Basseterre a lovely port for a cruise to come into and I mean visually! The atmosphere is relaxed and the scenery is stunning. But I already knew this before coming to St. Kitts thanks to plenty of research, pictures and from what other travelers have told me! We decided as a group to pay for a private tour with Thenford Grey Tours and spent about 70 dollars each. Personally I feel it was so worth the tour and all the beautiful sites we saw.
So coming off a cruise ship, we docked at Port Zante in the heart of Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts. It was a little confusing at first as we couldn’t find our tour guide. So we walked up and down the shopping area only to find ourselves back at the gates of Port Zante 15 minutes later! And then we found our guide and driver, an older woman who was very nice, but turned out a little slow at driving.
Basseterre to Romney Manor
But anyways, we then head up the northwest coast of St. Kitts, at a very leisurely pace and she is telling us about downtown Basseterre and it’s mostly ugly history, like slavery and war. St. Kitt is covered with battle sites and history from when the French and British fought over the island. It’s why St. Kitts today speaks English but has many French names. France owned both islands at one point but lost them to the British around 400 years ago.
One the way to our first stop, Romney Manor, our guide pulled over many times to show us native plants and so we could snap amazing photos of the island. What is crazy is that the people of St. Kitts have so much fresh food just on the side of the road, like basil, bananas, mango, coconut, cooking herbs, etc. To our guide, paying anything for these fruits and herbs would be insane, and she commented that she thought it was funny that Americans pay a high cost for all of these.
Romney Manor & Caribelle Batik
Our first major site was the Romney Manor, a beautiful old plantation that has a beautiful house that now sells Caribelle Batik works, an old sugar cane factory, and some of the most stunning views anywhere in the Caribbean. She first let us out at the beautiful sugar cane factory that has been abandoned for a while. Surprisingly part of the original structure is still there from when the British built it back in the 18th century.
And they let us tour the grounds on our own. On the grounds there are signs that explain the history of the plantation and what each part of the grounds functioned as. It’s a pretty unique site and it’s great that St. Kitts has preserved this treasure. There are even photos of the factory back 100 years ago.
Next we drove up the hill to the Romney Manor Estate. In the entrance there is this beautiful 400 year old tree just letting everybody know that this place has history and it goes back for a while. There is also Caribelle Batik works which are beautiful designs on clothing, bags, etc, making excellent souvenirs. On the western part of the Estate, it drops off steep and offers stunning views of the valley below. This truly is and was a beautiful estate and well worth visiting.
Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park
But by far the most incredible views go to Brimstone Hill Fortress. I’m not sure how the British and the slaves they owned actually built this, but it’s incredible. The Fortress is perched high above the water on what is known as Brimstone Hill (Brimstone means sulfur), and began work way back in 1690. The British defended the island using this fort but actually had to surrender to the French in 1782, only to get it back in 1783 – Treaty of Paris.
There is a lot of history on this island and it’s amazing that this Fortress stood the test of time. It’s amazing that it didn’t fall off the hill itself! And you get rewarded with amazing views if you decide to go; both Mount Liamuiga and the ocean. Off to the distance, on a good day, it’s possible to see St. Eustatius, Saba and St. Maarten.
So I explored the entire grounds and got some beautiful shots of the surrounding island. Mount Liamuiga was doing its dramatic thing, rainy on the other side of the island and building up immense clouds. The wind must have been strong because the rain was drifting from the top of the mountain all the way to the Fortress.
Timothy Hill and Friars Bay
We herded back in the van and then our driver took us south for about 30 minutes to Timothy Hill and Friars Bay. What’s so special? Well it turns out that this hill has one of the best views of southern St. Kitts and neighboring Nevis. This is standard for most of the tours but it’s still a great site to see and well worth the drive.
This part of the island is also the more rich part, with expensive hotels and houses. My mom, who was on the tour with my brother, his boyfriend and I, and came to St. Kitts 30 years ago. She remembered this old hotel that just so happened our driver use to work out. Our driver was gracious enough to stop at the hotel, which still is there, and let us tour the grounds. My mom said it looked the same even after 30 years!
Our last stop was the beach at South Friars Bay. We really just need a bathroom break and none of us were interested in bathing on the beach. The beach actually was kind of small too and there was so many people already there. So after 30 minutes and a few photos later, it was time to head back to the ship.
So St. Kitts is a very lovely island and can be toured within a couple of hours. However this would be a great island to come fly into and stay for a week. And I’m sure there are more tours to do like hiking Mount Liamuiga, a day trip to Nevis or just chilling on the beach. Since I only had a day I was just interested in understanding the island getting to know it before I come back!
images by: shawnvoyage