ADVERTORIAL • April 2019
Fly and flop beach breaks are easy to find in the Caribbean, but there’s a reason culture-lovers are drawn to St Kitts. Just in time for the island’s off-season sweet spot (May and June), The Club finds out how much you can fit in 24 hours on this oh-so-driveable isle...
Once you’ve got off the plane (the flight is just 9 hours and 50 minutes from Gatwick, including a brief stop in Antigua), it’s time to be whisked into the warm embrace of one of the island’s most enchanting hotels. A locally-owned resort that ticks all the boxes is Timothy Beach Resort, where Kittitian charm prevails and poolside sun loungers look longingly out to sea. Or, the five-star Park Hyatt St Kitts, peppered with mountain-backed infinity pools, sophisticated beach-hut hues and a selection of Journeys – curated experiences that tap into all the island’s best bits.
The name of St Kitts’ charming capital, Basseterre, harks back to its French Colonial past – an influence echoed in architectural details throughout the island. Here you can snag Annie – the St Kitts tour guide extraordinaire with three decades worth of island expertise – to whisk you through city's historic streets on one of her engaging Basseterre walking tours. She'll take you to Independence Square, where you can spot the red phone box (a mark of the city’s British occupation), the small but mighty National Museum and plenty more. Tour complete, she'll even point you in the direction of the Basseterre Avis rental shop so you can hit the road.
As the St Kitts’ sun lowers on the horizon, it’s time to discover what the Caribbean does best: rum. Frigate Bay on the island’s south-eastern tip is St Kitts’ most recent partying phenomenon, where golden sands, flaming barbeques and glorious sunsets give The Strip’s parade of bars and restaurants a chill, rather than cheesy, appeal. The big-hitters include Buddies Beach Hut, Vibes Beach Bar and Chin Chilla’s to name but a few – you could nestle into one on each night of your stay and party until the sun goes down. Away from The Strip, though no less thriving, give colourful spot El Fredos a whirl; the rum punch is said to be out of this world.
In Old Road village, Sprat Net is all about the fuss-free, fun-filled dining experience. It's a rustic, unassuming spot owned by a local family of fishermen who are experts in all things seafood. Remember those grilled lobsters that cost an arm and a leg back at home? Here, you can get your hands on the freshest catch from just £14 a pop. There's also a handful of hearty Kittitian sides – juicy corn, baked potatoes, rice and peas, and sticky ribs. Full up on grub and St Kitts’ easy-going charm? Head back to your island hotel for that well-deserved snooze.
After a heady night, begin a bright new day with a plateful of the island’s national dish, salt cod and Johnny cakes – a deep-fried, flour doughball originally called a ‘Journey’ cake, designed to be eaten on one’s way to work. You can find the local dish on the menu at The Verandah at Ocean Terrace Inn, a sleek restaurant terrace on the outskirts of Basseterre serving breakfasts between 6.30am and 10.30am. Or try the traditional Johnny cake and saltfish sandwich at Sweet and Savory Bistro in Frigate Bay. Then, before sight-seeing begins, make sure to pop by nearby Ritual Coffee House to grab one of their famously good iced coffees.
First stop, the old sugar plantation of Romney Manor and Wingfield Estate: a piece of Caribbean history shrouded in tropical rainforest. Textile fanatics will love the on-site hand-dyed fabric shop, Caribelle Batik; those hot on their horticulture can admire the 400-year-old Saman tree and Garden of Eden-esque fauna; while history buffs can revel in the estate’s presidential beginnings and royal connections, not to mention the archaeological ruins of one of the Caribbean’s oldest rum distilleries. Just be sure to bring change if you want to take home one of Caribelle’s one-of-a-kind pieces.
While you’re at Romney Manor, make sure to book in on the neighbouring Sky Safari Zipline which makes the most of the area’s deeply forested terrain by whizzing through it at up to 80mph. The zipline takes its high-fliers over Wingfield Estate and Wingfield river, passing tree-hugging monkeys and glimpsing vistas of the Caribbean Sea. Views may vary, but one thing remains consistent: the charm of your safety-first guides, regularly heralded as the funniest the island has to offer.
Once upon a time, when St Kitts was at the height of its British Colonial powers, a fortress was built to defend it. Today, Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park holds one of the best preserved fortifications in all of the Americas, perfect for a stroll back in time. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a steep drive up the mountainside through narrow arches and hairpin bends, but the views from 800ft above sea level are more than worth it. You can spot the cannons pointed out to the big, wide blue, but to fully understand their history, ensure you pick up the audio guide on buying your entrance ticket.
After your adrenaline-fuelled adventure, spend the rest of your day in total relaxation. A northerly 20-minute drive along the coast lies Dieppe Bay, a restful spot where you can watch the two oceans – the Atlantic and the Caribbean – collide. It’s also home to Cooper’s Bar, a rickety, locally loved shack known for its seafood that’s ideal for a walk on the authentic side. Otherwise, try a visit to Belle Mont Farm on Kittitian Hill. Not only one of the island’s hottest hotels, but keepers of three exceptional restaurants that champion sustainable, foraged food.