkes Day and Remembrance Sunday are still celebrated here. Cricket is huge in St Kitts, and has been for decades. The island’s cricketers compete internationally for the West Indies, who have more than made their name since joining the sport officially in 1926. Local fans will proudly remind visitors of the 1970s and 1980s golden years, when the “Windies” team was regarded as among the strongest in the world.

Things to do

It may be small, but St Kitts still offers up plenty to do. If you're feeling adventurous, take a guided tour up Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano and the highest point on the island. Closer to sea level, the resorts and towns serve up a well-refined taste of St Kitts' culture and scenery.

Basseterre

Named after the French translation for “lower ground”, Basseterre invites you to tour colonial buildings, refuel for a spot of tea, and enjoy the slow pace of island life here. It’s a great base camp, particularly for local beach spots like Frigate Bay. Spend a few hours lapping up the sun on a lounger, before retreating to the cafes and bars which line the beach.

Back in Basseterre, you'll find more historical sites like Independence Square, named when St Kitts and Nevis achieved political independence in 1983, and harks back to colonial times with its church, terraced houses and lavish fountains.

Sandy Point Town

At the northwest of the island, Sandy Point Town sits overlooking the Caribbean Sea. It's close to Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, an impressive display of military architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries. From the fortress, you'll have excellent views of Mount Liamuiga, as well as the surrounding hills which make up most of the island. St Kitts Eco-Park is also not far north from the town itself, and is a more contemporary take on life here. Browse tropical fruit plantations, and lose yourself to the natural beauty of this Caribbean gem.

Old Road Town

The first British town to be established in the Caribbean, back to 1623, Old Road Town as the base of Britain's expansion into the West Indies. It was formerly home to Romney Manor sugar estate, St Kitts' old economic stronghold. These days, you can walk around the estate and gain insights into the island’s history. You’ll also see a 350-year-old saman tree, an attraction worth visiting in itself. Here, and in Old Road Town, frequent visitors include vervet monkeys – harmless little chaps who, if you're lucky, will stay still long enough for a perfect holiday photo.

Flight time

Flights from London to Robert L Bradshaw International Airport, just north of Basseterre, take around ten hours.

Currency

Dollar -

The Eastern Caribbean dollar is the national currency here. Before your flight, visit a travel agent or post office to exchange some cash for your holidays in St Kitts and Nevis.

Passports and visas

British citizens don't need a visa to visit St Kitts, only a valid passport.

Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports and visas.

Phrases

English is the main dialect spoken in St Kitts, but some islanders speak with a thick accent. Here’s some of the local creole to get you on your way…

Ageed – yuck

Ahwee – us, all of us

Ent it? – isn't that so?

Fuh true? – really or seriously?

M’ain kno – I don't know

Nyam – to eat

Tall – not at all

Wha you say – what's up?

Timezone

St Kitts is on Atlantic Standard Time, which is four hours behind GMT.

Electricity

In St Kitts, the standard voltage is 230 volts AC and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. You’ll need an adaptor for your electrical appliances in the hotel, so buy one in the airport before your flight.

Language

English - The official language in St Kitts and Nevis is English. This’ll make life outside of the hotel easy, however many locals speak with a thick Caribbean accent and use creole words.

Tipping

Many service works rely on gratuities to top up their wages, so tip at least 10% of the bill. The same applies to taxi drivers, who can also double up as tour guides. Staff in hotels, such as porters, should be tipped around two to three Eastern Caribbean Dollars.

Climate

Good news for you sun worshippers – St Kitts is hot throughout the year! In the winter, temperatures are around 25 degrees Celsius, pushing up to 28 degrees Celsius in the summer. Nights can get a little cooler, so bring some warmer clothes for when you go to dinner.

Health

St Kitts is a tropical country, so visit your doctor at least a month before flying to check you have the relevant vaccinations. Make sure to wear mosquito repellent to avoid bites and the usual risks they carry. As always, adhere to the British Government’s foreign travel advice when going on holiday, and use the National Travel Health and Network Centre for country specific information.

Population and size

Saint Kitts and Nevis has a population of around 55,500, which is about the same as Kidderminster or Gravesend. The island of St Kitts itself is 174 square kilometres in size – a little bigger than one-tenth of London.

Smoking

Smoking in banned in most bars and restaurants, although there are some open-air premises where it’s permitted. If in doubt, adhere to nearby signage and be considerate of others around you whenever you feel the need to smoke.



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