Hike St. Kitts (Saint Christopher and Nevis Islands)

Caribbean Travel Info & Hiking Recommendations for St. Kitts

A really good place in the Caribbean to hike / backpack…  The Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis Islands, commonly referred to as “St. Kitts” or “SKN”, is a two island nation of the Lesser Antilles’ Leeward Islands, located in the eastern Caribbean sea.  The island of St. Kitts is approximately 18 miles (30km) long by 6 miles (10km) wide with a surface area of roughly 65 square miles (168 sq km), while Nevis is approximately 8 miles (13km) long by 6 miles (9km) wide with a surface area of roughly 36 square miles (93 sq km).  Regular ferry service connects the two islands, which are approximately 2 miles (3 km) apart.  St. Kitts is only 6 miles (10 km) from its closest neighbour Sint Eustatius to the north-west, and is also not too far from Barbuda and Antigua to the East, and Montserrat to the south.  Combined, Saint Christopher and Nevis have half a dozen mountains (volcanoes) above 1,500 feet (500m), the tallest being Mount Liamuiga (formerly Mount Misery), at 3,792 feet (1,156 m) above sea level.

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Sunrise over St. Kitts
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A view of the island from sea
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Green mountains, ridges and valleys…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Christopher and Nevis islands are the tops of a submerged volcanic mountain range, now covered with rolling green folds of volcanic peaks and lush valleys.  More than a quarter of the islands are being conserved via National Park lands, and the island is well known for its many medical schools and miles of relaxing beaches.  The island is also well known for its African Green (Vervet) monkeys, which were brought to St Kitts in the 17th century.  Monkeys are not a common site in the Caribbean, and now the monkey population of St. Kitts rivals or exceeds that of its human counterpart.

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Anglican church in Basseterre
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Looking North from Brimstone Fortress – St. Eustatius in the background

 

 

 

 

 

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Looking South from Brimstone Fortress
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The Mountains behind Brimstone Fortress

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Kitts is home to a large variety of bird species, including the commonly seen pelican, frigate bird, egret, martin, various thrashers and finches, as well as a few species of bird-of-prey and hummingbirds.  Deer and mongoose were brought to the island, and while the deer population is low, they are managing to survive in the wild.  The mongoose of course, are thriving in the rainforest.  That said, there are still a few small (non venomous) snakes on the island, along with rodents and a number of species of bats.  Of course there’s frogs, toads, turtles, geckos and iguanas on St.Kitts as well.  The islands are covered with palm, silk, gum and even some pine trees, and in the denser portions of the forests, they are all usually covered in wild orchids, candlewoods, ferns and exotic vines.  The Poinciana (Flamboyant) tree provides the national flower of St. Kitts & Nevis.  There are a large variety of fruit trees on the island as well.  Palmettos, bougainvillea, hibiscus, and tamarind are also common.

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Tree at Romney Manor
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Fountain in Basseterre – Independence Square. Catholic church in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are coral reefs off the shore of the islands, along with a couple of shipwrecks that provide an ideal habitant for a large variety and abundance of marine life.  There are 18 official dive sites around St. Kitts and Nevis, where you can see a variety of corals, fans and sponges, along with creole wrasse, lizardfish, squirrelfish, triggerfish, angelfish, barracuda, grouper, chub and snapper, along with turtles, lobsters and eels.  Whales and dolphins can also be seen not too far from shore.

English is the official language of St. Kitts and their official currency is the Eastern Caribbean (EC) dollar, although the US dollar is also widely accepted.  Please note that the islands’ electrical power system provides the locals with a 230 volt single phase supply, however a 110 volt AC supply is available in most hotels.  Power adapters/converters and surge suppressors (to handle the occasional dirty power) may be required by North Americans – Best to check with the folks you’ll be staying with.

The best time to hike in St. Kitts and Nevis, in terms of weather, is March and April.  These months typically have the least amount of rain and the daily average temperatures range comfortably from a low of 73˚ (23˚c) to a high of 84˚ (29˚c) degrees.  It’s a little hotter, with much more rain later in the year.

Up-hill hiking in St. Kitts and Nevis…  Tour operators or local Guides are recommended for most trails, and they typically charge between $50 to $100 usd per person, depending on the hike.  Featured trails for up-hill hiking in St. Kitts:

DSCN0801 (St. Kitts Hiking)   Mount Liamuiga

 

Other recommended trails for up-hill hiking in St. Kitts and Nevis include:

  • Nevis Peak – Nevis Island / Trailhead near Stony Hill
    • The highest peak on the island (3200 feet or 950m)
    • Difficult: 4-5 hours round trip with 2000 feet (600m) vertical (elevation gain)
  • Dos D’ane Pond (Verchilds Mountain) – Central St. Kitts Island / Trailhead near Rodney Manor
    • Second highest mountain on St. Kitts (>3000 feet or 900m)
    • Difficult: 4-6 hours round trip with > 2000 feet (600m) vertical (elevation gain)
  • The Weir – South Central St. Kitts Island
    • Third highest mountain on St. Kitts (>2600 feet or 800m)
    • More info TBD
  • Lawyer Stephen’s cave / waterfalls – Just West of Basseterre (Name and trail info to be verified)
    • Cave and 2 waterfalls
    • Intermediate: 4-6 hours round trip with > 1500 feet (450m) vertical (elevation gain)
  • Radio Tower / Fischorski Trail – West side of St. Kitts Island / Trailhead near Boyd’s (Name and trail info to be verified)
    • Steep partially paved road to the Tower. Fischorski Trail optional
    • Difficult: 3-5 hours round trip with > 1600 feet (500m) vertical (elevation gain)

Other potential hikes of interest include:

  • The “Valley of Giants” Rainforest Hike – West side of St. Kitts Island, near Romney Manor
    • Loop Trails along Wingfield River Valley, with optional ridge climb
    • Easy: 2 hours round trip
  • Bat Cave and Waterfall Hike – West side of St. Kitts Island, near the town of Challengers
    • Intermediate: 2 hours round trip to the cave +  2 hours round trip to the waterfall
  • Southern Peninsula Hike – South end of St. Kitts Island, near Frigate Bay
    • Dry scrub-brush trail, with access to empty beaches and views of the ocean and wildlife
    • Intermediate: 4-6 hours round trip
  • Phillips Rainforest Hike – East side of St. Kitts Island, near Phillip’s Village
    • Loop Trail through a rainforest valley
    • Easy: 2 hours round trip
  • Old Military Trail – Crosses St. Kitts Island, from Romney Manor to Phillip’s Village
  • More than half a dozen other trails on each of St. Kitts and Nevis Islands

Other things to do (besides hiking) in St. Kitts and Nevis:

  • Brimstone Hill Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is a must see
  • An unique Scenic Railway tour, built in the early 1900s for the sugar industry, now operates for tourists
  • Snorkeling and Scuba diving, at over a dozen official dive sites
  • The “Black Rocks” (ancient lava formations) are something to see along the north-east coast near the village of Bellevue
  • Romney Manor botanical gardens is worth a visit
  • Of course there are beaches… more than a dozen top notch beaches on the islands.  Some have white sand, and some have black (volcanic) sand
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Lipstick Palm Tree at Romney Manor
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Brimstone Fortress Buildings…
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Brimstone Fortress highgrounds – Mt. Liamuiga is behind the mountain, in the background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about visiting St. Kitts and Nevis:

http://www.stkittstourism.kn/

http://www.nevisisland.com/

https://www.gov.kn/    Go to the “visitor section”

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