St Kitts: The Hidden Jewel of the Southern Caribbean
By Jon Wuebben
With 69 square miles of diverse ecosystems, colonial history and inviting culture, St, Kitts is the Southern Caribbean's best kept secret. Boasting an average year-round temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit and the vibrant, inviting atmosphere for which the Caribbean is known, St. Kitts will certainly win the heart of any traveler lucky enough to discover it. Most importantly, the island nation's commitment to sustainable development has succeeded in offering first-class accommodations, shopping and cuisine, while continually engaging in unparalleled ecological preservation.
Perhaps unlike anywhere else in the world, St. Kitts is steadfastly dedicated to the preservation of its unique ecosystems. From undeveloped stretches of sugary, white sand beaches to lush rainforests that conjure images of the South Pacific, the island remains unspoiled in every sense of the word. At the center of the island rises Mt. Liamuiga, a dormant volcano with a mile-wide caldera, surrounded by exotic flora and fauna. Amongst the vine-enveloped trees and tropical wildflowers of these misty rainforests, hikers can't miss the vast array of colorful birds, butterflies and elusive green vervet monkeys. For ecotourists, or simply anyone who appreciates dramatic natural beauty, St. Kitts will certainly surpass all expectations.
However, St. Kitts' pristine ecosystems represent only a fraction of the allure surrounding the island. Historically, St. Kitts and its sister island, Nevis, were the pearls of the British Caribbean, rich and tremendously strategic islands celebrated throughout Europe. The impenetrable fortress of Brimstone Hill stood as the "Gibraltar of the West Indies" for centuries. Constructed of black volcanic rock and held at times by both the English and French, the fort is today a national park and the island's historical centerpiece, offering some of the most pristine views in the Southern Caribbean. Furthermore, the remains of a vibrant sugar cane industry offer unique opportunities to explore colonial harbor estates and a glimpse into the vivacious Caribbean social life of forgotten eras.
Today, the vibrant, multiethnic culture of St. Kitts is centered in the island's charming capital, Basseterre. At the heart of Basseterre is the Circus, a Victorian roundabout modeled on London's Piccadilly Circus, complete with an ornate four-sided clock dating to the 1860s. Equally impressive is St. George's Anglican Church, a beautiful example of Georgian architecture. Despite the numerous markers of a colonial past, indigenous art and culture are regularly on display in Basseterre. Each year, during the Christmas season, the small nation holds a week-long Carnival featuring dazzling performances and distinctive customs. It all takes place in the city's streets, which are lined with one of a kind shops and exquisite Caribbean and seafood restaurants.
When it comes to recreation on St. Kitts, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Relax on calm, undeveloped beaches like Turtle Beach, Sand Bank Bay or Friar's Bay South on the island's Caribbean side, or brave the waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the rocky, windswept eastern shores. Try your luck on one of island's internationally ranked golf courses, or at a craps table in a luxuriant casino. Go boating or fishing in the crystal clear Caribbean, or dive beneath the waters surrounding the island and discover vast coral reefs and over 400 ship wrecks.
Still largely undiscovered, despite its otherworldly beauty, astonishing history and unmatched charm, St. Kitts is truly the hidden jewel of the Caribbean.
This article was written by Jon Wuebben. Jon writes select pieces about travel in St. Kitts for the St. Kitts Marriott Beach Resort
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.