On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:Thirty-six stunning stretches of sand fringe St. Martin’s coast, and there’s something special about each beach. On the dual-nation island’s Dutch side, experience a thrill at Maho Bay, where planes coming in for a landing at the Princess Juliana International Airport right across the street fly close enough that you could almost reach up and touch them. For a fun beach-going experience without the noise pollution, try Mullet Bay, which offers a little bit of everything: great snorkeling, surfing, snack bars and shade.
Nudity is widely accepted at beaches on the island’s French side, so head north if you’re looking to get rid of your tan lines. Perhaps the most well-known is Orient Bay, a long, popular stretch of white sand that’s home to clothing-optional resort Club Orient. The beach features snack bars, restaurants, water sports and vendors galore. And the aptly named Long Bay is indeed the island’s longest stretch of sand. You won’t find any vendors, beach bars or restaurants on this beach — just you, your traveling companion, and perhaps a few other beach-goers. It’s the ideal spot for a quiet, romantic day at the beach.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:The thought of covering two islands in one day might seem daunting, but thanks to the small size of St. Kitts and Nevis and the ferries that run regularly between the two islands, it can be done. Start your day by hiring a taxi at Port Zante, St. Kitts’ cruise ship port in Basseterre. Take in the sights as your driver winds through downtown streets, then make a stop at Romney Manor, a former Carib village site and historic home of Thomas Jefferson’s great-great-great-grandfather.
Continue on past Bloody Point, where St. Kitts’ main Kalinago settlement was located, to the impressive Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, an historic British military fort and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Before returning to Basseterre to head over to Nevis, ask your driver to stop at Frigate Bay Beach for a quick swim in the bay’s serene turquoise waters.
Back in Basseterre, hop on one of the hourly ferries to Nevis’ capital of Charlestown, then sit back and enjoy the approximately 45 minute ride. Once you arrive in Charlestown, you should have no trouble hiring a taxi there to give you a tour of this tiny island. But before you do, spend a bit of time walking around in historic Charlestown, a charming town with friendly people and interesting shops. Once you’ve hired a driver, head south to see the island’s famous thermal bath spring. From there, visit the Museum of Nevis History and Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace. Make sure you leave enough time at the end of the day for a stop at Lover’s Beach at the island’s northern end. This secluded, private strip of sand is the best place to unwind after your busy day of sightseeing.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:The islands of St. Kitts and Nevis might not be known for happening nightlife, but you can find places to go out and let loose. On St. Kitts, Bobsy’s in Frigate Bay offers nightly drink specials, occasional special events and weekly theme nights like Everything Jerk Fridays and Karaoke Wednesdays. A beautiful setting and a wide selection of rum beckon at the Keys Cigar & Rum Bar in The Royal Beach casino, also in Frigate Bay. It’s a good spot to grab an after-dinner drink and just relax.
Outside Basseterre, Eclipse Bar and Nightclub is the place to go if you’re looking to dance the night away. DJs spin reggae and calypso along with familiar American tunes.
Nightlife on Nevis is even more subdued, but there is one option if you want to dance into the wee hours of the morning: Courtyard in Charlestown. DJs spin music that keeps the dance floor jumping late at this open-air club, sometimes until 4 a.m. To party island-style, head to popular Pinney’s Beach where you’ll find Chevy’s Calypso Bar & Grill. The best night to be here is Sundays, when Chevy’s hosts Reggae Nitez, a beach party with DJ music and a beach bonfire.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:Whether you want to try something new or join a local dinner party, St. Kitts and Nevis offers several different food experiences. Here are our top five:
1. Dine on the beach with mongoose and monkeys at Shipwreck Beach Bar & Grill on St. Kitts, but make sure you call ahead to see if they’re serving goat water, arguably one of their best specials. Much more appetizing than it sounds, this dish is a delicious soup of stewed goat meat, vegetables and dumplings.
2. It seems that anything that comes off the grill at Cathy’s Ocean View Bar and Grill on St. Kitts is just plain delicious, but nothing beats her grilled lobster—it’s perfectly seasoned and tender.
3. The Beach House on St. Kitts is a beautiful, breezy beachfront restaurant. Enjoy seasonal, local dishes like lobster pho soup or snapper ceviche.
4. Visit Nevis’ Nisbet Plantation Inn Thursday seafood barbecue. This laid-back party, accentuated by the sounds of calypso tunes, is held by the resort pool. Diners are invited to sample snapper, shark, wahoo and grilled strip steak. Wrap up the evening by dancing under the stars to live music on the beach.
5. An evening at Miss June’s Restaurant on Nevis is like attending a dinner party at the home of a friend. Miss June’s opens just once a week, each Wednesday, and invites diners to mingle with one another over cocktails before digging in to her delicious West Indian-style dishes. You’ll need reservations to attend this culinary event.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:The Caribbean is known first and foremost for its stunningly beautiful beaches, but coming in a close second is rum. Many islands throughout the region distill their own local varieties, and St. Kitts and Nevis is no exception. Bring home some Brinley Gold rum, made on St. Kitts in a family-run operation. Rather than the traditional white or aged rums you might find in the Caribbean, the Brinley family makes rums infused with tropical flavors like vanilla, coffee, mango and coconut. Visitors are allowed to bring home one-and-a-half liters of spirits duty-free, so why not take home a bottle of each flavor?
If rum isn’t your thing, pick up some Nevis honey — pure and natural, it’s made by bees that buzz between the island’s mango and wild tamarind trees, making for a sweet and distinctive tasting honey. Pick some up at the Beehouse in Gingerland. Nevis is also known for its pottery, made at Newcastle Pottery Center from the island’s iconic red clay and fired outdoors over coconut shells.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:To see St. Kitts and Nevis’ famed monkeys, just step outside. Green vervet monkeys, which were brought to St. Kitts and Nevis by British settlers, are a common sight on these islands. For a sure sighting, head to Port Zante on St. Kitts, where locals greet cruise ship travelers with their pet monkeys. For a small fee, you can take your picture with one of these little furry guys, pet them and even hold one. Monkeys are also known to frequent beach bars and restaurants in search of a handout, but mind your drink — they’re known to steal beverages from visitors.
If you’d like to see green vervets in more of a natural setting, take a drive through the less-developed parts of either island during the early morning or late evening, when the monkeys are most active. You’re sure to see them scampering across the road. It’s been said that there are more monkeys than people living on these islands, so your quest to see one in person shouldn’t be too difficult.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:If you’ve got money to burn and a desire to shop, head straight to St. Kitts’ Port Zante. This is where cruise ships arrive to the island, and you’ll find shop after shop with a wide array of items for sale including clothing, rum, jewelry, cigars, and unique souvenirs. A noteworthy shop in Port Zante is Linen and Golf, a local mainstay that sells modern jewelry and handcrafted textiles. Shopping is not as prevalent on Nevis, but the island’s capital of Charlestown is home to the City Market, where you can sample local produce like breadfruit, plantain and tannia (a starchy root vegetable). Also in Charlestown, the Nevis Craft Cooperative has a store that sells items made by Nevisians, such as rugs, wooden mobiles and ceramics.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:Kids are king in St. Kitts and Nevis, where the tourism board publishes a special booklet chock full of children’s activities, inviting young visitors to collect a stamp for each activity they complete. Here are the top five activities your kids will love:
1. Nothing punctuates a tropical vacation more perfectly than the sounds of the steel pan drum, and thanks to Nevis’ Scherzando School of Music, your kids can learn to play like the locals. Steel pan lessons are open to visitors age six and older. You’ll love to see your kids learning about local culture, and they’ll love hammering out some tropical tunes.
2. Thanks to the British Empire’s prolific past in the Caribbean, cricket is one of the region’s most popular sports. At TK’s Cricket Coaching in Nevis, kids age 5 to 15 can learn to bat and bowl with the best of them. Former West Indies player and Nevisian Carl Tuckett leads three-session lessons.
3. Imagine the look of wonder on your child’s face as he witnesses the miracle of hundreds of turtle hatchlings digging their way out of the nest and crawling intently toward the sea, driven forward by the light of the moon. The St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network gives kids the chance to accompany the research team into the field.
4. Nothing creates a bonding experience for the whole family like learning a new skill together. Tighten the bond with your family at the St. Kitts Sailing School at Reggae Beach. Sailing lessons are available for children, adults or the whole family. You’ll also find snorkel gear and kayak rentals here, as well as Reggae Beach’s resident goat, monkey and two pigs.
5. One of the best ways to fully appreciate the beauty of St. Kitts is from above, and the whole family can do just that at Sky Safari, where kids and grown-ups alike can soar at close to 50 miles per hour across five different zip lines. St. Kitts’ rainforest, historic sites and even nearby islands are part of the scenery on this tour.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:Natural beauty abounds in this two-island nation, and the five best things to do in St. Kitts and Nevis take advantage of the finest that Mother Nature has to offer:
1. Sweeping views, unique history and vibrant flora and fauna come together for a memorable experience at the Clay Villa Plantation House and Gardens, a property that dates back to 1763. Tour the home and gardens with upbeat guides Philip and Bridget, and you’ll be captivated by St. Kitts’ only free working estate (which never employed the use of slavery).
2. The juxtaposition of the imposing Brimstone Hill Fortress against St. Kitts’ tranquil landscape is curiously beautiful. This formidable fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a testament both to the intelligence of the British military engineers who designed it and to the strength of the African slaves who were used to build it. Spectacular ocean views make this self-guided tour all the more worth it.
3. The waters surrounding St. Kitts and Nevis are home to a plethora of interesting dive sites, from reefs, walls and caves teeming with life to wrecks like the River Taw, where easy swim-throughs and views directly into the hull of this 144-foot-long island freighter make for a magical experience. Don’t pass up a dive at The Vents, where hot water vent holes attract all kinds of curious species.
4. The very essence of Nevis’ beauty and tranquility is on display at the Nevis Botanical Gardens, set against the backdrop of the stunning Nevis Peak. Take a stroll through this five-acre garden and you’ll encounter beautiful collections of tropical flowers, fruit trees and cascading water elements. It’s peace and serenity at its finest.
5. There’s an air of mystery surrounding the dramatically beautiful Nevis Peak, a spire of lush greenery that rises more than 3,000 feet toward the sky, often disappearing into the clouds. Guides can be hired for an informative tour, but the hike can be done solo and is not quite as strenuous as you might imagine. Sections of rope assist hikers along the easy-to-follow trail, and the canopy overhead keeps you cool throughout the hike. If you get lucky and happen to hike on a rare day when the peak is not shrouded in clouds, the view from the mountain is nothing short of spectacular.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:Each of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands offers its own shopping experience, but St. Thomas is the hands-down winner when it comes to variety. The island’s best shopping can be found in its capital, Charlotte Amalie, where you can find everything from cameras and jewelry to top-shelf liquors and perfumes in shops housed in charming historic buildings. St. Croix’s town of Christiansted is also home to shops in historic structures, albeit with a bit less variety. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend you stop at Sonya’s Ltd. and pick up an original hook bracelet; the shop was the first to create the handcrafted silver or gold bangles that have become synonymous with St. Croix. The best place to spend your money on St. John is Mongoose Junction, a menagerie of shops selling clothing, sunglasses, jewelry and more, all of which are spread out in delightful stone buildings with lush landscaping.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:From frolicking in the waves to exploring pirate lore, the U.S. Virgin Islands knows how to show kids a good time. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best things to do with your little ones in America’s Paradise:
1. First and foremost, get your kids to the beach. At St. John’s Cinnamon Bay, rent windsurfers, Hobie Cats and other watersports toys, or tour the newly renovated Virgin Islands National Park museum, situated right along the shore. St. Thomas’ Secret Harbour Beach offers everything a family could want for a day of fun in the sun: calm, clear waters; plenty of shade; an onsite restaurant and beach bar; and snorkel gear as well as canoe and kayak rentals. At Chenay Bay on St. Croix, your kids will delight in discovering the starfish and conch that live on the beach’s grassy bottom.
2. There’s lots of fascinating sea life to be found in the Virgin Islands’ waters, but it can be hard to visit multiple snorkel and dive sites, especially when your children’s schedule dictates the vacation itinerary. Enter Coral World Ocean Park on St. Thomas, where kids can observe fish in their natural environment from 15 feet below in an undersea observatory. They can even pet starfish and sea cucumbers.
3. St. Croix’s beautiful landscape just begs to be explored, and one of the best ways to experience this tranquil environment is via horseback. Paul & Jill’s Equestrian Stables is kid-friendly, welcoming everyone from first-timers to more experienced riders. Trot through the rainforest or beach for an excursion your kids won’t soon forget.
4. Ice sculptures are probably the furthest thing from your mind when you’re vacationing in the Caribbean, but one of St. Thomas’ newest attractions, Magic Ice, is one of those you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it types of experiences. Magic Ice offers both a respite from the island sun and some incredibly impressive works by world-famous ice sculptors. In this 10,000-square-foot former warehouse, you’ll find cool sculptures that highlight the Caribbean’s history, including shipwrecks and lighthouses.
5. Your child will be fascinated by the history of pirates in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and one of the best places to experience the islands’ swashbuckling past is St. Thomas’ Blackbeard’s Castle. Walk among bronze and copper statues of pirates, learn about rum production and take in breathtaking views of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor.
On August 16, 2012Andrea Milam answered the question:The three main U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix offer endless activities and sightseeing opportunities. Here are the top five best things to see and do:
1. Approximately two-thirds of St. John is part of the Virgin Islands National Park, and hiking trails wind through 7,000 lush acres, taking you through beautiful tropical forests, past historic ruins and to stunningly beautiful beaches. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ favorite trail is Lind Point — it’s manageable at just one mile long with moderate elevation changes, and the reward at the end is Salomon Beach, one of the most tranquil stretches of sand on the island.
2. The USVI is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, so a day at the ocean is a must-do when you come to this U.S. territory. St. John’s iconic Trunk Bay offers a pristine stretch of white sand; generally calm, clear turquoise waters; and an underwater snorkel trail. On St. Thomas, plan to spend a day at Magens Bay Beach, a full half-mile of pure, soft sand and serene, blindingly blue waters. The USVI’s biggest beach is also one of its most gorgeous: St. Croix’s three-mile-long Sandy Point offers calm, shallow waters, but because it’s a protected reserve (the endangered leatherback turtle nests here), it’s only open on the weekends.
3. It’s next to impossible to take a step in St. Croix without tripping over a piece of the island’s history. More than 150 sugar plantation ruins fill the sloping landscape here, and the best way to take it all in is with a Ruins Ramble, courtesy of the St. Croix Landmarks Society. Historians lead these monthly tours November through May, allowing you to get up close and personal with St. Croix’s colonial history.
4. The Virgin Islands’ calm waters and the numerous cays and islands that dot the seascape make for an ideal boating experience, and there’s no shortage of charter companies to help you experience it all. St. Thomas and St. John are the perfect jumping-off points, as they are mere minutes from picturesque sandbars, deserted cays and even the British Virgin Islands, an attraction in its own right.
5. St. Thomas is the undisputed shopping capital in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Head to Havensight, one of the island’s two cruise ship ports, for duty-free jewelry, liquor, electronics and more. Visit Yacht Haven Grande to peruse high-end shops like Coach, Gucci and Louis Vuitton in a picturesque setting along the water. St. Thomas’ capital of Charlotte Amalie boasts street after street of shops housed in historic buildings. No matter which shopping area you choose, you’re sure to find quality goods at great deals on St. Thomas.