32 • Vacations
SOUTH FRIAR'S BAY ON ST. KITTS
© MICHELE PETERSON
From hot springs to the Caribbean’s only scenic
railway, there’s always something unexpected to
discover on these intriguing islands.
I’m sitting on a riverbank beneath a Ceiba tree on the island of Nevis, trying to submerge
my feet into volcanic mineral waters so hot they’re almost bubbling. While bathing in
thermal springs might be an unexpected experience in the Caribbean, a region best
known for turquoise waters and sandy beaches, the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts
and Nevis is not your typical tropical destination.
Blanketed with fertile volcanic soil, these mountainous islands were once home to the
Caribbean’s most important sugar plantations. Separated by a narrow channel, they’re
dotted with the remains of stone structures such as sugar mills, water cisterns and
Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site on St. Kitts that
dates back to the 1690s. On Nevis, many of these stone landmarks have been ingeniously
incorporated into the architecture of hotels and restaurants.
By Michele Peterson
Active diversions include horseback riding, hiking volcanoes and zip-lining through the rainforest.
A more leisurely option is the three-hour journey on the St. Kitts Scenic Railway. Built in 1912
to transport sugar cane, today the double-decker Sugar Train takes travellers past windswept
beaches, across deep gorges and through villages, accompanied by a choir performing
Caribbean folk songs.
Exploring the beaches scattered between emerald mountains and blue surf is another must.
On St. Kitts, visitors can snorkel, eat fish tacos and play castaway at the Shipwreck Bar on
secluded South Friars Bay. On Nevis, a top hangout is Sunshine’s on serene Pinney’s Beach.
Sipping a potent Killer Bee rum punch at this laid-back beach bar has long been an initiation
rite for vacationers. Visiting celebs have included Beyoncé, Britney Spears and even Canadian
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Another famous personality, Alexander Hamilton, has his early roots in Nevis. The new world
tour of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” is creating renewed interest in the early life of
Hamilton, who was born in Nevis. Fans can visit his humble birthplace, browse exhibits within the
Museum of Nevis History, explore the atmospheric ruins of a sugar plantation once owned by his
father, and more. But despite this high wattage international attention, you’re still more likely to
spot wild monkeys than crowds on this tiny island.
NEW ON NEVIS
New on Nevis is the expanded Mango & Food Festival, a four-day culinary extravaganza that
sees top chefs such as New York City’s Seamus Mullen sharing the spotlight with local cooks.
Visitors to this mango-fuelled event enjoy cooking demonstrations, street fairs, gala dinners and
a beach party finale.
Also new are upgrades to the Nevis hot springs. Legendary for their curative properties, the
thermal waters have been drawing wellness enthusiasts since 1778 when the historic Bath House
Hotel served as a retreat for the rich and famous. Modern-day spa fans can take a restorative
soak in the Bath Stream from newly renovated public platforms.
TRAVEL BETWEEN THE ISLANDS
Vehicle and passenger ferries travel several times daily from St. Kitts to Charlestown and Cades
Bay, Nevis. Depending upon the ferry, the trip takes 45 minutes to one hour. A faster option is
via private water taxi to Oualie, a trip of less than 15 minutes.
ST. KITTS' SCENIC DOUBLE DECKER "SUGAR TRAIN"
THE ISLAND OF NEVIS
Sipping a potent Killer Bee rum punch
at this laid-back beach bar has long
been an initiation rite for vacationers.
Visiting celebs have included Beyoncé,
Britney Spears and even Canadian
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau