St. Kitts

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5/5

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January, 2015

I was going back to my childhood home on St.Kitts in the Caribbean. Unfortunately the hotel my family had started up, Rawlins Plantation Inn had met with a disaster & a murder. It was in a sad state while the owner was in prison awaiting trial. So I had to stay in my old Uncle’s hotel, once a Plantation too. Now Ottley Plantation Inn has grounds bursting with exotic flora, queen palms, glorious lilies, gumbo limbo trees, red ginseng and poinciana. A lovely swimming pool and an excellent restaurant now owned by Art Keusch. British Airways had offered seven nights room only from £899 in May (out of season) flying from Gatwick on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The flight does stop in Antigua but you don’t have to get off.

Not too far from the town of Basseterre and the beaches at Frigate Bay, Ottley Plantation is conveniently situated. We hired a car (you will need a temporary driving permit and driving is on the left) and drove out to Cockleshell Bay in the south, with a good beach bar and restaurant. Family friendly with loungers, sun umbrellas & watersports equipment for hire. Once this had been owned by friends of ours & we used to go out for weekends & have it all to ourselves. Now it is all big business! The quieter beaches are frequently visited by leatherback turtles. They have nocturnal eco-tours organised by the St. Kitss Sea Turtle Monitoring Network which run between April & June. (stkittsturtles.org).

We always take a trip over to Nevis. It is a beautiful smaller sister island. The ferry over to its capital, Charlestown, takes 45 minutes and there are stunning views of both islands. Or you can sail across with Leeward Island charters on a catamaran. (465 7474 or leewardislandscharters.com. Expect to pay about £45 for a three hour trip.

We hired a car & driver to drive round the island of Nevis stopping for lunch at Sunshines Bar. Now famous. My brother helped Sunshine start up with a shack on the beautiful Pinneys beach many years ago and his famous Killer Bee drink to put everyone in a good mood. Now it is buzzing and he has a restaurant and still sells his famous Killer Bee rum punch drink but also does delicious bbq food. www.sunshinesnevis.com You can wander around the well preserved Charlestown or go to the botanical gardens (botanicalgardensnevis.com). There is also the Horatio Nelson Museum. He was married in Nevis.

There are plenty of good hotel on Nevis and the famous Bath house. It can easily be done in a day.

Back on St. Kitts Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park has to be seen. It is hot there so go early. In 1690 the British forces began work on a hilltop defence that over the following century grew into an imposing fortress. Built by African slaves, Brimstone Hill was at its peak home to more than 1.000 soldiers and their families. Abandoned in 1825 and now restored, it includes a formidable citadel, a museum and small cemetery. It is also a green and spacious national park with superb views, so take a picnic. (brimstonehillfortress.org)

The St. Kitts Scenic Railway is a popular tourist attraction taking tourists on a two-hour, 18 mile trundle around the Atlantic coast with a guided commentary and drinks. Passengers travel in air-conditioned, double-decker carriages as far as La Vallee station in Newton Ground, then take a 45-minute bus ride, completing a round the island tour. (skitsscenicrailway.com)

The capital Basseterre is a slightly scruffy but animated place. Everyone eats at the Ballahoo which overlooks the Circus (square). Famous for it’s conch fritters and Goat water stew or delicious salads whilst watching the world go by below. (ballahoo.com)

Things to avoid – The casino at the Marriott Hotel which is brightly lit, huge & filled with Americans gambling. The hurricane season runs from June to November but the wettest months are usually September and October, bringing out the worst mosquitoes. Be sure to take a Deet based anti mosquito spray.

St. Kitts is booming. There was a big fear when the sugar business was stopped & the beautiful green fronds of cane left in the fields uncut, but big developments have taken place. There is big business in selling passports – many of them. The old salt pond will become a huge Marina for large boats from 80-300 feet. I suppose I was spoilt as a child living in paradise. Now it is big business. The climate is perfect with the trade winds to cool things down. The fauna & flora are magnificent & the sea a beautiful temperature. Enjoy the rum and reggae. St. Kitts encapsulates the legacies of slavery and colonialism but is more relaxed than some better-known islands.

wallers

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