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St Kitts Other Attractions
bulletBrimstone Hill
bulletSt Kitts Churches
bulletSt Kitts Sugar Cane Railroad
bulletSt Kitts Culture in Cayon
bullet Immerse yourself in the unique traditions of the Moko Jumbies
bullet Day Tripping to Nevis
bulletSt Kitts Scenic Highway



By Justin Burch

Atop the volcanic cliffs of St. Kitts shoreline, rests a centuries-old fortress once known as the "Gibraltar of the West Indies." Brimstone Hill, named for the black rock from which it was fashioned, is both one of the most important colonial sites in the Caribbean and easily the most captivating. After serving as the main line of defense for both the British and French throughout the colonial period and falling into eventual disrepair, the fortress was saved from oblivion in the mid-20th century. When touring the site today, visitors can not only gain an important historical perspective, but witness one of the most awe-inspiring views anywhere in the Caribbean.

Once officially known as the island of St. Christopher, St. Kitts holds a unique distinction in the storied history of the Caribbean. As the first island to be settled by Europeans, St. Kitts served as a model society for the colonizers that flocked to the region throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. At the beginning of the colonial period, St. Kitts was shared by the British and the French, a mutual settlement that lasted from 1627 until 1713. After the native peoples were eradicated from St. Kitts and other Caribbean islands, European colonizers began fortifying their settlements and developing diverse industries. St. Kitts' Brimstone Hill remains at once one of the oldest, largest and best preserved examples of such European development anywhere in the Caribbean.

The massive fortress at Brimstone Hill was constructed in pieces between the 1690s and 1790s. Nearly all of the stones used in the fortress were created using the volcanic rock that rests along the coastline of St. Kitts. The black stones were then precariously set into the walls of the fortress, including the exterior wall that overlooks an 800-foot cliff and the windswept Caribbean Sea. As the fortress expanded, the structure came to be an imposing extension of the dangerous coastline and impenetrable cliffs of Brimstone Hill.

In 1792, a French fleet composed of 50 ships and nearly 8,000 men, succeeded in capturing Brimstone Hill from the 1,000 British soldiers stationed atop the cliffs. However, following the Treaty of Versailles one year later, both the fortress and the island of St. Kitts were returned to the British Crown. While Brimstone Hill served as an active military camp for another 60 years, the massive fortress was abandoned and left to the elements by the mid-19th century. In 1965, the Brimstone Hill was resurrected as a national park and underwent years of restoration, eventually gaining distinction as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today, visitors to Brimstone Hill can tour the restored fortress and experience the same remarkable views once enjoyed by European soldiers. Daily tours traverse the 38-acre complex and visit the hospital, officers' quarters, ammunition stores, cemetery and the impressive citadel with its guns remounted and aimed across the Caribbean Sea. In the on-site museum, visitors can see a collection of artifacts left behind by the soldiers and slaves that helped build the fortress. After taking in the rich history of the site, visitors can walk a number of nature trails through St. Kitts' dense coastal forest. While there is plenty to see along the trails, the greatest natural beauty can be found by gazing across the Caribbean Sea from the top of the fortress. To the southeast, both St. Kitts' sister island of Nevis and Montserrat are easily visible, while smaller islands such as St. Barths, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba can be seen to the north.

Whether you are a history buff or just a curious traveler, Brimstone Hill should be on your list of must-visit destinations in St. Kitts. While there is potentially much to learn atop Brimstone Hill, the view from atop one of the region's most significant structures is something you will treasure for a lifetime.

Justin Burch writes articles about travel in St. Kitts for the Marriott Resorts.

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By Justin Burch 

While some Caribbean islands are known for their raucous atmosphere, St. Kitts and its residents are content being quiet, peaceful and devout. Though the island certainly isn't without plenty of fun, the spiritual nature of St. Kitts' residents seems to grant a calming influence to all who visit. Like many other destinations known for being peaceful and contemplative, life for locals in St. Kitts seems to revolve around the churches and their rich histories. As the population of St. Kitts is small compared to other popular Caribbean islands, the island has only two main churches. However, these churches - a Roman Catholic cathedral and an Anglican church - are two of the most important buildings on the island and should be part of any sightseeing tour in Basseterre.

One of the most impressive structures in St. Kitts is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic church that dates to the 1920s. Though the cathedral is not yet 100 years old, a number of colonial churches have stood on the land since the early 18th century. The original Catholic cathedral was built on this picturesque plot in 1706. Initially known as the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the French-built structure was destroyed only four years later by invading British troops. With St. Kitts under British control, the church was rebuilt in 1710 as the island's primary Anglican church. For the next century, Roman Catholics were persecuted by the British and forbidden from worshipping in public. As a result, the Catholic population of St. Kitts was forced to practice their religion in private, without a house of worship to call their own.

After a century of persecution, St. Kitts' Catholics were again allowed to practice their faith in 1829. A few years later, a large group of Portuguese immigrants arrived on the island, further increasing the island's diversity and St. Kitts' Catholic population. With the support of these devoutly religious immigrants, St. Kitts' Catholic population erected a new church in 1856. Now known as the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the building served the island's Catholic community until 1927 when today's larger, more ornate structure was erected. Today, visitors can tour the cathedral amongst the beautiful surroundings of Independence Square, St. Kitts' historic park that is bordered by well-preserved colonial buildings.

After St. Kitts' Catholic population reclaimed the site of their church in the mid-19th century, the Anglican congregation built a new house of worship just east of the cathedral. Like the original incarnation of the Catholic cathedral, St. George's Anglican Church was built in the 1850s. However, unlike the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St. George's Anglican Church has remained intact for 150 years. Though St. George's has been renovated several times following fires and storms, the remarkable colonial structure is still in service today. Despite lacking the grandeur of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St. George's Anglican Church is an important site in Basseterre and shouldn't be missed when touring the city.

To the west of both primary churches, visitors will find the Springfield Chapel and Cemetery. Also constructed in the mid-19th century, the Springfield Chapel and Cemetery is an important religious and historical site for locals. In 1858, the government responded to a cholera epidemic that had affected the island for four years by requiring all future burials to take place at Springfield Cemetery. In 1862, the government of St. Kitts added the non-denominational chapel to be used for all burial services. Today, the Springfield Chapel and Cemetery serve as constant reminders of the island's unwavering faith and unique colonial history. Just as many locals celebrate this site amongst the most spiritual and uplifting in St. Kitts, many visitors have made the journey to the west side of Basseterre to experience the rustic chapel and historic graveyard.

If you want to tap into the peaceful spirit of St. Kitts, these sites should be at the top of your sightseeing list. While the churches in St. Kitts might seem modest at first glance, these incredible buildings have incredible stories to tell to all who visit.

Justin Burch writes articles about travel in St. Kitts for the Marriott Resorts.

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By Justin Birch

Early in the 20th Century, a 30-mile railway was constructed on St. Kitts to aid transportation of sugarcane crops to the island's colonial capital, Basseterre. Today, this unique narrow-gauge railway has found a new life. As part of St. Kitts' expanding tourism industry, the St. Kitts Sugarcane Railroad now serves as one of the best ways to see this gorgeous island in its entirety. In addition to being the most enchanting rail tour in the Caribbean, this railway provides one of the most scenic train rides in the world.

Traversing a major stretch of the island, the railway will take you past many of the old sugarcane fields. Though the crop is rarely harvested anymore, these plantations offer a unique glimpse into the Caribbean's colonial past. Today, the countryside is dotted with numerous active farms full of livestock and fruit crops, yet abandoned windmills and smokestacks still populate the landscape. The small towns supporting these farms also feature charming houses and other unique historic structures. Many travelers have also noticed that children often come out of the rural schoolhouses to watch the train roll by twice a day - an activity that offers students and teachers a regular break from studies.

After leaving the station, the train will head north along the St. Kitts' beautiful coastline. Some of the first things you might notice are the numerous sidings - loading points for harvested sugarcane - next to the tracks. As the train hugs the coastline in the early going, you will probably also notice the rainforest-covered mountains of St. Kitts rising above the aforementioned farms and villages. At the heart of the mountain range, you will certainly notice Mt. Liamuiga - the volcanic peak visible throughout the island. Stretching from the island's central mountain range are many deep canyons, some of which extend all the way to the coastline's majestic cliffs. Spanning these canyons are 24 steel bridges - all of which are attractions in themselves.

Many of St. Kitts' most popular attractions are visible from the train, as well. As the train circles the island, the conductor will announce such sites as Brimstone Hill Fortress - the "Gibraltar of the Caribbean." While viewing such historic structures and natural beauty, you will also be treated to a narrative history of the island. To educate yourself even further, stop by the Basseterre Public Library after your tour to view a permanent exhibit of photographs dating to the construction of the railway.

Unlike many other historic railways, the passenger cars of the St. Kitts Sugarcane Railroad are as luxurious as the scenery. For the sake of the tours, the island commissioned the construction of distinctive double-deck railcars. On the upper deck, you will find a beautiful open-air observation deck. Down below, the air conditioned cars are outfitted with comfortable furniture, full-service bars and even live entertainment - all with a Caribbean flourish. As you don't want to miss anything outside, the oversized windows will allow you to enjoy all the sites.

Utilizing 18 miles of the original railway, this two hour tour is the best way to see the entire country in a short time. As only 420 seats are available each day, it is recommended to buy tickets as early as possible through your resort or travel provider. As travelers are promised captivating views of the Caribbean Sea, surrounding islands, rainforest-coated mountains, magnificent cliffs and pristine wildlife - the St. Kitts Sugarcane Railroad is the hottest ticket on the island.

It is even possible to take a ride on the railway during a shore excursion from one of the many cruise ships that visit the island. Shuttles take passengers from the pier directly to Needsmust Station. At the end of the tour, shuttles will available for travel back to the pier or any of the island's resorts.

If you are looking for the best way to see St. Kitts - or maybe just a ride you will never forget - climb aboard the St. Kitts Sugarcane Railroad.

This article was written by Justin Burch. Justin writes articles for the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino about travel in St Kitts and the Caribbean.



By Justin Birch

Though the historic and scenic capital of Basseterre certainly deserves to be the most-visited community in St. Kitts, there are several towns across the island that offer unique tourism opportunities. One such destination is the peaceful town of Cayon, a coastal village resting in a verdant seaside valley just a few miles from Basseterre. Though the scenery and friendly spirit of Cayon can be appreciated throughout the year, the town is an especially exciting destination during the annual late spring celebration known as the Green Valley Festival. Despite being little-known outside of St. Kitts, the Green Valley Festival is actually the island's second-largest event behind the immensely popular national Carnival celebration. Those visiting Cayon can also explore Spooner's Ginnery, one of the most interesting historic industrial sites in the Caribbean.

Though the town of Cayon receives far fewer visitors than the capital city of Basseterre, this austere community is said to be one of the friendliest in St. Kitts. Much of the town's welcoming nature seems to stem from the locals' spirituality - the small community is home to nine distinct churches - and simple, relaxing way of life. Cayon is also home to some of the St. Kitts' most unique scenery, as the town rests in a mountain valley near the Caribbean shoreline that is surrounded by verdant pastures and sugar cane fields.

While the scenery of Cayon is certainly a worthwhile attraction, the town has far more to offer during the month of May. Each year since 1997, the Green Valley Festival has helped St. Kitts welcome the summer season with live music, unique Caribbean cuisine and other special events. Since its inception, the Green Valley Festival has represented a true community effort, as citizens of Cayon organize and operate the event with the assistance of a select group of local sponsors. Having expanded each year, the Green Valley Festival now features a expansive lineup of local and regional musicians - performing everything from reggae, calypso and other Caribbean genres to soul, gospel and rock - numerous food vendors offering island-inspired cuisine and artists selling their hand-crafted creations. Much of the action at the Green Valley Festival revolves around centrally located Maynard's Park, site of the primary music and event stage.

One of the most popular events at the Green Valley Festival is the elegant and uniquely Caribbean Queen Pageant. Each year, several local women don their most ornate, island-inspired dresses and compete on stage for a chance to represent the close-knit community and a seat of honor in the festival's closing parade. During the parade, the Green Valley Festival Queen rides amongst local marching bands, dance troupes and other costumed performers that demonstrate some of the region's lesser-known art forms. As the closing parade traverses nearly all of Cayon, excellent vantage points can be found on several of the town's narrow streets.

One of St. Kitts' most interesting colonial sites rests along the northeastern shore, just a few miles from Cayon. Spooner's Ginnery - also known as Spooner's Estate - is home to the last remaining cotton ginnery on St. Kitts, one of the most significant relics from the island's transition from colonial rule to a modern economy. From the mid-18th century until the turn of the 20th century, Spooner's Estate served as one of the island's most productive sugar mills. After the property changed hands, the new owners converted the steam-powered sugar mill to a mechanical gin and began growing cotton in the rolling fields. Spooner's Ginnery remained in operation until the 1970s when the local government purchased the property and began treating the site as an unofficial historic destination. Today, visitors to Spooner's Ginnery can explore ruins that span three centuries of St. Kitts' unique industrial and cultural history. The site of the ginnery also offers excellent views of one of the most peaceful, rural landscapes on the island.

When visiting St. Kitts, tourists that want to experience the quiet charm of local life are encouraged to visit the town of Cayon. Though the month of May stands as the most exciting time to visit this area, tourists visiting any time of the year can still revel in Cayon's scenic seaside location and friendly atmosphere.

Justin Burch writes articles for the Marriott Resorts



Immerse Yourself in the Unique Tradition of the Moko Jumbies

By Justin Burch    

Plenty of travelers are aware of the African influence on Caribbean tradition, but very few seek out the most unique elements of this incredible culture. In St. Kitts, traces of African culture can be found throughout the island in everything from artwork to cuisine. Yet, the island's traditional performers offer one of the best ways for tourists to enjoy the diverse culture of St. Kitts. The most well-known of these performers are the moko jumbies, the famous stilt dancers recognized throughout the world. If you want to witness a truly remarkable performance while in St. Kitts, seek out the Caribbean spectacle provided by the moko jumbies.

The tradition of the moko jumbies has its origins in West Africa. It is believed that the term "moko" references an African god or spirit, while "jumbie" is most likely derived from a West Indian term for "ghost" (therefore, "moko" can be treated as the African figure, while "moko jumbie" represents the Caribbean derivative). In African custom, the moko would be responsible for watching over his village. Using his incredible height, the moko would be able to predict all types of danger and protect his people from evil. This important member of the tribe was rendered in artwork and performance as man on giant stilts capable of unexplainable feats.

The moko jumbies entered Caribbean tradition during the colonial period via the performances of West African slaves. After the African custom arrived in the region, the story of the moko and the dance of the moko jumbie were adapted to incorporate the new scenery. The new story claimed that the moko walked across the ocean to the islands and, despite the hardships of slavery, retained his pride and ability to protect his people. While those of African descent were resigned to celebrate this story amongst themselves for centuries, the moko eventually found his place in the Carnival celebrations of the Caribbean. By the early 20th century, the dancers - now known as moko jumbies - had become one of the most popular cultural attractions in the Caribbean.

While the popularity of moko jumbies waned during the second half of the 20th century, the tradition has experienced an incredible resurgence in the last 15-20 years. Like those traveling during the high period of the moko jumbies popularity in the early 1900s, tourists visiting the Caribbean today will be able to experience the joy of this unique performance throughout the region. In fact, the moko jumbies have become such a popular attraction that performances are held regularly throughout the year in St. Kitts and the dance is incorporated into many other cultural events.

The moko jumbies are certainly hard to miss in St. Kitts. The performers typically wear long gowns and spiked headdresses that resemble a macaw plant in bloom (some theories hold that the term "moko" may also be derived from the name of this tropical plant). In most cases, the moko jumbies dance atop six to eight foot stilts, allowing them to look down upon the crowds and interact with captivated visitors in balconies and second-story windows. Viewers often note the great suspense in watching the moko jumbies dance, as the performers can seem on the verge of falling over at any time. Of course, the moko jumbies are skilled dancers and only feign collapse to garner applause from their audience.

Though the moko jumbies perform throughout the year in St. Kitts, the best times to view all the diverse elements of the island's unique culture are during the New Year's and Carnival seasons. During these annual celebrations, the moko jumbies will be joined by an incredible assortment of performers. Much as the moko jumbie tradition has its roots in West Africa, each group of performers in St. Kitts draws from a distinctive cultural influence, mirroring the rich history and cultural diversity of the island.

If you want to experience the vibrant culture of the Caribbean, you won't find a better island than St. Kitts. As the fascinating tradition of the moko jumbies represents just the tip of the iceberg, a vacation spent in St. Kitts can offer a wealth of wonderful sights and unique experiences.

Justin Burch writes articles about travel in St. Kitts for the Marriott Resorts.

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Day_Tripping_To_St._Kitts'_Little Sister_Island_-_Nevis
By Justin Burch

Resting only a few miles apart in calm Caribbean waters, St. Kitts and Nevis have always shared an intimate relationship. Today, that relationship finds St. Kitts as one of the Caribbean's premier travel destinations, while the smaller island of Nevis offers plenty of great activities for day tripping tourists. Though St. Kitts remains a superior resort destination with more tourist opportunities, the islands have much in common. For starters, both islands feature dormant volcanoes at their center, each surrounded by lush rainforests with miles of hiking trails. Furthermore, as St. Kitts and Nevis represent former colonial outposts with economies once dominated by successful sugar plantations, both islands possess an incredible array of historic architecture. Lastly, as most visitors to the Caribbean take great interest in the beaches and the recreation opportunities provided by the Caribbean Sea, tourists will find plenty of warm, clear water and powdery sand wherever they travel.

Rising over 3,200 feet above the Caribbean Sea, Nevis Peak dominates the landscape of St. Kitts' sister island. Similar to Mt. Liamuiga at the center of St. Kitts, Nevis Peak is surrounded by lush trail-filled rainforests and diverse plant and animal life. As a result, hiking and biking in the shadow of Nevis' dormant volcano are two of the most popular activities for day-tripping tourists. With tours available for every age and skill level, visitors can spend a few hours experiencing the unspoiled beauty of Nevis and learning about her vibrant Caribbean ecosystem.

Scuba divers and snorkelers will also want to spend an afternoon on Nevis, enjoying pristine coral reefs and ship wrecks. As only 2 miles of Caribbean waters separate St. Kitts and Nevis, many of the best diving tours visit the most popular sites surrounding both islands. Many of the other water sports popular on St. Kitts can also be found on Nevis. A number of tour operators cater to deep sea fishermen and wind surfing enthusiasts, with many offering lessons for those new to the adventurous pursuits. After spending some time in the water, many day-trippers spend their afternoons relaxing on Pinneys Beach - one of the Caribbean's most beloved stretches of sand.

If you would rather spend your day on land experiencing Caribbean history, there are plenty of sites worth visiting on Nevis. Much like the historic city of Basseterre on St. Kitts, much of the activity on Nevis revolves around the island's colonial capital - Charlestown. Walking the streets of this quiet city, you will see charming remnants of the island's history around every corner - from Anglican churches and the Caribbean's first hotel to elegant plantation homes and the childhood residence of an American founding father, Alexander Hamilton. Elsewhere on the island, you can spot the remains of the once-bustling sugar industry in the form of 18th century plantations, windmills and mansions.

As St. Kitts sister island is close enough to be visible from the beach, a short ferry ride is all that is required to access the small island of Nevis. For many visitors, the 45-minute ferry ride itself is a memorable activity, as the trip provides exceptional views of both islands and the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. Furthermore, as the ferries operate daily from the early morning until the evening hours, it is easy to spend the afternoon on Nevis and return to St. Kitts for the superior dining and nightlife.

Additionally, many tour companies operate on both islands, making it possible to find activities on Nevis through your resort on St. Kitts.

When in St. Kitts, try to make the short voyage across the Caribbean to Nevis. Though St. Kitts may feature superior resorts and recreation opportunities, it is hard to deny the charm of St. Kitts' little sister.

Justin Burch writes articles about travel in St Kitts for the Marriott Resorts.


St Kitts Scenic Hghway

By Justin Birch

Less than 20 years ago, the picturesque southeastern peninsula of St. Kitts was accessible only by boat. Though the island is small, no passable roads existed for locals and tourists to visit the undeveloped beaches of the Atlantic coast. In 1989, however, its completed work on a remarkable roadway that would connect the corners of the island and offer visitors a scenic route to tour the Caribbean landscape. Known officially as the Dr. Kennedy Simmonds Highway - named for the island's first prime minister - this road remains one of the most important developments in the island's history and great way to see everything St. Kitts has to offer.

If you are like most of the Caribbean's visitors, you will probably want to spend a good part of your vacation on the beach, admiring the weather and the scenery. On St. Kitts, some of the best beaches are located along the narrow southeastern peninsula accessible by the Simmonds Highway. While the beaches in this area are typically not as wide as those near the island's capital city, Basseterre, most are known for their powdery sand and excellent views. One of the most popular beaches on the island's southern shore is Friar's Bay, site of some exciting new developments. Locals and knowledgeable tourists will also recommend the beaches at Sand Bank Bay, Cockleshell Bay and Banana Bay.

After the Simmonds Highway began providing access to the southernmost part of the islands for locals and tourists alike, several developments started taking shape. One of the most ambitious projects is the sprawling Whitegate Development Project. While parts of the complex are still in the planning stage, the Whitegate Development Project will include the Beaumont Park Racetrack and the luxury area known as Kittian Heights. Located at Dieppe Bay, this project will incorporate several new restaurants, shops and tourist opportunities in the coming years. The most exciting project for families will be the four-acre theme park known as Marine World. Situated on the shore at South Friar's Bay, Marine World will allow families to view local marine life in state-of-the-art aquariums and participate in dolphin encounters.

Though most of the activity along the Simmonds Highway takes place on the beaches, there is plenty to see before the end of the road. The road begins at Frigate Bay on the western half of the island and winds its way through many of St. Kitts' best sightseeing spots. Much of this scenery at the island's interior was generated by volcanic activity. Along the Simmonds Highway, you will pass one of the most picturesque volcanic sites on the island - the Great Salt Pond. Known for its sparkling pink color, this water-filled volcanic crater is one of the most photographed sites along the highway.

As you progress down the 6 mile highway, you will probably notice the coastal terrain becoming rockier. Exposed to the winds and waves of the Atlantic Ocean, the southeastern portion of the island will greet all visitors with an incredible scenic contrast to the calm beaches just a few miles to the northwest. After passing through the grassy, rolling hills near the beginning of the highway, rocky cliffs and lagoons will come into view. Amongst the windswept coves you can find one of the locals' favorite hangouts - Turtle Beach. As grazing cattle and goats find their way to the tiny beach, locals enjoy fresh seafood at the one of the most charming restaurants on the island. Of course, visitors are always welcome to join in on the food and fun.

Though taxis and some tour buses cruise along the Simmonds Highway, the best way to see the sites is renting a car. At your hotel or resort, you will be able to find information on daily car rentals and your concierge may be able to reserve a vehicle for you. As there is plenty to see in just over six miles, you may also want to ask your concierge for tips on the best way to see the southeastern peninsula.

If you want to see all the natural diversity that St. Kitts has to offer, take a ride down the Simmonds Highway. With white sand beaches, rolling hills and windswept cliffs in just over six miles, you might not find a more scenic road anywhere in the Caribbean.

Justin Burch writes articles about travel in St Kitts for the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Casino


Learn More about St Kitts by visiting our other St Kitts Pages

bulletAn introduction to St Kitts and Nevis
bulletSt Kitts Scuba Diving
bulletSt Kitts Beaches
bulletOutdoor recreation on St Kitts and Nevis
bulletOther Attractions
bulletBrimstone Hill Fortress

To learn about the other islands in the Caribbean, visit our Island Adventures Page




































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Last modified: April 15, 2009