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The islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, also known as Saint Christopher and Nevis, are an undiscovered duo of supreme beauty and languidness, where the main tourist activity is gawking. Being forced to just enjoy nature as it is makes a Saint Kitts and Nevis holiday a profoundly moving experience.
Both islands are characterized by amazing tall peaks: Nevis Peak, once thought to be snow-covered; and Mount Liamuiga, on Saint Kitts, a dormant volcano who seems to have opted to sleep his days away and let rainforest cover his slopes. Hiking expeditions to these peaks can be arranged, but should be done with a guide. While winding through lush rainforest adorned with bright flowers and monkeys, the hassle of getting a guide will be well worth it. Saint Kitts and Nevis possess a compelling array of natural variety, beauty and colour.
Five thousand years prior to European arrival, the island was settled by Native Americans. The latest arrivals, the Kalinago peoples, arrived approximately 3 centuries before the Europeans. The Kalinago allowed the Europeans to colonise Saint Kitts, while earlier attempts to settle other islands were met with immediate destruction of the colonies by the Indians. The Kalinago were eventually wiped out in the great Kalinago Genocide of 1626.
The islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis are two of the Caribbean's oldest colonised territories. Saint Kitts became the first British colony in the West Indies in 1624 and then became the first French colony in the Caribbean in 1625, when both nations decided to partition the island. The island of Nevis was colonised in 1628 by British settlers from Saint Kitts. From there, Saint Kitts became the premier base for British and French expansion, as the islands of Antigua, Montserrat, Anguilla and Tortola for the British, and Martinique, the Guadeloupe archipelago and St. Barths for the French were colonised from it.
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Although small in size, and separated by only 3 kilometres of water, the two islands were viewed and governed as different states until the late 19th century, when they were forcibly unified along with the island of Anguilla by the British. To this day relations are strained, with Nevis accusing Saint Kitts of neglecting its needs.
Saint Kitts and Nevis, along with Anguilla, became an associated state with full internal autonomy in 1967. Anguillians rebelled, and their island was allowed to separate from the others in 1971. St. Kitts and Nevis achieved independence in 1983. It is the newest sovereign nation in the Americas. In August 1998, a vote in Nevis on a referendum to separate from St. Kitts fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. In late September 1998, Hurricane Georges caused extreme damage. 
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a twin island country with a total landmass of just 270 km2. The island of St. Kitts, the larger of the two, is 180 km2 in size and is located at latitude 17.30 N, and longitude 62.80 W. Nevis is 93 km2 and located at latitude 17.10 N, longitude 62.35 W, approximately 3 kilometres southeast of St. Kitts. They are about one-third of the way from Puerto Rico to Trinidad and Tobago. Mount Liamuiga on St Kitts is the highest point at 1,156 metres above sea level. Much of the islands are covered in tropical forests, especially at higher elevations, though large areas have been reserved for towns, agriculture and tourism as well.
The islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis is divided into 14 parishes.
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Horse riding is an activity you can undertake almost anywhere in the world, but on the island of Nevis it is a bit different. Most trips include long rides along the beaches, passing beautiful white sands, turquoise waters and hanging palm trees. Visit the Ride Nevis website for more details about tours, prices and itineraries.
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The compound known as Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park dates back to the 18th century and was known as the 'Gibraltar of the West Indies' as it was once a major British garrison until it was abandoned in 1850. Since the 1960's there have been restorations and as a result much of the fortress has been returned to how it looked like before. It was designed by the British and built by African slave labour and the fortress is a testimony to European colonial expansion, the African slave trade and the emergence of new societies in the Caribbean and therefore is placed on the Unesco World Heritage List.
The Citadel on the main hilltop has 24 cannons and provides excellent views of Sint Eustatius and Sandy Point Town. Inside are old rooms displaying colonial history featuring cannonballs and swords Brimstone Hill itself is a volcanic cone named for the sulfur vents that you will undoubtly smell as you drive past the hill along the coastal road. For more information check the Brimstone Hill Fortress website for details.
The Nevis botanical gardens cover about 3.2 hectares of land only and are only a few minutes' southeast of Charlestown. The gardens display a rare and stunning collection of tropical greenery, orchid and rose gardens, and a rainforest conservatory. All flora is marked with its common name, making it accessible to all. There are some fine giftshops and restaurants nearby as well. Visit the Nevis Botanical Gardens website for more information.
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Held annually on March 28, this takes place over three days at Brimstone Hill Fort. History comes alive as the famous battle between British and French forces in 1782 is reenacted here. It is a great spectacle that allows you to imagine this aspect of colonial life in the 18th century. The real battle actually took place on January 25th and 26th but the modern reenactment takes place in March.
An internationally acclaimed music festival held over the last weekend of June each year. It has been running for 16 years, and now many international artists come to perform at the festival, playing pop, jazz, and reggae, amongst other styles. There is no onsite accommodation at the festival, so visitors usually stay in nearby hotels. Tickets for the festival can sell out months before, so it is worth purchasing early on if you intend on going.
This is the smaller island of Nevis’ answer to the main annual festival held in St Kitts. It is held over the last weekend of July, and features similar music, street dancing, parades, and pageants.
Independence Day is a public holiday that celebrates the independence and formation of the sovereign nation of St Kitts and Nevis. During the week either side of the day communities have a schedule of events including parades, picnics, and formal cocktail receptions.
This is a more recent addition to the annual festival calendar, and is growing in popularity. Held over the last weekend in October, the festival showcases Latin culture through film, music, and dancing. Some events are free to join.
A fun festival held from the middle of December until early January each year, with lively events happening over the Christmas period. For example, a major highlight of the festival is “J’ouvert morning,” whereby steel and brass bands parade through the streets playing music that many people dance to. The music goes well into the early hours of the morning. It is an extremely lively festival, and the basis is to celebrate St Kitts and Nevis’ proud Caribbean culture.
Saint Kitts and Nevis have a warm and humid tropical climate with temperatures usually around 30 °C during the day and around 23 °C at night. June to September is slightly warmer with temperatures above 30 °C at daytime and not dropping below 26 °C on average at night. Rainfall is spread throughout the year and possible in every month but July to November is the wetter time of year while February to May is somewhat drier.
Being an island nation, the only way to get to Saint Kitts and Nevis will be by plane or by boat. Still, there are no regular ferries to and from the islands, although there has been some rumors about boats to and from Sint Eustatius, one of the Netherlands Antilles.
Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) is on Saint Kitts. Windward Islands Airways (Winair) flies there from Nevis and Saint Martin while Leeward Islands Air Transport flies to and from Antigua and Barbuda and St. Thomas. Connections to North America and Europe include Miami and New York by American Airlines, and London by British Airways. There are also seasonal flights to Toronto and flights to Charlotte andPhiladelphia.
Vance W. Amory International Airport (NEV) is on Nevis with Winair flying to Saint Kitts and Saint Martin, LIAT to Antigua and Barbuda, while American Eagle has flights to and from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
There are no regular boats serving the islands, though once every week or two there are boats between Basseterre on Saint Kitts and Philipsburg in Sint Maarten. Mainly locals go shopping for the weekend as the ferry returns the other day again. You might also be able to find a fisherman who will bring you from for example Sint Eustatius but don't count on it.
Windward Islands Airways (Winair) operates flights between the two islands.
St. Kitts Scenic Railway operates a scenic tour on the island of Saint Kitts on an old railway track formerly used by sugarcane plantations. This tour runs on a 48-kilometre (30-mile) loop and takes about 3 hours to complete.
Renting a car is a good way to explore the islands, although not necessary. Taxis drivers will be glad to show you much of the island on a tour as well for a fixed price. If you do feel the need to have your own wheels, many of the international (hertz, avis) and local companies offer rental cars for reasonable prices. You can see much of Saint Kitts in a day or two and you will only need a day in Nevis.
Bus travel is a good and cheap way to get around the islands and most trips don't cost more than a few Eastern Caribbean Dollars (EC$). Buses can be flagged down anywhere along its route and also stop anywhere along its route to drop passengers.
On the main island of Saint Kitts, there are 5 bus routes which all originate and terminate at the capital Basseterre. They are:
On the smaller island of Nevis there are two bus routes who both travel around the ring road of the island. Both routes orginate and terminate in the capital Charlestown.
Buses traveling north from Charlestown leave from the southwest end of D.R. Walwyn Plaza and buses traveling south from Charlestown leave from the northern end of Memorial Square.
Six ferries operate between the islands of Saint Kitss and Nevis: the MV Caribe Queen, MV Carib Breeze and MV Carib Surf, the MV Mark Twain, the MV Geronimo and the MV Sea Hustler. The MV Mark Twain is currently inactive, but the other 5 vessels have a total of 15 sailings a day between both islands in either direction, between 6.30am (first sailing from Saint Kitts) to 7pm (last sailing from Saint Kitts). From Nevis, the first one leaves at 7am and the last at 6 pm. Crossings take about 45 minutes and provide an excellent way of travelling between the capital Basseterre on Saint Kitts and Charlestown, the 'capital' of Nevis.
Citizens of Commonwealth countries, Organization of American States (except the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and the following countries do not require visas: Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, South Korea, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Kingdom of the Netherlands (includes Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten), Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, UK and the United Arab Emirates.
See also Money Matters
The currency of Saint Kitts and Nevis is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, or EC$. It has existed since 1965 and is used by 7 other states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States as well. Only the British Virgin Islands (the nineth member) doesn't use it, but uses the US$ instead. The EC$ is subdivided into 100 cents and has been pegged to the United States dollar at US$1 = EC$2.7 since 1976. The EC$ comes in coins of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cents and a coins of 1 dollar. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar.
The language of Saint Kitts and Nevis is English. However if you have never visited the Caribbean before you may have difficulty understanding the patois, or more correctly the Creole language, spoken by the locals which is based on the English language but to the untrained ear sounds nothing like it. For example "a-come" means coming "a-knock" means knocking. Most notable is the simplification of use of pronouns as in "I and I" which replaces all other pronouns like she/he, we/my, yours, hers/his and ours. The Caribbean patois has its roots not only in African languages (west, central and Nigerian), standard English, Scottish and Spanish but also Perso-Arabic and Sanskrit. Unusually the end result is not just a language but also a philosophical statement which emphasises the group relationship rather than the personal.
There are many dining options in St. Kitts. Some of the popular restaurants are
Both islands have options ranging from budget guesthouses to top-end 5-star hotels with restaurants, pools and a nice beach location. If you like relaxing it's best to stay in the latter ones, but if you like some more interaction with the locals, enjoying great culture and nightlife, it's best to stay in one of the capitals: Basseterre or Charlestown.
The following options are all in Basseterre, Saint Kitts:
See also Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Saint Kitts and Nevis. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Saint Kitts and Nevis) where that disease is widely prevalent.
It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Saint Kitts and Nevis. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and vaccination against hepatitis B and typhoid are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.
Dengue sometimes occurs as well. There is no vaccination, so buy mosquito repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Also wear long sleeves if possible.
Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.
See also Travel Safety
In general, the islands are a safe destination with little serious problems. Just be aware of pickpockets in some busier areas and use normal precautions.
See also International Telephone Calls
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Ask ambiz a question about Saint Kitts and Nevis
Amicia is a native of St Kitts and Neviswho publishes a website about St Kitts and Nevis at http://www.discover-stkitts-nevis-beaches.com. As a native, Amicia can assist with recommendations for accommodations, entertainment, tours and attractions. She can also provide useful suggestions about buying real estate and doing business in St. Kitts and Nevis.
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