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Cruising To St. Kitts
The island of St. Kitts changed its focus from sugar cane to tourism a short time ago, so this laid-back paradise still remains relatively undeveloped. The island is blessed with cooling tradewinds, abundant sunshine, and year-round temperatures of about 80 degrees. Mt. Liamuiga towers over the island and its 3,792-foot volcanic peak provides a great venue for hiking and adventure. Here, green vervet monkeys and mongoose can be seen among the vine-covered banyan trees and rainforest vegetation.
Ships dock at Port Zante, a large cruise port with shops and restaurants. Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts, is located within walking distance. Downtown Basseterre features historic buildings as well as shops, art and craft galleries, souvenir stores, Internet cafes, and restaurants. English is the official language and while the East Caribbean Dollar is the official currency, U.S. dollars are widely accepted here.
What To Do
Spending the day at the beach is a popular St. Kitts shore excursion. The golden sand beaches at Frigate Bay and White House Bay are favorites with cruise passengers, while Dieppe Bay and Pump Bay feature volcanic black sand beaches. South Friar's Bay is a good choice for those seeking a more secluded spot. Cruisers often enjoy spending the day at Cockleshell Beach and having lunch at the Reggae Beach Bar & Grill, the new home of Wilbert, the 500-pound pig. Beach chairs and umbrellas line the sandy shore and the bay's calm waters are perfect for kayaking and snorkeling.
Although the island of St. Kitts is very laid-back, there are many adventures and diversions available. Take an adrenaline-charged hike to the top of Mt. Liamuiga, horseback ride through the rainforest, scuba dive in crystal clear waters, or go sailing aboard a catamaran. The St. Kitts Scenic Railway (also known as the "Sugar Cane Train") provides families with a unique way to tour the island. Those interested in history will enjoy exploring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, one of the largest forts in the Caribbean, while fashion lovers can make their way to Romney Manor where Caribelle Batik produces handmade dyed clothes and colorful wall hangings. The island's historic plantation houses, including Rawlins Plantation and Ottley's Plantation Inn, are also good spots for touring and dining.
There are many excellent places to have lunch around the island. Favorites include the Reggae Beach Bar, Serendipity Restaurant, Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack (order the ribs or lobster if it's available), Marshall's, and Bobsy's. The Frigate Bay area, where Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack is located, features a number of open air restaurants and beach bars, as well as beach chair and water sports rentals.
Some cruise passengers seek out island resorts that offer day passes. If this option is appealing, check out the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and The Royal Beach Casino. Day passes are available when occupancy levels allow and include the use of a room and all of the facilities at the hotel. The family-friendly St. Kitts Marriott sits on 26-acres with a golden sand beach, three pools, numerous restaurants, a world-class spa and fitness center, and a championship 18-hole golf course. The beach at the St. Kitts Marriott has many cabanas for shade and chairs are plentiful at the pools.
If you want to go island hopping, check out the nearby island of Nevis. Currently, six ferries operate regularly between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day, and the trip usually takes approximately 45 minutes each way in good weather. Sunshines offers a good place to have lunch and chill out on the sandy beaches. Compare your cruise itinerary and the ferry schedules carefully to make sure you will have enough time to make an independent visit.
If You Go:
* For more information about the island of St. Kitts, visit www.stkittstourism.kn
* For more information about the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino, visit the property's website at www.stkittsmarriott.com, call 1-869-446-1200 or send a fax to 1-869-466-1201. The resort's “Day Pass” is available (occupancy permitting) for a seasonally adjusted charge and permits a maximum of four persons per room to use the room and all resort facilities until 6 p.m. on the day of arrival.
* Be aware that multiple ships may be arriving in St. Kitts on the same day, leading to potentially crowded conditions at some locations. Take a look at this cruise calendar website to find out how many ships will be in port: http://cruisett.com/ports.php.
* If you're planning to take a taxi or island tour, make sure to ask about prices before starting out on your trip. Taxis generally do not have meters and private tour prices can vary.
* Green vervet monkeys can sometimes be spotted along the road to Cockleshell Beach, in the rainforest, near Brimstone Hill Fortress, and at Turtle Beach, Cockleshell Beach and Shipwreck Beach. If you go island hopping to Nevis, keep an eye out for monkeys there, too.
Content copyright © 2013 by Nancy Schretter. All rights reserved.
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