St Kitts (Basseterre) Port of Call
A cruise ship outside Basseterre © D'Arcy Norman
Basseterre, the capital of St Kitts, is a port town with a charming British and French heritage reflected in impeccable colonial-era buildings framed by the pristine setting of the natural harbour.
Top sights include Brimstone Hill Fortress, with stunning views of the lush sugarcane fields, and the Circus, a Georgian roundabout modelled on London's Piccadilly.
Cruise ships dock at Port Zante, in the centre of the bay, and when there is an overflow, at Birdrock Deepwater Port at the extreme east of Basseterre Bay. Port Zante comprises a single pier allowing any two of the largest ocean liners to dock at a time. This port is one of only two in the entire Caribbean where the Queen Mary II can berth. Cruise passengers are welcomed by cultural acts, dancers and licensed excursion providers, and there are some shops to browse.
Metered taxis can easily be hailed directly outside the disembarkation area. Taxis have yellow license plates starting with the letter T or TA. The taxi station is located at the Circus in central town. Buses have green license plates starting with the letter H.
The Circus is the hub of Basseterre. From here streets lined with interesting shops and boutiques radiate out. The domed Treasury Building, or Customs House, on the waterfront recalls St Kitts' heyday as a sugar production centre, as does Independence Square, site of the original slave market, built in 1790. St George's Anglican Church, built by the French in 1670, is another landmark building. Don't miss the picturesque red and yellow traditional fishing boats near the pier - great for photos.
The top attraction of Basseterre, however, is the imposing Brimstone Hill Fortress, which is an interesting historic site, featured on UNESCO's list of cultural treasures, and affords visitors glorious views over the harbour.
El Fredo's - excellent Caribbean food close to downtown Basseterre in a casual setting.
Beach House - an elegant fine-dining restaurant with amazing views.
Serendipity - stylish and epicurean, with lovely views of Basseterre and the bay.
Fresh local linefish
There are two shopping malls in Basseterre, the Pelican and TDC Mall. Both feature selections of clothing, jewellery, and souvenirs. The vendor's huts behind Pelican Mall can be found to the right of Port Zante as you face the sea. For cheap local crafts get a taxi to Amina Market. The Caribelle Batik Factory has a shop with beautiful cloths, and you can tour the factory itself.
Rum, cigars, handicrafts
Go quad biking in the old plantations
Trot along horse-back mountain trails
Take a Best of St Kitts driving tour
Hike the pristine rainforest
Take the St Kitts scenic railway
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