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Just got back from St. Kitts in the Caribbean...friendly!

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My husband and I just returned from a 6-night trip to St. Kitts in the Caribbean (West Indies.) Such a friendly island!

I recommend both places we stayed: Timothy's Beach Resort and Ottley's Plantation Inn.

If you are the kind of traveller who enjoys meeting friendly locals, then St. Kitts is a good place to go. We rented a car and drove all around the island. I thought it was remarkable that the people of St. Kitts, of all ages, including teens, treated us with politeness and friendliness. One local in a truck actually backed up on the road, going out of his way to see if we were lost! (We were a bit lost actually.)

I have also been to other islands, and St. Kitts is the friendliest that we have found.

St. Kitts, also called St. Christopher's, is less developed than many islands, which we think is great. The beautiful southeast peninsula is one place where you can drive a ways without seeing any buildings in sight, it's great! Beautiful green hills and no civilization in sight, yet you aren't far from important things like food. ((H))

St. Kitts has a great locally-made beer,((B)) Carib, which you can get for a buck or two. We found lots of good restaurants, which I will elaborate on. Thanks for everybody's help on this forum in planning our trip!

There isn't a lot of night-life on St. Kitts. One of my few disappointments is that there wasn't any dancing, not at any of the places where we had planned on finding dancing. Not even at Turtle Beach Bar & Grill, where there was a sign promising a live band every Sunday afternoon. Nope, not for us. There wasn't any live music of any kind, anywhere that we went, except for a lone half-hearted musician playing boring music at the Marriott one night.

Night-life on St. Kitts, for us at least, consisted of having a long leisurely dinner, walking on the beach a bit in the moonlight, and stopping to see what was going on at one of the little beach bars, like Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack, next to Timothy's Beach resort. The beach bars look like huts, and are friendly and casual gathering places, which are lively on some nights, quiet on other nights, and closed altogether on other nights!

I would say tracking down night-life on St. Kitts is a pretty iffy project, even if you do your research, apparently things sometimes get cancelled or else have erratic schedules.

I want to tell you more about Timothy's and Ottley's, and list our favorite restaurants, what we ate, and prices, as soon as I get back on-line.

I should mention that our activities included snorkeling, a rainforest half-day tour, walking around the grounds at Ottley's, shopping in Bassetere, swimming, touring the island on our own in our rental car, and visiting the Brimstone Hill National Park (fabulous views up there!)

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    Whew! I know many of us here are breathing a collective sigh of relief that you and your husband enjoyed your trip so much. We know you put a lot of effort into your trip planning, so it's always nice to hear back about a successful trip. Many happy returns to you, Melissa.

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    Thanks for the good vibes, cw, ejcrowe, and A_Traveller.

    Sunshine7, I'm happy my trip report comes in time to help you. I'll answer any questions you have...Have fun swimmin' and slooowing down, Caribbean style. Good for the soul!

    TRIP REPORT:

    TIMOTHY BEACH RESORT & SUNSET CAFE:

    The best thing about Timothy's is its perfect location right on a good swimming and snorkelling beach, on the calm Caribbean sea. It is the only hotel right on a sandy Caribbean beach.

    The hotel rooms are actually set back from the beach in a series of 4 or 5 buildings set perpendicular to the beach. We enjoyed a standard ocean view in the second bulding from the beach, second floor. This room goes for about $150 a night in high season, a Caribbean bargain. www.timothybeachresort.com Bargains available for the spring. (Note that first floor rooms in the first building will have their view blocked by the restaurant.)

    SUNSET CAFE:
    The Sunset Cafe at Timothy Beach Resort is a perfect place for breakfast...it is built so close to the beach, enjoys a sparkling water view. Casual patio dining on plastic chairs and tables. Open-air restaurant with wooden ceiling and fans whirring, more pink and turquoise canvas awning surrounding that, from there you can step down onto the sand.

    Food is average at Sunset Cafe but the setting is wonderful...view of sandy beach and gentle Caribbean sea. We tried their breakfast and their lunch; dinner is also served here.

    Favorite breakfast at Timothy's Sunset Cafe: their specialty, the crab and ham omelette which comes with diced vegies.

    Our breakfast menu and prices one morning at Sunset Cafe: Total of 88.29 EC or $33.32 USD, for 2 people enjoying fresh island fruit side dish, (ripe sweet papaya, banana, melon, orange), one vegie omelette with American cheese added; coconut pancakes; 1 coffee and 1 tea. I leave a tip of 8 EC. (Some restaurants include a service charge on your bill; others don't. Do check!)

    The ever-changing play of light on the Caribbean sea is beautiful and entertaining. Sitting at the Sunset Cafe, sometimes the water is blue, clearn & bright enough to see the bottom. When it is overcast or cloudy the sun pokes through a cloud and turns the water silvery blue.

    ROOM 37C at TIMOTHY BEACH RESORT:
    Our standard ocean view room (about $150 a night) was on the second floor in the second building from the water. We thought this was a good location.

    Rooms are what you would expect in a moderately priced room. They are attractive with basic comforts. No amenities in bathroom. Everything was clean, with minor exceptions: there was a rubber hair-catcher in the shower drain that needs to be replaced or scrubbed very hard, ugh. I put it aside. But this is a small nit-picky detail. Shower curtain clean, (no mold, I checked!)

    The "rattley air conditioner" which I read about on-line was just fine, it worked fine, and it wasn't even rattly. I thought it hummed softly, blocking any outside noise and helping me to sleep.

    There is also a fan in the room. Balcony on second floor with 2 chairs and ocean/beach view off to your left as you stand on the balcony. Some of your view can also be seen from the room. Ocean CANNOT be heard from your room. (Actually the Caribbean sea is so calm it is fairly quiet anyway.)

    Our King bed was actually 2 mattresses "sheeted" together. It was comfortable enough.

    Would I stay here again? You bet! I especially loved the beach, and the fact that guests at Timothy's are especially friendly, and will give you a nod, a hello, or stop for a chat. We even went to dinner our first night with another couple, sharing a taxi, because we didn't have our car yet.

    Staff is helpful, and Jason, activities director, is especially friendly and fun to chat with.

    What more could you want for $150 a night in the Caribbean in high season? If you want a whole suite you can pay more, I think they have kitchens, but I prefer really getting a break from cooking on vacation.

    You can swim in the Caribbean sea but the Atlantic (Marriott side) is too rough for snorkeling or swimming, it's mostly good for looking at.

    I'll take a break and then move on to restaurants, activities, and Ottley's Plantation Inn. I should add that I did the research myself and chose our hotels accordingly, and then had my AAA travel agent book us Ottleys and Timothy Beach Resort as part of an Apples Package, no food, but airport transfers included. We booked our own car with Avis.



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    OTTLEY'S PLANTATION INN & RESTAURANT

    Ottley's on St. Kitts was our splurge. Beautiful grounds, including a rainforest ravine walk. Island elegance and luxury. Big staff, you will be spoiled by a staff of over 40 employees. Friendly and gracious staff, especially Tasha, Peggy, Neslin, and a young man called Kimbo.

    We had a superior cottage with a small "plunge pool", which is the size of a jacuzzi with cold water. Our cottage also had a separate shower and big jacuzzi tub for 2 inside. Bathroom was so clean it was sterile, you could make a sandwich on the tub if you wanted and safely eat it!

    Cottage #17 was beautifully furnished and decorated, and has wooden shutters with slats you can leave open for a fresh breeze. Air conditioned but we never turned it on, the breeze was fine in February.

    The innkeepers are a friendly family and try to take the time to meet you and chat with you over the course of your stay. Art Keusch (innkeeper) is a history buff, and has plenty of energy and mischief still left in him though he is old enough to be my grandpa. Be sure to ask him where the last battle of the American Revolution REALLY took place!

    Marty Lowell (innkeeper) is a horticulturist and generously spent as much time as he could spare chatting with my hubby the biologist. Marty knows a lot about St. Kitts plants and wildlife.

    Karen Keusch (innkeeper) took the time to chat with us at dinner and came to the lobby to say goodbye when we checked out.

    It was our anniversary and we were surprised to find a chilled bottle of champagne in our room, very nice, and also we received a small bottle of rum as a parting gift. \:D/

    Fell asleep at night listening to the kokee frogs peeping, and enjoying a breeze through the wooden shutters.

    Coming from the friendly, social Timothy Beach Resort, it was at first hard to get used to Ottleys. It is harder to meet other guests at Ottleys, many of whom have come for peace and privacy. Walking the grounds you will spot women cozying up in their own private corner, intently reading, who obviously value their privacy.

    At Ottleys restaurant other guests don't greet you, not even if you glance their way. It is just the way of things at Ottley's. Took a bit of getting used to.

    At dinner the innkeepers will stop by your table and have a chat wit you. There was a short rum punch party in the Great Room in the main house which we managed to just miss, arriving as the guests were all leaving!

    By the time we left Ottleys, we had finally discovered how to meet other guests who are open to chatting. The pool at Ottleys is lovely but rather publicly located, right next to the restaurant, on the other side of the wall, and there is a small bar right next to the pool. Therefore I at last discovered the folks at the pool to be more open for a chat, and I had a nice chat with a couple from Europe...the hubby was English and the wife was from Scotland originally.

    OTTLEY'S RESTAURANT:
    The restaurant at Ottley's has 2 sides. One side, where breakfast and lunch are served, is breezy with a view down to the sea far below. On the other side of the wall is the restaurant area where dinner is served, more protected from the evening breeze.

    Food at Ottley's was pricey and good. We had other meals on the island which we felt were as good as Ottley's, and a little bit less money. My suggestion is, if you are staying at Ottleys, or have reason to visit this side of the island, or want to stroll their beautiful grounds and try their rainforest ravine walk, then do stop by their restaurant for a meal. However if you are staying on the other side of the island, and the only reason you are coming to Ottleys is for the food, there are equally good places to eat on the other side of the island.

    On the other hand, if you are staying at the Marriott, and you notice a banquet offered at Ottleys in the Great House, do sign up, you will enjoy it, we saw that function and there were torches lit, I think you would enjoy the change from the Marriott.

    If you are staying at Ottleys, you will certainly enjoy the restaurant, the food, the grounds, the ambience. I am just saying there is also good food on the other side of the island.

    Ottley's is the only place on the island where you will be offered free refills on your coffee!!! The bonus treatment!

    Favorite breakfast at Ottleys: Rum-and- orange-flavored French toast made with raisin bread, and a side of bacon. The rum & orange french toast isn't quite as good when it's made with the plain bread, they don't have the same bread every day. I spent $23.68 USD breakfasting alone one morning while my hubby did the rainforest half-day tour. I ordered the Rum & Orange French toast, a side of bacon, and both tea and coffee.

    We spent $101.50 USD including service charge and taxes for 2 people for dinner on our last night at Ottleys. We ordered: 1 Salmon Medallion with sauce, asparagus & carrots; 1 Curried chicken breast with potatoes and bell peppers; 1 West Indian creole plantain soup. THIS SOUP WAS MY FAVORITE FOOD AT OTTLEY'S! YUMMY! We had water and no dessert on this night.

    Food at Ottleys is all nicely done, well-prepared, with an emphasis on delicous sauces at dinner.

    Ottleys Plantation Inn is an especially good choice for a couple seeking beauty, and privacy, for a honeymoon or a wedding anniversary celebration.

    I will move on to sharing about more restaurants we enjoyed, and our activities. Plus some airport and car rental info.

    I should clarify that the rainforest ravine walk at Ottleys is part of their grounds and takes between 30 minutes and an hour. It is lovely, and can be muddy and steep in parts, wear walking shoes with tread on the bottom, no heals, no sandals. The main rainforest on the island is higher up than Ottleys, my hubby got a half-day tour of it, which I will elaborate on.

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    Glad to hear your trip went so well, Melissa. We just returned from Nevis 13 days ago (Sigh! Yes, I'm still going through withdrawl)and found Nevis and St. Kitts to be the friendliest and most beautiful islands ever as well. My husband loved the Carib beer, too, once he finally gave in and tried it. The only thing is we still can't figure out why anyone would think there was anything wrong with the beaches???

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    What a wonderful and informative trip report! It sure sounds like you had a fantastic time and took full advantage of everything St. Kitts has to offer. I enjoyed reading your report.

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    A great report Melissa. It was well written and captured the true feel of the island. After all that planning you were an expert on St. Kitts before ever setting foot on the island. I'm pleased it met your expectations.

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    GREAT RESTAURANTS ON ST. KITTS:

    SPRATT NET

    Spratt Net was our #1 favorite place to enjoy dinner and a smooth Carib (local beer) in a casual atmosphere. Spratt Net is St. Kitts at its friendly best. Here you dine on long picnic tables, sitting with locals and visitors.

    Come early and you can watch the sun set on the sea. Spratt Net opens at 6:00 pm, and by 7:30 pm on some nights it is really hopping.

    The restaurant is run by 2 brothers who are fishermen. If you order the lobster or the fish of the day, it is very fresh and perfectly grilled. The local lobster is perfectly cooked here, the only grilled lobster in the world which I have to say was as tender as boiled lobster! Meals are accompanied by basic sides of corn on the cob and bread.

    You will get a generous serving of fresh fish for $12 USD, or fresh lobster for $26 USD (twice as much lobster as you get in the USA)! We had fresh tuna one night, and returned a second night for sweet, tender lobster. Order a smooth Carib at the bar for $2 USD.

    Folks eating at Spratt Net are friendly and ready for a chat.

    You order your dinner at the grill, and they take your name, and they tell you to sit anywhere, they will find you when your food is ready, and amazingly, they do!

    If you arrive at 6:00 pm you won't have to wait long for your dinner. If you arrive at 7:30 pm on a crowded night, you may have to wait an hour for your food; we did. (But they give you an honest time estimate when you order.)

    Driving up to Spratt Net from Timothy's Beach Resort or the Marriott, you have to drive past Basseterre. If you take a taxi from the Marriott or Timothy's, it is between $40 and $50 for the 40-minute taxi ride, round trip. This should be the cost for everyone who can fit in the taxi, and NOT a per person charge. We split the cost with another couple whom we met in the lobby at Timothy's.

    Or, if you're staying at Ottley's, and you have a car, you can do a half-day-tour of the island after lunch, driving around the north side, and arrive at Spratt Net from that direction for dinner.

    Sitting at one of the long tables, sipping on a Carib, waiting for our food, I decided to introduce myself to the local man sitting nearest to me. His name was Bobby, and he shook my hand, and said, "Welcome to the island, and may you return with many friends."

    MARSHALL'S:
    We heard Marshall's was good, and looked over their menu in the lobby of our first hotel, Timothy's. But Marshall's prices are twice as high as Serendipity, which is also recommended. Therefore we skipped Marshall's and headed for Serendipity. This time we had a car!

    SERENDIPITY:
    Serendipity Restaurant & Lounge Bar in Basseterre, on Wigley Ave., is a romantic choice, with excellent gourmet food. Service is very gracious, and our waitress went way beyond the call of duty when it was time for us to leave. It was near closing time and it was pouring rain. She put on her coat and insisted on walking us to our car, with a giant umbrella! Such a wonderfully thoughtful gesture!

    The music at Serendipity is soft, romantic love songs, many by American singers...yet, the atmosphere feels very Caribbean, gracious St. Kitts style. In good weather they roll up the shades and you have open air dining, with a roof over your head, and a nice romantic view. As it was raining, the clear plastic shades were down to protect guests from the weather, but we could still see water and lights twinkling through the shades.

    Web-site for Serendipity is www.serendipity.com We had our hotel call for all of our dinner reservations, and ended up with good tables this way. (Except for Spratt Net, where you don't need a reservation.)

    We enjoyed sharing a seafood appetizer, and we both ordered the grouper, which came on potatoes, with an artistic garnish on top which looked like a nest of fried green onion tops, and surrounded by a fantastic sauce, lemony and buttery with herbs.

    For dessert we chose to share an excellent home-made sorbet, it was an island fruit flavor, I think it was Passionfruit. It had a very fruity flavor and wasn't too sweet, very tasty and light. They were out of our first choice, which was soursop ice cream.

    My coffee was brought to me with one of those personal hand-press coffee makers that they set on your table. Great coffee.

    I would like to mention...don't be surprised if your fish comes on the well done side, it seems to be the custom frequently on St. Kitts to cook fish well-done. If you like it more rare, you could probably request it, we didn't do that.

    You will be very pleased with Serendipity, especially if you are hoping for a romantic atmosphere. This is one of the places we will return if we get to St. Kitts again.

    ISLAND SPICE:
    I can also recommend dinner at Chef Lynn's Island Spice Restaurant in the Sugars Complex on Frigate Bay. This one is very convenient from Timothy's beach resort or from the Marriott.

    I have only one thing to say about the Island Spice restaurant: ORDER THE COCONUT TART FOR DESSERT! WOW! Never had anything like it, it was my #1 favorite dessert on the island. In fact it was my #1 favorite coconut dessert anywhere in the world. Fresh pastry crust filled with fresh coconut, cinnamon, and ginger or nutmeg (I wrote down ginger but I think I must have meant nutmeg)... It is soooooo good. Comes warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    We shared one coconut tart but I wish we had ordered 2 of them, they aren't that big, you can eat a whole one.

    Okay, if you insist, I'll tell you about the food as well as the dessert.

    My hubby enjoyed the National dish, which includes creole salted codfish and coconut wheat dumplings. The dumplings are a big doughy, but the creole salted codfish is better here than elsewhere on the island.

    I enjoyed the Marlin with creole sauce, plantains, and delicious vegies like zuchini and mushrooms.

    Dinner for 2 people, including 1 dessert and 1 water bottle, was 167 EC, which is around $62 USD.

    More restaurants to follow as soon as I get back to the computer!

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    sunshine7, have a great trip to St. Kitts!

    Here are more great restaurants, followed by rainforest tour details, rental car, and Brimstone Hill.

    BALLAHOO RESTAURANT

    We had lunch twice at Ballahoo restaurant in Basseterre. We liked the prices and the food, and it is conveniently located for shopping.

    Our favorite lunch was 71.40 EC for 2 people, including service charge. (One dollar USD is equal to 37 cents EC. Therefore this lunch is reasonably priced for us.) We ordered: 2 lobster subs, 1 pumpkin soup, 1 iced tea, 1 Carib (beer). Lobster subs were tasty on a warm day, lobster prepared similar to a crab salad, on a white sub roll, with cucumber and tomato. We ordered it without the lettuce. Not much lobster, but enough to eat on a warm afternoon for a tasty light lunch.

    Ballahoo is a casual restaurant on the second floor, with a view over the "Circus", in the centre of Basseterre. Web-site www.ballahoo.com

    LUNCH AT THE GOLDEN LEMON INN AND VILLAS

    We enjoyed lunch at the Golden Lemon, Dieppe Bay, north side of island. We sat on the cheerful patio under a yellow and white roof, open-air, garden view. There's a wall between you and the sea.

    For $31 USD for 2 people, including service charge and tax, we enjoyed something different for lunch...a hamburger! 3:-o Only it was called "chopped steak", and we ordered it well-done. The beef seemed of much higher quality than our ground beef in the USA.

    The fat little burger comes on a home-made whole wheat bun with tomato and lettuce, accompanied by home-made potato chips and delicious banana baked beans topped with cheese. You can also get swiss cheese on the burger. Excellent iced tea.

    STAYING HEALTHY:
    ((I))For the sake of avoiding traveller's illness, hubby and I never eat any raw salads on vacation anywhere. The only uncooked, unpeeled fruits or vegies we eat when out of town are tomatoes. Since we have followed this prescription, I stopped getting traveller's sickness, which I used to be prone to. :&

    We recommend the Golden Lemon restaurant for lunch. If you want to order something more exotic than the hamburger, I would try the West Indian Rum Beef Stew for $15 USD, or the Lobster Cakes with Mango Mayonnaise for $18.50 USD.

    TURTLE BEACH BAR AND GRILL

    We drove around the beautiful southeast peninsula and ended up at the Turtle Beach Bar & Grill for lunch. However it was raining when we arrived, so nobody was on the beach, and even though the sign said live steel band every Sunday afternoon, there wasn't any live music on this particular Sunday, which was disappointing.

    Waitress @-) seemed a bit dazed, and hubby's food was boring, a barbecue chicken sandwich and fries. My Caribbean curry chicken burrito with grilled local vegies was quite good. Lunch totalled $34 USD for the 2 of us with drinks. We both had fresh mango juice which was just okay.

    Pleasant view of Nevis across the water, though it was a bit cloudy so visibility wasn't great.

    Turtle Beach is a rather boring place in the rain, and it's a bit out of the way. I wouldn't come here unless it is a sunny day. Though the southeast peninsula drive on the way to Turtle Beach was pretty.

    Turtle Beach Bar & Grill was our least favorite lunch.

    Okay that's it for the food report! I will add on a report of the rainforest tour, Brimstone Hill, and other activities.







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    Laby and Sunnyboy: thanks for the nice comments.

    Knowing: that's 2 of us who found St. Kitts locals to be the friendliest islanders anywhere. I hope to visit Nevis one day too. I'm not sure why people would complain about St. Kitts beaches either, maybe they are comparing them to other islands. We thought our beach at Timothy Beach resort was a fine beach. Where else can you snorkel and swim in calm water all day? (In Maui the wind picks up in the afternoon so snorkeling is only good in the morning for example.)

    I will finish up this trip report soon, with the report on activities (rainforest tour, shopping, our drive around the island, snorkeling.)

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    Still enjoying following your adventures around the island. I love sitting at the Ballahoo Restaurant and just watching the world go by outside in the Circus.

    One comment about the water in St. Kitts. Unlike some countries, it's great potable water and I've never stayed away from fruit or salads. Actually eating the fresh, tasty greens and fruit are highlights of my trip.

    You may be extremely sensitive to water changes, but I didn't want people to have the impression that they had to avoid the water and fresh food.

    Keep the report coming! Thanks for taking the time to write.

    cw

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    STAYING HEALTHY:
    cw, yes, you are right, I am extremely sensitive to changes in my environment, and have a very iffy digestive tract! Previous to following hubby's advice, I almost always got sick whenever I went out of town!

    Hubby is a biologist and explained to me that even if the water in a new part of the world is considered clean and safe to drink, I can still get sick because the flora and fauna in a new area is unfamiliar to my body.

    What works for me is to drink bottled water, the most familiar type I can buy; to avoid raw salads and raw uncooked unpeeled vegies. On a long trip I can sometimes add in some of these things if I have remained well for a whole week...

    It was in Italy that I discovered that I can eat tomatoes while travelling, and not salads! My guess is it's because a tomato is easy to wash and doesn't retain much of the water, whereas when you wash lettuce, the water droplets cling to the salad...lettuce is harder to get really clean as well.

    Anyway, you are right maybe some folks can enjoy salads, drink the water, etc. in ST. Kitts and stay perfectly well. But if anybody out there is super sensitive like me, try my advice. It changed my travelling life!

    Hubby never gets sick when travelling anywhere, and has always followed his own advice. In Morocco all his travel companions fell ill with digestive ailments, except for him! He told me that he ate only well-cooked meats/beans/vegies and didn't drink the water.

    Lucky you, cw, since it sounds like you have a robust digestive system! I also have other problems, but they are manageable, such as lactose intolerance, etc.

    cw, I agree, it's fun to sit up at Ballahoo and watch the world go by below you. We bought an artist's sketch of the Circus area and the Ballahoo restaurant as a souveneir!

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    On with the trip report:

    SNORKELING AT TIMOTHY'S BEACH RESORT:

    Hubby and I really enjoyed swimming and snorkeling in the calm Caribbean sea on our beach at Timothy's on Frigate Bay. The water was calm all day, except for when the weather was rainy and blustery for half of one day, the rest of the time it was calm and gentle. The water remained clear until sunset!

    If you stand on the beach at Timothy's, facing the sea, you will see a narrow rocky jetty jutting out into the water. It is not very long. If you swim out to the other side of the rocks (a short swim, you are still close to shore), that is the best snorkeling area.

    This is a relatively small area, so if dozens of people come out to snorkel it will be too crowded. But as long as the cruise ship passengers were gone, we found only about 4 of us snorkeling at a time in the late afternoon/evening.

    Hubby saw over 30 species of fish, including: a pufferfish, a lobster, a school of cuttlefish (similar to squid), unidentified yellow and blue fish, a squirrel fish, and young baracudas. This was more than he saw in Kauai.

    As for me, everything I saw was blurry...I forgot my contact lenses and am very near-sighted. There weren't any optical masks for sale either. I still enjoyed swimmin' in the warm water, and looking at a few blurry fish!

    Hubby and I are now shopping for optical masks. Sports Chalet has lenses in stock which they can put into a mask for you, matching your prescription close enough. The lenses are around $24 each and the mask is around $40, I believe. I will have to buy one of those because one eye is worse than the other and the regular optical masks make me dizzy!

    Hubby is near-sighted also, and snorkels with an old pair of glasses, with the temples broke off, jammed into his mask! He is going to buy an optical mask too.

    One more thing about the beaches on St. Kitts. They get crowded when the cruise ship lands, but the cruise ship folks are gone by the afternoon, and if the beach was crowded after breakfast, we toured the island in our rental car, then swam in the afternoon/evening.

    Hubby found the light for snorkeling even better around 5:00 on slightly overcast days, because of the lack of shadows in the water.

    If you are on a cruise and landing on St. Kitts, I must warn you that everywhere they drop you off you will find it crowded, only because you ARE the crowds! When you go back to your ship, we find St. Kitts very uncrowded. But it's your vacation too, have a great time!

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    MORE SNORKELING DETAILS:

    I forgot to mention a few other things hubby saw while snorkeling at Timothy's beach. He saw soft coral, feather- and fan-type, and also sponges.

    More activities to come...

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    Your report is awesome. We are headed for a return trip to St. Kitts and Nevis in June. We didn't try Sprat Net the first trip, but we will this time. Also, Serendipity was great. I have to recommend Marshall's for future visitors, if it's possible....it was also wonderful and the atmosphere is beautiful. I agree that it was pricey.
    Thanks for taking the time to give such a detailed and accurate report.

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    Our trip to St Kitts was in March of 2005. What a wonderful island! We have two children, then 10 and 8. We felt safe all over the island, night and day. Do not miss Turtle Beach, it was one of our favorites. Great snorkeling there, saw an octopus along with interesting fish and underwater life. Renting a car is a good idea if you like to explore and would like to visit the several beaches on the island. Taxi fare can add up quickly. Driving around the island is easy. Taking a day to tour the island is fun. Good places to eat along the drive, nice scenery, Brimstone was worth the stop. We did not find any crowds anywhere we went. The busiest we saw it was downtown Basseterre when a cruise ship was in port, even then we were able to dine in the downtown restaurants and not have it be busy. For this year's trip we are really torn between going back to St Kitts and giving Curacao a try.

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    iw: You're in for a treat when you try Spratt Net! Try it early in your trip because, like us, you might find you want to return for a second night. When it opens at 6:00 pm it's not crowded at all. There were maybe 10 people waiting for Spratt Net to open, and we all chatted and sat with beers watching the sunset and waiting for our food. If you arrive later, at 7:30 pm, it's possible the whole place will be full of people, it was for us, with a big group from the Marriott in addition to locals and other visitors. The place was buzzing. Even though we had to wait over an hour for our food, we enjoyed the spirit of comeraderie. (spelling?!)

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    catphoned: I'm glad you enjoyed St. Kitts with your kids. I think your family would also enjoy a trip to Costa Rica. We enjoyed Manuel Antonio, Arenal, and Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica, all good places to take kids. Like St. Kitts, the people of Costa Rica are friendly and helpful.

    Okay, time to add something to my trip report...

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    BRIMSTONE HILL FORTRESS NATIONAL PARK:

    Brimstone really stole my heart. I didn't know what to expect, but I can tell you a drive up to Brimstone is worth it, on a clear day, for the views alone!

    Plus, we found the history of Brimstone, told in displays, to be intriguing.

    Also, if it is still there, don't miss the art exhibit at Brimstone which displays drawings of school children who visited Brimstone. Very interesting. Within the walls of the Brimstone fort are a number of rooms with displays, and one of them holds the billboards displaying student art.

    I was struck by one drawing by a young artist in the 16 years and up category. It is a drawing of 2 black slaves kneeling one one knee in front of Brimstone Hill fort; strong, powerful males, with heads bowed in submission. A very intriguing drawing by a talented young artist.

    We stayed til Brimstone closed for the day. Driving back down the hill, we noticed a whole parade of locals walking UP the hill. We stopped and asked a man why everyone was walking up the hill. He said the villagers walk up this hill at the end of every day for exercise. We saw old men, young women with tots in strollers, and teens, all walking up the hill...

    Don't miss Brimstone.

    More report on activities to follow...

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    BASSETERRE

    Basseterre is the biggest village on St. Kitts. We returned there twice for shopping, lunch, and browsing.

    Ballahoo is a great place for lunch, with a view of the Circus area of Basseterre, and the clock tower.

    We found an outdoor market area, with a canvas-type covering protecting shoppers from the sun. It is called the Amena Craft Market. There are vendors selling some good local arts and crafts, plus some vendors selling a variety of junk, a lot of it not made in St. Kitts. We compared the prices at the Amena Craft Market to some of the indoor shops in Basseterre, and found the best prices at the Amena Craft Market.

    Also intriguing is the Glass Island Art Glass Gallery, with hand-made glass items of all sizes, including earrings. It's on Princes Street in Basseterre. www.glassisland.com We walked there after having lunch at Ballahoo.

    We also wandered into a local shop selling cell phones, where the customers were all locals. Basseterre is an intriguing place to wander about, to shop, and also to view daily life in the biggest village on St. Kitts.

    INDEPENDENCE SQUARE:

    We passed many local school children in uniforms while strolling through Independence Square, Basseterre. Some of these laughing, innocent school children are descended from slaves. Man's inhumanity to man is dismaying to contemplate. Freedom is beautiful. Years ago slaves were auctioned off in Independence Square. Now it is a peaceful, happy place to enjoy.

    We wandered into an old church on Independence Square. Inside was a poor box, where you can drop your change, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society had some photos of some of the folks they are helping. Remembering we were in a church, we were quiet and respectful, and also dressed appropriately. The people of St. Kitts usually dress conservatively.

    There was a sign outside about a "Catholic Protestant" church, a sign which we found most intriguing. We never did find out what that is all about.

    I think a trip to St. Kitts wouldn't be complete without at least one visit to Basseterre. You will find yourself wanting to spend several hours in town.


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    RAINFOREST TOUR, ST. KITTS:

    We decided that hubby would go on a half-day rainforest tour and I would relax at Ottleys. By this point in the trip I needed some relaxing journal-writing time, but hubby the biologist can never sit still. So we enjoyed some time apart.

    We booked the rainforest tour through the Ottley's front desk. The guide they usually use didn't have anybody else booked. Rather than pay for a private tour, which would have cost more, hubby had Peggy at the Ottleys front desk speak with Hugh Rogers, whose name we had seen on a poster in the lobby of Timothy Beach Resort.

    Hugh Rogers had 2 guests from Timothy's booked for a rainforest tour, so my husband was able to arrange to join this small group for $40 USD for a 4-hour tour.

    Hubby drove our rental car from Ottley's to Timothy beach resort and joined the tour group. Rogers is a seasoned guide. He is a friendly and knowledgeable local who is proud of his island and can tell you about growing up on St. Kitts. He knew all of the trees, has a good eye fore finding things, and is a keen observer. He provided fresh juice and a small snack at the end of the tour.

    There aren't any toilets available up in the rainforest area. Also, it is against the law to attempt to go up into the rainforest without a guide, apparently, we are told, the police would turn you away if they found you.

    Here are 2 phone numbers for Hugh Rogers. 465-6862 and 662-5760.

    Rogers drove his group from the village of Old Road on the west coast, up past Romney Manor, up to the secondary rainforest. They walked on a trail which Rogers himself had made. It is a dense rainforest area with a closed canopy, therefore wildlife is hidden from view, my hubby the biologist reports.

    They saw mostly plants and trees. It was a pleasant walk, not too strenuous, with the ruins of an old sugar mill to explore at the end. Part of the charm of the experience was talking with a local guide who was energetic and enthusiastic about his country.

    Rogers recommends the volcano tour, although my husband didn't have time for it. Maybe next time...

    On the rainforest walk they saw rare blackwood trees, tree ferns, mosses, a creek with a small waterfall, some birds (bullfinches and bananaquits). On the drive out Rogers drove slighly out of his way to show my husband (avid herpetologist) a lizard called an Amieba.

    You all may wonder why I chose to miss the rainforest tour. I did enjoy seeing rainforests in Costa Rica this summer, and because this was a short and very budy vacation to St. Kitts, I ended up feeling like I needed some quiet reflective time for writing. I also knew that sometimes my husband, who has a greater interest in nature than I do, might sometimes enjoy a rainforest tour more without me!

    I asked hubby to sum up the rainforest experience. He said it was "an enjoyable outdoor experience." He would like to try the volcano tour on the next trip. The volcano tour is an all-day affair, so I will definitely be missing that one, I prefer to limit my nature hikes to a maximum of 3 hours!

    I hope this info is helpful if you're considering the rainforest tour. My husband is a biologist and therefore requires that a guide be knowledgeable, and he was pleased with Hugh Rogers.

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    ST. KITTS AIRPORT:

    Our experiences at the airport, upon leaving St. Kitts, are the only unpleasant part of our visit to St. Kitts.

    The employees in the St. Kitts airport seemed remarkably and uniformly extremely unhappy. I mean, they make the DMV employees in California look happy, which is an odd thought indeed!

    First, if you are checking on luggage, all of everyone's luggage must be thoroughly searched, I mean they open every single zipper and feel every sock. Our search was done by a very unhappy woman, who seemed to be getting angry at the uncooperative zippers of our luggage. When my hubby reached out to help her, she snapped, "You can't touch that!" Maybe they have a rule about that, but she could have said thank you or something, he was only trying to help.

    I had to watch while she tried repeatedly to jam my best pair of sandals back into a side pocket, upside down. (They fit better right-side-up.) She actually caused permanent creases in the soft leather.

    Next, it was on to pay the airport departure tax. Mysteriously, the price of the tax seemed to change several times while we were standing there. Either we had trouble understanding her accent, or else the price fluctuates from one minute to the next!!! We ended up paying $22 USD each.

    Finally, there is a door, with grim-looking airport employees guarding it, which you must pass through to get to the boarding gates. Once you pass through, you cannot come back out. We were standing there debating whether to eat first, or pass through the doors of no return, and hope for good food inside.

    The woman guarding the door said there is a restaurant inside.

    So we passed through. However there is NOT a restaurant inside. There is a hot dog stand with chips and sodas. There is a sign listing delicious alternatives like tuna or turkey sandwiches, but upon inquiring, we learned they aren't available. They have to be ordered from the "restaurant", which is outside the door of no return, which we had already passed through. It would take "a very long time" for the sandwiches to come, so she warned us NOT to order them. Trust me, "a very long time" in the Caribbean is a formiddable warning indeed!

    So we shared a hot dog as it was the only food. (I prefer something less fatty when flying since I have a sensitive digestive system.)

    Next, I must say that either the St. Kitts airport, or else the San Juan airport, clearly left our luggage sitting out in the rain for hours...so upon arriving at my cousin's house in Florida, I discovered our suitcases were wet inside, which has never happened before. All our clothes were damp, and all papers were ruined. (Luckily we had chosen to put artwork souveneirs and my journal in our carry-on, otherwise these too would have been ruined!)

    I have travelled quite a bit and have never seen an airport where everyone seemed so grumpy and NOT helpful. I actually feel sorry for them, it must be an awful place to work for some reason...

    Employees at the San Juan airport seemed quite cheerful in comparison.

    Carry-ons didn't have to be searched, I think there was an x-ray machine which checks them, at the St. Kitts airport. Therefore I recommend if you're leaving St. Kitts, see if you can put everything important in your carry-ons.

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    I'm almost done with my trip report but I do have a bit more to add about our day-trip to the southeast peninsula of St. Kitts, and also our drive around the north side of the island from Ottleys. I hope this helps you all, as you have helped me plan all my trips!

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    skbfan, thanks for the compliment. If you are homesick it's time for a visit to st. kitts! 8-)

    I need to wrap up this trip report:

    SOUTHEAST PENINSULA DRIVE:

    Rent a car and take the southeast peninsula drive on a nice warm day. You will enjoy lovely views of green hillsides which are undeveloped, a rare site on beautiful islands nowadays! Either pack a picnic lunch or else plan to have lunch at the Turtle Beach Bar & Grill.

    COCKLESHELL BEACH is a nice stop for a stroll along a beach covered with shells. Unfortunately there is also a bit of trash on this beach, please help to keep it clean. No tourists were there, just some nice local teens, who were very polite, and were looking for crabs. The water here didn't entice us to swim, it was a good spot for beach-combing, for us.

    Wear sandals on Cockleshell beach. Some shell fragments are sharp.

    Lots of goats and some cattle on this peninsula. Watch for cattle in the road, they just stand there. My hubby says they don't see that well, you just have to carefully drive around them!

    DRIVING ON NORTH SIDE OF ISLAND:

    It was a very interesting drive from Ottley's on the east coast, up to the north side of the island, and then down as far south as Spratt Net for dinner (with a stop at Brimstone Hill.) There is some nice coastal scenery, as well as the opportunity to drive through some interesting little villages. We found locals to be nice all over the island.

    Be careful of pedestrians and children when driving through small villages. Slow down please.

    VENDORS:
    I would like to encourage you to have a look at the items which vendors have for sale on tables. These vendors are much more low-key, and just trying to make a living. They can be interesting to meet.

    I met one local lady who's a proud grandma, selling jewelry for a good price in the parking lot near the Golden Lemon. She had a table and doesn't bother you unless you approach. She had the best prices on the island. She has a warm smile and was minding her 2 cute grandchildren.

    I suggest you don't buy from the walking vendors who solicit people on beaches and in restaurants. These are the more aggressive vendors, and also they tend to be selling foreign-made items anyway.

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    I think my trip report is done. Any questions, please ask. We found St. Kitts to be friendly, and refreshingly unspoiled by development (so far!) 8-)

    Timothy's is friendly, good budget prices, and on a nice calm Caribbean beach, great for swimming and has decent snorkeling.

    Ottley's is luxurious, beautiful, expensive, and peaceful. Good place for wedding anniversary splurge.

    As long as you can deal with a little bit of tricky driving (when driving through villages), renting a car is a good choice. Gives you more freedom to explore the island and more choices for dining.

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    Melissa,

    Thanks so much for your detailed trip report. I'm going to print it out and bring it with me on our trip next week.

    I do have one question though. Who took your husband on his rainforest tour and would he recommend this person?

    Thanks again!

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    sunshine7, have a great time on St. Kitts. Yes, my husband recommends Hugh Rogers. His phone numbers are posted somewhere above, and also there is a poster about him on the bulletin board in the hotel lobby of Timothy Beach Resort. Also, Peggy at the front desk of Ottley's Plantation Inn had heard of Hugh Rogers and knew how to find his phone number as well.

    I mentioned him above but you may have missed it, there is a lot of info above. It's in the section on the rainforest tour. Rogers is a local, born on St. Kitts, and a seasoned tour guide. He really knows a lot about the trees. Hubby says part of the charm of the tour was the tour guide's enthusiasm for his island, the experience of getting to chat with a local who is proud of his island.

    As I mentioned above, this is a dense rainforest with closed canopy, so the animals are hidden, you won't see much wildlife. It is a nature experience where you will see the plants and soak in the atmosphere.

    Hubby paid $40 for 4 hours...there were 2 other people on the tour. Rogers highly recommended the all-day volcano tour, if we return to St. Kitts a second time, he will try that next time.

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    sunshine7, I think you need some Caribbean sunshine and a relaxing Carib! Where are you staying? Don't be afraid of striking up a conversation with the locals. This really made our trip more interesting. It's not like they are going to run up to you and throw flowers around your neck (that's Hawaii...and only if you've paid for flowers!!!) But if you have an opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone, even a brief exchange, you will find the locals friendly, charming, polite, and a little shy in a refreshing way. Have a great vacation! Looking forward to reading your trip report when you return.

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    I'm bumping this up for somebody who is asking about shopping on St. Kitts. In my trip report above you'll find some shopping info under the heading of Basseterre, and some shopping info scattered through the trip report.

    Have fun!

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