The term “authentic” gets bandied about so often these days that I hesitate to label St. Kitts, West Indies, as such; still, no term comes close to what the island offers visitors – a genuine view of how island people, past and present, live. It is the road less traveled, Caribbean-wise, so visitors will not be bombarded with other tourists on beaches crammed with sunbathers. If your pocketbook allows, you can even enjoy a private beach.
I am not the only one to think St. Kitts is special. Christopher Columbus named the island after his patron saint, St. Christopher, upon landing there in 1493, and it was England’s first Caribbean colony. Thus, the island offers the historically minded ample opportunity to bone up on early colonial history.
Long a British colony, in 1983 St. Kitts and its sister island, Nevis, formed an independent federation. The capital, Basseterre, is St. Kitts’ largest city and the port for cruise ships visiting the island. Until 2005 St. Kitts, with a population of approximately 35,000, had been a one-industry island for centuries – that industry being the growing, harvesting and processing of sugar cane.
With a precipitous drop in sugar prices in 2005, the island stopped all sugar production and began the arduous transition to a hospitality-based economy. That they have been successful speaks volume about the resilient Kittitians.
Were you to fly high above the island on a clear day, you would see that St. Kitts is shaped like a chicken drumstick. It straddles the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans, offering visitors the chance to see the two oceans meet on the northern portion of the island. St. Kitts’ terrain is mountainous thanks to its volcano ranges, so most people live along the perimeters. Its rainforest, which covers approximately one fourth of the island, is actually growing.
Travelers will find St. Kitts easy to reach with regular direct flights from Toronto, New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami and London. Once there, they will discover a country where the most oft repeated phrase is “No problem.” For people interested in Kittitian culture with a party hardy twist, I suggest visiting in late December during Carnival. Music lovers should check out the annual June music festival.
I could extol St. Kitts’ beauty, historic heritage and long list of activities, but for me the reason vacationers wanting an island experience should visit can be summed up in one word: its people. Always helpful, always smiling, Kittitians go out of their way to make a traveler’s journey as pleasant as possible.
Learn more about surprising St. Kitts by visiting its wonderfully informative website at www.stkittstourism.kn. It is never too early to plan your next tropical getaway.