St Kitts and Nevis
About Saint Kilda, New Zealand
The Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis /seɪnt ˌkɪts ænd ˈniːvɪs/, also known as the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, is a two-island country in the West Indies.
St Kitts and Nevis invites visitors to enjoy the better of two worlds. Both volcanic islands offer lush rainforests, ruins testifying of a bygone era, a wonderful cultural heritage and true Georgian charm. The most visited is St Kitts, better suited for tourism, with all-inclusive resorts, wonderful restaurants, cultural and historical sites. Pristine beaches of various colours abound, offering a slew of water sports for practise.
A mere 3 km away, Nevis remains mostly untouched and unspoiled. Nature and sports lovers alike flock here to explore the natural surroundings, by means of mountain biking, hiking, windsurfing and deep sea fishing. Of course Nevis has its fair share of beaches, historical sights and delicious little restaurants. St Kitts and Nevis are just two gems waiting to be discovered.
Basseterre Currency : Eastern Caribbean Dollar Driver's License : A valid driver's license and a temporary driving permit of EC $50.00 must be purchased from the Police Department Electricity : 110V, 60Hz in hotels Entry Requirements : A passport, valid 6 months beyond intended stay, and an ongoing or return ticket are required. It is the traveller's responsibility to check with the country’s Embassy for up-to-date information. GMT Time : -4hr. Daylight savings time is not applied. Government : Constitutional monarchy with Westminster-style parliament Land size : 261 km2: St Kitts 168 km2 and Nevis 93 km2 Language : English National Airlines : none Population : 39,000 approx Religion : Christian (Anglican, Protestant, Roman Catholic), Rastafarian and other. Required Vaccines : none Tourist Season : December through April
The island's traditional dishes are influenced by Caribbean or Créole cuisine, full of exotic flavours and spices. A typical meal include goat water (mutton stew) served with rice and peas. Rotis (curried meat and vegetable pancakes), pelau (caramelized meat), conch chowder, souse (pickled meats), suckling pig, fresh local fish, seafood, turtle stews and curries are usually found on the menu as well. Meals are often accompanied by fried johnnycakes, rice and peas, and local vegetables, such as breadfruit, cassava, okra, pumpkins and sweet potatoes.
Several exotic and sweet fruits are cultivated here as well, like bananas, mangoes, papayas, passion fruit and tamarinds. Baked sweets include sugar cake and guava cheese (a chewy fudge-like sweet). The Soursop's milky juice is usually processed into ice creams, sherbets and drinks. The locally produced Carib beer, rum and Cane Spirit Rothschild, made with cane sugar, are wonderful on their own or in mixed drinks.
Culture The people of St Kitts and Nevis are made up of a rich cultural mix of African, native Indian and European immigrants. Although English is the only official language, you will often here the Kittitians and Nevisians speak in a local patois.
The natives are natural performers at heart. Clowns, Moko-Jumbies (stilt walkers) and so called Actors (actually daredevil acrobats) make up a large segment of the folk culture. You will see them at festivals, at Christmas time or at performance shows. All three find strong roots in African mythology.
As with most Caribbean islands, music is an integral part of daily life. Traditional sounds include steel bands, calypso and carnival music. Also, iron bands gained popularity during the 40s. These bands consist of recycled percussion instruments, such as car rims and the like. Accompanying saxophones, bass guitars and trumpets complete the sound.
Geography Part of the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean, St Kitts and Nevis are very mountainous islands of volcanic origin. It is actually made up of three groups of volcanic peaks split by gorges. Mount Liamuiga, rising to 1,156 m above sea level, is the highest point of the island. The word Liamuiga means fertile land in the Carib language. The rich soil allows for a lush rainforest and rolling plains ideal for farming and plantations. Basseterre is St Kitts' capital, which is divided into 14 administrative parishes. Nevis, a mere 3 km to the south, is a beachcomber's and nature adventure's paradise, with its luxurious vegetation, coconut grove and infinite stretches of coral or silver-sand beaches.
History Although the island had already been inhabited by Amerindian people, its modern history began in 1493 when Christopher Columbus sailed past the island and named it St Christopher's. Speculations claim that he would have named it after himself. First settled by the British in 1623, the islands became an associated state with full internal autonomy in 1967. Since sugar was the most profitable crop, the 1700s saw large groups of settlers from England, France, Spain, and Netherland, all wanting to exploit the land, the natives, and later the African slaves, in search of fortune. At the peak of the industry, around 70 sugar plantations could be found on St Kitts. Following the emancipation and rising costs, the industry almost died out. St Kitts remains the only Leeward Island that still grows sugar cane.
The British annexed Anguilla to St Kitts and Nevis in 1825. The island of Anguilla rebelled and was allowed to secede in 1971. Saint Kitts and Nevis achieved independence in 1983. In 1998, a vote in Nevis on a referendum to separate from Saint Kitts fell short of the two-thirds majority needed. Nevis is once more trying to separate from the Saint Kitts.
Nature St Kitts presents an incredibly varied landscape, each more spectacular then the next. Mostly covered by mangroves and swamps along the south eastern perimeter, going inland slowly reveals a lush rainforest, climbing the steep slopes of the mountain ranges: The North West Range, the Central Range and the South East Range. So high are the peaks, they are occasionally shrouded in clouds. The national flower is the Poinciana, also know as the Flamboyant. Other trees, shrubs and flowers found here include the coconut palms, palmettos, lemon tree, bougainvillea, hibiscus, and tamarind.
Bird watchers flock to this destination to view some of the 90 birds species found on the island, some endemic. The national bird is the brown pelican. Here you can observe, depending on the region and landscape, frigate birds, herons, stilts and oystercatchers, thrashers, doves and hummingbird, hawks, vireos and warblers.
Most animals were imported over the year, during the time of colonization. There is a tiny deer community but what most impresses visitors are the vervet monkeys, brought from Africa. The best place to watch is at Brimstone Hill, where they are running wild and free. Diving is a great way to explore the rich marine life, mostly consisting of snappers, angelfishes, chubs, barracudas, stingrays and turtles.
Sports Of course there is plenty of great swimming for water babies here, with many wonderful beaches to choose from. The vast array of available water sports include: sailing, boating, water-skiing, windsurfing, and deep-sea fishing for barracuda, marlin, tuna and swordfish. Scuba diving and snorkelling are always very popular, with great dive sites and plenty of unexplored shipwrecks nearby.
Tennis courts abound on both islands, with some lighted for evening play. Several parks in the rainforest have cleared paths offering great hiking opportunities. Another way to explore the rainforest is on horseback. 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.
Cricket is the most popular sport on the island. You can also catch a game of football, basketball and volleyball.
Banks & Money
The legal tender is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. Although prices are listed with the national currency, US dollars are accepted readily but you'll usually get change in EC currency. Carry small bills since you may have difficulty changing US $50 and US $100 bills in shops and restaurants.
Bank ATMs are available throughout the more populated areas of the islands. Major credit cards and traveller's checks are accepted in most large hotels, restaurants, and shops. Smaller shops and hotels often only take cash.
Climate St Kitts and Nevis enjoy a tropical climate that is tempered by constant trade winds. The average annual temperature is 26 C with only slight seasonal variation. The rainy season lasts from May to November. The average water temperature hovers around 27 C.
For monthly average temperatures please refer to your destination of choice.
Communication The country code for St Kitts and Nevis is 869. Telephone services have been modernized as have cellular roaming service and GSM capabilities. If you plan on using a calling card, do note that hotels often charge an access fee.
Internet dial-up access and broadband connections can be found in hotels or Internet cafes. Cable TV is available in most hotels and eight radio stations serve the islands.
Health The tap water is chemically treated and safe for drinking in the main cities. Bottled water is recommended in smaller towns as gastro-intestinal complaints, known as the turista, do occur.
There are no required vaccines to enter the country, unless you are arriving from a yellow fever affected destination. The following vaccines are recommended for any tropical destination: hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhoid, tetanus and yellow fever. There have been occurrences of Hepatitis A and dengue fever in the past.
Official Holidays January 01 - New Year's Day March/April - Good Friday, Easter Monday May - Labour Day May/June - Whit Monday August - Emancipation Day September 19 - Independence Day December 25 - Christmas Day
Safety The islands are considered relatively safe and enjoy a low crime rate. However as a tourist you are more likely to be a target of petty crime. Use good judgement, take advantage of the safety deposit boxes provided by the hotels, do not leave valuables unattended in public and carry your wallet and camera discreetly. Also make sure to lock your hotel room and rental car.
Shopping Typical souvenirs include after batik print, wall hangings, leather work. Local designers sell wonderful fashion creations made from the colourful local textiles. Also popular are the carvings and sculptures made from coconut shells, sea shells, wood and stones. Art galleries often specialize in works from local artists. Both Basseterre and Charlestown have respectable Philatelic Bureaus.
Sugar cane products are perfect for a sweet tooth. Those who enjoy spicy food will want to stock up Nevis' hot pepper sauce. The locally produced Carib beer, rum and Cane Spirit Rothschild, made with cane sugar, are also great buys.
Taxes & Tips The departure tax of around EC $60, per person, is payable at the airport when leaving.
There's no sales tax on goods and services. Hotels collect a 9% government tax in St Kitts and 8% on Nevis. Also, a service charge of up to 12% is usually added to your bill. Restaurants may or may not include a service fee. If it is not, then a 15% tip is customary. Taxi drivers, although it is not obligatory, usually expect a 10% tip.
Transportation International flights arrive at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport on St Kitts. 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.