St. Kitts bills itself as a place where you can “follow your heart.” For me that means that you can do whatever your heart desires in St. Kitts, from saving sea turtles to playing blackjack.
1. Dieppe Bay
I am a sucker for a vista with an ocean view. If you share this affliction, by all means go to Dieppe Bay where you can see the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet. From there it’s a short distance to Black Rocks, near the town of Saddlers on the northeast coast of St. Kitts.
When lava flowed from Mount Liamuiga into the ocean centuries ago, “black” rocks were created. The resulting magnificent rock formations with waves crashing against them offer serious and not so serious photographers plenty of beauty shots. FYI, Mount Liamuiga, which dominates the center of the island, has long been dormant.
A cruise ship or two docks at Port Zante in Basseterre almost daily, so not surprisingly a shopping center has grown up alongside the port. I recommend a visit for two reasons. First, you will be able to find authentic local craftspeople sell their wares alongside the duty-free and souvenir sellers. Port Zante also features daily performances by Kittitian dancers dressed in colorful costumes topped with peacock-feathered headdresses. These African-inspired masqueraders mesmerized me to the point that I forgot to take pictures – don’t make my mistake.
Batik, the art of dying fabric with multiple colors and designs, originated in Indonesia. Nevertheless Maurice Widdowson decided over thirty years ago to establish Caribelle Batik in deserted and overgrown Romney Manor. Today the botanical gardens at Romney Manor have been restored to their centuries old magnificence, looking much as they did when the Carib Indians and early planters roamed the lands.
A massive 350 year old Saman tree centers the garden, providing photo ops as well as a shady place to rest and reflect. The batik creations offered in the shop reflect these same colors and feature Kittitian-inspired designs on Sea Island cotton. For more information see www.caribellebatikstkitts.com.
4. St. Kitts Scenic Railway
How did sugar cane get from field to factory? By train, of course. Only in St. Kitts can visitors ride on one of the original sugar trains, the last railway in the West Indies. The narrow gauge railway was built between 1912 and 1926 and skirts eighteen of the island’s thirty mile perimeter, making it a splendid way to see the island, get some great beauty shots and learn a bit more about St. Kitts. Did I mention free pina coladas and rum punches during the two-hour trip? A bus takes you the remaining way back to the station. For more information see www.stkittsscenicrailway.com.
5. Sugar Cane Processors, Stone Windmills, and Smokestacks
You will not find my fifth recommendation for photographic opportunities in any guidebook. Remnants of the island’s former life as a sugar cane processor still dot the island, none more prominent than the stone windmills and taller, more slender smokestacks. I found myself taking countless pictures of these testaments to a way of life long gone as well as the random machinery or abandoned building being subsumed by the elements.
For photographers interested in shots beyond the family waving with the Caribbean in the background, St. Kitts offers abundant inspiration.