St. Kitts & Nevis

Situated in the West Indies, these two Leeward Islands were among the first to be settled by Europeans. Pastimes here include diversions among historic churches and plantation houses, hikes through unspoiled tropical forests, and varied water sports activities.

May and June are good months for a visit as winter crowds have dissipated and hotels lower their rates. In addition, two popular festivals, the Green Valley Festival and the St. Kitts Music Festival, fall within those two months.

The islands’ healthy reefs, dramatic walls, caves, and wrecks lure divers of all levels. There are several spots to choose from, including one within a designated marine park.

St. Kitts, the larger of the two islands, is a little more active than Nevis. A bustling cruise port in the capital city of Basseterre is likely a factor. Plus, a variety of water sports activities and historic stops keep ship passengers and extended stay-ers busy for the day.

The Clay Villa Plantation House provides guests with a vast knowledge of the area’s history. The informative hosts bring to life the plantation’s rich past through the detailed home tour. The museum, a cellar pub, and wildlife encounters are other highlights.

Spanning some 38 acres, the Brimstone Hill Fortress is a good bet for history buffs. Designated a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage site, this 17th and 18th century structure is extremely well-preserved. Military artifacts like uniforms, weapons, and newspaper articles are housed in the museum. There are also displays of ceremonial tools and masks that are remnants the island’s African heritage. Remarkable vistas of the rainforest and sea below are an added bonus.

For beachgoers, South Friars Beach boasts good snorkeling just off shore. This long stretch of sand hugs the calm Caribbean Sea, which offers prime swimming water. Avoid the crowds and head to Turtle Beach, which is often deserted. Swim near the end of the jetty for rewarding snorkeling opportunities.

A few beaches, extensive hiking opportunities, and charming Victorian era architecture in laid-back Charlestown are hallmarks of a stay on Nevis. Get your cardio in and burn off those vacation calories by scaling the island’s towering extinct volcano, Nevis Peak. You’ll encounter varied wildlife like native birds, brightly hued butterflies, and Green Vervet monkeys.

If your post hike leaves you a little achy, head to the Bath Hotel and Spring House. Built in 1778, it was the first tourist hotel in the Caribbean. Today the hotel is closed, and part of the buildings house local government. You can still take a dip in the therapeutic hot springs, which is highly recommended.

Two beaches to consider on Nevis are popular Cockleshell Beach and Pinney’s Beach. Cockleshell is dotted with restaurants, bars and water sports vendors. Pinney’s is the longest stretch of beach on Nevis, and there are a few bars on the southern end. Make sure to pack your flip-flops. Sand on Pinney’s is a bit darker, which makes for hotter footsteps in the afternoon.

Dining on St. Kitts and Nevis comes in many forms – cozy hotel dining rooms, casual restaurants, and laid-back beach shacks. No matter your taste or budget, you won’t go hungry here.

Also, accommodations range from posh resorts and trendy beach clubs to romantic inns and homey villas.

Whether you greet the islands as a couple seeking a romantic getaway or have your entire brood in tow, we think St. Kitts and Nevis fit the bill. Abundant water sports, historical landmarks, and charming towns are added bonuses.