Paris Permenter & John Bigley's
Your guide to Caribbean family vacations from a husband-wife team of professional travel writers and guidebook authors.
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Family Activities in St. Kitts
A days worth of sightseeing is found on St. Kitts,
more if youre especially interested in historic sites. Budget a
day for an overall look at the sights, which range from historic homes
and museums to natural formations and Indian petroglyphs.
Dont miss the petroglyphs, located near Romney Manor, carved many years ago by the Carib Indians. While youre stopped here, check out the handicrafts sold next door by a neighbor who creates turtles and bird feeders from coconut shells. (Kids love the coconut shell turtlestheir heads bob up and down on a spring.)
Just beyond the petroglyphs lies Caribelle Batik, Romney Manor, Tel. 869/465-6253, a stop worth making even if you dont want to shop. Here you can watch batik in progress and buy the finished product in the form of shirts, wraps, and wall hangings.
Even if you dont want to buy, its worth a trip
to Romney Manor just to visit the ruins of the stately greathouse and
the grounds shaded by trees that date back hundreds of years. The closest
thing that St. Kitts has to a botanical garden, these grounds are home
to many tropical plant species. You cant miss the huge Saman tree,
said to be the largest tree in the Caribbean. On the drive to Caribelle
Batik, look for the historic aqueducts along the side of the road, a reminder
of the islands early water system.
Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park
Continue around the island and dont miss a visit
to Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, Tel. 869/465-2609, one of the
top historical attractions in the Caribbean. From over 800 feet above
sea level, youll enjoy one of the best views found on any of the
islands. On a clear day, you can view Nevis, Montserrat, Saba, St. Martin,
and St. Barts.
Brimstone Hill is nicknamed The Gibraltar of the
West Indies, and is one of the most amazing attractions in the Caribbean,
a mandatory stop for anyone interested in military history. The structure
took over a century to construct of volcanic stone and is named for the
faint sulfur smell sometimes encountered here. At this site, the French
and the British fought for control of the island, a battle first won by
the French and the next year won back by the British.
Wear good walking shoes and bring along drinking water
for your look at Brimstone Hill. (At the parking level, youll find
a small concession that sells water, soft drinks, and snacks.) And a safety
tip: At Brimstone Hill, visitors can climb upstairs for additional views.
Families with young children, however, be careful. There are no railings
on the second level and, between glare, wind, and a floor that is black
with hundreds of years of weathering, it can be tough to see just where
the second level opens into the first floor courtyard. Keep young children
by the hand here.
Your first stop should probably be the brief film that
gives an overview of the site and its rich history at the Visitors Orientation
From the parking level, walk up the cobbled path to the
citadel. Here a view of up to 70 miles makes neighboring islands seem
just a stones (or a cannonballs) throw away. From this lofty
peak, its easy to imagine the British forces keeping an eye on the
seas over two centuries ago.
Scenic Railway Tour
For familes who want to get a sense of the history of the island, jump aboard the St. Kitts Scenic Railway National Tour, Tel. 800/582-6208. This is one of St. Kitts newest attractions.
The Scenic Railway takes guests on a tour of the island on the same railway that was built in 1912 to deliver sugar came from the plantations to the sugar mill in Basseterre, and has been in constant operation since then. The trail leaves Needsmust Station in Basseterre and heads north, along the coastline. Riders can see some on St. Kitts villages, farms, and other sites on the voyage, which is narrated by the Railway Conductor.
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