Kittian rum and Carib beer will have your hips swaying to the reggae beats on a Leeward Islands Charters catamaran excursion.
1. Decompress, already
Get right into relaxation mode with the signature bamboo massage from the St. Kitts Marriott’s Emerald Mist Spa. Designed to release tension in the shoulders, neck and back, our therapist Paulette used warm bamboo stalks and blocks to roll and knead our aching muscles. After about an hour in her hands, we floated straight to the hotel's white-sand beach and into the inviting Atlantic.
2. Dine and dash… for the beach
You don’t have to stray far from the shore to get a great meal in St. Kitts. For lunch, head to Spice Mill at Cockleshell Beach, where the pizza – ours was a crisp thin crust topped with BBQ chicken – is made in a wood-burning oven only steps from the comfy beach beds. Come dinnertime, the upscale Carambola Beach Bar in South Friars Bay serves up Caribbean-influenced European fare, while their impressive sushi bar gives a nod to Japan. The coconut croutons in the curried butternut squash soup were a flavourful addition to a local recipe and the mango butter sauce had us wishing we'd ordered a second helping of the just-caught grilled spiny lobster.
3. Find your sea legs
Keep your eyes peeled for the green flash that occurs when the sun meets the Caribbean's sapphire waters during a sunset cruise aboard a luxury catamaran. The two-hour trek offered by Leeward Islands Charters includes snacks (ask about guava cheese – a sweet, chewy treat made with fresh guavas) and enough Kittian rum and Carib beer to get your hips swaying to the reggae rhythms the crew puts on for your entertainment… and considering the on-board dance moves they're witness to, maybe for theirs.
4. Take a city break
Bask in the fragrant smoke of roadside-grilled chicken or peruse the exotic produce (we had definitely never seen the wrinkly bitter melon at our supermarket back home) at the Saturday farmers’ market in Basseterre. The capital of St. Kitts is a 15 minutes taxi ride from the Marriott in Frigate Bay. For a quick lesson in the island nation’s rich history, head over to Independence Square, which was the site of the slave market in the 1700s. It was rechristened in 1983 when the country achieved political independence from Great Britain. English influence is still apparent, however, in many of the Georgian-style buildings found throughout the city.
5. Go island-hopping
Because St. Kitts is virtually free of the large resort complexes characteristic of other Caribbean destinations, the vibe is relatively tranquil. The pace is slower still on its sister-island, Nevis, however, where 93 square kilometres of unspoiled landscape can easily be explored in a day. Grab the 45-minute ferry from Basseterre across the shallow channel that separates the two islands and hire a cab to show you the sights. Stop at the historic Golden Rock Plantation Inn on the slopes of Nevis Peak, the island’s highest point, for an easy hike along the hotel’s nature trail, which promises lush tropical gardens, local fruit trees, colourful flowers and chance encounters with vervet monkeys. Cap off your visit with an alfresco lunch overlooking the sea before continuing your taxi tour of Nevis’ former sugar cane plantations.
Air Canada offers seasonal weekly nonstop service from Toronto to St. Kitts beginning December 21, 2012.