The Caribbean is a temptress of dreamy beaches, reggae, and coconut rum cocktails. Too bad it’s also got the clap of diamond discount stores, cruise ships, and fast food franchises.
Give in to the seduction with no risk in St. Kitts, whose intact coastlines, virgin rain forests, and unenhanced beach bars make it the Real Thing.
Built on the foundation of a 17th-century sugarcane plantation, Rawlins Plantation Inn outfits its dozen guestrooms (one in a windmill) with antiques, island colors, and fresh flowers. The private verandas, twelve-acre garden, spring-fed pool, and restaurant (local seafood, organic produce, smashing wine list) might inspire you to stay forever. Shack up beachfront at The Golden Lemon in Dieppe Bay, which was designed in a 17th-century manor by a former House & Garden editor.
Skip the Sugar Train (a long, hot chug) and book Franklyn or Scott Tyson of Sugar City Tours (869-663-2435) for an island overview. You’ll start on the quaint streets of capital city Basseterre, whose main square was modeled on Piccadilly Circus, then take a thrilling ride (buckle up and have faith) to Brimstone Hill Fortress, a British fort that took a century of slave labor to build, and Black Rocks, a knockout strip of volcanic rock coastline populated by one tied-up donkey and one miniature drink stand, the Black Rocks Pub.
The best restaurants on the island run naked on the beach — like free-spirited, open-air gem Mr. X’s Shiggidy Shack in Frigate Bay, where grilled lobster and lemon snapper with fresh thyme fortify late nights of bonfires, fire-eating dancers, and jiggy-with-it beach parties. By day, Reggae Beach Bar & Grill in South East Peninsula is a kayaking and snorkeling paradise. Come mealtime, refuel with chicken roti burritos, coconut shrimp, and frozen reggae coladas with passion fruit — and a side of maraschino sunset. If homemade banana bread pudding coaxes a squeal, Wilbur, the resident 900-pound pet pig, will understand.
Don’t settle for admiring St. Kitts’s most prominent feature, the dormant volcano Liamuiga, from afar. Take control and mount it hard. Greg’s Safaris picks you up in a Land Rover and drives you to the foothills through fields of sugarcane. From there, it’s a two- to three-hour uphill climb through rain forest wilderness as guide Dion Matthew distracts you with vervet monkey sightings, medicinal plant knowledge, Kittitian folklore, and jungle survival tips. At the summit, you’ll have breathtaking views and a picnic lunch (watch out: Mongeese love potato chips). Regroup at the base for a celebratory snack of guava fruit paste, coconut sugar cake, and rum punch.
Did we mention that Liamuiga’s nickname is Mt. Misery? Soothe screaming muscles with a Cinnamon Black Rock Therapy treatment or Kittitian massage at Emerald Mist Spa at the Marriott (yeah, really). Or turn to the motion of the ocean on a sail with Leeward Islands Charters, whose crew efficiently administers fluids (rum punch, wine) and lets you pole dance on the forestay (that cable thingy attached to the mast).
True love begins with a Kitts.
Get help booking your trip from DailyCandy’s Travel Desk at blacktomato.co.uk.
Photos: Courtesy of Margit Bisztray; Courtesy of Rawlins Plantation Inn; Courtesy of Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park; Courtesy of Mr. X’s Shiggidy Shack; Courtesy of Greg’s Safaris; Courtesy of Leeward Islands Charters