First time St. Kitts - questions

Old Nov 4th, 2007, 07:30 PM
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First time St. Kitts - questions

Hello,
We are thinking about a visit(our first)to St. Kitts. A very tentative plan goes like this: Spend the first day to settle in, relax and swim. The 2nd to visit Basseterre and Brimstone Hill Fort. On the 3rd we snorkel and/or dive, and on the 4th we "take a hike"(literally!)to Mt. Liaguiga. The 5th day we take a half-day tour of the rain forest. The final full day would be spent on Nevis(to visit Charlestown, etc.) As for getting around, would you recommend renting a car? A scooter? Or doing a guided 3-hour tour via taxi? Has anyone done the ATV tour(with FunBikes - I think)through the rainforest, around sugar mill ruins and plantations? How is the snorkeling and diving? Any experience with the Ocean Terrace Inn or Timothy Beach Resort? Any and all feedback is appreciated.
Thank you.
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Old Nov 5th, 2007, 05:17 AM
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well, your tentative plans would have me longing for some down time, so it really depends on how active you want to me. I got a little tired just reading what you wanted to do! The only thing on your list that might be a little redundant is the half day rain forest tour after hiking Mt. Liamuiga.

On Nevis it might be fun to explore the plantation inns, the botanical gardens, and possibly the ruins of Cottle Church in addition to Charlestown. Sunshine's is also a fun little beach bar and their signature drink, the Killer Bee, is a good rum punch. Some folks think the whole scene there is overrated, though I am not one of them. Checking out Lovers Beach could be good.

I like renting cars on my trips so that I can explore at my own pace, double back to see something I missed, etc, and I did rent a car on St. Kitts last November. Nearly all of the main roads were in excellent repair, and those that weren't still weren't too bad, like the road leading to Turtle Beach on the southern peninsula. I would skip seeing the island by scooter just because I would feel unsafe doing so, just like I wouldn't want to ride a bike, because so many drivers aren't used to looking for them or yielding to them.

I was pleasantly surprised with the snorkeling on St. Kitts. I had read review after review that said it was horrible and not to bother bringing a mask & snorkel on the trip. Well, the snorkeling wasn't excellent, but it did surpass my very low expectations. I don't know a thing about the diving.

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Old Nov 5th, 2007, 08:21 AM
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Great itinerary. I would add Rawlins Plantation to your visit to Brimstone Hill (A MUST). If you take a taxi to Basseterre (the Circus) from your hotel you can pick up another taxi or arrange for your original driver to return to meet you after lunch for your countryside tour. The rates are reasonable and Kittitians love to tell you about their island. While in Basseterre , visit both the Anglican and Roman cathedrals, the new cricket grounds, the new Porte Zante and the original downtown (Fort St.) Lunch at Ballahoo above Island Hopper store at the Circus. Yes, you can drink the water but have a Ting: Grapefruit soda. Something you don't get when you rent a vehicle is a guided tour by a local for the price of a cab ride. The 5th day tour of the rain forests might be a bit much after climbing Mt. Liamuiga the day before. Why not relax and take the scenic sugarcane train around the island that day? You will see both the English and French influences in the sugar history, the black beaches and the villages all around the island. For your visit to Nevis, do it on a weekday when the ferries are more plentiful. See Charlestown first. It's a small city and since it is 400 years old, don't expect sidewalks. Again, you can get a taxi at the Taxi stand downtown to take you around the island (30 mile trip). A lot of Nevisian history is outside of town and a local can tell you about the points of interest. You will want to drive through the Four Seasons (no need to stop unless you want to). see Nelson Springs, St. Thomas (oldest Anglican Church in the Caribbean) Cottel Church (first church where black and white worshipped together) , Nisbett Plantation (another "pit stop") Newcastle pottery works, Brick Klin and around to Golden Rock Plantation. Stop for a drink on the patio and if it is a clear day you can see Montserrat on the horizon. In fact if the mountain is active you may see the ash cloud. If you are on an early schedule and arrive around lunchtime, try their lobster salad. You may also see the island monkeys around the property. There is a short hike up the hillside that is a pleasant way to streatch your legs. Also, on the way downhill from Goldenrock you may want to stop off at Montpellier Plantation and the Botanical Gardens. I've never been a big fan of the Botanical Gardens but that's probably because we live with many of the same plants in our yards. You will have seen a great overview of the island floral at the plantation inns that you visited. From there you are 15 minutes from Charlestown and your driver will have you back in time for your ferry or even a little more poking about.
Have fun.
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Old Nov 5th, 2007, 08:35 AM
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One more thing. As you come back into Charlestown from your clockwise tour around the island, have your driver show you The Bath Hotel: the oldest hotel in the Caribbean. Actually, since it was a hot springs hotel it may be the oldest resort in the Caribbean. The Hot Springs are still in use.
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Old Nov 5th, 2007, 03:53 PM
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After a looong absence from Fodor's, Nevisian said it all except to answer one of your questions. OTI is a nice hotel in the capital of Basseterre and TBR is a condominium hotel directly on the Caribbean Beach in Frigate Bay.
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 04:52 AM
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Yes, I agree that taking a guided taxi tour is a great intro to an island. I don't do that any longer for a few reasons--one of which is that I read so obsessively about my upcoming trips that I found that most of the info the taxi guides were giving me I had already read. Another is that I really do like to explore on my own, speed up here, skip over that, linger over this. You can't really do that politely if you're hiring someone to show you the sights and they're giving special attention to *everything*.

I also once had the misfortune of hiring a taxi tour guide that turned into a proselytizing tour. I won't say which island it was, and it definitely happened only once, but that was enough for me! Larz (or any future readers of this post), I don't think that would happen to you on St. Kitts. But you do strike me as someone who wants to be active and see things on your own--I would suggest that you could do just as well without a hired guide.
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 04:46 PM
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Thanks so much for all of your feedback. Sounds like there is a lot to see and do! Is it true that St. Kitts/Nevis is somewhat less "touristy," (e.g., less built up with huge mega-resorts, strip malls, etc.)and has retained a bit more culture and history than some of the more popular islands? How strenuous is the hike to Mt. Liaguiga? Does this hike actually take us through the rainforests as well? Are many of the old sugar mills still standing? Renting our own car does sound like the way to go(although driving on the left, in Ireland and Wales took some getting used to!) as we like the freedom to come and go as we please, and the time to immerse ourselves in the places we visit, without being on a strict schedule. How would the weather(in the air and under the sea)be in early February? Are there any ruins left of the old Bath Hotel - or is it basically the spa that has been renovated? By the way, I read that the old capital of Jamestown, on Nevis, slid into the sea during an earthquake hundreds of years ago, and that some of the ruins are visible to divers. Is this true, or just a fantastic tale aimed at unsuspecting history buffs - such as myself?!
Thanks again.
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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The forum on this web site was very helpful when our family went to St. Kitts.

http://www.myislands.myeyez.net/

Most posters recommended hiring a guide to climb the volcano. My husband and 14 year old son climbed with Royston Stevens. It is not an easy hike and there is potential to get lost and or hurt. He's a great guy and in incredible shape (trains for triathalons). He also took us on an island tour. However, another guide Thereford Grey (spelling?) might provide a more historical perspective for an island tour.

Greg's safaris is also a popular guide for the rain forest and volcanop hikes.


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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 05:45 PM
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Here are some other interesting sites for Royston Stevens, The Shiggidy Shack (beach bar near Timothy Beach Resort), and Brimstone Hill Fortress:


http://www3.sympatico.ca/dougjp/royston.html

http://www.mrxshiggidyshack.com/

http://www.brimstonehillfortress.org/

Also, when you hike the volcano, you will also hike through the rain forest. You can do an internet search for Greg's Safaris since he has a site as well.
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Old Nov 6th, 2007, 07:12 PM
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Larz, actually the Bath Hotel is still standing and in good condition. The Gov't used it until about 5 years ago. The last time I was in it I just walked in from the upper level. I think it is boarded up now. Greg's Safaris and Royston Stevens are both great guides. Do take a guide. Yes, the mountainside is rainforest and the hiking can be slippery and dangerous if you don't know the trails. St. Kitts/Nevis are very untouristy. The Four Seasons on Nevis and the Marriott on Kitts are the most touristy spots. IMHO the Marriott is a blight of Miami Beach mega-convention hotel. The Four Seasons is more low impact in design but still an imported experience. You will also find a Col. Sanders' Fried Chicken in St. Kitts but that is about as Americanized as it gets. February is lovely weatherwise - both above and below. You might bring a sweater or light jacket for the evenings, especially if you eat on an open veranda and a thin dive skin for the water. If you decide to rent a car do it through your hotel (insurance and a permit are provided) and sit down with the Concierge to map out a route guide. Get a car with right hand drive so you will feel the difference as you drive. Some of the rental cars are left hand (U.S. style) steering wheels and that is even more confusing! Be careful with right turns instead of left turns. There is one main road around each island and the side roads are marked (if you know in advance to be looking for them). Jamestown was destroyed (sunk). It is a wonderful local lore. One of the good ghost stories is that during a hurricane you can hear the bell from the church steeple ringing. The fact is that St. Thomas was the church for Jamestown and it is still in use. The location is disputed to have been around Nelson's Spring. Again, a local taxi driver would walk you through the questions/answers as you come upon them. As for Proselytizing... the Caribbean is very religious and many people approach life through their church affilliation. Actually, I found that the churches are the information centers for most people. Gossip centers if you want. Before newspapers that was were the locals got their news and that tradition still exists so ej is right; church is still accepted discussion. You will also be asked about where you are from and what you think of your visit, etc. It's not that the local is being nosy, they love to know who thought enough of their island to visit. Ask your hotel for an accredited guide that wont give you 40 questions and God. Once you know the island you can venture off on your own and expand your explorations. Hopefully you will fall in love with St. Kitts/Nevai and come back many times. Your schedule looked so chock full that my suggestion is to have a guide to get the most out of your tours in the short time you have.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 12:11 AM
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Nevisian usually gives very accurate information but he/she is somewhat mistaken about the old Bath Hotel on Nevis. It has been refurbished and is now fully in use as government offices. I stopped in there a few months ago to conduct business with one of the officials.

As for the Jamestown ruins being visable to divers, that's pretty much a myth created by imaginative travel writers. I know of no one who's every actually seen anything in the water near where Jamestown was located except seagrass, a couple of rocks and an occasional star fish. Near where Jamestown was located there are ruins at Fort Ashby (a revetment and a powder room) but they are set back on fairly dry land behind a salt pond and are really not much to look at - the structure has been used on and off as a restaurant over the years and has been vacant for the past 2 or 3 years so if you are expecting anything resembling a fortress you'll be disappointed.

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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 05:26 AM
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I do just want to make clear that my experience with the proselytizing taxi driver was an uncommon one and I don't expect it to happen to me again. the driver was very slow, and our circumnavigation of the island and its sights was agonizing with his constant talk of his conversion to Seventh Day Adventism and how it was the truth, the light and the way. We couldn't think of a polite way to change the subject so we mostly just made non-committal comments. It was rather uncomfortable! But that particular experience wasn't what made us start renting a car--we just preferred to do it that way for the freedom it gave us.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 08:14 AM
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Thanks A_Traveller, I haven't been to Bath Road for years. I drive by the back of the hotel and see the three storey side boarded up. The last time I was in it, after the police moved to their new station downtown, the island goats had taken over the building. Local renovations take so long that I just wasn't paying attention. Were you able to tour the building?
Yes, ej, I figured it was 7th Day. They are very big in the islands. Our taxi drivers are cautioned not to do that to tourists but some can't help it; it's such a part of their lives. Just change drivers and let them know why. Drivers are available at all hotels around the islands so a visitor has the ability to switch if this were to happen.

Larz, here's a web stie for you on the Bath hotel http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g1...ing.House.html It also notes Government house and the Hamilton Museum. Two other things I overlooked. FYI Alexander Hamilton's fathers warehouses are on the north side of downtown and are also being used by Gov't for chambers and as a museum. Cafe Des Arts is in the associated building next door and is a good place for a garden lunch. The other downtown lunch place would be Unella's on the waterfront. While you're downtown look in to the court house and it's upstairs library: still in use.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 05:36 PM
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Nevisian - You can't really tour the Old Bath Hotel as it is now all functioning offices for various Ministries. You can walk around the grounds but it is really just a parking lot and you can go inside to the reception area. The rest is now offices and I doubt anyone would want strangers peeking into their work space.
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Old Nov 7th, 2007, 06:08 PM
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... and visiting Gov't offices is something I'm satisfied to avoid. I'm happy that you, ej and all the others have such nice things to say about St. Kitts and Nevis. Larz - please post a report of your visit.
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Old Nov 8th, 2007, 03:30 PM
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So, you're planning a trip to St. Kitts! Lucky you.

I love St. Kitts so much I go down every year! (It helps having family to stay with)

You might find the following website helpful. www.discover-stkitts-nevis-beaches.com

A tour of Brimstone Hill, Romney Manor, Ottley's Plantation is a must. I've heard lunch at Rawlin's is very good.

I haven't hiked the volcano in years, but last year I enjoyed the rainforest hike with Greg's Safaris www.gregsafaris.com

I would rent a car for a day or two (taxi's can add up).

For a tour of the island you can contact Thenford Grey www.thenfordgrey.com

St. Kitts isn't known as a dive or snorkel destination, but there is good snorkeling at Cockleshell.

If you want to be near town then Ocean Terrace Inn is an excellent choice. It is a small hotel, friendly staff, personalized service, complimentary shuttle to the beach, and I loved their Friday night West Indian Buffet and live steel band show.

If you want to be on the beach than definitely Timothy Beach Resort. It's located on the Caribbean (calm water) and next to all the fun beach bars www.ziggysbeachbar.com

If you go to Nevis you must check out Chevy's Beach Bar on beautiful Pinney's Beach. http://www.myspace.com/chevys_calypso_bar

When are you planning to go down? You can Link Up with other tourists and locals at Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack www.mrxshiggidyshack.com

Be sure to visit the new Reggae Beach Bar on beautiful Cockleshell Beach. It's the new home for Wilbur the 600 pound resident pig!



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Old Nov 8th, 2007, 03:39 PM
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A new attraction in St. Kitts is a tour of the island by helicopter.

http://sunstkitts.com/paper/?asknw=v...72007&ac=Local

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Old Nov 9th, 2007, 07:23 PM
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In St. Kitts, snorkle just South of the Timothy Beach Hotel. Or off of the Bird Rock Beach Hotel's beach (the best). You can see a lot of stuff from the old salt raking operation snorkeling White House Bay. This will include a couple of huge 17th century cannons. They are out about 50 meters from the pier and slightly to the North. To get there you will also have the pleasure of driving the South penisnula highway which is one of the best drives in the Carribean. You can climb Mount Nevis as well as Mount Liamuiga on St. Kitts.

Get a car. As far as visiting Charlestown, there's not much there. Better to take the circular road around the island and stop at some of the ruins of old plantations and some of the plantation inns. Visit Sunshines beach bar at Pinney's which is a world famous beach bar and you can say you were there, etc.

On St. Kitts, drive the South Peninsula Road. Visit Brimstone Hill. Eat at Sprat Net and Stonewalls or one of the restauraunts overlooking the circus. St. Kitts has good diving. Very pristine due to relatively low numbers of divers.

I stay at Timothy Beach and rent an apartment so I can do my own cooking. It's nice buy basic. No chocolate on the pillow at night. close to beach huts and golf.

OTI is nice as well but not on the beach.

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Old Nov 9th, 2007, 09:20 PM
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vrt98z, I wish that we could spend a day together in Charlestown. There is a LOT to see if you know what your looking at and for. The next time you're over to Nevis ask for a guide to walk you through town. Try the Hamilton Warehouses ( now Govt. Chambers and Museum and Cafe Des Arts) and the Methodist Church, and the Jewish school where young Alexander Hamilton went to school because his parentage was in question and he wasn't accepted at the Chrsitian church schools, and the Jewish cemetery (the Jews held the secret for crystalizing sugar cane juice) and the Bath hotel, and the Cotton Ginnery, and the municipal fish and vegetable market - if only to gossip with the ladies, and the market across from the courthouse made out of a boat hull trusses, and the court house and library, Long building, Cotton Tree house, Alexandra Hospital... There is more here than meets the eye. A local guide could help you see it. A guide also helps find the hidden spots around the island like Nelson's Spring and Newcastle Pottery, The upper "Source" road, Indian Castle horserace track or even the crucifix with the Black Jesus. May I suggest http://www.nevisisland.com as a starting point to learn about Nevis? Come back soon.
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Old Nov 10th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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If you are interested in renting a car while you are in St. Kitts you can contact Bulls Eye Car Rentals. www.bullseyecarrental.com

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