Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Chase winter chills at the island of St. Kitts

Regarded by many visitors as the jewel of the Caribbean, the volcanic island of St. Kitts offers some of the region’s most dramatic panoramas and scenic photo opportunities. Intriguing coves, excellent interior hiking paths, and palm-lined beaches are hallmarks of this classic Caribbean destination.

Offshore view of St. Kitts

The easiest way to view the island, which is only 65 square miles, is aboard the historic St. Kitts Scenic Railway. You’ll travel 30 miles around the island on a narrow-gauge railway along a route where sugar cane was once carried from plantations. At one time St. Kitts was the leading sugar producer in the Caribbean, and the railway remains a vital part of the island’s economy. The train returns to the capital city of Basseterre, the island’s main shopping spot, where batik and local artwork are especially popular buys. 

Smooth sand and warm water on beaches of St. Kitts

For beaches and water sports, head south to Frigate Bay, where most of the hotels are located. The island’s best white-sand coves are just beyond at the Southeast Peninsula. Green vervet monkeys scamper freely here, often looking for a hand-out. Bird watching, scuba diving, and golf are popular activities. Year-round temperature averages a balmy 79 degrees, making these mountainous islands a great place for a winter or early spring vacation.

Mt.Liamuiga, a dormant volcano, is the highest point on St. Kitts at 3792 feet. Hiking to the summit is challenging, but once there you can descend into the crater on ropes for a truly unique experience. Black Rocks on St. Kitts’ northern shores were once molten lava deposits spit out by Mt. Liamuiga Walking along the rocks and boulders is like stumbling over an obstacle course, but the striking geological formations of black cliffs and boulders is one of St. Kitts’ most notable features.

On a catamaran excursion to snorkel

The complementary islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, a small, lush tropical paradise, became an independent state in 1983. You can completely circle the isle of Nevis in 20 minutes. Calm and quiet prevail here; crowds are usually nonexistent, even on Pinney’s Beach and Qualie Beach. The Botanical Garden of Nevis provides a shady retreat with one of the largest collections of palms and rare plants.

Fish gather by the wrecked boat

While visiting St. Kitts, we took a sail and snorkel excursion operated by Blue Water Safaris. We sailed on a catamaran down the island’s southwest coast to Shitten Bay, where mountains provided a welcome windbreak. Although the weather was partly cloudy and winds quite strong, water temperature remained a comfortable 82 degrees—except for people sitting on the trampoline section of the catamaran who got soaked as water splashed over the boat during our 45 minute ride.
Exiting the water from snorkeling

At the snorkel site the water was much calmer.  A wrecked boat by the shore provided a boundary and haven for fish.  With water 22 feet deep where the boat anchored, it was easy to stay away from large rocks under the surface and mustard-colored fire coral that stings if touched. In addition to numerous coral specimens, several varieties of large and small fish were sighted swimming beneath our masked faces.  Yellow and black striped fish and  iridescent blue fish swam provided color underwater. We also saw a small octopus stretching its tentacles on a rock, adding interest and surprise to our adventure at St. Kitts.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier



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