Why go to St. Kitts (Port Zante)?
The island is authentically Caribbean and replete with lush natural wonders and a relaxed vibe
The port is full of touristy shops that could distract you from the less-commercialized areas just beyond
There are lots of attractions and activities to check out that are unique to St. Kitts
St. Kitts (Port Zante) Cruise Port Facilities?
The Port Zante shopping complex offers the usual mix of souvenir shops and jewelry stores, including branches of Diamonds International and Colombian Emeralds. Scoop's sells homemade ice cream and Sol E Mar offers T-shirts, watches and flip flops, but most cruisers visit the Rum Barrel for the free Wi-Fi.
Established by French explorers in the early 17th century, Basseterre still has a few surviving 18th-century buildings, mainly colonial homes that have survived decades of hurricanes, fires and earthquakes. Mix those with painted wooden and plain block storefronts, and you get a hodgepodge of architectural styles that can't really be called "picturesque." Still, the town is worth exploring. The hub is the Circus, a circular roundabout styled after London's Piccadilly Circus, with a clock tower in the center. (Be careful of the cars and crowds when crossing.) St. George's Anglican Church has a stormy history, as it was destroyed and rebuilt three times in three centuries. Independence Square, encircled by stately Georgian manors, was once known as Pall Mall and was home to Basseterre's infamous slave market.
Take some time to visit Basseterre's art galleries, boutiques and craft shops. At Spencer Cameron Art Gallery (869-664-4157) in North Independence Square, you can browse prints, watercolors and other artwork by Caribbean artists, as well as reproduction Caribbean charts and maps. Locally-made items for sale at the Craft House (869-465-7754) on Bay Road include soft dolls dressed in vivid island clothing, leather wallets, flip flops, purses, cellphone pouches and earrings.
Good to Know?
Watch your step at Brimstone Hill. The fort, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, has few railings, and the uneven pavement could easily lead to a sprained ankle.
By Taxi: The best way to explore St. Kitts is to take one of the island's widely available taxis; there are set fares for various destinations around the island. Minivan-style buses also circle the island all day.
By Rental Car: If you're planning to rent a car, a visitor's driver's license costs about $63 EC (roughly $24 U.S.) and can be obtained at police stations and car-rental agencies. Although St. Kitts' roads are wider and easier to drive than those on many Caribbean islands, it's best to go slow. Children walk to school via the roads, and people often stop their cars to talk. Goats, sheep, donkeys and cows have the right of way.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The official currency is the East Caribbean Dollar. (Check www.xe.com for current exchange rates.) However, the U.S. dollar is commonly accepted. The most convenient bank with an ATM is St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank on Central Street in Basseterre.
Where You're Docked?
Located just outside St. Kitts' capital of Basseterre, Port Zante opened in 2005 to accommodate the big cruise ships. (Cunard's Queen Mary 2 calls there, and the port can handle super-sized ships, such as Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.) Downtown Basseterre is a five-minute stroll from the port.