Darla Logsdon

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ST. KITTS & NEVIS

The chief attractions of St. Kitts and Nevis are watersports, rain forests, spectacular peaks, lush tropical greenery, deep-sea fishing, diving, world-championship golf, tennis, a casino (on St. Kitts), uncrowded beaches, quiet bays, friendly people and historical sites.

If you want beautiful scenery and above average beaches (excellent on Nevis), or if you are interested in history and relaxation, St. Kitts and Nevis are for you. Don't expect to find a lot of action, deluxe shopping or a wide variety of nightlife.

Highlights

Sights—Scuba dives along the coral reefs of Nevis and Shitten Bay; the Berkeley Memorial in the Circus; a Carib Breweries tour; the Potter's House Gallery; exploring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park.

Museums—The National Museum in the old Treasury Building; International House Museum; the Fort George Museum.

Memorable Meals—Local fruits such as soursop and mammy apples; traditional dishes such as goat water, souse or black pudding; jelly water (coconut juice) at the Sunset Cafe on the beach.

Late Night—A moonlight cruise around the bays; trying your luck at the Royal Beach Casino in Frigate Bay; dancing on the Frigate Bay Beach Strip at one of the many beach bars.

Walks—Beachcombing the undeveloped beaches of North Friar's Bay and Major's Bay; climbing the dormant volcano Mount Liamuiga; a trek through the expanding rain forest to see green vervet monkeys; wandering through the botanical gardens of Romney Manor.

Potpourri

At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Kittitian Kim Collins was a track finalist and went on to win the World Championship in Paris in 2003. He ran the 100-m finals in 10 seconds flat at the Olympics in Athens and has become something of a local hero as a result. The first Olympic athletes from St. Kitts and Nevis competed at the 1996 summer games in Atlanta.

St. Kitts and Nevis is the smallest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

St. Kitts and Nevis was one of the hosts of the World Cup Cricket Championships in 2007—residents are fanatical about the sport.

In 1929, two years after his historic Atlantic crossing, Charles Lindbergh landed his seaplane off Pinney's Beach on Nevis, bringing the first air-mail delivery to the islands.

Almost 400 shipwrecks line the deep waters surrounding St. Kitts and Nevis. Most of them were sunk between 1492 and 1825, and only a small fraction of the wrecks have been identified and explored.

Starting the last week in July and running for a full three weeks, Culturama celebrates the islands' freedom from slavery. It is a must-see event for visitors.

Singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading was born on St. Kitts.

Shopping

St. Kitts is a duty-free port. Look for local artisan creations for the best souvenirs, since imported British and North American goods such as crystal, woolens, perfumes, watches and china are priced high. Good local souvenirs include copperware, stamps, local beer and rum, and local embroidery and fabrics (especially batiks). On St. Kitts, most shops in Basseterre are on Fort Street, Pelican Mall, Amina Craft Market (behind the mall), Port Zante and the Circus area.

The Caribelle Batik factory, housed in an old manor house at the Romney Plantation north of town, is a nice place to shop for clothing, wall hangings and fabrics. The Island Hopper shop in Port Zante also carries items made at Caribelle Batik.

Duty-free shopping is also available on Nevis, though the choices are more limited. The best selection is at the Cotton Ginnery Mall in the heart of Charlestown. Also visit the Conch Shell Boutique at Nisbet Plantation, the Four Seasons Gift Shop and Newcastle Pottery, a short drive from the airport. The locally produced clothing is especially tempting.

Make sure you visit the Nevis Craft Cooperative Shop in the mall to purchase some locally made products. The farmer's market is located next door and you can buy local produce such as tannia, christophene, plantain and breadfruit, and have a real local experience.

Dining

Local foods include pork, lobster, conch, goat water (a meat and vegetable stew), fresh fish, jerk chicken (a spicy Jamaican dish), pepperpot peas, pawpaws (papayas), yams, pumpkins and such seasonal fruits as soursop and mammy apples. Be sure to try some jelly water, the juice of local coconuts. It's recommended that you try everything, including a flying-fish sandwich and lobster and conch served in spicy curry sauce. If you're feeling adventurous and want something truly local, sample dishes such as souse (a stew made with pig's feet—sounds bad, but tastes good), black pudding (seasoned rice cooked in a kind of sausage skin) or cook-up (rice and peas cooked with a mixture of meats).

 

Dos & Don'ts

Do keep an eye out for the islands' vervet monkeys, which the French originally brought as pets from Africa. There are plenty of them around, but they can be difficult to see.

Do greet locals with "good morning" or "good afternoon." "Hi" is considered informal.

Do visit Gingerama in December. It is one of the most intriguing indigenous music and cultural festivals in the Caribbean. It takes place on Nevis in the community of Gingerland.

Do pronounce Nevis correctly—it's NEE-viss, not NEH-viss. If you mispronounce it, you are certain to hear the locals chuckle.

Don't wear camouflage clothing in St. Kitts and Nevis—it's illegal, and you could face a hefty fine.

Do take both the northern and southern drives on St. Kitts. The scenery is varied and truly spectacular.

Don't assume the term "dollar" refers to the U.S. or Canadian dollar—it may be the Eastern Caribbean dollar. Always ask.

Do eat some fresh sugarcane on St. Kitts. The farmers will be delighted to sell you some (and show you how to eat it, if necessary).

Do visit the Nevis Beekeepers Cooperative for a fascinating look at a disappearing craft.

Do try some of the local drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic. Carib is the local brand of beer. Ting is the local grapefruit soda. CSR is the local rum—mix it with Ting and you get a Sting.

Do try one of the Hermitage Plantation Inn carriage rides.

Do visit the Gallipot on Tamarind Bay for the best-priced fresh catch anywhere on either island.

Weather

The islands are pleasant year-round. November-May, daytime temperatures are generally in the 70-89 F. It's rainier, cloudier and hotter July-October, but it's unlikely that conditions will be bad enough to spoil your vacation. Hurricanes are possible July-November. It is advisable to monitor the weather information before and during visits. Nevis is more directly in the flow of the trade winds and is usually cooler than St. Kitts. No matter when you go, take a sweater for the cool evenings.

What to Wear

Light summer clothing may be worn all year. Nudity is not permitted at any beach. Swimwear or scant clothing should never be worn in towns or villages. The sand is hot and the sun is bright, so wear a wide-brimmed hat and sandals. The bugs come out just before sundown, so have mosquito repellent.

Business is conducted in a professional manner with summer suits and conservative clothing. Visitors are advised to apply modesty at all times. Evening attire is smart-casual or formal depending on the occasion. Shorts are not acceptable for business engagements.

Travel 42

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Courtesy of: Darla Logsdon

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