|After thoroughly researching the many Caribbean Islands, we planned a 50th birthday celebration on the charming island of St. Kitts, also visiting the quaint neighbor island of Nevis. If your vacation goals are relaxation, combined with opportunities to enrich your life with a taste of cultural differences, St. Kitts and Nevis are for you. These beautiful islands are a step back in time, where one will find lovely and friendly people who are quite helpful and try diligently to accommodate visitors to their islands. Just a note — don’t expect all the creature-comforts of a high-tech society. Power outages are common, poverty does exist, and stores are not open 24-hours a day, but this step back in time is a valuable lesson in patience, and a return to what’s really important in life — exquisite nature, and lasting friendships that somehow puts one’s spirit at ease. Do not miss Fort Brimstone — this well-preserved and most historic landmark is breathtaking. Located high in the rainforests, one steps back in history and can actually feel the spirits of those who gave their lives (mostly slaves) to construct this massive fort. On the way to the fortress, also visit the Batik factory, where islanders make beautiful batik. The surroundings are fantastic, views breathtaking, and the batik unsurpassed. Their are many fun-filled bars on the various beaches, but our absolute favorite was the Shipwreck Bar located on the Southeast peninsula. The staff is extremely friendly, the black sand beaches are laid-back and the drinks are delicious, but very inexpensive. This is a place where you can kickback, bask in the sun, snorkel, eat, drink and be merry. You will leave, yearning to come back again and again, which by the way we did!!! There is also the Oasis Sports Bar just down from the Marriott hotel. It is a delightful place to eat, drink the wonderful island rums, and grab a delicious, reasonably priced meal. The owner and staff are wonderful! If you want to catch a sports event, the bar also has big screen televisons, and locals frequent this spot to enjoy a bit of competitive fun. Bobsey’s Restaurant offers delicious food, unsurpassed atmosphere, and a wide variety menu. The staff is very accommodating. Try the barbecue ribs and the blackened mahi. For dessert, don’t pass up the rum cake — even if you are stuffed from dinner, you palate will thank you again and again. They will top the cake off with a votive candle, if it happens to be a celebration event for someone in your party. The Turtle Beach Bar has the finest Calypso salad — we have never had a salad this good, and it’s quite common to see the island’s famous vervet monkeys, while viewing the island of Nevis in the distance. It is also an experience not to be missed to take a horseback ride high into the rainforests with Trinity Stables. Make sure to ask for a young, charming guide named Greg. This young man is someone who tries his best to make sure guests are happy and experience all the richness of the mountains. Drink water from a natural waterfall, coming straight out of the mountains, rest under hundred-year-old Banyan trees with massive trunk circumference unlike any tree we have ever seen. The Bird Rock Beach hotel, where we stayed, is a quaint little property, where quests are pampered by charming staff, especially a young gentleman named Shem. If you need anything, Shem will make it happen. This is a very good hotel value for your money, and offers opportunities to experience the real culture of the island. This is a great hotel for divers, as dive masters are right on the property to take you directly from the hotel. The only recommendation we would make, is to request a room in the 100s — 300s. The rooms in the in the 600s — 700s don’t offer the spectacular views and the landscaping needs work, however, this was under construction when we visited, so maybe updated by now. These room have very small patios, enclosed very tightly on the sides, so you can only see straight forward — almost makes one claustrophobic. We did request another room, and were happily accommodated with a beautiful one-bedroom suite, full kitchen and huge patio. If you don’t like your room, just ask and the staff will take care of you — especially Shem. One word of caution — long distance back to the States or to Europe are very, very expensive, and you are not told about this. We did not discover, until we returned and received our phone bill, that the hotels use "Entertainment" telephone numbers, so rates can easily be anywhere from $40 – $60 dollars for a ten to fifteen minute call. The hotels will not tell you this, and you can rarely use cell phones or calling cards. On the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, make sure to visit the cemeteries or as the natives refer to them, "dead centers." Some of the graves date back to the 1700s, most are hand-dug, and is a photographer’s backdrop for some excellent shots. There are two, not to be missed, restaurants on the island of Nevis — Sunshine’s and Tequilla Shelia’s. Sunshine’s is great for lunch, lying on the beach, and some fabulous music, fun and drinks. Tequilla Shelia’s has a phenomenal chef, excellent staff (especially Keesha), and if you’re lucky the chef’s young daughter, Tamara will charm you with a delightful smile, warm conversation, and a true taste of these beautiful Nevian children. The lobster quesilladas are to die for. If you rent a car, and we suggest you do, use a company like Avis, where you can arrange to have the car on both islands for no additional charge. Be prepared for a driving experience of a lifetime — it can be very stressful at times until you adjust to cows, goats, monkeys crossing in the road, people honking at you all the time (not to be rude as we think it is in the U.S., but as a friendly reminder that they are coming up behind you, or getting ready to pass). There are no street lights, very few stop signs, poorly maintained roads, and traffic circles, called round abouts which can be very confusing, but once you get the hang of it, you can explore the islands at your own pace, wandering down unexplored paths, leading to treasures you might not find by taking a cab. Do not try navigating the Circus in downtown Basseterre, until you have a few hours of driving experience under your belt. Ottley’s Plantation is also not to be missed. This lovely restored plantation is a paradise, offering a delicious brunch and grounds that are impeccably maintained. You will feel like you are back in time on a sugarcane plantation.
We will always treasure the many memorable moments in St. Kitts and Nevis, carrying the charming people in our hearts. We made many, many friends from all over the world. This is a vacation experience where you will return rejuvenated, and longing to return again and again. Enjoy!!!