A complete guide to visiting St. Kitts and Nevis, 2023 Edition

Timothy Hill Overlook, St. Kitts and Nevis
Timothy Hill Overlook, St. Kitts and Nevis

The little Caribbean island country of Saint Kitts and Nevis (officially called the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis) is considered to be a great destination for family travel.

Interestingly, in the 1600’s, the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis were recognized as separate entities, colonized by different countries, and reunited in the 19th century. Today St. Kitts and Nevis welcomes millions of tourists from around the globe, offering pristine beaches, luxury lodging, Caribbean culinary experience, and a glimpse into Caribbean history.

Let’s take a look at some things you need to know before visiting St. Kitts and Nevis and attractions you can’t miss while you are there!

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What to pack for St. Kitts and Nevis?

To help you prepare for your journey to St. Kitts and Nevis, we’ve put together a comprehensive family packing list that covers everything you’ll need to make the most of time on the islands.

Where is St. Kitts and Nevis?

Banana Bay Beach at St. Kitts and Nevis
Banana Bay Beach at St. Kitts and Nevis

The island country of St. Kitts and Nevis is located in the Caribbean Sea in the West Indies, southwest of Miami, Florida. It is actually the smallest country in the Americas and the 8th smallest country in the world!

Getting from the U.S. to St. Kitts and Nevis

Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport (SKB)
Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport (SKB)

There are several direct flights from the U.S. mainland to Basseterre (Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport (SKB)) from cities such as Miami, Charlotte, and New York. The nonstop flights are operated by American Airlines, Delta, Iberia, and United, and the flight is about 3-4 hours long.

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Coming from SFO, we had a layover in Miami and decided to spend the night there before heading to St. Kitts and Nevis in the morning. We think when traveling with the little ones, staying overnight at your stopover city is a little easier, rather than spending hours at an airport and taking the next flight right away. Luckily, Hyatt Place Miami Airport-East is literally right across from the Miami International Airport, and in addition to a place to rest, it even offered amenities such as a pool.

Customs and Immigration

You must fill out the immigration arrival form on the official website and provide a QR code at customs before exiting Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport (SKB). One form can be filled out per family, and we completed it before our departure.

Transportation

Taxi dispatcher kiosk at Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport (SKB)
Taxi dispatcher kiosk at Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport (SKB)

When arriving in St. Kitts and Nevis, you might first wonder how to get to your hotel. Fortunately, right outside the airport, there is a taxi dispatcher kiosk that will arrange your transportation to the desired destination.

We noticed that all the taxis were vans, allowing you to fit your luggage and 6-8 people comfortably with no problem.

Another thing to keep in mind is that taxi services are cash only; it would be around 45 USD for a 25-minute ride. We could easily pay in U.S. dollars, confirming the price before our ride.

Currency

At Mount Nevis Hotel, Nevis
At Mount Nevis Hotel, Nevis

The local currency in St. Kitts and Nevis is Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD), and 1 East Caribbean Dollar equals 0.37 USD. U.S. dollars and credit cards are largely accepted at most businesses, and we did not have a need to exchange them for local currency.

As always, remember to use a Credit Card with no foreign transaction fees, so you will not have to pay extra fees when using your credit card (such as Chase Sapphire Preferred).

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

You can earn a signup bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards Points when you signup for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card and spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. This bonus alone is worth at least $1,200 in travel rewards when transferred to travel partners such as Hyatt!

REWARDS RATE

1x-5x

BONUS VALUE

$1,200

SIGN-UP BONUS

60,000 points

ANNUAL FEE

$95

Interestingly, the taxi services were cash only and were relatively expensive. Luckily, some convenience stores, such as Ram’s Supermarket and hotels, offered ATMs.

💡 Good to Know

Suppose you are abroad and want to withdraw money from your checking account. In that case, we highly recommend opening a Schwab checking account before your international trip so you can withdraw cash from local ATMs with no foreign transaction fees. Moreover, Schwab will reimburse you all ATM fees.

Where to stay

The pool at Park Hyatt St. Kitts
The pool at Park Hyatt St. Kitts

There are dozens of hotels and vacation rentals in St. Kitts and Nevis, varying from simple to luxurious accommodations. If you want to stay on points, one option is Park Hyatt St. Kitts on the southern tip of Saint Kitts. You can read more about our stay at Park Hyatt St. Kitts here.

Climate

St. Kitts and Nevis has a typical tropical climate with warm and humid conditions. The hurricane season usually starts in June and ends in December. Although the locals said it hadn’t properly rained for the last few years, with just occasional 15-minute showers, it rained for the whole day on one of the days during our stay in early April.

Things to do in St. Kitts and Nevis

Go to the beach

Banana Bay Beach, St. Kitts and Nevis
Banana Bay Beach, St. Kitts and Nevis

Now, the beaches in St. Kitts are mostly mixed with volcanic sand (aka not white coral-based sand). Both islands resulted from volcanic activity and now are homes to dormant Mount Liamuiga (on St. Kitts) and Nevis Peak (on Nevis). If you feel like it, I can also hike to the summit of the volcanoes through the rainforest.

The beach in Nevis
The beach in Nevis

Nonetheless, St. Kitts and Nevis offer some fantastic beaches with clear turquoise water. To name a few, our favorites were – Banana Bay Beach in St. Kitts and Pennies Beach in Nevis. When we visited in early April, the water felt great and was around 82°F.

Go kayaking and snorkeling

When in St. Kitts and Nevis, we absolutely recommend going kayaking in the sea. Well, technically, we were cruising the Narrows, the Channel between Nevis and St. Kitts. It definitely was more challenging than kayaking on the lake, which we have done many times before, but riding salty turquoise waves overlooking the green hills of Nevis was one of the highlights of our trip.

Luckily, the hotel we stayed at, Park Hyatt St. Kitts, offered complimentary kayak rentals, so we did not have to seek these services at other beaches.

Take a scenic train ride

St. Kitts Scenic Railway
St. Kitts Scenic Railway

We have heard many stories about the famous St. Kitts Scenic Railway and were excited to experience this scenic ride ourselves. This tour lasts about 3 hours and starts in Basseterre, circling St. Kitts.

St. Kitts Scenic Railway
St. Kitts Scenic Railway

Thus, before our stay, we emailed the office to confirm the available date and time for two adults and two kids.

Alas, the weather had other plans on the day of our ride, and the tour had to be canceled, even though everyone kept hopes up and even let us on a train and provided complimentary drinks. I guess we have one more reason to return to St. Kitts now.

Take a boat/ferry ride from St. Kitts to Nevis

A charter boat from St. Kitts to Nevis
A charter boat from St. Kitts to Nevis

You can take a boat or a ferry ride from St. Kitts to Nevis. This is an excellent option for a day trip or to split your vacation into staying at both islands.

Since we were staying on the very southern tip of St. Kitts, we took a short boat ride to Nevis on the Narrows – the strait separating Saint Kitts and Nevis.

💡 Good to Know

Fun fact: St. Kitts and Nevis has a Cross Channel Swim between the two islands! It starts from Oualie Beach on Nevis, traveling across the Narrows for a finish at Cockleshell Beach on St. Kitts!

The locals said they welcome people from around the world and usually are not “as crazy as foreigners to take part in that” 🤣.

Visit the Timothy Hill Overlook

Timothy Hill Overlook, St. Kitts and Nevis
Timothy Hill Overlook, St. Kitts and Nevis

One of the most spectacular panoramic views you can witness in St. Kitts and Nevis is at Timothy Hill Overlook. When standing at the overlook, you can see how the island of Saint Kitts is locked between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

The good news is that you do not need to hike to the top of the mountain and can simply drive up to the spot to take this iconic picture.

Visit a former sugar plantation

For centuries the little islands of Nevis and St. Kitts harvested sugar cane and were covered in sugar plantations. These days, most former plantation houses were restored and converted into inns.

Golden Rock Inn

Golden Rock Inn, Nevis
Golden Rock Inn, Nevis

We walked around the Golden Rock Inn in Nevis, located on the grounds of a former sugar plantation renovated and expanded by artists Helen and Brice Marden.

Golden Rock Inn, Nevis
Golden Rock Inn, Nevis

Montpelier Hotel

Montpelier plantation, Nevis
Montpelier plantation, Nevis

Montpelier plantation is now home to a beautiful hotel in the heart of Nevis, surrounded by 60 acres of tropical gardens.

Everyone always mentions that Princess Diana stayed here in 1992 with her sons.

Try local food

A lobster plate at Sunshine's Beach Bar & Grill, Nevis
A lobster plate at Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill, Nevis

What is local Kittian and Nevisian Caribbean food? It is conch fritters, stewed saltfish, coconut dumplings, lobster, goat water, and many more.

Conch fritters, St. Kitts and Nevis
Conch fritters, St. Kitts and Nevis

Goat water

When visiting Nevis, we saw a bunch of goats and sheep wandering on the streets, but these animals were domesticated and belonged to families. Our tour guide mentioned that goat meat is a fairly popular choice of meat. One of the popular dishes with a goat is goat water – a special soup/stew.

Fruits

Since the islands have a warm and humid climate, various fruit trees thrive in fertile soil. The islands are famous for their numerous types of mangos, guavas, and cantaloupes.

💡 Good to Know

Nevis holds the annual Mango Festival with a mango cook-off, tastings, and competitions. This year it is held from June 30th to July 2nd, 2023.

Attend Friday Night Lobster Fest at Reggae Beach Bar and Grill

Reggae Beach Bar & Grill, St. Kitts
Reggae Beach Bar & Grill, St. Kitts

If you are in St. Kitts on a Friday night, Reggae Beach Bar & Grill is the place to be!

Just picture yourself on the beach, when your table is set on the sand, the sun is setting, and there is live music. Then you’re served freshly caught grilled lobsters (and a choice of other four types of meat) paired with a rum punch; what a perfect night!

Reggae Beach Bar & Grill, St. Kitts
Reggae Beach Bar & Grill, St. Kitts
Reggae Beach Bar & Grill, St. Kitts
Reggae Beach Bar & Grill, St. Kitts

Spot wild monkeys

Green monkey in St. Kitts and Nevis
Green monkey in St. Kitts and Nevis

Did you know there are wild African green monkeys in St. Kitts and Nevis? Those animals are way bigger than we imagined and are not actually native to the islands! They were introduced by the French during the colonization period and were used as pets!

Despite being very cute, these monkeys are a significant threat to local agriculture and are considered an invasive species. The monkeys thrive on the islands without a natural predator and multiply their population year after year.

Bottom line

St. Kitts and Nevis is a stunning Caribbean island destination that offers an exciting mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its pristine beaches, luxurious accommodations, and vibrant local cuisine, there is something for everyone to enjoy. This charming island nation promises a memorable vacation experience for travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure.

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