Destination: St. Kitts

Like it’s fellow Caribbean islands, St. Kitts features a rich sense of history, picturesque volcanic peaks and cultural attractions. Yet, unlike the U.S. and British Virgins and St. Martin/St. Maarten to the north, Antigua to the southeast and Grenada to the south, St. Kitts isn’t as well-known as a yachting destination. However, this is changing. In 2017, the governor of this dual-island country which includes Nevis, launched two key documents: the Yachting Strategic Plan and the Yachting Implementation Plan 2017-2022. Both aim at diversifying St. Kitts tourism product with a special focus on yachting and the marine services sector. Thus, and much simpler said, it’s becoming easier and even more attractive to visit St. Kitts by private or charter yacht.

“A vast majority of yachts in the Caribbean region spend a lot of time in the island chain of Antigua, St. Maarten, St Barth’s and Anguilla, which is known as the ‘Milk Run’. St. Kitts is geographically situated among these mature yachting hubs/destinations, which makes the island suited as a natural stop in a loop of islands which can be accessed easily and become a natural extension of current itineraries for seagoing pleasure vessels,” says Lorne Richards, the Yachting Liaison Officer at the Ministry of Tourism, in Basseterre. “Therefore, we are working to improve the yachting industry by having competitive yachting fees, making ease of clearance more efficient and working on establishing an annual regatta.”

Port Zante Marina is the primary facility available for use by yachts in St. Kitts. Located in Basseterre, the marina has 37 slips capable of accommodating yachts of various sizes. Marina space currently available for berthing is limited and there is a need for expansion, particularly to accommodate mega and super yachts. Some of the services offered by Port Zante Marina are berthing, water, garbage disposal, electricity, Wi-Fi, fuel, taxi, bathrooms, and 24-hour security.  

To the south, St. Kitt’s newest marina, Christophe Harbour, opened in 2015. The first and current phase features 24 slips for vessels up to 150 feet in length, and four slips for yachts from 280- to 300 feet. There’s in-slip fueling, 24-hour security, VIP clearance for yachts (Christophe Harbour will soon become a port of entry) and concierge services as well as transportation onsite. The latter is a plus since the marina is located in a fairly remote part of the island. Steps from the docks are a few shops, as well as the upscale SALT Plage restaurant nearby and part of Christophe Harbour. According to Aeneas Hollins, director of yachting, Phase II of the marina’s development will include a total of 250 berths, a quarter of which can accommodate yachts up to 240-feet, and six slips specifically for yachts 350 to 400 feet. The ability to berth this number and size of vessels Hollins calls a ‘gamechanger’ in the area.

There are several anchorage and bays in St. Kitts such as Friar Bays, Ballast Bay, Old Road Bay. However, the best and most popular for overnight anchoring are Whitehouse Bay, Frigate Bay and Basseterre Bay. 

St. Kitts Marine Works, located 10 miles northwest of Basseterre, is a major dry-docking facility. It’s home to one 150-ton lift, one of the three largest in the Caribbean. The small marina here has 10 slips and serves as a major storage facility in the Leeward Island especially during hurricane season. Some of the services offered are launch and recovery, vessel storage, sandblasting, pressure washing, steam cleaning, CCTV coverage, internet service, 24-hour security, hull maintenance and engine repairs. 

The 101-square-mile island of St. Kitts features lots to see and do ashore. 

Likely the most famous historic attraction is the Brimstone Hill Fortress and National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built during the 17th and 18th century from the island’s volcanic rock deposits. The Fort George Museum located in the imposing Citadel gives an up close and personal look at what a soldier’s life was like back then. A magazine bastion, Royal Engineers’ quarters, and infantry officer’s quarters are other areas open to tour.

St. Kitts Brimstone Fortress. St Kitts Tourism Authority
St. Kitts Brimstone Fortress. St Kitts Tourism Authority

Those who’d like to really shake out their sea legs can hike St. Kitts’ Mount Liamuiga Volcano. At nearly 4,000 feet high, the view from the top is definitely worth the steep 3.7-mile climb up through the jungle. A tour guide is definitely recommended for both safety and to learn more about this history, flora and fauna and sights along the way.

A historic walking tour of Basseterre, a visit to see and buy originally-designed fabrics at Caribelle-Batik, a ride on the sugar train, zip lining adventure and keeping an eye out for St. Kitt’s famous green monkeys are all perfect for a see-and-do list. With the yacht tourism industry in an upswing, St. Kitts will be even easier to visit by sea in the future.

St. Kitts Sugar Train. St Kitts Tourism Authority
St. Kitts Sugar Train. St Kitts Tourism Authority
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.