With a population of just over 50,000 and a landmass of only 270 square kilometres St Kitts and Nevis (SKN) is one of the world's smallest sovereign states. But despite it's small size it manages to take in over half a million cruise ship passengers and other tourists a year. Great beaches, some interesting historical sights and a relaxed vibe make it a popular holiday destination.
After some extensive island hopping over the previous couple of months we decided to “lime” (Caribbean slang for taking it easy, just hanging out) for a few days in SKN.
We did not do the St Kitts scenic steam train trip or visit the impressive Brimstone Hill Fortress (built by the British in the 17th century). No zip lining took place and hiking did not occur on either island, despite the dramatic tropical backdrops of Mt Liamuiga (St Kitts) and Nevis Peak (Nevis).
So what did we do? Here are a few snippets from our SKN liming.
We Wandered Around the Capital, Bassterre
The small capital has some interesting Georgian stone buildings which give it a particular character and also a sense that it would survive a hurricane with such sturdy structures. It's roots go back to French settlement in 1627 which makes it one of the oldest towns in the Eastern Caribbean.
We Caught the Ferry to Nevis
A number of companies run ferries between the two islands so you never have to wait long for one. The standard fare is EC25/$US10 and it takes around 45 minutes.
We Visited the Nevis Museum and Alexander Hamilton House
Being Australian we didn't know a lot about Alexander Hamilton, one of the USA's founding fathers and it's first Treasury Secretary. Well, it turns out he was born on Nevis and you can visit his birthplace. It is a small house beside the Museum and a combined entry to the two is EC25/$US10. It is in Nevis's capital Charlestown, not far from the ferry terminal
We Went to Pinney's Beach
Pinney's Beach is a long stretch of white sand just to the north of Charlestown. The beach was clean and the water temperature perfect to wash away the Caribbean sweat that starts to drip as soon as you leave your air conditioned room. There's also some nice little restaurants and beach bars at several spots along it.
We Went to Dinner
Basseterre has a number of good restaurants. The one whose food we found most delicious, so we went twice, was Lemongrass which is in the centre of town across from the Museum and Cruise Ship Terminal. We'd describe it as Asian Fusion. The shrimp and chicken dishes were our favourites.
We Did Some People Watching from our Guesthouse
We stayed at the curiously named Seaview Guesthouse (with no sea view) The rooms were a little dark but clean and comfortable. The staff were very helpful and accommodating. Our favourite feature of the guesthouse, apart from the fact that it was only 200m from the ferry terminal right in the centre of town, was the deck overlooking the busy street.
Here you could sit in comfort, with a cold Carib beer, and watch the locals going about their fairly noisy business.
We Went to the Cricket
During our initial stroll around Basseterre we walked past the main cricket ground only to discover that there was a Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 20 over cricket match happening that night under floodlights.
The CPL is the Caribbean equivalent of Australia's Big Bash League or India's IPL, Indian Premier League. Caribbean nations including Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago compete for the trophy.
Our match was between local team St Kitts and Nevis Patriots taking on the St Lucia Zouks (we still haven't found out what a zouk is and locals we asked didn't seem to know either).
All CPL teams field foreign imports and our match included Australians Brad Hodge (Patriots), Shane Watson (Zouks) and Mike Hussey (Zouks).
To the crowd's delight the Patriots had a big win.
So, that's about it. Not an in depth guide to St Kitts and Nevis, but we still managed to have a good time and we enjoyed our spot of liming.
PS After a quick google: zouk is a type of music sung in French Creole and popular in Martinique and Guadalupe, but also to some degree in St Lucia. Apparently many St Lucians were bemused by the choice of symbol.