Whether spending a few nights aboard or staying ashore, St. Kitts offers the quintessential Caribbean experience. This is not the place to go for all-inclusive chain resorts, thanks in part to having only recently switched its primary economic focus from exporting sugar to tourism. Instead the island boasts a wide range of properties, some of which are in the form of beachfront villas and condos, hotels and charming inns. For those looking for a full-service five star stay, the Caribbean’s first and only Park Hyatt hotel is located on the beach at Banana Bay, Christophe Harbour, next to Cockleshell Beach, while the Marriott, the Royal St. Kitts, Timothy Beach and recently opened Koi Resort, a Curio Collection by Hilton Hotel, are just a handful of properties located in or close to the bustling area of Frigate Bay.
For those planning to stay aboard their yacht, St. Kitts offers several marinas and safe anchorages for the waterborne. Built to cater to the specific needs of the yachting crowd, Christophe Harbour has all the facilities you need in abundance. Located on the southeast peninsula of the island, the recently built deep-water marina accommodates yachts up to 250 feet, and offers duty-free fuel, easy customs and immigration procedures, and a marina village designed with yacht guests in mind.
Port Zante, which is conveniently located in the center of capital city, Basseterre, also offers marina facilities, customs and immigration services, and provisioning. It is also where you will catch the St. Kitts and Nevis Masquerades performing rhythmic dances in colorful and intricate costumes. For those looking to anchor rather than berth, the island is surrounded by naturally protected coves. If you want to join your yacht in St. Kitts, you can take advantage of the KayanJet private jet terminal with exclusive lounge facilities .
St. Kitts – originally St. Christopher – was named in 1493 by Christopher Columbus. Colonised by the British, it was the jumping-off point for their domination of the other islands in the region and became known as the “Mother Colony.” As such, the island has both a turbulent history and an abundance of historical sites marking this – remnants of those colonial days when the French and British traded St. Kitts back and forth, fighting over sugar – a commodity so precious that during the 17th and 18th centuries it was worth its weight in gold. Indeed, sugar remained the dominant industry on the island until 2005. Today the ghosts of sugar are everywhere, and there is still plenty of green cane swaying in the breeze on the island’s slopes, and more than 250 heritage sites to explore.
Ride an authentic scenic passenger train along the narrow-gauge wagon tracks, originally built to carry sugar cane from the plantations to the capital Basseterre, winding past some of the private sugar plantations and their estate houses. Fairview is the only remaining French plantation house that has been painstakingly restored to its former glory, and the Great House and botanical gardens are open for visitors. To capture the diverse history of the island, head to The National Museum which is located in what used to be the Old Treasury Building dating back to the late 19th century.
The island is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brimstone Hill Fortress and National Park. Dating back to the late 1600s, its now silent cannons are a reminder of the region’s position in history. In fact, more than a quarter of St. Kitts is a designated national park, including the American Oceanic Rainforest, one of the rarest ecosystems in the world and fortunately one that is expanding as opposed to the usual news of decreasing rainforests. Stroll along the network of trails that wind through the lush landscape or take a challenging hike up the extinct volcano and around the wide summit crater of Mount Liamuiga. The highest point on the island, and in fact one of the highest peaks in the eastern Caribbean archipelago, the views are spectacular.
For the more active guests on board, the south-west coast also offers plenty of sheltered anchorages with private bays for your favorite water sports above the surface or below the waterline. From snorkeling in the shallows to kayaking, speedboats and flyboarding, there is something here for everyone. The government is currently working to create marine protected areas to protect the island’s coral reefs and marine life. And of course, there are the beautiful beaches with sand that’s a fascinating blend of volcanic black sand and white coral particles, the best of which include Turtle Beach, Banana Beach, and Half Moon Bay.
Fine dining restaurants are strategically located throughout St. Kitts, the majority of which take advantage of the spectacular sea views from various vantage points. From the Pavilion on the southeast peninsula to the Spice Mill restaurant at Cockleshell Beach, and authentic restaurants the likes of Sprat Net, Coopers and El Fredos, the gastronomy scene is burgeoning as the island welcomes more and more yachts to its shores.
The capital of St. Kitts, Basseterre, has a shabby-chic kind of vibe, with colonial clapboard and Georgian-style colonial buildings. Many of these buildings are now home to boutiques and galleries. For those looking for a true toes-in-the-sand Caribbean-style “jump-up” though, “The Strip” is the island’s hot-spot where it is always rum o’clock. The row of beach bars is ideally located on Frigate Bay, which is also a great anchorage spot and ideal for all manner of watersports. From the island institution of Mr X’s Shiggidy Shack, and the more slick Vibes Beach Bar, “The Strip” runs all the way down to Buddies, where DJ’s spin the decks and dancing continues until the early hours.
Over on the southeast peninsula on the shores of Whitehouse Bay, just fifteen minutes from Basseterre and a few steps from the Marina at Christophe Harbour, SALT Plage has become one of the top beach bars in the Caribbean. Built on the site of an old Salt Factory, with an open-air, nautical inspired design (think hammocks suspended over the water or daybeds shaded by sailcloth), it is the perfect place to watch the islands’ spectacular ‘green flash’ at sunset.
Island hopping around the Leeward Islands from St. Kitts offers endless opportunities. Whether you are looking for a week-long itinerary or a long weekend, the islands are spread in a lazy curve with Antigua to the south and Anguilla to the north. St. Kitts’ neighboring island of Nevis is just two miles across the narrow strait. Frequently referred to as “Sisters”, the smaller island boasts a similar topography with rainforest and dormant volcano. Nevis remains relatively undeveloped and that is its primary charm. Step ashore for the occasional rum punch at Pinney’s Beach, or even a game of golf at the Four Seasons Robert Trent Jones II designed course, before heading back to St. Kitts. The duo offer a laid-back Caribbean experience that cannot be found on many of the surrounding islands.
Those looking for a longer charter could cruise through the entire Leeward Island archipelago. Whatever type of Caribbean experience is on your horizon, St. Kitts hits the sweet spot in terms of location and facilities for the yachting set and is a great location to build your trip around.
View our charter guide to learn more about chartering a yacht in St. Kitts, or consult a Northrop & Johnson yacht charter broker to book the private Caribbean holiday of your dreams. For additional local travel updates and information, please consult the St. Kitts Tourism Authority.