About Saint George Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis
Basseterre /bæsˈtɛər/, estimated population 15,500 in 2000, is the capital of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis in the West Indies.
The capital town of St Kitts, Basseterre, is known for its beautiful architectural influences from the French and English settlers who occupied the territory. There are an innumerable number of historical sites and building, dating back to the 17th century. Basseterre certainly enjoyed its glory days, as land owners amassed large sums of money from the bygone profitable era of the sugar cane plantations.
Here the streets are teaming with delectable restaurants and interesting shops to explore. The resort developments have favoured the nearby south eastern peninsula, where the best beaches are found. Water and land sports abound, as the several nature sites to see.
St Kitts offers an incredible array of beach types, from pristine white-sand beaches to black beaches along the northern coast. Following is a list of some popular beaches:
Friar's Bay is home to many resorts and has lovely fine sand. It is a crowded and animated beach, especially on week-ends. Frigate Bay Beach is the other happening beach, with loads of bars and restaurants and activities. A little more isolated, but just as fun, is Turtle Beach.
For a quiet and secluded atmosphere, try Sand Bank Bay, Banana Bay Beach or Cockleshell Bay.
Great spots for diving and/or snorkelling are White House Bay and Pump Bay in Sandy Point. The black sand of Dieppe Bay Beach also offers great snorkelling opportunities, but do stay clear of the poisonous machineel trees. Bodysurfing and windsurfing can be practised at Conaree Bay and the Half Moon Bay beaches. Located on the Atlantic course, the rougher waters do not offer ideal swimming conditions though.
Climate With a tropical climate that is tempered by constant trade winds, St Kitts and Nevis is truely pleasant year round. The average annual temperature is 26C with only slight seasonal variation. The rainy season lasts from May to November. The average water temperature hovers around 27C.
Basseterre is the capital city of St Kitts and Nevis, located on the island of St Kitts. It is bathed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea, along the south eastern shores of the island. Founded in 1627, it has become a powerful trading port within the Leeward Islands. This area was the last survivor of the original sugar refining industry of the entire Caribbean, until it was unfortunately terminated in 2005.
History Basseterre was founded by the French in the early 17th century, the name meaning lowland in French. It was beautifully crafted with a tasteful Georgian style, which it still retains today. Within a hundred years, this capital city spread quickly in size and population. The city has had its share of harsh times too, and has had to be rebuilt several times following war, fires, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes. From it ashes, it was reborn each time with a stronger character, making the beautiful city that it is today.
Nature Mount Liamuiga is the most impressive nature site to see on the island and it offers excellent hiking trails though its lush rainforest, all the way to the rim of the dormant volcano. A more adventurous trail takes you deep inside the crater. If you are very lucky you can catch a glimpse at some of the exotic wildlife, such as colourful birds and butterflies, or the green vervet monkey.
For an unusual sight, the Black Rocks are the remains of a volcanic eruption that has been weather beaten over the centuries by the rough waters of the sea.
The popular St Kitts Scenic Railway National Tour was originally built in the early 1900s to transport the sugar cane crops to the mill in Basseterre. Today it takes visitors along beautiful scenic landscapes that the island has to offer.
If you go to the island of Nevis, a stop at the lovely Botanical Gardens will reveal stunning lagoons, waterfalls, a rose garden, exotic orchids, cacti, bamboo garden and a rain forest conservatory. Also you may spot the local bird residents, including egrets and herons.
Unique to Here As with most islands of the Caribbean, the nineteenth century began to see the decline of the powerful sugar industry. After coming close to ceasing on various occasions, the industry was saved 1912 with the opening of the St Kitts Sugar Factory. This new factory tried to reduce costs by having the capacity to process all the crops of the island. Unfortunately, during the latter part of the 20th century, operations continued at a loss for several decades and the factory closed it doors on July 22nd, 2005. There is talk of turning the old factory into a museum and sugar cane will still be grown and put to other use. One of the greatest experiences not to be missed is to eat sugar directly from the cane.
Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport Airport Tax : The departure tax of around US $22, per person, is payable at the airport when leaving. Distance from Airport : 3 km from Basseterre, about 10 minutes to most resorts. Tourist Office : Pelican Mall, Bay Road, Basseterre. Tel: 869-465-4040 Tourist Season : December through April Festivals & Events Every town and village celebrates year round with various festivals. Once on site make sure to enquire of any up and coming festivities. Here are the biggest yearly party attractions:
December/January - St Kitts Carnival This celebration blends the spirit of Christmas with the colourful display of the nation's culture and African heritage, through parades, exhibitions, music and parties.
June - St Kitts Music Festival Also know as the Shak Shak Festival, includes many performances by musicians specialized in reggae, rhythm and blues, salsa, calypso, and many more.
Transportation Short flights between other islands are easy with small charter companies. Several ferries, making two or three daily trips, connect St Kitts and Nevis.
Please note that driving is on the LEFT. Car rental companies are found at the airport and in Basseterre. A temporary driving permit of EC$50.00 must be purchased from local authorities. Scooters and bicycles can also be rented. Taxis rates are fixed and regulated by the government. Rates are posted at the airport, the dock, and in the free tourist guide. The public transportation consists of privately owned minibuses.
Activities & Sports
The Royal St Kitts Golf Club is an 18-hole, par 71, international golf championship course, located at Frigate Bay. You will also find a 9-hole golf course at Golden Rock. Nevis is home to an 18-hole championship golf course, at the Four Seasons Resort. The highly anticipated La Vallee Golf Course, near Sandy Point, is presently in construction.
There are as many water sports available as there are beaches for sure. From swimming, sailing, boating, surfing, waterskiing, windsurfing, and deep-sea fishing for barracuda, marlin, tuna and swordfish, you are sure to bind an activity to your tastes. A main attraction of course is scuba diving and snorkelling. A large variety of great dive sites and plenty of unexplored shipwrecks nearby are sure to please. Popular spots to explore the tropical marine life include Nag's Head, Booby Shoals, Coconut Tree Reef and Devil's Caves.
Several parks in the rainforest have cleared paths offering great hiking and cycling opportunities. Another way to explore the rainforest, or beautiful stretches of beaches, is on horseback. Tennis courts abound on both islands, with some lighted for evening play
Archaeology Old Road Town marks the spot where the first British settlers landed in 1623 and eventually founded the oldest permanent settlement of the West Indies. You will find some Carib Indian petroglyphs near the Wingfield Manor Estate. The drawings, carved on huge volcanic stones, are believed to portray images of their gods.
Bloody Point, near Palmetto Bay, testifies to a dark day in St Kitts history. In 1626, a combined effort between the French and English settlers was lead into a pre-emptive attack upon the natives, who quickly intended to attack the Europeans. The confrontation ended with the massacre of over 2000 Carib Indians.
Attractions & Sights One of the biggest attractions, in size and popularity, is the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, the only man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Caribbean. The Fortress encompasses perfectly the historical, cultural and architectural character of the city. It was engineered by the British military and constructed by the sweat and blood of the African slaves. The citadel dates back to the 1690s and it is one of the earliest polygonal fortification.
Several other buildings in the capital city display wonderful architecture features: the Government House is one of them and serves today as the official residence of the Governor General. The Treasury Building, dating back to 1894, is now home to the St Christopher Heritage Society and the National Museum. But the most elegant urban structure of all is the Georgian House. Built around 1790, on South Square Street, it is believed to have stored the purchased slaves in transition in its cellars. Today the Georgian House is home to an elegant restaurant.
Another prime example of Basseterre's Georgian architecture is the small roundabout named the Circus, inspired by London’s Piccadilly. A large bronze clock stands in the middle, the Berkeley Memorial Clock. Independence Square, originally the site of the slave market, was renamed on the occasion of St Kitts and Nevis achieving political independence in 1983. Nearby there are two notable churches to see in Basseterre. The standing Co-Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was built in 1927, having been reconstructed several times following, fires, earthquakes and such. St George’s Anglican Church was also re-built many times. Both churches originally date back to the 17th century.
Spooner’s Ginnery Estate, near the town of Cayon, offers incredible insight into the island’s agro-industrial past. It contains the only surviving cotton ginnery on the island and continued to operate until 1970, when the Government of St Kitts and Nevis acquired the property.
Nightlife Much of the island's nightlife revolves around the resorts, presenting various folkloric performances including dance and music. You will also find the Royal Beach Casino at the Marriott Resort where you can try your luck at one of the many slot machines and games of chance.
Great bars to check out include Bambu's, Bobsy's, Circus Grill, Dolce Cabana and Keys Cigar Bar. Dance clubs are fewer but fun, such as Club Atmosphere, Eddy's Bar and Restaurant, and Tigers.
Most Friday nights everyone heads out to the Water Department Barbecue, an informal jump-up created to raise funds for department trips. Aside from the great food, it is a fantastic local experience.
Side Trips A plantation tour always makes for a great day excursion and there are no shortages of Great Houses on the island. The Shadwell Great House is a private plantation and is thought to be the best example of a Great House on the island. The 18th century Lodge Great House plantation was recently purchased, with plan of restoration and conversion to a Heritage Tourism Attraction. Belmont Estate Yard was a former French property and is also in the midst of discussions as a location for a Sugar Museum.
A trip to St Kitts would simply not be complete without a day trip to its sister island of Nevis. Most visitors travel here by ferry, arriving in the island's main town, Charlestown. Main Street is lined with buildings decorated with fanciful balconies and intricate fretwork. The clock tower building is home to the courthouse and library. Both the Nelson Museum and the Museum of Nevis History exhibit documents pertaining to the island's history, geology, politics and culture, as well as displays on island life. The St John's Figtree Church and St Thomas Anglican Church are certainly worth a visit. An unusual attraction is the Eden Brown Estate House, which is said to be haunted.
Also on Nevis, is the Fothergill's Nevisian Heritage Village traces the history of Nevisian social societies, from the earliest Carib tribes to present day, through a series of installations depicting living conditions. Displays include the Carib chief's hut, slave quarters from the plantation times, a typical sharecropper's garden, a blacksmith's workshop, and a traditional run shop.
St Kitts offers lodging arrangements to suit any taste and budget. The ever popular all-inclusive modern resorts abound, but you can also take your pick of smaller hotels, condominiums, villas, old plantation transformed into inns and guest houses. Basseterre is also an ideal location for meetings and conventions. Many of the larger hotels have all the necessary facilities to accommodate your needs.
Eating Out You are sure to enjoy the wonderful local cuisine at one of the many great establishments located on the islands. Of course, international flavours (Latin, American, European and Asian) are also available. You can even choose what atmosphere is best for your meal, traditional restaurants, to plantation house dining, casual eateries, or beach barbeques. Here is a short list of restaurants serving local fare:
Ballahoo Restaurant Bobsy's Bar & Grill Glimbara Diner Golden Rock Plantation Inn Manhattan Gardens Marshall's Miss June's Cuisine Rawlins Plantation Restaurant Sunshine's The Royal Palm The Waterfalls Restaurant
Shopping Liverpool Row is always pleasant, lined with lovely and sometimes unusual shops. Another good bet is Fort Street. If you are looking to purchase art work, then Kate Design and the Spencer Cameron gallery are good options. The Pelican Shopping Mall has a several shops and outlet stores, as does Shoreline Plaza, TDC Mall, Port Zante and Palms Arcade.
For a real local experience, market day is held on Friday and Saturday.
Romney Manor, located in the town of Old Road, is an attraction in itself. Dating back to 1625, this plantation manor has been transformed into a manufacturing center for the local fashion designer, Caribelle Batik. Dresses, shirts, scarves, wall hangings and cushions are made from the tropical cotton textile of the island. And while you are there, take a stroll in the gorgeous gardens filled with hibiscus, rare orchids, huge ferns, and a 250-year-old saman tree.