St. Kitts Heritage -Brimstone Hill

 

“Captain, 50 guns approaching at 12 o’clock!”

“Man the guns, prepare a warning sounding.  Fire!”

Walking around the concourse of the historic Brimstone Hill, I did a quick Princess Bride pirouette as I sliced my imaginary cutlass through the air and shouted the above script to my embarrassed bride, who was now seeking a quick retreat back to our car.

Keeping A Watchful Eye
Keeping A Watchful Eye

As an avid fan of the early warring history of the Caribbean Islands, in St. Kitts I was now in my element.  Situated almost 800 feet above the water below, is the Brimstone Hill Fortress.  Over 100 years in the making (1690 – 1790), this restored fortress is a shining reflection of a bygone era.  Cannons still point out to sea from nearly every angle of the prominent Fort George Citadel.

St. Kitts (St. Christopher), is the first Caribbean island to be permanently settled by both the English and the French, who shared the island between 1627 and 1713.  Both nations then used this example as a springboard for English and French colonialism throughout the world.

Infantry Officers Quarters
Infantry Officers Quarters

 

 

 

 

As such, St. Kitts played a valuable role in the establishment and history of the Caribbean.  Last year they celebrated their 7th annual History and Heritage Week.  Activities included a heritage hike, treasure hunts in Nevis and St. Kitts, a concert at Brimstone Hill, a food fair and a culture pageant.

 

Earning a Healthy Respect
Earning a Healthy Respect

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1986), the Brimstone Hill National Park is a wealth of history and of the accounting of this island’s historic past.  Touring the entire Park gives you a glimpse into life as these islands developed.  Notably featured are the Prince of Wales Bastion, a lower level firing position which enabled them to defend their anchorage, the Infantry Officers Quarters, and the aforementioned Fort George Citadel, which now houses the Fort George Museum.

 

Fort George Citadel
Fort George Citadel

An Orientation Centre and Gift Shop help to complete the experience and inform the visitor.  And certainly not to be overlooked are the stunning vistas which greet you at every turn.  This truly is a phot-op of the grandest designs.

St. Kitts has much to offer.  Beautiful beaches, friendly people, and spectacular tropical weather.  But take our advice when on St. Kitts, grab your favorite wench, and spend a morning at Brimstone Hill.  You’ll never see Captain Jack Sparrow the same again!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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A Caribbean Bucket List!

To some we have had the good fortune of sampling a good variety of Caribbean Islands.  Still others will say we have but touched the tip of the iceberg.  But after over 30 island landings, we are finding that the more we travel to new and exciting island destinations, the more we feel the strong siren call of the diverse island vibes.

We have previously ticked the boxes of St. Maarten/St. Martin, Saba, St. Kitts

Climbing Saba’s surreal Mt. Scenery

Anguilla, Antigua, St. Kitts, St. Bart’s, St. Thomas, St. John, and a host of small relatively unnamed cayes and islets.  We love that each has it’s own personality and distinct character.  From mountainous Saba which has no beach at all:

 

 

Shoal Bay Anguilla

 

To the utterly flat Anguilla and its stunning picturesque shores:

 

 

From St. Barth’s, playground of the elite:

St. Barth’s infamous Eden Rock
via Access St. Barth

To the simple and wholesome surroundings of St. Kitts:

Historic Brimstone Hill, St. Kitts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But even all this has left us with a pretty extensive Bucket List of islands we absolutely “have” to get to.  Barbados remains very high on our list, as is Grenada, and the islands of the Turks and Caicos.  With so many islands, and so little time, we figure we’d better get busy.  Help us fill out our Bucket List for the seasons ahead.  Which islands hold your favorite memories?  This time we invite you, to… Tell Us Where To Go!

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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A Day in St. Kitts, Our Top 5 Stops

The boat has docked, and the backpack is ready for a day ashore.  Now you and your significant other glance at each other, both wishing you had spent a little more time reviewing the possible excursion options.  Hey it’s a cruise vacation, who wants to read pamphlets?

Well don’t stress and let it spoil a day on a truly magical island.  Just print out our little checklist here and hand it to the taxi driver.  Then sit back and relax as you experience our Top 5 Stops on Beautiful St. Kitts.

No. 5  Port ZantePort Zante, St. Kitts
St. Kitts is no different than most stopovers in that all have an active cruise pier area.  What is unique about Port Zante is that this shopping district is well layed out, well appointed, and nearly brand new.  I love the layout of the main Boardwalk area, and it makes a great place to have a quick drink or indulge in the popular sport of people watching.

The CircusNo. 4 The Circus
In the heart of historic Basseterre is a petite roundabout which serves as the lifeblood of Kittitian life.  Known as The Circus, the hub of which features the bright green bronze of the Berkeley Memorial Clock, the center is modeled after Piccadilly Square, in London.  The cast iron tower features four clock faces and more than just a little architectural decoration.  We recommend enjoying a relaxing breakfast on the balcony of Ballahoo overlooking the Circus clock in the center of this historic square.

No. 3 Romney Manor
Continue your tour of the historic side of St. Kitts with a stop at the grounds of the Grounds at Romney ManorBeautiful Romney Manor.  Dating back to the early 17th century, these beautiful grounds are a treat for your senses.  Surrounded by the stunning flora and fauna, unwind as you stroll the relaxing grounds and take in the sights and scents.  Romney Manor is also the site of Caribelle Batik, where you will find beautiful hand made batik clothing and accessories.  Read more about our impressions of Caribelle Batik here.

Brinstone HillNo. 2 Brimstone Hill
Wrap up your tour of historic St. Kitts with a stop at the awe-inspiring Brimstone Hill.  While I recognize not everyone may be as enthralled by the history of the early warring days of the Caribbean as I am, still it is truly a most do for any stopover in St. Kitts.  Dating back to the 1690’s, and situated over 700 feet above the surrounding sea, this restored fort is a testament to the ancestors who defended her shores.  The vistas from the various decks are stunning and leave you dreaming of swashbuckling days of yore!

 

No. 1 Cockleshell Beach Nevis seen from Cockleshell Beach
The perfect way to wrap up a tour of St. Kitts is with a relaxing stop at Cockleshell Beach.  With gorgeous views of Nevis in the distance, it serves as a great location to unwind and enjoy the tropical sun and surf.  We highly recommend a stop at Reggae Beach Bar & Grill for a great meal and refreshing drinks.  Be sure to tell Gary and Delano that Island Art sent you.  They are always sure to greet you with a welcoming island smile and a winning attitude.  Put your feet up and kick back with an ice cool drink as you think about the day that was.  You may even get a glimpse of the elusive Vervet Monkeys that frequent the surrounding bush.

So now you have experienced the true highlights of the beautiful island of St. Kitts.  And you didn’t really need those slick brochures after all.  If you’re looking for a tour guide through St. Kitts we highly recommend Sugar Land Tours.  Ian is a great host and will go out of his way to create a perfect day for you.  And now, come to think of it, you have us wondering, How soon can we get back to one of our favorite island gems…

Live the Life,
JVbyTheSea

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Caribelle Batik, A St. Kitts Original

Have you ever seen something on television and thought to yourself “I have got to have that”?  And no I’m not referring to Ginsu Knives or ‘The Official Snuggie’.  Well I have, and it eventually led us to a trip on another beautiful Caribbean island.

Some time ago, while watching The Travel Channel, I came across a show that in part highlighted the unique art of Batik fabrics.  They were introducing the work of Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor on the island of St. Kitts, and I had to get there to learn more about this unique work.  While on a quick day trip to this beautiful island, we made a stop at Romney Manor a priority for our agenda.

Batik is an art form that dates back thousands of years to its beginnings in Indonesia.  To create the beautiful works, hot wax is poured upon the raw fabric to create an outline of the desired image.  What follows is a sequence of baths in subsequent rich dyes and more wax until the coloring process is complete.  Then the entire cloth is boiled for up to 45 minutes to remove the wax.  The cloth is then hung to air dry in the warm Caribbean sun.  The finished batik cloth is absolutely beautiful and was one of the main reasons we set this island as a destination.

Batik Drying, from www.caribellebatikstkitts.com

The grounds surrounding Caribelle Batik are the well-appointed garden of the Romney Estate.  Romney was established in the 17th century and in 1834, contrary to the instructions of the British Parliament, Lord Romney declared his slaves free men. Romney Estate therefore became the first estate in St.Kitts to free their slaves.  Today the central focus is an enormous 350-year old Saman tree, 24 ft in diameter and covering ½ an acre. The tree quietly presides over the activity of the present day Romney Manor.

Saman Tree on the grounds of Romney Manor

We found the grounds, and Caribelle Batik to be a wonderfully rare experience and one we look forward to again.  To learn more about the art of Caribelle Batik and Romney Manor go to www.caribellebatikstkitts.com

Live the Life,
JVbytheSea

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