Location: St. Kitts is located in the northern Leeward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean, approximately 19 degrees north of the Equator, and is separated by a 2-mile wide channel from its sister island, Nevis.
Size: The Island is 23 miles long and 5 miles wide, encompassing a total area of 68 square miles. Its highest point of elevation is Mt. Liamuiga, at 3,792 feet above sea level.
Climate: Daily temperatures average 80 degrees Fahrenheit year round, with a constant cool breeze from the Northeast Tradewinds keeping the island comfortable. There is an average of 12 hours of sunshine a day, humidity is low and, with less than 55 inches of rainfall annually, St. Kitts has no distinct rainy season.
Population and Approximately 36,000 people make St. Kitts their home. The official Language language is English, which is spoken with a pleasant Caribbean accent
and contains many unique and colorful island phrases.
Currency: The legal tender of the Island is the Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar, although US dollars are readily accepted almost everywhere. The current rate of exchange is approximately EC$2.70 to US$1. Major credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and large shops. An ATM that can dispense US dollars is available at the Royal Bank of St. Kitts.
Time: Atlantic Standard Time is in effect throughout the year, which is four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT) or one hour ahead of Eastern Time in the winter. Daylight savings time is not observed.
Entry US and Canadian citizens are required to have proof of citizenship in the
Requirements:* form of either a passport or birth certificate along with a photo i.d., as well as proof of sufficient funds and return or onward passage. There is a EC$60 departure tax (about US$22.00) payable in cash at the airport.
Getting There: St. Kitts is served from North America by US Airways non-stop from Philadelphia and Charlotte and by American Airlines/American Eagle via San Juan and Miami as well as by Windward Island Airways (WinnAir), LIAT, Caribbean Star and Caribbean Sun via connections over St. Maarten, Antigua and San Juan, Puerto Rico. All flights arrive at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, situated just 2 miles outside the historic capital city of Basseterre.
Getting Around: Visitors have several options for exploring the island, including local taxis, which are abundant throughout St. Kitts. Cars may also be rented, which requires a temporary license, or public mini-buses run regularly along the main roads. Driving is on the left side of the road.
History: Originally populated by native Carib Indians, the island was discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, who was so enamored of it that he named it St. Christopher after himself and his patron saint. The name was later shortened to St. Kitts by the English, who arrived in 1623 followed by the French a year later. The island was considered so valuable to both nations that the British and French agreed to live side by side, making St. Kitts the first permanent settlement of these two countries in the Western Hemisphere. Thus the island is known as the "Mother Colony" and "cradle" of the Caribbean which boasted abundant and lucrative sugar cane plantations. The French and British battled for control of the island for over 130 years, with Britain gaining control in 1713. The island was officially designated British under the Treaty of Versailles in 1783. St. Kitts remained under England's rule until 1983, when it was established as an independent nation along with sister island Nevis within the British Commonwealth.
Accommodations: A diverse selection of places to stay can be found for every price range and properties vary from intimately elegant boutique inns to grand beachfront hotels and all-inclusive resorts as well as condominiums, villas and guest houses.
Activities: Sightseeing, hiking, birdwatching, boating, catamaran cruises, deep sea fishing, golf, horseback riding, surfing, Scuba diving, snorkeling, tennis, windsurfing, waterskiing, jetskiing, bicycling, shopping, dining, spa treatments and gaming at the island's exclusive casino.
Dining: Food aficionados will find a wonderful range of cuisines to select from available at various restaurants, both individually operated and found within the island's hotels or inns. Local delicacies with a distinctly Caribbean flair dominate most menus, yet Continental, vegetarian, Italian and other styles can also be found on St. Kitts.
Shopping: Travelers browsing the numerous art galleries, antique dealers and retail shops of St. Kitts will find both locally made treasures as well as brand name designer boutiques. Many shops are located in one of four malls "“ Pelican Mall, Shorline Plaza, TDC Mall, Port Zante and Palms Arcade "“ while others are scattered across the island and within Basseterre. Items such as paintings, pottery, jewelry, jams, teas and hand made batik fabrics are the local specialties.
Nightlife: When the sun goes down, St. Kitts comes alive with vibrant local music, dancing and entertainment at dozens of resorts, bars and hot spots including the Monkey Bar, Bambus, the Blue Nile, Inon's Beach Bar, Sprat Net, BET Sound Stage, Oasis Sports Bar, Turtle Beach Bar and Grill, Mr. X's Shiggiddy Shack, Tigers, Bobsy's, Shipwreck and the Lantern, to name a few.
Festivals and The spirit and rich history of St. Kitts is celebrated year round with fun Special Events festivals and events such as the National Carnival, St. Kitts Music Festival, St. Kitts Tourism Week and various community festivals throughout the year.
Attractions: The historic capital city of Basseterre offers sites including Independence Square, Berkley Memorial, St. George's Anglican Church, St. Barnabus Anglican Church, the Georgian House, the National Museum, the Cenotaph (war memorial), Government House and the Port Zante cruise terminal. Other top tourist draws on island are Brimstone Hill (the only man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean), Black Rocks, Bloody Point, Old Road Town, Carib Indian Petroglyphs, Romney Manor and the Caribelle Batik Factory, Belmont Estate, the St. Kitts Scenic Railway, tropical rainforest and extinct volcano Mt. Liamuiga.
Beaches: The beaches of St. Kitts boast great variety as well as great beauty, with volcanic black sand gracing the northern beaches and shimmering golden or powdery white sand beaches in the south. The Atlantic side of the island has rougher, deeper blue waters while the turquoise sea on the Caribbean side is calmer and more suitable for swimming. Among the choices are Banana Bay, Cockleshell Bay, Conaree Bay, White House Bay, North Frigate Bay, South Frigate Bay, Dieppe Bay, Sand Bank Bay, Major's Bay, Turtle Beach and South Friar's Bay.
Ecotourism: With lush rainforests blanketing the slopes of Mt. Liamuiga, pristine coral reefs, windswept coastlines and a wealth of indigenous flora and fauna as well as an astonishing variety of birds, butterflies, amphibians, butterflies and the exotic green vervet monkey, St. Kitts is a nature lover's paradise. Incidentally, St. Kitts is one of the few places in the world in which the rainforest has actually grown in the last 20 years.
*As of January 23, 2007, all travelers entering or re-entering the United States through airports from any destination will be required to have a PASSPORT or other accepted document that establishes the bearer’s identity and nationality. Please visit the U.S. State Department website at http://travel.state.gov for more information and downloadable passport application form. www.stkitts-tourism.com
For more on St. Kitts and Nevis at ITKT