What to do with 1 Day on St. Kitts & Nevis
Updated: Jun 4
St. Kitts & Nevis
St. Kitts & Nevis is a pair of Caribbean islands located between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean sea with the closest neighbors being Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, and Anguilla. The island of St. Kitts will be the more likely island for you to visit and has an array of beaches, cloud-covered mountains, and former sugar plantation ruins. The weather here maintains an average annual temperature of a high in the 80's Fahrenheit and lows in the 70's Fahrenheit. The capital of St. Kitts is Basseterre which was founded as a French Colony around 1627 and has a population roughly at 14,000 people.
How to get to St. Kitts
There are 2 primary ways that you would reach the island nation's capital of Basseterre. You could fly into Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport which is usually the more expensive choice to take but is also the primary way if you plan on staying on the island for at least a couple of days. The other way, which is also the way that I have explored the island both times I have visited, is by arriving to Port Zante on a cruise ship. Each cruise line has a different time frame and itinerary in which they will visit the island, but typically your visit would last roughly 8+ hours. The biggest perk of arriving by cruise ship at Port Zante is that the port is located within a short walk to the Historical Old Town of Basseterre.
What Is there to Do?
This question is easily answered by if this is your first time visiting this beautiful island or if it is a repeat visit. On my first visit to the island, I took an island tour to explore the various sites the main island has to offer. As soon as you get off the cruise ship, you will be greeted by a variety of tour options, as is the case with many Caribbean islands. I personally found these tour operators much less aggressive than in other destinations I have visited, although that is very much up to personal experience and it may not feel the same to you during your visit. I was able to find a tour offering that was to show us around the island for $20/person, but a range between $20-$50 could be considered quite fair depending on what itinerary they present to you (always make sure to clarify the price, as you usually pay up front, as well as checking all the places that they plan on taking you to).
The tour I chose was a group tour but ended up not being a full group which was a much more comfortable viewing experience. The usual setup is a truck with a covered back with multiple rows of benches that allow for the warm breeze to blow through as you ride along the roads.
Island Tour Itinerary- Fish Market & The War Memorial
You will start your tour as you follow your guide from all the shops just outside of Port Zante over to Bay Road which is the main road that goes along the waterfront before splitting into other roads. As you start along Bay Road you will pass Basseterre Market on your right. Just across the street from the market there is a tiny stretch of beach that is where some of the local fishermen clean their catch to then sell in the market.
The local fisherman are very personable and welcoming of the spotlight to show off their daily catches and have a talk with you.
Considering how close this strip of beach is to the cruise terminal, this is not a stop you necessarily have to only see on your tour, you can walk over to and explore the market and have longer interactions with these wonderful men.
After passing the fish market you will continue along Bay Road and pass by The War Memorial which is an Obelisk memorializing the servicemen & women from Saint Kitts & Nevis who have lost their lives in battle. The tour driver is very good about slowing down or stopping altogether at each spot for you to snap a quick photo or to give an explanation of what you are seeing.
The drive along the coast is incredibly scenic and you will pass many colorful houses and other buildings. It is just overall a very pleasant drive and after a few more quick stops for exposition on the daily living of the locals from the guide, you will reach your next main stop which happens to be one of the most popular destinations on the island.
Old Road Rum Co at Wingfield Estate Sugar Plantation Ruins
This sugar plantation/factory has been making Rum since 1681 which makes it the oldest surviving distillery in the Caribbean. This Estate has ruins of the original factories on location that you can see as you explore the grounds with a group tour. This tour includes a knowledgeable guide that provides an engaging history lesson of the island during the distillery tour that also includes a rum tasting for those interested. There is also a shop that you can make purchases to bring home with you.
Central Forest Reserve National Park
The Rum Sugar Plantation is on the outskirts of the Central Forest Reserve National Park which provides you an excellent opportunity to see the rainforest and its corresponding wildlife; primarily monkeys! On the tour you will not have too much time to actually explore any of the trails to explore the national park deeper, but you are given enough time to walk around a bit. This is absolutely a destination that should be high on your list to spend much more quality time in if you end up staying on the island for a couple of extra days.
After visiting the outskirts of the Central Forest Reserve National Park your tour may continue its way around the island to make the entire loop where you could also stop at Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park and/or Charles Fort. You will pass through many various villages as you continue along the coast but the destination you will eventually be heading towards is the absolute gem of the entire island.
Timothy Hill Overlook
This overlook is, in my opinion, the most stunning location on the entire island and still to this day I have not visited a better viewpoint in the Caribbean. The moment you get to the top it is incredibly obvious why this spot is usually a bit crowded with tour buses, trucks, and vehicles as well as hosting a few snack and souvenir tents. Timothy Hill Overlook provides the picturesque view of where you can view the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea without having to turn your head. There is usually a few locals up at the top with a donkey or monkeys for photo-ops that you would have to pay extra for (I personally try to not partake in animal photo-ops at the tourist spots, but that is a personal choice for you to make whether you'd like to or not if the animals seem to be well taken care of).
If you were staying on the island for a few extra days or rent your own car, you could continue down south to the small peninsula that then has a view of the smaller of the two islands, Nevis.
Looking over to the left from the Overlook you will see a few of the more expensive beach resorts as well as the millionaire houses that are located on the island.
Returning to Basseterre
After Timothy Hill Overlook you will usually head back up north and return to Basseterre as you pass more of the beautiful coastline. The tour definitely ends with the highlight of the day with the overlook and the mountain views as you return to the capital and are dropped off right near the cruise port. Once you are dropped off you will usually have a short amount of time to explore the various shops before having to return to the ship, but that will be it. If you wanted a more laid back day without having to go on and pay for a tour of the island, especially if you have visited the island before, you could choose to stay in Basseterre for the day and explore the capital city.
Explore the Capital of Basseterre- The Alternative to an Island Tour
The second way you could spend your 1 day in St. Kitts would be to walk the streets of the capital of Basseterre which is what I did on my second visit to this beautiful island. Having done the extensive island tour a couple years prior, when we made port in the city I decided to save a bit of money and see what I had not been able to explore on my first visit.
Port Zante- Shopping
As you exit the port you will walk past where all the tour groups are collecting people and continue on past the St. Kitts Sign and reach a a selection of shops and restaurants. These shops and restaurants are catered specifically for visitors coming off the cruise ships, so usually come with the tourist options as well as the tourist prices. If you are looking to pick-up some souvenirs to take home, you will have no problem finding a wide selection. A side note for making purchases is that you do not need to exchange your money as in most cases major credit cards are widely accepted at businesses and US Dollars are accepted practically everywhere as well (change is given to you in East Caribbean Dollar (XCD)).
The National Museum of St. Kitts
This small museum is located within the 1894 treasury building that is also the home of the St. Christopher National Trust and provides various exhibits displaying local history and cultural heritage. There is a $7 entrance fee to go inside the museum on the second floor of the building which I believe is well worth the price, especially on an above average warm day to escape the sun for a bit while you read through the history pieces provided.
Berkeley Memorial and St. Kitts & Nevis Independence Square
Just behind the National Museum is the Berkeley Memorial in the middle of a roundabout and the connecting point of a few roads that are central to local business and activity. If you turn right at the memorial you will go along Bank Street and reach Independence Square which is a small park that has shaded benches, paved footpaths, and has a 19th-century stone fountain in its center. This square was renamed to its current name to commemorate the independence of St. Christopher and Nevis.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Co-Cathedral
Next to St. Kitts & Nevis Independence Square is this Catholic Cathedral that was originally built under the name of Church of the Immaculate Conception around 1856 but after being demolished in 1927 was constructed in its current building and location that same year. The cathedral is not elaborate by any means but is beautiful and worth a quick visit as you are exploring the city and can take a moment to escape the sun.
Warner Park Sporting Complex
I will start off by saying that this spot is only worth a visit if you happen to be visiting on a day of a sporting event or match that you could attend. I happened to be walking the streets and noticed the sign on a wall that mentioned that there was a professional Cricket Match to take place that day so I decided to go check it out having never watched Cricket before. I purchased my ticket for $5 and proceeded to the seating area. It is a very basic stadium and the seats were typical plastic stadium seats that you can find anywhere in USA Baseball stadiums. I was one of only 4 people who were present to watch the Match and the highlight of the stadium besides the fact that the seats were covered from the sun was the stunning mountain views as the backdrop of the field.
Worth the Visit
The island of St. Kitts & Nevis is a wonderful country to visit and you do not have a shortage of things to do during your stay between exploring the city of Basseterre with its local culture and history, the exciting mountains with their rainforests, or the stunning beach landscapes. The paradise level year-round weather also helps. You can absolutely spend multiple days to weeks exploring and relaxing on this island, but if you only have a day, I hope this list has given you some ideas of how to spend your time. Thank you for reading and if you have any questions, you can absolutely contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @travelinggibson on Instagram. Good luck with your travels!