St Kitts Travel Guide

St Kitts © Fred Hsu

Officially known as St Christopher, the island was named by Christopher Columbus on landing there in 1493, but it wasn't until it became an English colony in 1623 that its name was shortened to St Kitts, by which the island is known today.

A lush, verdant island, St Kitts is the larger of the twin-islands that make up the country and is more developed than Nevis. However, neither island has succumbed to the usual tourist trappings, and St Kitts remains a naturally unassuming, uncrowded destination that is a true gem in the Caribbean crown. Dominated by an extinct 3,792ft (1,156m) volcano, the island is covered in green vegetation and sugar cane fields, and is ringed by sandy coves, coral reefs and clear waters. Most beaches to the north are black sandy beaches due to the volcanic nature of the island, but the beaches at the southern end, including Frigate Bay, Banana Bay, Sand Bank Bay and Cockleshell Bay, are what beach-gurus dream of: deserted stretches of fine white sand. Those yearning for waves will find Atlantic surf along the east coast.

There is more to St Kitts than splendid natural surroundings and beaches. An explosive history of slave revolutions and colonial contention during the 18th century has left the island with a rich heritage of architecture, as well as sites such as the impressive fortress at Brimstone Hill, which was constructed to defend the wealth, and to protect the wealthy, of the island. During the prosperous days of the sugar industry, St Kitts, as the oldest and richest colony in the Caribbean, boasted 68 sugar plantations in total. With the abolition of slavery, and the production of beet sugar in Europe, the surge of wealth finally came to an end, and today the once-prolific factories and windmills lie in ruins among the abandoned sugar plantations. St Kitts was the last island in the Caribbean to persist in the production of sugar cane, but the industry has now been discontinued due to the high costs involved.

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