There are many special reasons why you should visit the twin island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis. If you are a cricket fan (British game similar to American baseball), then you would be happy to know that St. Kitts and Nevis is the smallest country in the whole world to have been privileged to host a World Cup cricket event. This was in the summer of 2007.
But if you are a pet animal enthusiast, then there is another special reason to visit St. Kitts & Nevis. Why? Because, unlike the majority of Caribbean islands, this enchanting twin island country has adorable green monkeys! You will be amused when you see the amusing antics that they go through to get a drink and get drunk… Check out YouTube by searching with, “Drunk Monkeys at Turtle Beach”, and view an amazing video from a St. Kitts tourist!
Abundance of Drunken Green Monkeys
Tourist families who visit St. Kitts and Nevis have been fascinated by these unique cute, cuddly, mischievous, green vervet monkeys. With a population of about 53,000, they exceed the country’s population of 31,000. If you are relaxing on the beach with an alcoholic beverage, and dozing off, be careful, your drink may suddenly disappear …. into the bellies of the green vervet monkeys. Many of them love alcohol, will steal your drinks, get drunk and behave erratically, just like humans! There are “monkey men” in the capital city of Basseterre, who will allow you to pet these monkeys for a small fee.
Small & Young- Not a Negative
Many tourists find small tropical islands very attractive. Those who do will be happy to learn that this twin island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis (SKIN) is not only a very small country of only 69 square miles, but also very young. The shapes of the two islands are often compared to a baseball bat and ball, or an upside down guitar. The country has beaches that face both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. But its currency is fairly strong by Caribbean standards, with an exchange rate of US$1 to EC$2.70 (EC$ is Eastern Caribbean Dollars, the currency of that region). Given these two facts, one would probably have low expectations of the nation’s industrial and tourism potential. If you did, then you would be “dead wrong – big time!” This small nation is big on history and heritage tourism and big on industry. Why do we say this?
Brief Nevis Profile
Nevis has a population of 12,000 people and is only 35 square miles in size. It is located two miles south of its twin sister, St. Kitts, and has a volcanic mountain range in its centre, with the highest point being Nevis Peak at 3,232 feet above sea level. Its coastline is surrounded by beaches which have white, black and brown sand. It is blessed with not just fresh water springs, but also hot springs, along the western coast.
Nevis is important to many Americans because their former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was born there. The British would also find it significant because their naval hero, Horatio Nelson, lived there for a time and married a Nevisian woman named Frances Nesbet. Most of the citizens of Nevis are of African heritage and they have a literacy rate of 98%, one of the highest in the entire Western Hemisphere!
Saint Kitts and Nevis Hotels and Resorts
Peace and beauty come naturally to the resorts and hotels of St. Kitts. There are some unbelievably large and luxurious resorts along with some cool combinations o luxury and comfort all throughout the major towns and cities of the region. This article introduces you to some of these resorts and hotels.
Living in a historic plantation inn located right besides the beach is too lucrative an offer to reject. Nisbet Plantation Beach Club presents such an opportunity with a lot of excitement and entertainment value rolled into the package. You get the unforgettable charms of old days seasoned with sugary modern facilities that culminate into an experience that adds a world of value to your stay in Nevis. There’s nothing too flashy and fancy here, just pure quality of service and great facilities.
Can you even imagine the pleasure of living in a place with three infinity edge pools? How about living in Cabana styled beach houses? How about a choice of ten tennis courts to pick from? All this is just a part of the offering you get with Four Season’s Resort. Luxury finds new meanings and there is hardly any line of demarcation between dreams and reality when you stay with Four Seasons Resort.
If you are planning to make your stay in Charlestown in close connection with the renowned natural beauty of the place, there is hardly any other place that will impress you as much as Montpelier Plantation & Beach. Relaxation is infused in every molecule of air that flows through this place. The mountainous setting is terrific and the gardens are awe inspiringly beautiful. The beach bar is an electrifying and addictive place, as you will find within minutes of your first visit to the place.
Beautiful surroundings, stunning service, splendid facilities and adrenaline pumping adventure sports within easy reach; there is hardly anything amiss with the offerings of Oualie Beach Resort, Nevis. Check out the renowned spa room where treatments that take you to a world beyond the skies and relax you into a voluntary oblivion await you. Underwater life is all set to make your body tingle with joy as your eyes widen in a welcome to the colors and sounds of the underwater world. Truly, this is as good as any accommodation option in Nevis.
Get ready to be overwhelmed by the extent of luxury you endow upon yourself with a booking at St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino. The lavish rooms are just a small part of the dose of stunning facilities you get at this resort. There are as many as 8 restaurants and 2 lounges within the place, each of which presents Caribbean luxury in the purest sense of the phrase. The Royal Beach Casino will electrify you with some of the most amazing moments you will ever spend in your entire life. Truly, a stay at this place is an experience worth cherishing for a lifetime and enjoying again and again.
Enjoyment and entertainment know no bounds when you are at Timothy Beach Resort. Luxury kisses your feet and natural beauty sets your mind into dizzying rolls all day long. The nights are pretty interesting as well, as the beach side enters the no holds barred entertainment mode as soon as the sun sets down. All rooms have free internet access, phones, refrigerators, TV and daily made services. The condominium suites take grandeur a step further and come with full kitchens. There is no way you can forget even a single moment spent at this place.
Old Manor Hotel, Charlestown
You are guaranteed an accommodation of the utmost quality and convenience with Old Manor Hotel of Charlestown. The gentle slopes of Mount Nevis provide the perfect setting for the hotel. The views all around the place are absolutely stunning. Green plantations run throughout the estates. The 13 guest rooms are fully equipped to serve and please even the most demanding of tourists.
Mount Nevis Hotel and Beach Club, Charlestown
The Mount Nevis Hotel & Beach Club brings a world of unadulterated Caribbean charms. The constant breeze flowing across your face and the accommodating temperatures are perfect partners to the wonderful amenities and offerings of the hotel. The restaurants here deserve a special mention as they double up as meeting places for strangers and friends, and also cater to foodies. A leisurely drink by the poolside in the resort is also another interesting opportunity to explore.
Island Paradise Beach Village, St. Kitts
Five acres of tropical gardens surround this site and add a fresh color to the place. Peace comes easy with the tranquil surroundings and relaxation is something that surrounds every part of the beach village. The rooms are well kept and come with cable TV and air conditioning. There are several water sports activities within easy access from this place. Downtown Basseterre is merely a couple of miles away and presents quite a lot to explore.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Attractions
Tourist Attractions – Vervet Monkeys – Historical Taste for Alcohol
The “hottest” St. Kitts and Nevis attraction is rare, green, furry and cute.
Families who have small kids want to touch, pet and cuddle these harmless monkeys, who originated from West Africa. The vervet monkey has grey-green fur over its body with a black face and a white fringe on the head. They are between 17 and 24 inches in length and weigh between 8.6 and 18 lbs.
It is thought that they were originally brought to St. Kitts and Nevis by the French colonists in the period 1665 to 1690 when they came to establish sugar plantations in the Caribbean. Escaped monkeys thrived in the island’s tropical rainforests which were similar to the African jungles they had called home. It is believed that they acquired the taste for alcohol, when they would steal tastes of sugar cane molasses, which was left out in the open and without supervision by the plantation managers.
Climb Mount Liamuia, Swim in Black Sand Beaches
If you like hiking then you should not leave St. Kitts without walking to its highest point, Mount Liamuia at 3,600 feet above sea level. This misty mountain adventure is easily accessible wherever you are staying in St. Kitts because it is located in the centre of the island. Liamuia is an Arawak word meaning “fertile”. You will not be disappointed by the fertility of the land, because you have to pass through lush rainforests to get to this former volcano.
You can go on a full-day Mount Liamuia Volcano Safari tour, or a half-day Valley of the Giants Rainforest Tour. On the latter tour, you will enjoy visits to two plantation great houses, the boiling house (to convert sugar cane juice into molasses), see three different types of hummingbirds, green vervet monkeys, ancient Caribbean rock drawings and black sand beaches – created by volcanic activity – and meet the descendants of the original Arawak Indians, who were eliminated – as a casualty of colonialism.
Beaches Galore & More – Sandy Bay, Frigate Bay-North
There are many beaches for you to choose from, based on your own preferences. If you like peace, privacy and quietness, then you could check out Sandy Bay Beach. But be careful of other expectations. The price you pay for this solitude is…. no beachside restaurants! So bring your picnic basket and enjoy yourself nevertheless! If you prefer to have the options of surfing and windsurfing on your beach, then the place to go is Frigate Bay- North. And, if simultaneously you would like to have access to the luxuries of St. Kitts Mariott Resort and the Sugar Bay Club, then these fabulous hotels are located right on this beach. This one is located on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island.
Beaches Galore – Half Moon Bay, Cockleshell Bay, Friars Bay
Half Moon Bay is rustic and natural and therefore great for a quick swim and some surfing. Tourists who are novices at diving and snorkeling, will find Pump Bay appealing. It has an attractive black sand beach and has a view of the majestic Brimstone Hill Fortress. Those who like jogging or walking on long stretches of beach will be excited by the two mile long Cockleshell Bay Beach, which gives the added bonus of a beautiful view of Nevis, the other member in this twin-island nation. This beach is situated right on the small channel between the two islands, know as “The Narrows.” Families who cherish fun at the beach on Sundays, complete with food and drink stalls, music and entertainment, will be attracted to Friars Bay Beach. It is located on the side of the island that embraces the Caribbean Sea.
Beaches Galore – White House Bay, Frigate South
White House Bay is blessed with a rocky reef that caused the sinking of a tugboat which today hosts an abundance of colourful tropical fish – so it is perfect for scuba divers and snorkelers. The all night party fans will not be disappointed. SKIN has a beach just for them – where the action stops at about 3- 4am! Frigate Bay – South has the added bonus of one mile of powdery white sand beach that is also ideal for water-skiing, swimming and windsurfing.
Residents argue whether Conaree Beach is the best beach on the Atlantic side of the island. It has grey-black sand which indicates thriving coral reefs and a history of active volcanoes. Thriving coral reefs of course means that the snorkeling is great here – and so is the surfing. Come and check it out. Be sure to talk to a citizen of St. Kitts about the best beach claim.
St. Kitts Sugar Factory Tour
When the slaves, who worked for free on the sugar plantations, were emancipated in the early 18th century, this started the economic decline in the Caribbean sugar industry. When other countries started growing their own sugar cane fields and then sugar beet started to be grown in Europe, all of this hastened further decline in St. Kitt’s sugar industry. How did they survive the impending doom?
On February 20, 1912, they opened the massive St. Kitts Central Sugar Factory, which was able to process all of the island’s sugar crops, and substituted the mills and boiling houses on various other estates. After all the sugar estates were nationalized in 1974, the government bought this factory. Today it is classified as a “national treasure” and considered a big heritage site. Anyone who is interested in discovering the agricultural heart and soul of SKIN, interspersed with understanding colonialism and slavery, should not miss this tour.
The St. Kitts Scenic Railway
Most of the railway lines in the Caribbean have been suspended for economic and infrastructural reasons. For example, Jamaica’s island wide railway system closed down in 1992. Only a small section of the system, near the capital, Kingston, was reopened in 2011, since nationwide investment plans from companies in China and India had been suspended. St. Kitts has one of the few train systems currently operating in the Caribbean.
It was founded in 1910 to “modernize” the sugar industry of the day. This narrow guage railway reaches around the largest parts of the island, and in particular the places from where sugar cane was cut down for processing. This romantic train ride will take you pass 24 bridges to the sugar factory in Basetterre. History buffs will be happy to know that the Basseterre Public Library still has a collection of photos taken during its 1912 construction.
Residents and tourists alike enjoy the annual Carnival Festival which takes place December 18 to January 3 in St. Kitts & Nevis. It is a colourful festival with dramatic costumes, street floats, street dances, song, dance and costume competitions. The St. Kitts Music Festival is staged in the last week of June. The island of Nevis has its own festival called Culturama, and runs from the end of July until early August. Tourists can enjoy even more events – Inner City Fest, Molineaux Festival in February; the Green Valley Festival, Easterama Festival and Fest-Tab in July/August.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Major Cities
Basseterre makes for a pretty special vacation for the relaxed vacationer, as the vibes of the town are laden with the elements of chilling. There is a world of pleasure in relaxing, roaming about the town and soaking in the charming personality of the roads, buildings and all the shops, apart from the crowd of locals and tourists that seems to be out in the open almost all day long! Street reggae and soca sound systems lend an audible charm to the town, and it certainly adds to the visual delight offered by the intermittent Georgian architecture of some buildings. Port Zante has been a recent addition to the harbour facilities of Basseterre, and that was a result of the surge in the number of ships visiting the town.
The adjoining Pelican Mall building provides some nice facilities like the tourist office and a few cool cafes where coffee and conversation come naturally. There is some real history to be admired and savoured in the photographs and paintings archived in the St. Christopher Heritage Society Museum. The Circus, in other words the centre of the town, is another fine place to hang around. You get to see an unofficial modelling of London’s famous Piccadilly in the form of the roundabout circling the Berkeley Memorial Clock. Independence Square is also a worthy place to visit with its beautiful pathways. The maiden topped fountain marking St. Kitts’ independence in 1983 is also worth some time.
There is a sense of something old and beautiful about the small town of Charlestown, also the capital of Nevis. There is a cool mix of old fashioned and modern built buildings all across the town. Do not be surprised if you feel like being in a town from the novels of yester years when in Charlestown. In fact, the dash of past about the present of this town is its unique magnetizing charm for tourists. The Bath House in the southern part of the town was closed in 1950s but still manages to be the recipient of several eyeballs every day, primarily because of the neighbouring hot outdoor springs. It is best to go prepared to these wonderful volcanic sulphur fed springs as there are no towels and clothes on rent. Then, there is a date with the island’s history in the Museum of Nevis History.
A Jewish cemetery along the Government Road is another tangible expression of the island’s history. Pinney’s Beach, Nevis’ most popular spot, is merely fifteen minutes’ walk from the pier of Charlestown. The Four Seasons resort here is a dreamland of luxury and comfort for vacationers. The north end of the beach hosts a sort of smattering of old and battered cannons reportedly having belonged to Fort Ashby.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Nightlife
Nights are the best times to engage in friendly gossips with locals in some cool night clubs of St. Kitts. A true Caribbean experience awaits you in the form of the night clubs of St. Kitts. Whereas most of your daytime is likely to be invested in sightseeing and beach side activities, the night presents an invitation to head off to some rocking bars and lounges for some light hearted moments with family and friends. This article takes you to some of these night spots in St. Kitts.
Bamboo Lounge is a fine place to mingle with locals and get to know the ways of life in St. Kitts. The place is highly regarded and often frequented by locals, and this adds to the popularity of Bamboo Lounge with vacationers as well. The place is ideal for a late night dining session with some handy drinks to get conversations going and flowing. Head off to the Banana Lounge for some relaxed hours of late night chit chat with locals and some tasty snacks to gobble up in the process.
The summer of 2005 saw the opening of Island Rhythms in St. Kitts and there has been no looking back for the place from then on. Smooth jazz flows through the air of this place along with the odd dash of hip hop tunes that set the mood for dancing. This is a three storey building and hosts several excited locals and tourists at one time. Karaoke and dancing are also on offer, so you won’t run out of opportunities to entertain yourself.
Monkey Bar is all about casual dancing, fine dining and drinking the night away. The locally brewed Carib bear will set the tone for the night’s dancing sessions. International dance hits reverberate through the bar as charming locals and excited tourists join each other in enjoying the night. You won’t want to miss out on this place if dancing is something you enjoy.
Oasis Bar is the place to be in a day of great sporting action as you get to see all the drama unfold live on the large screen plasma TV. Drinking with friends while cheering your favourite team on is definitely going to be a fulfilling experience. Late night telecasts become all the more special, so do not miss an opportunity of visiting this wonderful little sports bar!
Royal Beach Casino
Royal Beach Casino located in St. Kitts Marriott is the island’s lone casino. However, considering the popularity of this casino, there is not quite the likelihood of any other place taking over this number one place established by this casino. The slots machine and roulette tables of this casino witness excited cheers all throughout the night as vacationers try their luck out. Head off to this place if you do not mind parting with some bucks for an experience of utmost excitement.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Things to do
St. Kitts and the sister island of Nevis make a region where the amount of sight seeing you can indulge in is limited by just your imagination and stamina! From picture perfect beaches providing the perfect playgrounds for water sports enthusiasts to the inviting rainforests that can excite even the most widely travelled vacationers, there is absolutely no end to the list of tourism attractions in St. Kitts and Nevis. This article will help you get a fair idea of what awaits you here and let you shortlist some irresistible tourism attractions.
Brimstone Hill Fortress
Overlooking the magnificent coastline of St. Kitts is the domineering presence of Brimstone Hill, originally erected to ward the French invaders off the island. One gets a clear view of the testing life of a garrison soldier with a visit to this place. Considerable efforts have been invested into preserving this wonderful place of historical importance. The fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site and right at the top of the sight seeing list of travelers from several parts of the globe who come to St. Kitts.
Caribelle Batik Factory
Batik fabrics might not sound like a truly inviting proposition for sight seeing in a place as amazing as St. Kitts, but surely, you will have different views once you visit the Caribelle Batik Factory. From the pre-Columbian petro glyphs near the gates to the artisans using hot wax and dye to create unimaginably beautiful batik fabrics, there is no dearth of scenes to fascinate you when you are here. The historic remains of a sugar plantation make a part of the visit to the Caribelle Batik Factory. You’ll have a wonderful time loitering about the place and exploring the stores and the grounds.
The Cane Train
The Cane Train takes you on an awe inspiring journey through the beauty of St. Kitts. The dash of history that comes with the tour is also worth a special mention. The Cane Train makes visitors sit in open sided cars that glide on the narrow gauge tracks and scuttle on thin bridges and through rain forests. You also pass through some small and charming little towns on your tour by The Cain Train, or the St. Kitts Scenic Railway.
Mt. Liamuiga presents unimaginable adventure opportunities for those looking for some adrenaline rushes in St. Kitts. A hike through the rainforest leading to the peak of Mt. Liamuiga is as challenging as you’d like, and the challenge comes with the incentive of enjoying some unforgettable sights of neighboring islands of the likes of Saba and St. Maarten. Mt. Liamuiga is actually a dormant volcano that doubles up as an invitation card for adventurous tourists.
Sky Safaris at Wingfield Estate
Sky Safaris at Wingfield Estate present you with a chance to roll through the rain forest on the historically appealing Wingfield Estate. Ultimately, you end up 250 feet above the forest floor! The tour is a rendezvous with the breathtaking surroundings of the forest eco system. You get a double dose of adventure and sight seeing with the Sky Safaris at Wingfield Estate.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Shopping Locations
Shopaholics have several hunting grounds to explore in St. Kitts. There is a lot on offer, right from the bare essentials of routine living to almost unearthly and high end collectibles. You will never run out of places to go to and check out for some unique offerings that you might want to buy and take back to your home country. This article attempts at enlisting and describing some of the better known and reliable shopping places in St. Kitts. You’ll have a great time striking great bargains with the charming shopkeepers of St. Kitts.
Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor
Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor is a complete shopping experience to please your senses like only a full fledged and fulfilling session of shopping can do. The tremendous designs created on the premises are translated into splendid men and women clothing. The shop is great, and the people selling the stuff here know there jobs really well. You can safely rely on this shop to buy some special gifts for some of the special people waiting for you back home. Even apart from the shopping, a visit to Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor is worth your time because of the beauty of the place and the historical sugar plantations here.
Pelican Shopping Mall, Basseterre
Two floors of duty free shopping are too lucrative too ignore for the shopaholic inside you. Pelican Shopping Mall is the provider of this wonderful invitation. Clothing and jewelry stuff here are pretty nice and you would not have many hesitations buying some for your own use as well as for gifting purposes. The souvenir shops are pretty cool as well and give you quite a few options to get cute little gifts for your friends. The Philatelic Bureau here also warrants a closer look.
IC Jewellers, Port Zante
Your high end shopping needs will hardly find a better culminating ground than this place. Apart from a host of duty free items that you can not put down, IC Jewellers also happen to be agents for world renowned brands of the likes of Mont Blanc, Swarovski and Waterford. If exclusive products impress you, there is every reason for you to find some time for a shopping session at this splendid place.
Island Hopper, Basseterre
You get a variety of offerings to spice up your dressing while on vacation in St. Kitts at this shop. From cool and trendy T-shirts to some conventional designs that connect you with the Caribbean culture, there are too many options for you to ignore. Apart from clothes, there are some pretty funky accessories up on offer as well. Hats and batiks are worth a special mention, particularly because of their special designs. This shop might just be the only place you have to visit for all the souvenir shopping you’d want to do in St. Kitts.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Restaurants
St. Kitts is a place where you get to enjoy sights, sounds and tastes that get etched on your soul. The restaurants of this region take the pleasure of your vacation to the next level by providing you with many opportunities to make dining a memorable experience. This article lets you have a look at some of the special restaurants of St. Kitts.
Beach House, Basseterre
Seafood lovers will find their paradise in the form of the unlimited extravagance of the menu at the Beach House Restaurant. World cuisine lies in your plate to set your palate on fire. This is regarded as one of the premier elegant fine dining places in St. Kitts. The chefs bring the best from the French, Spanish, African and Dutch worlds to the table at this restaurant. An opportunity of a dinner at this place is not one to be missed at any cost. Apart from the seafood, the main course is also simply astonishing in its textures and tastes.
The Royal Palm Restaurant at Ottley’s Plantation Inn, St. Kitts
Fine dining finds new meanings and new heights of exclusivity with The Royal Palm Restaurant of Ottley’s Plantation Inn. St. Kitts’ most delicious flavors wait to tantalize your taste buds in the kitchen of The Royal Palm Restaurant. Sundays see excited visitors enjoying the unmatched Royal Palm Sunday Champagne Brunch. Other days are also pretty fun filled and exciting with unforgettable dinners giving you moments to cherish for a lifetime. Newly weds and couples have even more incentive in trying out the most romantic dinner of their lives with The Royal Palm Restaurant.
Chevy’s Calypso Beach Bar & Grill, Charlestown
Enjoy the sunshine with an overdose of Rum Punch and set the perfect beginning for an extended session of unlimited food gulping at Chevy’s. The bar menu is astounding, and so is the food menu. Do not forget to try out the jerk chicken here. Salads and hot dogs are also wonderful. The ambience complements the great flavors of the food and Chevy’s emerges as a complete package of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Marshalls, St. Kitts
The lights emanating from the sister island of Nevis add the right kind of luster to your fine dining experience at Marshalls. If a dining session with a tinge of romance to it is what you have been looking for, you have the perfect place in Marshalls. The ocean view dining room is simply sensational and the time spent here is bound to be etched on your mind forever. The snacks are delectable, and the main course is worth all the violations of your diet charts. Try out the mouth watering and tantalizing Banana Chocolate Cake, a widely renowned specialty here.
Carambola comes with sensational flavors and special services to impress visitors and foodies. The bartenders here are particularly charming and adept at creating some pretty powerful cocktails for you. Head off to Carambola for a delectable lunch if you happen to be anywhere nearby.
World Heritage Site – Fort Brimstone
When St. Kitts & Nevis secured its independence from Britain in 1983, it became the newest country in the Western Hemisphere. But it has a rich and colourful colonial history and its old military facilities have been painstakingly restored. This led to one of their most prominent military facilities, Fort Brimstone, being declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999.
Whichever colonial power possessed the country at the time of battle, it often led to victory, and so St. Kitts was once referred to as “The Gibraltar of the West Indies. This reference was based on the extreme height and the perception that the Fort Brimstone was unconquerable.
Caribbean Colonial Conquest Staged – Unique Status
This history includes constant battles between France and England for control of this tiny 104 square mile country. St. Kitts was actually the first English and French colony in the Caribbean. These two European powers used St. Kitts as the base from which they launched colonial conquests, which led to the capture and domination of Antigua, Montserrat, Anguilla, Tortola, Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Barts. So, even though St. Kitts was small, it played a large role in naval strategy to increase colonialism in the region.
Easy Access, Largest Eastern Caribbean Exporter
This twin island nation is easily accessible to passenger and cargo planes. It is approximately 1200 miles from Miami, 1600 miles from New York, 45 minutes by plane from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands – and 4,000 miles from London. Despite its relatively small size as an island, St. Kitts and Nevis (SKIN) is the largest Eastern Caribbean exporter of goods and service to the United States.
Even more impressive is the fact that the volume of exports from SKIN is larger than the combination of exports from all of the neighbouring independent Eastern Caribbean nations! The US Census Bureau confirmed that in the first six months of 2011, the exports from SKIN to the United States totalled US$25.7 million, while the combined exports from St. Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda was valued at US$17.2 million.
The Decline of Sugar, The Rise of Tourism & Manufacturing
Sugar used to be the primary export agriculture product – from in the 17th century days of colonialism and slavery – right up until today. However changes in international market trends, like reduced world sugar prices, have contributed to sugar being no longer a dominant industry in SKIN. There was one local factor, the increased costs of production, which led to the government’s wise decision to diversify their economy and lessen their country’s dependence on sugar.
They even went as far as to close down the government–owned sugar company since its immense losses had caused a critical drain on the nation’s annual budgets. When you come to SKIN you will still see many sugar plantations, but in the hands of the private sector. Other former sugar plantations have been cut down to make way for the more profitable real estate market, especially in the northern sections of the country, like in the parishes of St. John Capisterre and Christchurch.
Marriage of Citizenship & Real Estate Investment
In many countries around the world, there are certain business benefits and advantages that can be secured, if a foreign investor is also a citizen of the country in which the investment is planned. So SKIN became very smart and innovative in offering citizenship to foreigners, providing certain foreign real estate investments conditions were met. SKIN calls it the “Citizenship by Investment Programme”, based on laws they passed in 1984. In summary, foreigners can receive St. Kitts & Nevis citizenship, if they qualify for it by passing pre-determined background checks, and invest foreign currency in a government-approved real estate development.
Tourism – Main Earner of Foreign Currency
Today, SKIN’s economy is diverse – because of goods and services being offered from the tourism, agriculture, light manufacturing and offshore banking sectors. SKIN has made a name for itself, particularly in the assembly and export of apparel and electronics. Each of these sectors has been gradually increasing their impact on the economy of this small island. Tourism has become the primary growth sector, earning most of the foreign currency the country needs, to import vital supplies for the manufacturing and tourism markets.
Rapid Tourism & Real Estate Boom
Since 1978, the tourist industry has been steadily increasing in size and earnings. Ironically, this tiny country has moved away from the danger of being dependent on sugar, to the danger of being dependent on tourism, just like many other Caribbean islands… There were 587,479 tourist arrivals in St. Kitts and Nevis in 2009. This is a 40% increase over the 379,473 that came in 2007. With such a dramatic tourism increase in just 2 years, real estate prices for vacation property have also increased proportionately.