Nevis and St. Kitts are located in the center of the Leeward Islands, south of Anguilla and west of Antigua. Although they make up one country, the two islands are like two very different (but amicable) siblings. Larger, more populous St. Kitts is the attention-seeking older brother—there are steel drum bands around every corner, exhaustive shopping options in Basseterre, and gambling at the Marriott on North Frigate Bay. Nevis is the more demure younger sister, whose British airs are charming rather than pretentious, and whose adventurous spirit is just starting to blossom. St. Kitts is about 23 miles long and five miles wide. Most of the resorts are around Basseterre, while the exclusive plantation inns keep to the distant Atlantic coast in the extreme north. Nevis, two miles south of St. Kitts, is seven miles in diameter, with farming villages located inland on the slopes of 3,232-foot Nevis Peak, and accommodations for tourists largely alongside the water.
WHEN TO GO
From November to May, you'll find the driest weather and temperatures from 78 to 86 degrees. February and March see some spring-breakers, but this is no Cancún. Due to the northeast trade winds, humidity is low year-round, but hurricanes can hit from June through October. Late August and September are the windiest periods. Annual rainfall averages are 48 inches on Nevis and 55 inches on St. Kitts.
HOW TO GET THERE
Both islands have airports. Flying to Nevis means connecting through San Juan, Antigua, or St. Martin and continuing on to Nevis Airport, located to the north of the island, eight miles from Charlestown (869-469-9040). St. Kitts Airport has more direct flights, from New York, Miami, Philadelphia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, and Atlanta (869-465-8472). If you fly into St. Kitts and are staying at the Four Seasons Nevis, a private boat will whisk you to the resort's dock while you wipe your brow with a mentholated hand towel and down a free rum punch (or two). If you're staying elsewhere on Nevis, it's a pleasant, 45-minute ferry ride.
For exploring Nevis, or just hitching a ride to a restaurant, there's no better stagecoach than T.C. Claxton's taxi. A former double-decker bus driver in London, T.C. has a Leeds accent as thick as Yorkshire pudding and a catalog of local gossip. She has chauffeured just about every celebrity who has visited the island and will, most likely, be dressed more nattily than you are (869-469-2911). If T.C. is booked, taxis are available at the Nevis airport (869-469-9790), in Charlestown (869-469-1483), and at hotels and inns. On St. Kitts, call the island's taxi association (869-465-8487).
Like most Caribbean isles, Nevis and St. Kitts have jaunty minibuses that play reggae, sport names like "Rumors" or "Zion Train," and charge you $1 or so for a ride. If you're traveling between the islands, you can take the ferry (849-466-4636).
Want to rent a car on Nevis, St. Kitts, or both? The TDC/Thrifty rental company allows car swapping so you can explore both islands for the same daily fee (869-469-1005 on Nevis; 869-465-2991 on St. Kitts). You'll need to obtain a driver's license, $24 for a three-month permit issued by the car-rental company or by one of the islands' police stations (near TDC offices); remember to drive on the left.
St. Kitts Office
Basseterre, St. Kitts
Tel: 869 465 4040
414 E. 75th Street
New York, NY 10021
Tel: 800 582 6208 (toll-free)
Tel: 212 535 1234
Nevis Tourism Authority
Tel: 866 556 3847 (toll-free)
Tel: 869 469 7550
NEED TO KNOW
Capital City: Basseterre
Area: 101 square miles (St. Kitts, 65 and Nevis, 36)
Telephone Calling Code(s): 1
Electricity: 240 V, 50 Hz
Currency: As of Dec 30, 2008:
1 East Caribbean Dollars = $0.37 US Calculate Other Amounts
U.S. citizens must present a valid or expired passport, a certified U.S. birth certificate and photo identification, a Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization, and a return or onward ticket upon entry. Stays of up to one month are granted at immigration. Anyone requiring an extension must apply to the Ministry of National Security.
January: 1, New Year's Day; 2, Carnival Day
May: 1, Labour Day
June: 10, Queen's Birthday
August: 7, Emancipation Day; 8, Nevis Culturama Day
September: 19, Independence Day
December: 25, Christmas Day; 26, Boxing Day
Church Calendar Holidays: Good Friday; Easter; Easter Monday; eighth Sunday after Easter, Whit Sunday (Pentecost); ninth Monday after Easter, Whit Monday