Sugar, Sand and Sightseeing on St. Kitts

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A St. Kitts Scenic Railway. Photo by Victor Block
A St. Kitts Scenic Railway. Photo by Victor Block

Some bold monkeys venture down to more populated low-lying areas, especially where there are sources of food and people who will toss them an edible handout. While there’s no way to know how many of these simians share the island with their human cousins, some residents claim that there are more monkeys than people.

Given efforts by European nations to colonize and control the Caribbean islands, and the sugar wealth of St. Kitts, forts were built to provide defense against attacks.

Brimstone Hill Fortress

Construction of the massive Brimstone Hill fortress was begun by the French in 1690 and completed intermittently over a 100-year period by the British, using slave labor. The complex, perched atop an 800-foot-high rise, sprawls over 38 acres, and the
meticulously restored structures include officers’ quarters, barracks and a hospital.

References to British, French and other influences abound in town names and histories. The village of Bloody Point is where, in 1629, French and British soldiers joined forces to repel an attack by the Carib indigenous people, who had occupied the island since about 1300. The town of Sandy Point is characterized by typical West Indian-style cottages.

St. Kitts The Brimstone Hill Fortress. Photo by Victor Block
The Brimstone Hill Fortress. Photo by Victor Block

Basseterre (“lowland”) and Belle Tete (“beautiful head”) are among place names reminiscent of the French era. Dieppe Bay is believed to have been the first French town, while Challengers Village was the first “free” town, where ex-slaves were permitted to purchase small parcels of land.

St. Kitts National Museum

The story of the island’s villages, along with its history, culture and other aspects of life past and present, is told at The National Museum. It occupies an imposing Georgian-style structure which was completed in 1894 and since then has housed almost every government department at one time or another.

A personal favorite exhibit, among those that provide a personal introduction to the people of the island, was a collection of phrases which depict traditional Kittatian dialect. In that vernacular, “He ate the breadfruit” translates to “Is he eat d bread fruit” and “Let’s go to the movies tonight” comes out as “Le’we go movies tonight nuh.”

St.Kitts Vervet Monkeys. Photo by St. Kitts/Nevis Tourism
Vervet Monkeys. Photo by St. Kitts/Nevis Tourism

The National Museum and a handful of other small but interesting collections, plus the added allure of casino gambling, are among the something-for-everyone array of attractions that greet visitors to St. Kitts. Then there’s the added choice of inviting palm tree-lined beaches and an intriguing multi-cultural history.

If You Go to St. Kitts

For more information about St. Kitts, see stkittstourism.kn.

Author Bio: After gallivanting throughout the United States and to more than 75 other countries around the world, and writing about what he sees, does and learns, Victor Block retains the travel bug. He firmly believes that travel is the best possible education, and claims he still has a lot to learn. He loves to explore new destinations and cultures, and his stories about them have won a number of writing awards.

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