What to do in St Kitts
The ship will dock at Port Zante, which is sited on reclaimed land a few paces away from Basseterre, the capital. Basseterre has had a long and colourful, often bloody history thanks to the frequent battles for the land between the British and the French between 1624 and 1783, the earthquakes and hurricanes as well as economical strife when the sugar cane trade collapsed. Tourism is now the main industry on the island.
It’s worth having a walk around Basseterre – there is some lovely colonial architecture, as well as shops and bars to visit. The National Museum of St Kitts tells the story of the island. You need to walk out beyond the duty free area in order to see the real Basseterre.
Take a tour: Definitely the easiest way to see the whole island, see the local Batik being made, visit Brimstone Hill Fortress, some of the gorgeous beaches and hear loads of information about the history of the island, it’s people, about the flora and fauna – is to take a tour. At Port Zante, there are plenty of drivers offering tours for about $20 per person. It looked well organised and the drivers were clear about where they could take visitors – but we can’t tell you what the quality was like.
We had booked a tour in advance, through the internet, with a company called Island Paradise Tours (www.stkittsislandparadisetours.com) led by Rosevelt. There were 10 of us on the tour – 8 Americans and the two of us. This cost us $48 pp, but included the $8 entrance fee to Brimstone Park. The tour was advertised as lasting 3 and a half hours, it actually lasted for 5 and a half and was fabulous! Rosevelt gave us a great history lesson, stopped by the road several times to pick herbs and spices for us to taste and smell, he spotted monkeys for us, demonstrated swinging on the
Banyan Tree, did a botanical tour of the Romney Manor garden before letting us loose on the Batik shop, sent his reluctant, overweight and hot passengers up to the top of Brimstone fort with the promise that it was worth it – he was right! (He also advised us that when the Queen visited, she made it to the top by stopping when she got tired to wave to the crowds – we tried that, but the crowds seemed a bit bemused!) We finished up on Cockleshell Beach for half an hour – so peaceful and so beautiful.
Rosevelt assured us that he’s never missed a boat – even one leaving early like ours! He can be contacted: He also said it was nice to have some Brits along – so we’d like to send him some more!
Payment – we found that throughout the Caribbean, payment always takes place at the end – quite reassuring as at least you know they’ll take you back to the agreed place, or run the risk of not earning!
Brimstone Hill Fortress
If you just want to go to the fortress, then take a taxi from Port Zante. You’ll need to book a return trip fare as there aren’t any taxis up there – the fort is within a National Park & is quite exciting to get to – the road becomes narrower and narrower, and there needs to be a lot of breathing in when you reach the stone gateways! It’s also not walking distance.
Entrance is $8, and an independent trader will try and sell you an audio guide for another $5. Roosevelt said we wouldn’t need this – there is an orientation film at the beginning and then the museum is full of interesting information about the fort, the way of life in the garrison and the island itself. There is also a free leaflet in the gift shop that explains the layout of the fort, and its history.
Savvy Guides Review: Russell always enjoys this sort of thing (what is it about boys/men and guns/soldiers??) Sue is usually less enthusiastic – but this was really very interesting and worth the climb to the top. Both of us could have stayed longer – the Fort George museum is arranged in bite sized chunks in the restored barrack rooms. There are other parts of the fortress complex that have been restored, but we didn’t have time to see. Make sure your tour will take you here, otherwise get a taxi – a must see on St Kitts!