St. Kitts & Nevis Travel Guide
Around 1950, the A-list destination of the American celebrity was Acapulco. Now, that distinction may well belong to St. Kitts and Nevis, the little-known but luxurious and breathtaking twin-islands in the southern Caribbean. Their list of patrons runs long: Oprah Winfrey, Britney Spears, Sylvester Stallone, Regis Philbin and many others have found solace on the Kittitian-Nevisian sands. St. Kitts is the more outgoing sister, with the widest selection of restaurants and hotels in Basseterre. Shy ... continue»
The best time to visit St. Kitts and Nevis is May and June, when hotels lower their rates to lure in travelers and the winter crowds thin out. But the peak season -- December to April -- does host Carnival, a party that might be worth weaving through the droves of tourists. The crowds disperse again in the summer months when the islands experience the Atlantic hurricane season. And keep in mind St. Kitts and Nevis' average highs hover around 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.Best Times to Visit St. Kitts & Nevis»
St. Kitts & Nevis Neighborhoods
St. Kitts and Nevis lie on the border between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Both islands are small: St. Kitts is only about 65 square miles in size, and Nevis, which is located two miles southeast of St. Kitts, is approximately half that size.
As the first permanent English settlement in the Caribbean, St. Kitts is often referred to as "The Mother Colony." The larger of the nation's two islands features white sand beaches and leafy rainforests, and has small villages characterized by small pastel-colored houses. St. Kitts is divided into nine different parishes, eight of which have notable sights.
St. George Basseterre parish
The capital city of Basseterre is located on St. Kitts' southern coast in St. George Basseterre parish, the largest of St. Kitts' nine parishes. Two of Basseterre's most popular attractions include St. George's Anglican Church, which was originally built by the French in 1670, and Independence Square, a former slave market. Basseterre is also the main port for cruise ships; the 27-acre pier, Port Zante, features numerous luxury shops and restaurants. The South East Peninsula is St. Kitts' main resort location, home to several golf courses and popular beaches, including South Frigate Bay and South Friars Bay.
Trinity Palmetto Point parish
Northwest of St. George Basseterre parish is Trinity Palmetto Point parish, which is defined by strips of black volcanic sand, stretches of rocky coastline and long vacated sugar estates.
St. Thomas Middle Island parish
St. Thomas Middle Island parish along the east coast of St. Kitts features abandoned sugar cane fields and lush tropical rainforests. The largest town in this parish, Old Road Town, is home to several small hotels and restaurants.
St. Anne Sandy Point parish
Located in the north of St. Kitts, St. Anne Sandy Point parish is best known for the black sandy beaches of Pump Bay and Belle Tête. The parish's capital, Sandy Point, is the second-largest town on St. Kitts and was formerly the island's commercial hub. It's now home to several independently owned guesthouses and restaurants. The best evidence of the town's former wealth is the 38-acre Brimstone Hill Fortress, one the largest and best preserved forts in the Caribbean, and one of the most popular tourist sites.
St. John Capisterre parish
The parish of St. John Capisterre is the second largest on St. Kitts, occupying five miles of coastline along the island's northeastern shore. St. John Capisterre parish was once governed by both France and England, and each had its own capital city. One of the capitals, Dieppe Bay Town, now offers visitors a relaxing atmosphere and several quaint hotels, such as The Golden Lemon Inn. Located just south of St. John Capisterre is the quiet parish of Christ Church Nichola Town.
St. Mary's Cayon parish
Located south of Christ Church Nichola Town on the east coast, this six-square-mile parish's landscape is mountainous. Forested hills dot the interior part of the parish and sheer cliffs protect the coast from the Atlantic Ocean. The black volcanic sand of St. Mary Canyon's beaches -- particularly Hermitage Bay -- are used by leatherback turtles to lay their eggs. Bathers are attracted to St. Mary Cayon parish for the numerous ravines, which house the parish's expansive Cayon River and its tributaries.
St. Peter Basseterre parish
St. Peter Basseterre parish is often the first parish that visitors encounter because it houses the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) as well as several lodgings options. Located northeast of Basseterre, the parish features two mountains, Olivee's Mountain and Monkey Hill, which are popular among hikers.
St. Paul Capisterre parish
At the northernmost tip of St. Kitts, St. Paul Capisterre parish is characterized by bays, long forgotten sugar plantations and volcanic black sand beaches, much like its fellow parishes. Travelers recommend hiking in this area with Greg's Safari Tours to catch the best view of neighboring islands like St. Barths and St. Martin/St. Maarten.
St. Kitts Beaches
The sands of St. Kitts's beaches are black and grainy in the north but tend to get lighter and softer the farther south you travel. Although there are many spots on the island to hang your beach hat, writers and recent guests suggest a few in particular:
This southern beach isn't close to St. Kitts' most popular hotels and restaurants, but it's worth the drive. One, you'll find monkeys, not turtles, are sunbathing alongside you here (and keep that in mind if you grab a bite to eat at an area beach bar). Two, you could catch a glimpse of a few dolphins and whales if you visit Turtle Beach during the winter.
Body surfers like Conaree Bay on St. Kitts Atlantic side, but beach bathers might be turned off by this shore's gray-black sand.
No St. Kitts beach is buzzing more than Frigate Bay, located south of Conaree. Several hotels are nearby (like the St. Kitts Marriott Resort or the Sugar Bay Club), as well as some of the island's best restaurants/nightclubs (recent visitors suggest the Monkey Bar and Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack). Stay away if you want peace and quiet -- writers say music keeps jamming and the rum keeps pouring on Frigate until the wee hours of the morning.
Should you find the sands too crowded along Frigate, head one mile southeast to South and North Friar's bays. Families favor the Friars, especially as these beaches also offer refreshments for reasonable prices. North Friar's, on the Atlantic side, is especially popular with surfers, but its waters are often too rough for swimmers.
The soft white sand, the views of Nevis on a clear day, the placid water perfect for swimming -- Cockleshell is one of the quieter beaches on St. Kitts. It's generally more popular with residents than tourists, and as a result is not as well maintained. Travel writers note that there's often plenty of seaweed in the shallow water and along the shore.
Located approximately two miles from St. Kitts' South East Peninsula, Nevis is shaped like an upside-down cone with the volcanic Nevis Peak at its center. Nevis' geological history is apparent throughout the island -- from its black, sandy beaches to the volcanic hot springs located along the western coast. The island is divided into five parishes which are home to numerous plantations that have been converted into inns.
St. Paul Charlestown parish
St. Paul Charlestown parish is the smallest parish in the federation and home to Nevis' capital, Charlestown. According to, Charlestown is "one of the best-preserved old towns in the Caribbean, with several interesting buildings dating from the 18th century." The city was guarded by Fort Charles, which saw attacks from numerous European powers, including the Dutch, the Spanish and the French.
St. Thomas Lowland parish
Sitting north of Charlestown is St. Thomas Lowland parish, home to several resort hotels and golf courses. The resorts -- including the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, the islands’ only upscale property -- overlook Pinney's Beach, often cited as the best beach on either St. Kitts or Nevis.
St. James Windward parish
St. James Windward parish is also known for its beaches, especially Oualie Beach, home to the Creole-style Oualie Beach Hotel which supplies everything you need to enjoy a day on the water. The area is dotted with abandoned sugar mills and estates, including the Eden Brown Estate, which is reportedly haunted.
St. George Gingerland parish
South of St. James Windward parish, St. George Gingerland parish got its name from the region's successful ginger crop. Because of its rich soil, St. George Gingerland provides most of Nevis with fresh produce.
St. John Figtree parish
Just south of Charlestown is St. John Figtree parish, home to the Bath Hotel and Spring House, which was built in 1778 and is reputably one of the oldest hotels in the Caribbean. The hotel got its name from the numerous volcanic hot springs that can be found throughout the parish. St. John Figtree parish was also once home to several historical figures, including Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, as well as Lord Horatio Nelson, a famed British admiral. Today, this parish is home to the Montpellier Plantation Inn and several other small hotels.
Many Nevis beaches are unremarkable, but it boasts a few standout spots. In fact, many travel writers describe the beige sands of Nevis's Pinney's Beach as the softest and most picturesque of either island.
Few people vacation on Nevis: those that do choose to stay near Pinney's Beach on the island's western side. Pinney's lives up to its good word of mouth from afar, but up close, some writers note the water can be murky.
Pick a few sea grapes, rent a jet-ski or enjoy a margarita-enhanced sunset at Oualie Beach on Nevis' northwest tip. Keep in mind that Oualie's beach chairs and hammocks are free if you buy lunch at one of the hotels; lounging will cost you approximately $3 USD on an empty stomach.
Crimes against tourists do occur on rare occasions on St. Kitts. You should keep valuables locked in your hotel safe as opposed to bringing them to the beach, especially as some writers report of petty thefts along the shore. Crime is less likely on the quieter island of Nevis, but experts still suggest you use common sense while visiting.
One area where you don't need to be cautious, however, is in enjoying St. Kitts & Nevis's water. It's so good "that in the 1970s, Baron de Rothschild's chemists selected St. Kitts as their only site in the Caribbean to distill and produce CSR (Cane Sugar Rothschild)," Frommer's reports. "In the 1770s, Lord Nelson regularly brought his fleet to Nevis just to collect water, and Nevis still boasts of having Nelson spring water."
The best way to get around St. Kitts & Nevis is by taxi, which are easily found in front of the islands' airports -- Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) on St. Kitts and Nevis Newcastle Airport (NEV) on Nevis -- as well as lined up at the cruise ship docks in Basseterre, and in front of most hotels and major attractions. Other options include the brightly painted minibuses or rental cars, although both can be limiting depending on your needs. When you're ready to island hop, private boat companies are available at Basseterre in St. Kitts and Charlestown in Nevis.Getting Around St. Kitts & Nevis»