Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours in St Kitts shore excursion. Every time I visit a new place, I always find myself brimming with enthusiasm about my latest discovery! “This is my favorite place ever!” I chortle with glee. “I could come back here every year!”
But I am particularly excited to share with you my itinerary for 24 Hours in St Kitts shore excursion. This truly might be my favorite island in the Caribbean. It has astounding natural beauty, fascinating history, gorgeous historic homes, and delicious rum. If you spend at least 24 hours in St Kitts, I guarantee you will become mad for its unique Caribbean culture as well.
24 Hours in St Kitts Shore Excursion
What to Pack and Where to Stay
You’ll need comfy shoes for all the walking we’re going to do today. If it’s summertime, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. They come in every shade, and I always get compliments on my electric magenta shoes.
The Caribbean can get very hot, so don’t forget the sunscreen. My favorite is the Neutrogena spray bottle because it’s so easy to apply. And as a solo traveler, I can actually use it myself on my own back. I just put it in my purse and re-apply throughout the day.
Finally, since we’re going to be out all day, you’ll want a battery for your cell phone. I always use the Anker charger. It’s light enough to fit in even a small purse. Plus the Anker lasts for several full charges of a phone, so I’ll never run out of juice!
If you’re not cruising and you want great deals on hotels in St Kitts, just click here.
24 Hours in St Kitts: Shore Excursion
Morning: Scenic Drive of St Kitts
Because I was spending 24 hours in St Kitts on a Royal Caribbean cruise, I wasn’t literally going to have 24 hours in St Kitts. On a cruise, you get more like between the hours of 8 or 9 in the morning to 4 or 5 in the afternoon to visit a place. But 9 Hours in St Kitts doesn’t seem like as good a title as 24 Hours in St Kitts. And of course, I’m not changing the name of my blog to Around the World in 9 Hours. That’s just insane!
I’m a big believer in booking shore excursions when I go cruising. I want to see as much of each stop as I possibly can! In St Kitts I was lucky because there was enough time to go on one shore excursion in the morning and a different one in the afternoon. I highly recommend doing this if you have the funds/energy.
However, if you can only do one shore excursion, opt for a scenic tour of St Kitts in the morning. You can spend the afternoon on your own in St Kitts’s adorable capital, Basseterre. But it will be much harder for you to arrange a scenic drive on your own. Royal Caribbean arranged our scenic drive through Tangerine Tours, but you could contact them on your own to arrange a scenic drive. The guide Christian, who is the proud owner of the world’s most colorful beard, gave us an excellent tour of his gorgeous home. He left us with much more than…
Approximately top 5: 24 hours in st kitts
1) Bloody River
The first stop during our 24 hours in St Kitts is also the saddest. The indigenous population of St Kitts were the Carib people. Though the Spanish had begun colonizing the Caribbean in the late 1400s with Christopher Columbus, the French and English got a later start to empire building. Both of them began colonizing St Kitts around the same time, in the 1620s.
The Carib didn’t take too kindly to these foreigners and hatched a plan to drive them away. Unfortunately for the Carib, the English and French heard about the planned attack and pre-emptively massacred the Carib. After the massacre, no Caribs were left on the island. That is why this spot where the massacre took place is known as Bloody River.
2) Romney Manor and Gardens
My favorite thing I saw during the 24 hours in St Kitts is the Romney Manor and gardens. About 25 percent of St. Kitts is rainforest, and you can get spectacular views of St. Kitts’s rainforest and mountains from the gardens here.
The drive approaching Romney Manor even takes you a bit through them.
The gardens are a gorgeous place to observe the local flora with a cocktail from the Romney Manor. Cozy up with the one who brung ya, if you have a sweetie. These local flamingos are getting in the mood. But I wonder why they are a strange white color? Are the flamingos naturally pale in St Kitts? I tried asking people, but they just laughed at me.
24 hour treasure: the saman tree
Perhaps this tree is more authentically St. Kittitian than the mysterious white flamingos. It is a 400 year old Saman tree. According to Romney Manor, it is the oldest living organism on the island of St Kitts. I think that’s an incredibly impressive age, but then I’m from New York City. Our oldest living organism is Pizza Rat.
Romney Manor has ties to US history. Its first owner was Sam Jefferson, who was Thomas Jefferson’s ancestor. (He didn’t call it Romney Manor. The name changed when the Earl of Romney took it over.) Jefferson and the later owners of Romney Manor owned slaves to work in the sugar trade, which was the main industry of St Kitts. Enslaved people worked under truly brutal conditions, and the bell on each plantation telling them when to begin working would have been one of the most miserable sounds in an enslaved person’s life.
In 1834, England outlawed slavery, but they didn’t exactly free the enslaved people in their colonies. Parliament decided the enslaved people would have to continue working for their masters even after they regained freedom. The Earl of Romney was the only plantation owner on the island to emancipate his enslaved work right away.
The people of St Kitts did not respect Parliament’s decision and refused to continue working on the plantations for free after they had been emancipated. They went around the island smashing up the bell towers that were the symbol of their enslavement. The bell tower on Romney Manor was the only one left intact, in recognition of the fact that Romney had freed his enslaved workers.
3) Carabelle Batik
Caribelle Batik is one of the best places to shop during your 24 hours in St. Kitts. They make batik clothes, wall hangings, and home furnishings on the premises. You can watch a brief demonstration of how batik is made by hand using wax and many different color dyes. The ladies who make the batik explained that authentic batik will always be reversible and look the same on both the outside and inside.
I’m completely obsessed with their skirts and I now own three in different colors. I always get compliments on how summery they are. If you want to look adorable and stay comfortable and cool in the summer, you truly can’t do better. (Caribelle Batik does not pay me to say this, and I wouldn’t take their money even if they wanted to give it to me. I want you to know that I take my skirt recommendations very seriously.)
4) St Thomas Anglican Church
As we left Romney Manor, we drove by the St. Thomas Anglican Church. This is the oldest Anglican church in the Caribbean. (Remember the Anglican Church was the one founded by Henry VIII when he wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. In the United States, it is known as the Episcopalian Church because we hate taxation without representation.)
The original church was made out of wood and built in the 1600s. As you can probably guess, there aren’t a whole lot of wood structures from the 1600s still standing. The church was rebuilt in stone in the 1800s, and that’s the little building you can see in the distance in my founder. The British founder of the colony of St Kitts, Thomas Warner, and Samuel Jefferson are both buried here.
5) Black Rocks
Do you scare easily, Internet Stranger? I hope not, because then I’ll definitely freak you out when I tell you that the entire western part of St Kitts is a volcano. Its name is Mt Liamuiga, which is a Carib word, and you can go trekking there on a different shore excursion. (Don’t freak out much, though. The last time the mountain erupted was literally over a thousand years ago.)
For tourists, the most exciting thing about the volcano is that its molten lava left dramatical black rocks all over the island. We stopped for a free glass of very tasty rum punch and a chance to gaze at these volcanic beauties. Just be aware that many enterprising St Kittitians have set up shop here to hawk wares to tourists. So it’s a bit difficult to walk around without having to turn down smiling offers to sell you stuff.
Our guide Christian warned us to not buy a turn petting the monkey because it bites. So of course one lady in our group insisted on petting the monkey and…it bit her. Moral of this story: Listen to Christian.
6) Timothy Hill Viewing Point
Our final stop on the scenic drive was this spectacular view from the Timothy Hill Overlook. You can see the exact point where the rough and freezing Atlantic Ocean meets the warm and mild Caribbean Sea. Opposites apparently attract in bodies of water and also romantic comedies.
In the distance, you can see the island of Nevis, where musical comedy star Alexander Hamilton was born. I personally think he should donate one of his Tony Awards to Nevis. Where would he be without this beautiful island? St Kitts and Nevis are part of the same country even though Nevis is a separate island. Unlike many other islands in the Caribbean, St Kitts and Nevis were not especially damaged by the back-to-back hurricanes Irma and Maria.
24 Hours in St Kitts: Shore Excursion
Afternoon: St Kitts Culture
Now that we’ve seen what a stunning island St Kitts is, we will have a little time during our 24 hours in St Kitts to explore and grab lunch in the capital city of Basseterre. Even though, culturally speaking, St Kitts is very much a former British colony, it was the French who named the capital city. Basseterre means low land, and I guess anything is low when you compare it to a volcano. But there’s nothing else “low” about Basseterre. Allow me to show you around!
Approximately top 5: basseterre & fairview
1) Basseterre Architecture
St Kitts and Nevis have only been independent from the United Kingdom since 1983. It’s still a Commonwealth country, so technically their head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. You can definitely get hints of the British influence on the island in Basseterre. For example, this roundabout in the center of Basseterre is known as Piccadilly Circus, just like the one in London. I feel the weather in London is just a smidge different from that of Basseterre, though.
Also this phone booth seems familiar…
From Piccadilly Circus, turn into Independence Square to get a glimpse of this ornate aquamarine fountain. This square used to be called Pall Mall Square and it was the site of a slave market when the sugar cane industry was at its height. When St Kitts and Nevis became independent from Great Britain, it was renamed Independence Square.
24 hour tip
St Kitts has one slightly unusual law: public cursing is illegal. So don’t go shouting the F Word at people if a police officer might be nearby. Actually don’t do that anywhere. Were you raised by particularly foul-mouthed wolves?
2) Fairview Great House and Gardens
Now that you’re all fed and have broken yourself of the habit of screaming curse words at random strangers on the street, it’s time for the afternoon shore excursion! We’ll be going with Kantours on a trip to the historic Fairview Great House for a house tour + rum tasting. This tour would be difficult to book on your own because it needs a minimum of 8 people to run. But maybe your family is exceptionally large and loves rum? I don’t know your life.
The original Fairview Great House dates back to the 1700s. However, in its current incarnation, it’s much more recent. The house had been overrun by termites, making it something no tourist would want to visit unless they had some bizarre fetish for wood-eating bugs. Therefore the house had to be massively restored and redone. Many of the pieces of furniture in the house are original antiques.
One of the residents of this house was a lawyer named James Stephen. He was an advocate for enslaved people and attempted, largely unsuccessfully, to bring slaveowners who beat and mutilated their enslaved workers to justice. He returned to England eventually and worked with William Wilberforce to abolish the slave trade.
One of the best parts about visiting the upstairs floor of the house is the views of the Fairview Botanical Gardens. Can you guess what the shape of the pool represents? Is it an armless lady? A chicken and dumpling? I refuse to tell you what it is, but there’s a clue in this blogpost. Don’t throw away your shot to figure it out!
4) Rum Tasting
After the history and house tour, it’s time to get our rum on! You can’t spend 24 hours in St Kitts without sipping a little rum. The Fairview Great House serves Brinley Gold Rum. The rum itself isn’t manufactured in St Kitts because no legal rum manufacture happens on the island anymore. However, the rum is flavored on the island, so it’s the closest thing you’ll find to a local rum in St Kitts.
On the tour you get to taste five different flavors: lime, mango, spiced, coffee, and vanilla. Brinley Gold uses all natural flavors, so none of them tasted too sweet or artificial. There’s also a yummy piece of rum cake thrown in, and they don’t skimp on the rum they soak the cake in.
Fairview Great House has a store where you can buy the Brinley Gold at the end of the tour, but there’s no pressure to do so. However, as it’s hard to come by in the States, I got a bottle of the mango, which is delicious as a dessert aperitif. Just sniffing it takes me back to my 24 hours in St Kitts.
Rum is just distilled molasses or sugarcane. It became popular in the Caribbean because sugar production was such a massive industry. Rum was by far the most popular thing you could do with the molasses produced by sugar production. And we all know who loves rum the most: sailors! In fact rum was served on British naval ships until 1970. I wonder what happened in 1970 to make them knock it off with the rum. I really hope they dedicate a whole upcoming episode of The Crown to the rum crisis of 1970.
The reason rum is no longer made on St Kitts is because sugar production is no longer done on the island. It’s just not as profitable as other industries like tourism. But some locals do like making something called hammond, which is “housemade” rum. We weren’t served any on this tour, as it is definitely illegal. But I wonder which carries a stiffer penalty in St Kitts, making hammond or cursing in public? Only one way to find out!
24 Hours in St Kitts: Shore Excursion
Evening: Relax on the Ship
The evening is yours to do what you wish! Royal Caribbean cruises always have a free show in the evening, and nothing’s more fun than something that comes free of charge. I saw a performance by a singer named Finis Henderson who does musical impressions, which was not a thing I had ever seen before. He sang in the style of everyone from Frank Sinatra to Garth Brooks to Bruno Mars. It was terribly Vegas and terribly fun. But regardless of what the evening’s entertainment is, I do know what will be waiting for you back in your room…
A friendly towel animal! More than anything in life, I just want someone to sneak into my apartment and fold my towels into an animal so it will be waiting for me when I come home from a hard day’s work. Actually that sounds horrifying. I’ll save the towel animals for my cruise trips.
That’s 24 Hours in St Kitts: Shore Excursion
What would you do with 24 hours in St Kitts? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in St Kitts? How long would you go to jail if you cursed in public in Basseterre? And do you feel even a little sorry for that lady who got bit by a monkey? (Answer: NO!) Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in St Kitts. If you want to see some of the other itineraries from my cruise, check out St Thomas, Antigua, Barbados, and St Lucia.