My next hop south through the Leeward Islands was to St. Kitts and Nevis, officially the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis. In 1983, these two tiny islands became the most recent British territory in the Caribbean to gain independence. Now that St.Kitts and Nevis is an independent nation, it’s a real country — which I can count as my #162. Yay! Together, St.Kitts and Nevis form the smallest sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere, both in area and population. After Monaco, this is the second smallest country I’ve ever been to.
The population of St.Kitts and Nevis is 95% Afro-Caribbean, yet this little country has a British feel. Everyone speaks English. Cars drive on the left side of the road. The queen’s picture is on the currency. Downtown is lined with Victorian storefronts. Cricket is the national sport. Bars are called pubs.
Because cruise ships visit Basseterre, the port district is polished and pretty with museums, restaurants and souvenir shops. I explored Basseterre on foot. When I left the port area and its restored Victorians, I found more humble neighborhoods. The sugar industry once made this a wealthy colony. This is not a wealthy country today.
Kittitians celebrate their four day Easter holiday with family gatherings and sporting events. I hitched out to a park near Frigate Bay and was invited to join an extended family for barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad and rum punch. The kids flew kites. The grownups played Uno and dominos until late. Parmanand Deonarain and his family became my hosts for the weekend and insisted that I stay with them the next time I come to St.Kitts.
On Easter Monday, the port was the setting for swimming, diving and canoe racing competitions.
Nevis (pronounced Neevis) is just 3 kilometers south of St.Kitts — close enough to swim! But I didn’t swim. I took one of the inexpensive, public ferries that shuttle back and forth between the two islands every 30 minutes.
Like St.Kitts, Nevis feels rather English with inns and pubs on the main street. Nearby is the home — now a museum — where Alexander Hamilton was born and lived until he was nine years old.
To see the whole island, I rented a car. Although it takes only 30 minutes to circumnavigate Nevis, there are so many beautiful beaches, lush forests and historic sites, it took me all day because I stopped at many scenic spots and took several long walks.
Nevis is a volcanic island. Although it hasn’t erupted for thousands of years, the rocks below are still hot. Right in the middle of Charleston is a public hot spring where people can soak their tired feet — great after a day of hiking around the island!
Although my visit to St.Kitts and Nevis was short, I felt relaxed, safe and happy while I was here. It was a nice change of pace from the hustle of some of the more touristed islands like Saint Martin.
As for Covid travel restrictions, prior to my arrival at St.Kitts, I was required to complete an online application, document my vaccination status and upload a negative antigen test. This was the fourth or fifth time I’ve had to do something like this. I’m getting used to performing this sort of Covid paperwork. With an approved travel application and the accompanying QR code on my iPhone, immigration was a breeze. The officer just scanned my QR code, wrote a number in his book and waved me through. The only thing I didn’t like was the $75 I had to pay for a Covid antigen test required before I could continue on to Montserrat. These are the inconveniences and expenses travelers have to tolerate these days. The good news is that, once I get somewhere, I enjoy being one of the few tourists present. This means no queues and good service. These Caribbean islands are wonderful, and it’s not all that hard getting from place to place. Go Now!