The beautiful little island of St Kitts is one I’d been looking forward to visiting for a while. The plan to visit had been on the books for ages and yet somehow, it managed to surprise me when it was time to hop aboard that BA flight in search of Caribbean sunshine.
St Kitts promised to be a Caribbean experience like no other, in large part due to it being relatively off the beaten path when it came to Caribbean islands.
St Kitts is neighbours to some big hitters, like Antigua – which is actually where you fly to first, before then carrying on a short 20-minute flight before arriving in St Kitts so understandably, St Kitts might not have been the first place most people thought of in the past when thinking of the Caribbean (and don’t worry, you don’t need to change flights or anything stressful, you there’s a quick turnaround where you get to stay in your own seat).
It’s an island that used to be pretty focus on agriculture (sugar, specifically) and so is a relative newcomer to the whole tourism game which means this is one of the most authentic Caribbean islands you can visit (you truly get to see what life is like on the islands here – not what like is like stuck in a resort in the Caribbean).
We arrived in barbecue night – we’re talking fresh lobsters, ribs, freshly caught fish and other non barbecue stuff (rice and peas, conch chowder…etc). It was just the most fantastic welcome to the Caribbean – through delicious food! So much so that, as it turns out, in what can only be described as my “feeding frenzy” I totally forgot to take any photos of the food! Whoops!
*It’s alright though – we would be return here many more times that week so I can show you what the food’s like here in future posts).
The next morning, we got up bright and early. After having dealt with up to 14 hours of time difference across multiple trips throughout the year, jetlag wasn’t even a thing here. The time 4 hours time difference between St Kitts and London just wasn’t enough to give me jetlag – not this time. 😀
We had breakfast at the Ocean Terrace Inn (I recommend getting the omelette and asking for a side of hot sauce – you’ll thank me once you try this! *Sidebar – I have to give Lloyd credit for this, he discovered it from day one when I went for Pancakes instead) and hit the road soon after.
On the way over to our first stop – the Wingfield Estate (home to a cornucopia of stuff) – we made a quick pitstop to check out some petroglyphs dating back to centuries ago when the Carib Indians (the indigenous people to the Caribbeans) used to live in St Kitts. These Caribs later welcomed the first Europeans to visit the island.
At the Wingfield Estate, we basically had a lazy amble around one of the old plantations that used to be on the island (and I think the only one with a full stone chimney still exisiting on the island).
St Kitts was all about Sugar back then so the main plants grown were sugar cane (apologies for the history lesson 😄). Thing is, and as stupid as this sounds now, I never put two and two together to figure out that rum came from the by-product of these sugar factories. I just always knew rum was a very Caribbean drink but it was only at this point that the other shoe dropped and I realised why it was a popular Caribbean tipple.
Rather than waste the molasses, they were used to produce rum (some of which was actually made in lead vessels which led to all kinds of lead-related illnesses back then).
And here’s something else too – you know those red phone boxes you get in London (and all across the UK)? It’s exactly the same company (called Carron) that makes them that made these huge sugar pots (^see above) used for reducing the sugar cane juice and getting the sugar and molasses out of it.
We stopped off to check out a spot, which used to be a river, where slave Betto Douglas (and not many people know about her) was locked in stocks and punished by the foreman for asking his boss back in the UK for her and her children’s freedom and actually getting it.
The foreman saw it as subordination and refused to set Betto Douglas and her children free which his boss back home tried to fight and lost. The story is so much more complicated than this but Betto’s legacy apparently led to changes in the law and to more understanding of what it was like for slaves that were (or indeed, that tried to be) emancipated.
By this point, we’d worked up quite a thirst and headed up to Romney Manor where the promise of my first rum punch in St Kitts moved my feet very quickly up the short walk to the manor.
Another random fact here – Romney Manor used to be the home of Sam Jefferson – the great-great grandfather of Thomas Jefferson, one of American’s Founding Fathers. Oh and while still on random facts, Alexander Hamilton – one of America’s Presidents was actually born in St Kitts and Nevis.
Okay, I’m gonna stop with the history lessons here. 😀
Before getting our rum punch on, we breezed through the Batik centre (Batik is the way of making these clothes/pieces of art. It’s actualy quite fascinating as it’s all handmade and so no two pieces are ever exactly alike.
The view from the balcony overlooking the lush greenery (that we would soon come to inextricably link with St Kitts) was just brilliant. Suffice to say, it paired rather well with the rum punch, which was followed by the lightest, tastiest rum cake you ever did have. (It’s been a very long time since I’ve had cake that fluffy!)
Eventually, we decided to bid farewell to The Wingfield Estate and make our way over to the beach. On the way over, we stopped briefly at a pointed out to us called “Bloody River”. It was a river than around an area where thousands of Carib Indians were massacred by the the English and French in 1626- effectively wiping out most of the Carib population on the island hence why the river ran red after.
The beach we were heading to was Reggae Beach and on the way to that part of the island, you go past Timothy Hill which is the perfect spot in the island for seeing where the rough Atlantic Ocean ends (on the left) and the calm Caribbean Sea begins (on the right).
Most Caribbean islands have a calm Caribbean side for swimming and snorkelling and a wild Atlantic side which is usually avoided for the most part but it’s not often you get to see both at the same time on a Caribbean island.
Distracted, we made a couple more stops along the way before finally arriving at Reggae Beach…
…where we wasted no time whatsoever in tucking into some freshly barbecue sticky chicken wings, even tender barbecue ribs and many more rum punches – the making for a perfect afternoon on the beach, before heading off on something of a first for both us.
More on that in the next post!
And apologies for waffling on and on about the history – I just found it all so fascinating as there’s so much of it that I had no idea about prior to visiting and I don’t many people do either. 😀