‘I went to the ‘secret island’ with silver sand beaches and a killer cocktail’

With silver sand beaches, spectacular verdant landscapes and a vibe that prioritises joy, St Kitts might just be the Caribbean’s best kept secret.

At 68 sq miles, what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in its charm and beauty. Sipping a mojito at Arthur’s Bar and Restaurant, on the shore of Dieppe Bay Beach, I watch as the golden skies illuminate the spot where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet.

It’s a bucket-list moment which leaves me dreaming of a new life on a sun-drenched island. Luckily paradise is easily accessible from the UK. A 10-hour and 15-minute British Airways flight – including a one-hour stop in Antigua – departs Gatwick for Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport twice a week. To really bask in holiday bliss calls for a beautiful hotel in a beachfront location.

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St Kitts Marriott Resort and The Royal Beach Casino, an oceanfront complex with its own private beach full of cabanas and a golf club, is just nine minutes from the airport. Here you can relax at one of the resort’s seven restaurants offering everything from steak to sushi, or chill in the swim-up pools and spa.

My room, a Royal Suite with green mountain views, boasts a spacious balcony, two televisions, coffee-making facilities and a king-size bed. The largest bathroom (yes, there are two) is fitted with a Jacuzzi bath, walk-in shower room and well-lit dressing table. Just a stone’s throw from the resort is Coconut Grove cafe bar. Their Classic Caribbean breakfast of salt fish, sauteed potatoes and coconut Johnny Cakes – a fried dough dumpling – is an excellent way to start the day.

And a short drive away is The Strip in Frigate Bay with its colourful collection of beach bars offering authentic Caribbean food, drinks and music. I visited Boozies for a delicious dish of curried chicken and finished it off with a refreshing rum punch. If you’re up for a party, head for Monkey Bar.

A great way to explore St Kitts’ lush rainforest is on a guided tour in Central Forest Reserve National Park. O’Neil Mulraine, of O’Neil’s Rainforest Tours, is an excellent host. Having taken tours for 48 years, he is an expert when it comes to forest and fauna as well as a fantastic storyteller.

At 66, he’s also the textbook definition of “age is just a number” and he kept the whole group entertained by climbing up trees and swinging from vines. Another of St Kitts’ must-see natural wonders is Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park.

Sitting 800ft above sea level, the UNESCO World Heritage Site offers breathtaking views of distant islands, surrounding peaks and coastline.

At the visitor centre, we watched a fascinating video on the history of the well-preserved 17th- and 18th-century fortress which was designed by the British and built by the African slave trade. The route there offered a great opportunity to spot the Caribbean island’s green vervet monkeys. Every now and then, a hazel-eyed primate would scurry across our path, sometimes with a baby in tow.

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Hoping to spot something even more exotic, I hopped on a private snorkelling cruise by Paradise Sun Charters. It set sail from Port Zante and headed to White House Bay and Shitten Bay – known as Smithen Bay to locals – on the hunt for green turtles. As I fumbled around with flippers and a foam swimming noodle, “there are stingrays here” were not the words I wanted to hear from our guide.

But as I nervously dipped my head into the crystal-clear water I was mesmerised by the marine life which was living peacefully near the sea bed. Shitten Bay is the livelier of the two snorkel spots and comes with the unique appeal of a shipwreck on its coast.

I also took a trip over to St Kitts’ sister island of Nevis, where I had an encounter with a Killer Bee. Thankfully it wasn’t of the crazed insect kind, but a popular rum cocktail speciality of Sunshine’s bar on Pinney’s Beach, a three-mile stretch of golden sand.

Back in St Kitts, and with a taste for this delicious spirit, I signed up for the Kittitian RumMaster tour. It includes rum tasting, rum gifts and a whole lot of rum cocktails. The three-hour itinerary began at the Wingfield Estate where we learned about the history of Old Road Rum from founder and expert, Jack Widdowson.

During the Covid-19 lockdowns Jack spent his time researching the 17th-century distillery’s history to help resurrect it to its former glory. In fact, his research has now led him to believe that Old Road Rum could be the oldest surviving rum distillery in the Caribbean – dating back as far as 1681.

The second part of the tour took us to the island’s southern peninsula and the home of Hibiscus Spirits, Spice Mill. Here we learned how to craft our own spice rum using the expertise of the chief executive, Roger Brisbane. I was very impressed with the results!

Located close by is the five-star Park Hyatt St Kitts Christophe Harbour hotel, which has two swimming pools, a beautiful spa and amazing views of Nevis. Its three restaurants offer local and international cuisine and I recommend the simple chicken caesar salad at Fisherman’s Village. You can also take your pick from its list of complimentary activities such as water sports, snorkelling tours and meditation. Or book in for jet ski hire and stargazing.

As I spent my last morning in paradise, watching as Nevis faded into the mist of a shower from my balcony, I wondered how somewhere could still look this beautiful in the rain.

Book the holiday

  • British Airways flies from Gatwick to St Kitts with a 1hr stop in Antigua starting at £504 return. britishairways.com
  • Rooms at the Park Hyatt St Kitts Christophe Harbour hotel start at around £299 a night room-only. hyatt.com
  • Rooms at the St Kitts Marriott Resort start at around £183 a night room only. marriott.com
  • More info at visitstkitts.com

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