Up until a few years ago, St. Kitts and Nevis were the type of islands that tourists delighted in discovering. Seemingly untouched by modern times, they seemed like the old Caribbean; small, intimate hotels, pristine beaches, uncluttered roads, with acres of cane fields and rainforests dominating the landscape. But now two large chain hotels - the Marriott in St. Kitts and the Four Seasons in Nevis - have broadened the options. Along with the resorts have come three golf courses, a new cruise ship port area with duty-free shops and a marine park.
But you still find hints of the old laid-back islands here, especially in the delightful plantation inns on both islands. These small hotels, built around historical buildings and sugar mills, still have a colonial charm. They are furnished with Caribbean antiques and emphasize the old-fashioned standards of warm, personalized service. So it is possible to sample both the charm of the old world and the activities of the new.
This is a uniquely valuable guide to these islands, excerpted from our complete guide to the Leeward Islands, with complete details on where to stay, where to eat and what to do while you are there. If you stay on St. Kitts, be sure to allow at least one day to visit Nevis, which is just a short ferry ride or a 10-minute flight away. The main port city there, Charlestown, is a study in historic preservation. Many of the skirt-and-blouse structures, where the first level is stone and the second is wood siding, are still standing and are now being used for offices and stores. The stately old churches such as St. John's Anglican and the historic Cottle Church reinforce the sense of history. In addition, the Nevis Botanical Gardens offer a beautiful respite from the world, where you can learn about the unique plants of the Caribbean and enjoy the beauty of carefully designed gardens.