Our St Kitts expert reveals his favorites lesser-known attractions, bars and restaurants
Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park
In 1690, British forces began work on a hilltop defence that over the course of the next century grew into an imposing fortress. Built by African slaves, at its peak Brimstone Hill was home to over a thousand soldiers and their families. Abandoned in 1825, it has since been restored and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In my view, it is one of the most spectacular sights in the Leeward Islands. It is also a green and spacious national park with superb views, so feel free to bring a picnic and take your time exploring a monumental ruin that includes a formidable citadel, an engrossing historical museum and a poignant cemetery.
Allow half a day and invest in the audio guide (US$5/EC$13), which must be picked up at the ticket booth as you drive up. Credit cards are accepted only for payments over US$20/EC$54.
Brimstone Hill, near Sandy Point, St Thomas
Mt Liamuiga hike
Ready for a serious hike? Then it's time to tackle the 3,972ft volcanic peak of Mt Liamuiga in the north of the island, which until independence in 1983 was known as Mt Misery. The two-hour ascent climbs through a cathedral-like rainforest with magnificent trees, then emerges on the rim of a half-mile-wide volcanic crater to look down at a lost green world 700ft below. A good level of fitness is required, but the paths are maintained and the higher you go the cooler it gets.
Several companies offer guided trips with hotel pick-up – my favourite is the highly experienced and extremely motivating O'Neil Mulraine, who rewards his guests with a mountain-top snack at the summit. You won't see much if it's cloudy or rainy, so if the weather looks promising arrange to do the hike as soon as you can.
Mt Liamuiga, St John
St Kitts Scenic Railway
In 1912, work began on a narrow gauge railway line to transport sugar cane across the north of St Kitts to the outskirts of Basseterre. Completed 14 years later, it remained in use until 2005 when the industry finally closed. Now it has a second life taking tourists on a two-hour, 18-mile trundle around the Atlantic coast with a guided commentary and drinks.
Passengers travel in air-conditioned, double-decker carriages as far as La Vallee Station in Newton Ground, then a 45-minute bus ride completes the round-island tour. The journey is also available in reverse and is a popular excursion for cruise ship passengers. You might want to take earplugs – I find the commentary can be very loud and a bit overbearing.
Needs Must Train Station, Needs Must Estate, St Peter
Eat - El Fredo's
Run by an amiable couple who lived in Wales for some years, this small, wood-framed courtyard restaurant stands close to the shore in Basseterre and is only open for lunch. There is no view, but a steady stream of satisfied local customers makes it clear that this is a good place to try some Caribbean favourites. Options include goat water (spicy meat stew), curried conch and ground provisions (traditional vegetables such as yams, cassava and sweet potato).
Ask about the specials, which could be snapper caught that morning, but be wary of the hot sauce...Try one of El Fredo's juices made from local herbs and fruits, such as sorrel, guava and soursop (US$2/EC$5).
New Town, Bay Road, Basseterre
With a commanding view of Basseterre's answer to Piccadilly Circus, this breezy, balconied restaurant makes a welcome pit-stop if you are shopping or sightseeing in the island's capital. Decorated in cheerful Caribbean colours, it's open all day and has a wide-ranging and reasonably priced menu. Go early for a traditional breakfast of saltfish with creole sauce, or drop in for a reviving lobster sandwich.
From here, it's just a short walk to the market, National Museum and duty-free shops of Port Zante. I always ask about Ballahoo's daily specials, which range from chicken curry to blackened grouper. Reservations are generally not necessary, except if visiting with a large party, or if an event is on.
The Circus, Fort Street, Basseterre, St George (Read Full Article Here)