Exploring St Kitts Island Travel Article

Chillin’ and thawing out on tropical St Kitts Island

Exploring St Kitts Island article written by Travel Writer Linda Jackson – Editor Active Caribbean

After a 4,000-mile flight via Antigua with British Airways, during which I wished I was wearing thermal underwear, I am delighted to thaw out on tropical St Kitts island. It is a lush island measuring around 65 square miles – where Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State, represented by a Governor General based in Basseterre, the capital of St Kitts. Being volcanic, St Kitts island is blessed with very scenic landscapes, incredibly friendly Kittitians, and lush rainforests but not many sandy beaches. No worries on the volcano front though, no activity has been verified in St Kitts for around 1,800 years.

A ten-minute transfer from Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport delivers me to St. Kitts Marriott, a huge family resort, where I spend a few days. To be honest this huge family resort of 648 guest rooms and suites is not for me, I like small intimate boutique hotels with character and very personal service, but for families and keen golfers the St Kitts Marriott is ideal. It has its own sandy beach, a jigsaw-shaped swimming pool set in landscaped grounds, eight restaurants, a Casino and a championship 18-hole golf course on site, the Royal St Kitts Golf Club.

My early evening flight arrival means I have time to wander around the resort before dark. There are small market stalls in the hotel’s main square selling colourful souvenirs and music is playing poolside; the sandy beach is emptying its late sun worshippers, the gardens are full of exotic flora – fragrant white frangipani, cerise bougainvillea, silver-green palms.

It’s ‘Italian Event’ night so the hotel’s main a la carte restaurant, La Cucina, is closed so I head for the Pasta Bar. I’m not a great lover of self-service but nevertheless choosing ingredients for dinner was a treat… mussels, king prawns, tilapia, scallops, salmon, chicken, a selection of vegetables, crushed garlic paste and three different pastas. Everything is cooked in a wok by a chef while I wait, and with six active pasta stations it’s not for long.

With a good choice of dining options on St Kitts island I’m tempted out of the Marriott to dine: my first night I take a taxi to nearby Frigate Bay to very casual Shiggidy Shack, a lively beach bar complete with fire-eater, band, dancing, and a bonfire and tables on the beach. It’s a great evening, very popular with locals and tourists, and the food is pretty good.

A tour of the island on the Sugar Train is a “must” – and I go on it. The Train was originally used in the days when sugar was king to transport sugar cane across the island but now it is used to carry tourists through St Kitt’s lush countryside at 10mph. Book in advance, it’s really popular. In the afternoon I take a tour of the island on roads that are nigh-on deserted (apart from in Basseterre).

Dining out on my second evening is a real contrast to the first – I go to Spice Mill Restaurant and fall in love with it at first sight. The restaurant beachside setting is fabulous and at night lit with fairy lights. There is a lovely view of St Kitt’s sister island, Nevis, over the moonlit water. There is a bar on the beach, the open-sided restaurant on a raised deck area. The setting is romantically memorable and the food delectable. An evening meal at Spice Mill Restaurant is not to be missed.

The next day I move to an intimate plantation house hotel – sophisticated Ottley’s Plantation Inn… WOW, what a way to finish my visit. I stay in a Caribbean Cottage Supreme Room with a wonderful colonial feel, its own bathroom whirlpool Jacuzzi, sea view sun deck and private plunge pool. I just LOVE it at Ottleys and rise at 6am each morning, make myself a coffee, and just sit on a bench on the lawn in front of the cottage. I am hypnotised by the surrounding tranquillity and just stare for an hour each day at the distant turquoise sea, blue sky and fluffy white clouds.

Ottley’s is absolutely gorgeous, with just 23 rooms, and it has its own little rainforest with green vervet monkeys and magnificent towering trees. Ottley’s Plantation is set in the hills but provides courtesy transport for guests to the nearest sand beach. Ottley’s is so relaxing, I don’t want to do much but savour it. The lawns are expansive with relaxing chairs dotted here and there, and there’s a lovely pool beside the Royal Palm Restaurant where the food is exceptional. I drag myself away to check out Christophe Harbour – a new exclusive complex of elegant villas for sale which will enjoy exclusive amenities and a world-class super yacht marina. The setting is fabulous, lunch exquisite, the sand beach a little slice of paradise, and the rum punch a knock out.

The sound of the tropics on St Kitts island is mesmerizing, the hillside setting of Ottley’s captivating, the views amazing, the accommodation meets my highest expectations, the West Indian friendliness heart-warming, and the experience one I want to repeat… very soon – as soon as my bank balance will allow.

[February 2014]

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