7 exciting island adventures in St Kitts

Tristan Rutherford

Tristan Rutherford

St Kitts* is a tiny tropical island with big promise, packing a scenic railway, jungle zipline and volcanic hiking peak into 67 square miles.

Get to know the idyllic island of St Kitts
Get to know the idyllic island of St Kitts © Sergey Kelin - Adobe Stock Image

The larger half of the two-island nation of St Kitts and Nevis in the West Indies, be sure to save time for snorkelling and a stroll around one of the world's most tranquil UNESCO sites while visiting St Kitts; there's far more to see than you might expect.

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Hop aboard the Scenic railway

Constructed between 1912 and 1926, this 30-mile loop meanders along St Kitts's breathtaking coastline. While the narrow gauge railway's original purpose was to transport sugar cane from fields to the sugar mill in Basseterre*, the island's capital, today a ticket buys you a front-row seat past historic windmills, steel bridges, working farms and rolling surf.

Take in the views on this peaceful train ride
Take in the views on this peaceful train ride © David Jones - Flickr CC BY 2.0

Five double-decker carriages chug along the track. Opt for the lower level for air-conditioned comfort, or choose a seat upstairs to take in the views alfresco. It is worth noting that the three-hour tour covers 18 miles by train, with the remaining 12 miles by sightseeing bus.

Zip through the jungle canopy

Boasting five interlinking ziplines that tout themselves as the most advanced in the world, Sky Safari St Kitts makes for an exhilarating way of getting up close and personal with the island's tropical forest canopy.

Fly through the trees at Sky Safari St Kitts
Fly through the trees at Sky Safari St Kitts © Peter Phipp Travelshots.com - Alamy Stock Photo

A two-hour tour gives you time to explore all of the five lines. This includes a final dual-line system that allows a rapid race against a fellow zipliner. Thrills abound, with heights of up to 75 metres, and speeds that can reach up to 80km/hr.

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Hike the volcanic Mount Liamuiga

Dedicate a day to scaling majestic Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano that's St Kitts' highest peak (1,156 metres). Hiking trails weave through the island's tropical jungle, where lush green vegetation is punctuated by the sounds of vervet monkeys and neon hummingbirds.

Spy green vervet monkeys
Spy green vervet monkeys © Andreas - Adobe Stock Image

At the trail's apex, panoramic vistas across the island are superb. Before heading back to shore, the daring can shimmy down a rope for a cooling dip in the volcanic crater's lake. A shorter, less intense guided trek can be had to Bat Cave, home to St Kitts' only native mammals.

Shop for authentic island souvenirs

Spend an afternoon chatting with local artisans and exploring traditional crafts on sale in Basseterre. Amina Craft Market, located in Port Zante, offers an enchanting selection of handcrafted ceramics, colourful jewellery, botanical soaps, coloured glass artworks and batik textiles.

Art galleries dot Basseterre's historic centre. These purvey drawings and paintings that depict evocative snapshots of island life.

Epicureans should keep an eye out around town for specialist foodie souvenirs, such as sweet guava cheese, local honey, bags of peanut and coconut sugar cake, or mouth-numbing Scotch bonnet chilli sauce. All of which can be packaged up as gifts for home.

Snorkel pristine coastlines

With a population of just 48,000, St Kitts' natural coastline remains largely undisturbed, making it idyllic for snorkelling. Head to the southern end of Frigate Bay, southeast of Basseterre, for a peek at lobsters, eels and coral.

Alternatively, visit Whitehouse Bay, where there's a small boat wreck submerged among the starfish that populate the translucent waters.

If you're making a day of it, hike to Shitten Bay (accessible only by boat or on foot, approximately a 1.5-hour hike from Major's Bay). This bucolic bay, its shores marked by a beached shipwreck, is home to sea turtles and shoals of tropical fish.

Step back in time at Fairview Great House

Constructed at the start of the 18th century, this sprawling wooden home sits snugly at the base of Olivees Mountain, St Kitts' third highest peak. Over the centuries, the house's various incarnations have also included French military barracks and later a bustling hotel.

Historic Fairview Great House
Historic Fairview Great House © David Stanley - Flickr CC BY 2.0

As a former plantation house, it's also a tragic reminder of the island's colonial past. Today, this landmark historic house has been completely restored. It's surrounded by 2.5 acres of lush botanical gardens, populated by resident vervet monkeys, as well as an apiary. There are regular rum tastings in the Rum Room, along with a restaurant.

Spy sea turtles in a Biosphere Reserve

Nature lovers can immerse themselves in the rich biological diversity of St Mary's Biosphere Reserve.

Stretching from St Kitts' mountaintop cloud forests to its coral reefs, this UNESCO-designated area is the natural habitat for a rainbow of exotic hummingbirds, including the purple-throated Carib and the Antillean crested. Endangered leatherback sea turtles nest on the reserve's sandy beaches.

Explore one of the best-preserved military fortifications in the Americas
Explore one of the best-preserved military fortifications in the Americas © Jukka - Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Biosphere also comprises the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site, constructed during the 17th and 18th centuries.

It's one of the best-preserved military fortifications in the Americas and offers views over other Caribbean islands to tempt you back again.

Climate in St Kitts

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

The above guide shows the climate in St Kitts. Find out more about conditions across the islands in our complete guide to the climate in St Kitts and Nevis.

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St Kitts & Nevis by month

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Tristan Rutherford

Tristan Rutherford

Tristan Rutherford is a multiple award-winning travel journalist based in the UK. When he's not travelling in the likes of France, Croatia and Turkey he's found writing about them for the likes of The Times and the Daily Telegraph. He also lectures in travel writing and leads luxury yacht tours of the French Riviera and Croatia.

Posted on Tuesday 12th December 2023 in: Caribbean Excursions Marella Cruises Nature Winter sun

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