The official currency in Saint Kitts and Nevis is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$). This currency is used on almost all (former) English islands in the Eastern Caribbean:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Vincent and Grenadines
Eight territories and countries use this currency, although they only have a total population of 600.000 people. Queen Victoria of England is still shown on the coins and notes of the EC$ as well as some nice images on the notes. Popular sights of the islands are highlighted on the back of the bills like the Trafalgar Falls of Dominica and the Brimstone Hill Fortress of Saint Kitts. Also, there is a small map on the back so you can see on which islands you can use the currency.
It is easier to use to EC$ when visiting Saint Kitts, but not necessary: the US Dollar is accepted everywhere as well. But of course the rates are always better when you pay in the official currency.
For the most up-to-date rate, check out www.xe.com/ucc/.
When traveling by cruise ship, keep in mind that you will get the best prices from tour operators located right off of the pier. We chose Sugar City Tours. Price was $20 per person and they will take you to all the popular spots and will even customize the tour for you. The other passengers will alos have to agree to do what you want to, we had no problem with that. At the end of the tour, they drop you off at the beach. You can either stay at the beach, or they will drive you back to the ship if you chose not to. Really convenient for us.
Fondest memory: My most memorable experience was the monkeys of course.
Favorite thing: After we passed the St. Kitts museum, we walked down to "The Circus" which is a roundabout with an ornate Victorian clock in the middle of it. The Circus was ostensibly modeled after Piccadilly Circus in London, but without the statue of the cherub in it. The only real similarity was the traffic - they drive on the left There were a lot of restaurants around the Circus.
Favorite thing: Nevis, the second island is this small Caribbean nation, is seperated from St. Kitts by a narrow channel of water about two miles wide. While we were unable to visit Nevis on this trip, we could see the gumdrop shaped island from the docks in Basseterre, the capital city. Transportation to Nevis can be found at the Ferry Docks on Basseterre Bay, just to the west of Port Zante, and it can also be reached by airplane. Nevis has a population of about 10,000 people. There is only a single main road on Nevis. It is about 20 miles long, encircling the island.
The Carib Indians who first inhabited this island called it Liamuiga, which means "fertile land." That name lives on today in Mt. Liamuiga, which soars to 3,792 feet with a volcanic crater on top. This is the highest point on St. Kitts, capping the North West Range. There is also a South East Range which is crowned by Olivees Mountain, at 2,953 feet. There are several other smaller peaks on the island.
When the warm, moisture-laden trade winds sweep up these precipitious slopes they cool rapidly, forming clouds, and thus the mountains create their own weather. The result is a rain forest in the center of this small island, which is a key to the lush green landscape, as well as abundant plant and animal life. Hiking trails lead into the interior and up the mountain slopes, making St. Kitts one of the better islands of the Caribbean for eco-tourism.
The grandfather of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, once owned a sugar plantation on St. Kitts. In fact, there were more than 300 such plantations at one time, and for more than three centries years sugar was the mainstay of the Kittitian economy. Just this year, July 31, 2005, all of that came to an abrupt end when the St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Company closed it's doors for good, putting 1,400 people out of work. That represents a huge number of families for a small island with only 40,000 people.
But the local folks I talked to in St. Kitts seem very optimistic about the island's future, referring to it as "life after sugar." Tourism, which has long been neglected here, is seen as one of the keys to the country's economic salvation, and great strides are being made in developing that industry. Fortunately, St. Kitts is one of the most scenic islands in all of the Caribbean, and once visitors discover what the Kittians have to offer, it is bound to become a strong tourist magnet.
As you travel about the island, you will see the ruins of numerous old windmills and smoke stacks from the now idle sugar plantations. You may also still see large fields of sugar cane still growing, although the crop may no longer be harvested. These ruins soon may be all that is left to remind visitors of what was the longest lasting sugar economy in the Caribbean. You'd better get there soon. I fear that in a few more years much of the green lushness of this special island may be built over with condos, shopping malls, and parking lots. I hope my fears are unfounded.
The national flower of St. Kitts and Nevis is the Flamboyant or Poinciana, the latter name honoring Monsieur de Poincy, the first French governor of St. Kitts, who introduced the plant to the island. This beautiful flowering tree, with the scientific name Delonix Regina, originated in Madagascar.
The Flamboyant is decidious and has an umbrella shaped crown. It reminds me somewhat of the Mimosa which we have in the eastern United States, only it is more, shall we say, flamboyant. The striking red and yellow blossoms are said to appear from May through August, although the one pictured here was still blooming in mid-October. The flowers are followed by long black seedpods.
The National Flag of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis was officially adapted by the two island nation which became an independent nation in 1983. When I first saw the flag, I assumed that the prominent two stars represented the two islands of the nation, which are seperated by a narrow channel of water. However, upon doing some research I learned that they officially represent hope and liberty. The symbolizm of the colors in the flag are:
Green: The fertile lands.
Yellow: The year-round sun
Black: The predominant African heritage
Red: The struggle from slavery, through colonialism, to independence.
Favorite thing: A great fortress. I hear that it may not be open right now. We spent an hour here and had it to ourselves almost the entire time. Great photo oportunities around and from the fortress if you are allowed to still roam about in it like we were. Great views of the ocean and all of the rooms were open to walk in and out of.
I truly enjoy that there's little to do but much scenery to enjoy. A favorite thing to do is just sitting on the beach and watching the pelicans.
Fondest memory: I miss the people I've met the most, sitting around chatting and enjoying a drink or a meal.
Rent a scooter and travel around this small beautiful island
Fondest memory: Breaking down three times at the furthest point north of the island, miles from the hotel, but next to a shop which sold cold beer, which was handy whilst we waited a Carribean hour to be picked up!!!!
First (well...maybe second) thing is rent a car a tour the island, go into Basseterre, shop, have lunch, then circle the rest of the island in about three hours including stops. Watch out for the taxi buses though, they drive like ther're on a mission.
Fondest memory: Getting a early start for a day at the beach away from the resort and the constant presence of peddlers. Filling up a few jugs of rum punch (and water) and a few snacks a sail boater would be proud of. Friars beach south was empty and the snorkeling great. The water was warm and clear. Afternoon munchies drive to Turtle Beach for a sandwich and Bahama Mama's, lay around some more to get rid of the caloric coma. Then just before sunset drive back to Friars to watch it set.
On St.Kitts don't look for nice beaches. The only ones are at the southern tip of the island, and are of black volcanic sand (CAUTION ! extremely hot when the sun is shining). The waters are not that good for snorkelling.
NEVIS is much better but very small. It's a fully round island, possible to visit by bike (a bit hilly). Beaches are much better (white sand) but small and mostly remote. Life in Nevis is like u can imagine a typic Carribean island, relaxed and slow-mowing. Lots of rasta guys and 'reggae' atmosphere.
Fondest memory: >>> This first picture shows the famous clocktower place downtown the capital Basseterre
snorkle, there are beautiful fish, so colourful. tanning and/or swimming at the beach is the best thing to do there. the water is bright blue and green.
Fondest memory: i missed walking on the beach at night, the temperature at night is nice and cool.
Go to turrle beach. it is on the southern most point of the Island and has a view of the island of nevis.
Whe I was there in early dec 1999 my wife and I were the only ones on the beach. The water was calm and warm. There were shells all over (if you collect).
Rent a car cost 30.00 uad a day. You will be able to see the entire island in one day. There is one road that goes around the whole island approx 23 miles north to south by 3 to 6 miles across.
Taxis are about 8 us dollars from frigett bay ( where most of the southern hotels are) to town for four people one way.
Fondest memory: The people are some of the friendlest people you will ever meet.
If you want to get away from the crowds and be alone if you want or be with people you have the best of both.
Village Po Box 345, BASSETERRE, KN
Good for: Business
Some of my best memories of our first trip to the Caribbean are of the time we spent at the Nisbet...more
Good for: Couples