Traveling Cleverly Since 2001

on Monday, February 14, 2011 | 1 comments

I awoke early on our day in St. Kitts, mainly because bedtime the night before was 9:30pm. This vacation thing sure can wear a woman out. I got ready while we waited for our room service breakfast to arrive and took some great photos as we approached the island:

(For those who don't know him, Dave is being a dork, as usual.)

We didn't have any firm plans for St. Kitts, but we wanted to rent a car rather than take a taxi tour. I've never had a great desire to visit St. Kitts for a land-based trip, though I've heard from many people it's a lovely island. St. Kitts has a decent port set-up, with a newer shopping area and a gauntlet of taxi drivers trying to sell you day tours. We firmly but nicely said "not today" to many lovely gentlemen before we hit the main streets of Basseterre.

Early Impressions = Not Impressed
I did not have a car reserved, so our first adventure was to secure one. The first agency we visited, Thrifty, reluctantly answered about ten questions before I asked the key query, "do you have any cars today?"

"No," was his answer. Really, it was like pulling teeth to get him to answer basic questions. He obviously knew we were searching for a vehicle and knew he didn't have any to offer. So why answer all our questions first? It was weird.

Our experience wasn't much better at the drugstore where we stopped to buy water. We definitely used our typical Caribbean pleasantries of "good morning" everywhere we went, to no avail. We are not loud or obnoxious people. St. Kitts was off to an unfriendly start.

We had a bit of luck when we walked down to Avis - two cars available! Yay. Except for the fact that Dave forgot to bring his license (Note: I had asked him to) so he had to return to the ship to get it so we could rent the car. The people at Avis were friendly, if reserved.

Caribelle Batik and Brimstone Fort
Once the car was secured, we promptly headed out of Basseterre and away from the main tourist areas. We headed up the coast to visit the famous (and commercial) Caribelle Batik factory and Brimstone Fort.

Caribelle Batik is a gorgeous plantation home that has been converted into a batik factory and store. They have many beautiful dresses, pareos, beach bags, etc. I purchased a pareo and we headed up the road to Brimstone Fort as the masses began to descend (note: it's all relative, I'm talking maybe 30 people).

As we headed up to Brimstone Fort, we caught a glimpse of one of the famous vervet monkeys of St. Kitts. Monkeys make me happy. This island was looking up. 

Brimstone Fort is a very large and well-preserved British fort. The small museum and history are very interesting. You can look up the history for yourself if interested, but the views from the fort must be some of the best in the Caribbean.

South Friar's Beach and Shipwreck
We finished up at the fort around 11:30am, and decided it was time for a cold drink, lunch and some beach time. I'd researched a few beaches before we left because I wanted to avoid large crowds. Luckily, ours was the only ship in port that day (as was the case in all ports except one - another reason why we chose this itinerary).

We headed towards the Southeast Peninsula of the island, where the beaches and resorts are located. I personally found the geography of St. Kitts to leave something to be desired. Overall, at least compared to other islands I've visited, St. Kitts is more dry and barren. In particular, the Southeast Peninsula, where the resorts and beaches (with precious few exceptions) are located is not a place of extreme natural beauty. The Marriott resort literally dominates a portion of the peninsula, and it is one ugly structure. Fortunately, we headed past the Marriott and found a lovely spot on South Friar's Beach at Shipwreck Bar and Restaurant.

After a beach massage and a few rum punches, I was feeling St. Kitts. This was more like it. After a really good lunch (highly recommend the chicken tacos), the restaurant puts out some fruit and nuts for two groups of monkeys that live in the hills above Shipwreck. These are not pets - but the restaurant does feed them. There are also mongoose all over the place taking advantage of their good fortune and the monkey's scraps.

I realize my review of St. Kitts may sound like I didn't enjoy our time on the island. This is not the case. Truthfully, it was my least favorite of all the ports we visited, but a beautiful February day on St. Kitts beats a February day in Atlanta any time. Ultimately, that's the problem with cruises: you get a small taste of an island and if you have a negative experience or two, it can color your whole impression of a place. I'd certainly return to St. Kitts in a heartbeat, but on this particular trip there were other islands I enjoyed more. The monkeys were pretty awesome, though.


sarah said...

man o man a beach massage sounds so good right now!

I agree not sure what the point was in asking all those questions when they didnt have any cars available dur lol

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