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Saint Kitts and Nevis are a pair of tropical islands in the Caribbean, about one-third of the way from Puerto Rico to Trinidad and Tobago.
As if it were the custom in the Caribbean, St-Kitts and Nevis changed hands many times between English and French, which has left it a heritage of cities with names from both countries. Contrariwise, the architecture there is very Anglo-Saxon in the Victorian style and especially in downtown Basseterre: Circus Place the reproduction of the 'Berkeley Memorial Clock'.
Drive on left.
The islands became an associated state of the United Kingdom with full internal autonomy in 1967. The island of Anguilla rebelled and was allowed to secede in 1971. Saint Kitts and Nevis achieved independence in 1983. In 1998, a vote in Nevis on a referendum to separate from Saint Kitts fell short of the two-thirds majority needed.
There are also several ancient British fortifications which have been restored with minutiae and reproducing the tiniest details of original construction. St-Kitts and Nevis will be called to be developed in the near future, in fact many projects are in progress or completion, notably vast dockings to accommodate the largest liners and cruisers with terminals, loading docks, etc.
What is really remarkable on St-Kitts and Nevis is the natural aspect. Many tropical birds which one rarely finds elsewhere are present in great concentration in the nature and there are also the famous monkeys which, it is said, were introduced by the pirates. An all-new road permits going to the southeast end of St-Kitts (Turtle Beach) where one feels that a certain febrility in the air will make of this part of the island an appreciated place. Indeed, one has only to take a little adventure in the underwoods with some fruit in hand to see oneself quite soon surrounded by monkeys coming gently to meet one to get fed. For the inhabitants of the islands, on the other hand, the monkeys are not perceived as as big a joy, for these pretty little hairy beings plunder the harvest and nose around everywhere they can go.
Tropical tempered by constant sea breezes; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November).
With coastlines in the shape of a baseball bat and ball, the two volcanic islands are separated by a three-km-wide channel called The Narrows; on the southern tip of long, baseball bat-shaped Saint Kitts lies the Great Salt Pond; Nevis Peak sits in the centre of its almost circular namesake island and its ball shape complements that of its sister island. The highest point is Mount Liamuiga (St Kitts) at 1,156m.
Daily flights are available from San Juan, PR on American Eagle, as well as through British Virgin Islands/Tortola. American Airlines flies three times a week from Miami (more flights during the tourist season. American Airlines now fly twice a week to New York. Beginning February 2008 Delta Airlines will have non stop service to st kitts from Atlanta. US Airways has direct flights from Charlotte. American Airlines has also offered charter flights direct from Dallas/Ft. Worth on 767s.
From Britain, British Airways fly from London Gatwick via Antigua. These flights operate on Wednesday and Saturday.
From Canada, there is a non-stop charter flight from Toronto to St. Kitts beginning December 19th until April with Skyservice.
Leeward Islands Air Transport (Antigua, Barbados, Guyana, St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Thomas, San Juan, Tortola) DHC8-100, 300
There is a cruise ship terminal as well as a marina for yachts in Basseterre.
Take a catamaran/snorkel excursion with Blue Water Safaris or Leeward Island Charters.
You can also charter a boat with No Problem Boat Charters.
For ferry from St Kitts (Majors Bay) to Nevis (Cades Bay) you can take the Sea Bridge which runs from 8AM till 7PM.
There is a scenic railway tour that goes through portions of the narrow gauge railway formerly used for the sugar mill. If more than one large cruise ship visits the island, organized train tours can fill the train.
Taxis and buses outnumber those needing them in St. Kitts. Be sure to negotiate upfront the costs of the trip, pay special attention if the fare is in US or East Caribbean dollars.
Temporary driving licences are available, as well as several car rentals agencies.
There are many popular tour guides in St. Kitts that will give you a tour of the island. One such tour guide is Thenford Grey's Island Tours or Grey's Island Excursions.
Micro buses form the public transportation system on the island. These are much cheaper than taxis and can be flagged down while in route. If they are full the driver will flash their lights and proceed on. Service does not generally extend to Frigate Bay or the Southern Peninsula. That is the domain of taxis. Taxis and Buses use the same format of Micro buses, the difference is that taxis have a yellow license plate and start with the letter T and buses have a green one which starts with the letter H. Bus fare varies but in 2005 was XCD1.25-5 depending on length of trip.
The language of Saint Kitts and Nevis is English. However if you have never visited the Caribbean before you may have difficulty understanding the patois, or more correctly the Creole language, spoken by the locals which is based on the English language but to the untrained ear sounds nothing like it.
For example "a-come" means coming "a-knock" means knocking. Most notable is the simplification of use of pronouns as in "I and I" which replaces all other pronouns like she/he, we/my, yours, hers/his and ours. The Caribbean patois has its roots not only in African languages (west, central and Nigerian), standard English, Scottish and Spanish but also Perso-Arabic and Sanskrit. Unusually the end result is not just a language but also a philosophical statement which emphasises the group relationship rather than the personal.
What to see
Of course, with an area no larger than 261km², Saint Kitts and Nevis has a somewhat limited (but not absent!) array of typical sights. It's hardly a set back for visitors to these two small islands though, as they have all the enchanting natural beauty of the Caribbean.
It's strategic location made Saint Kitts a colonial hotspot and a focus point of European nations in their struggle for power over the West Indies islands. The colonial settlers rapidly expanded sugar plantations and imported African slaves, thus laying the foundations for the islands' colourful culture. Festivities, crafts and other displays of that culture is one of the islands' main tourist attractions now, as are the ruins of the many plantations. The Scenic Railway, travelling on the tracks of the old sugar train railway, is a great way to see the best of them. However, nothing makes the islands history as tangible as the impressive and well preserved remains of the Brimstone Hill Fortress. It's both a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provides some stunning views over the surrounding area and even some nearby islands. Only a few ruins and some canons remain of Fort Charles on Nevis, the fortifications of Charlestown.
Basseterre is a pleasant place and has a view sights, including St. George's Anglican Church and Indepence Square, once the site of the slave market. The impressive 1894 Old Treasury building, originally the gateway to Basseterre, is an important historic sight but also houses the National Museum with expositions on the history, identity and independence of the island.
The islands' countryside is lovely, with panoramic views of green hills covered in rain forest as well as beaches and of course the bright blue sea. The main road circling the island will take you to most points of interests, some great beaches and several villages. The hike up Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano on St. Kitts and the highest peak of the islands, is particularly popular and worthwhile for the great views from the top.
Diving sites are ample and gorgeous, serving both beginning and experienced divers. Of course there's a broad and colourful range of reefs and sea life to see, but also ship wrecks and caves. For beginners, the Monkey Shoals and Friars Bay Reef are good and easily reachable sites. Sandy Point is a National Marine Park for its beautiful coral heads and magnificent sea life. The Wreck of River Taw, M.V. Talata Wreck and the more recently sunk Wreck of the Corinthian are popular sites. Turtle Bar is of course famous for the many turtles that roam the site, but you'll also commonly spot them at Frigate Bay Reef. For more experienced divers, the strong currents at Nags Head are a nice challenge, and the broad range of fish at Aquarium is a good spot.