Saint Kitts was the least developed of the six islands we visited on this trip… and also the one I am most looking forward to coming back to.
The island shifted its primary economic focus from sugar production in 2005 and is focusing more on tourism. It is one of the lesser-visited islands by cruise ships, with mostly longer cruises (10 or more days) docking there. The island has shifted its sugar cane fields to growing other crops, both in an effort to become more self-sustaining in terms of food and to export to other islands.
Like most former British Colonies, folks drive on the left side of the road. St. Kitts shares currency with several other Caribbean islands, the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, which has a fixed exchange rate of $2.7 ECD to $1 USD. For folks taking the same cruise we did, this is handy info since you can use the ECD in Antigua and Saint Lucia as well. Barbados has its own currency.
That said, like most Caribbean nations, the US Dollar is perfectly acceptable… You just might get change in ECD.
For this island, we chose to get out our hiking shoes and go for a walk in the rainforest. The excursion cost $74 per person and took us out on a small bus out to Romney Manor.
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Romney Manor has the distinction of being owned at one point by Thomas Jefferson’s great great great grandfather and the first plantation on Saint Kitts to free its slaves. The gardens of the manor were nicely cared for, including a 350-year-old saman tree. The house was essentially a demonstration for making Batik clothing, a process using wax and dyes to make some very pretty patterns, as well as a shop.
Around back, there is a small bar overlooking the rainforest. Romney Manor made for a nice stop and the excursion included the entrance fee (normally $3/person). Bonus: restrooms before the walk!
Our walk led us through the remains for the Wingfield Estate, an old sugar refinery and rum distillery.
One of the cruise excursion reviews we had read complained about zip lines running over the trail. We walked under a couple of spots with zip lines, but the vast majority of the walk was well away from the zip lines.
Our guide led us at a pretty leisurely pace. We had looked at doing the hike up to the volcano crater but decided on this one due to my heart. While I can still do some strenuous hikes, I have to do them slowly. This hike was certainly not strenuous at all. We covered a little less than 1.5 miles in about 90 minutes. There were some moments where I got my heart racing, but it was not tough at all.
The only thing that would prevent most guests from enjoying this excursion was the terrain. There were a few spots where it was steep and a few spots where it was slick.
We learned quite a bit about the rainforest, caught fleeting glimpses of green monkeys in the trees and generally enjoyed the walk. The tour wrapped up with snacks and punch. By the time we got back to the boat, it was time for a late lunch and to get in a workout (gotta burn those calories!).
Basseterre offered some shopping close to the docks but it pales in comparison to Philipsburg.
Of the islands we visited, I am most looking forward to coming back to Saint Kitts and spending some time exploring the island. While we enjoyed the hike, seeing more of the island is something we would enjoy.
This highlights one of the major drawbacks of taking a cruise… You don’t really get to explore the islands in-depth, instead of getting a taste. Well, I want more of a taste of this particular island. The people were very friendly, the scenery was beautiful and there was a lot more we didn’t see.