Some of the Caribbean’s smallest islands, St Kitts and Nevis are glorious emerald gems with acres of natural tropical coastline and pleasantly small-scale tourist development that means everything has a personal touch.
The best way to orientate the family is on a tour. A day-long catamaran trip is fantastic fun for all the family. My daughter loved sitting up on the webbed front deck as we left Port Zante at a clip, heading for St Kitts’ south-east peninsula. The chatty, knowledgeable, highly safety-conscious crew served rum punch to adult guests and got the kids dancing to the reggae sound system. At Shitten Bay, we dropped anchor near a coral reef to snorkel amongst tropical fish with flippers and noodle floats, then, after a buffet lunch onboard, had an hour on a beautiful beach before heading back.
My six-year-old was fascinated by the eco-system of the rainforest, which we explored with Greg’s Safaris. Greg himself picked us up in an open-sided jeep and led us to the lower slopes of Mount Liamuiga, where he taught us about the magnificent fincas trees with their incredible root system, the plants that furl up when you touch them, and the medicinal properties of countless other trees and shrubs. We saw hummingbirds and searched for monkeys, then found treasure – a black diamond and later a flint tool imported here hundreds of years ago (flints don’t occur naturally on St Kitts). Both went into the ‘show and tell’ collection for the return to school. We crossed streams and pulled ourselves up precipitous ridges using ropes and branches. You certainly can’t do that on a staycation.
For children interested in sailing, there are few better places to learn than Cockleshell Bay, where St Kitts Sailing School makes the most of the warm Caribbean sea and constant fair breezes. Your kids can be confidently zipping around the bay on their first outing.
St Kitts also has the longest (and fastest) zipwire in the Caribbean, which plunges down through the rainforest tree canopy at exhilarating speeds. It also has the only remaining railway in the West Indies – the double-decker beauty that is the St Kitts Scenic Railway (or 'Sugartrain'), which provides a three-hour tour of the island’s Atlantic side and sugar plantations (with refreshments, a choir and a running commentary included).
There’s turtle-watching during the nesting and hatching season, while budding history buffs should head straight for Brimstone Hill Fortress, a foreboding grey bastion of British rule in the 17th and 18th centuries. The reconstructions and detailed storyboards in the barracks kept my daughter entertained for hours, but she also loved the phalanx of cannons and imagining the French arriving for their month-long siege of 1782.
Find out more about family holidays in St Kitts.