In 2018, we attended Taste of the Nation (Atlanta) – a charity event to raise money for No Kid Hungry, which aims to end childhood hunger in America. Needless to say, we got a little excited at the auctions and landed ourself a decent deal on a Delta Vacations package.
Since we had a package, we decided to try to stretch the money as far as it would go, and go someplace that we normally would choose not to go due to the cost of flights. (Sidenote: I hate spending money on flights and hotels.) After speaking with a Delta Vacations representative a few times (they were awesome by the way), we decided to go to St Kitts. We love traveling to the Caribbean and it is a place we have considered visiting, but had yet to go because of airfare prices. After weighing our lodging options, we were able to head to St Kitts for 4 nights and 5 days of fun in the sun.
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Table of Contents
Where We Stayed
For the accommodation portion of the Delta Vacations voucher, we were given several choices for accommodation at various price points and locations across St Kitts. If you choose a hotel that is over the dollar amount of the voucher, you simply pay the difference. But you do not get any money back for not using the full voucher. Our goal was to get as close as possible to the voucher amount without going too far over, and shoot for the nicest place that fit within that range. Our first choice was to stay at Belle Mont Farm, but it was over the voucher budget and not close to where we planned to spend the majority of our time. We kept Belle Mont Farm in the back of our mind for a dinner, and went with our next choice of lodging.
We typically gravitate towards boutique hotels or Airbnb, but you can’t knock a good deal when you get one. So we used our Delta Vacations voucher to book a 4 night stay at the St Kitts Marriott Resort.
The hotel has 7 dining options, 3 pools, and a full service spa. There is also a golf course and casino right on the property.
The room was large, clean, and quite comfortable. We even had a partial view of the pool/ocean. It also included a mini-fridge, which is always nice for drinks. The staff were welcoming and accommodating throughout our stay. There were also representatives from Tropical Tours on property to help you book excursions if you had not already done so.
An added bonus was that the hotel is popular and well known on the island. All of the people we worked with for our excursions were familiar with the hotel and were able to provide pick up/drop off at the Marriott.
And there was an orange cat hanging out at the pool!
Another perk for us, was that there was a Hertz rental car office on site at the Marriott. While not necessary for most people, we opted to rent a car to travel to the other side of the island for dinner one night. You absolutely could take a taxi, but they would have to wait for you during dinner and bring you back. In our case, the cost of the taxi exceeded the cost of the rental car, so we chose to get a rental car for a couple of days.
Day 1: Arrival & Dinner at Belle Mont Farm
Flying into the St Kitts airport is absolutely beautiful. Just check out the view from the airport terminal! You know you are in for a treat with views like that when you haven’t even left the airport.
Our Delta Vacations package also came with roundtrip airport transfers – so we made it through customs, grabbed our bags, and headed to the hotel. Our transfers were provided by Tropical Tours, a local tour company that also provides excursions around the island. They were already waiting for us when we arrived, looked very professional, and made sure we had all of our return pick up information before we parted ways at the hotel.
After we were dropped off at the hotel, we did have a bit of a wait to check-in since a large group had arrived before us. Luckily, the spacious lobby and several check-in lines helped the process not quite so long. And by the time it was our turn, our room was ready despite being a little before check-in time.
We also used that time to handle our rental car reservations and explore the hotel a little bit.
Then we retreated to our room to rest and enjoy a hot shower after being on the plane. Then we got ready for our first dinner in St Kitts!
Belle Mont Farm is a luxury eco-hotel with a passion for sustainable living. They strive to create an environment that benefits visitors and locals alike, and provide fresh farm-to-table dining and eco-friendly activities on 400 acres of organic farmland.
We had considered staying at Belle Mont Farm (which is on the northern part of the island), but for a first trip to St Kitts we decided to stay closer to town. We did utilize our rental car for this dinner due to the length of the drive from the Marriott.
Reservations are required for dining at the Kitchen for non-guests, and we had made reservations prior to arriving on St Kitts. Fortunately, we made the proper decision to leave the hotel early, because it was slow going on the narrow island roads, and after dark we definitely missed a turn once.
But we were treated to a nice sunset on the drive, and got to experience the non-touristy side of the island.
It is hard to tell from the pictures because it was already dark, but the views from Belle Mont Farm are gorgeous. The ambiance in the dining room at the Kitchen was wonderful, with beautiful architecture and an open air atmosphere. The menu is a la carte.
We started our meal with the Roasted Butternut Cappuccino Soup and Conch Ceviche. For the main course, I had the Blackened Snapper with basmati rice, bok choy, orange gastrique, and pineapple & cucumber salsa. Chris had the Herb Roasted Rack of Lamb with goat cheese creamed potatoes, baby greens, and flavors of curry. We finished the menu with a dessert cake topped with fresh fruit and coffee.
Our entire meal was absolutely wonderful. The atmosphere and view added to the experience. The staff were wonderful and have found the perfect balance of being available without making diners feel rushed. After our meal we walked around and took in the views before making the drive back to the hotel for the night.
Day 2: Scuba Diving / Chinchillas / The Pavilion
Scuba Diving - Pro Divers St Kitts
On our first full day in St Kitts, we were picked up early in the morning by Pro Divers for a 2 tank boat dive trip. Pro divers is a 5 star PADI dive resort offering dives, certification, and gear. Their 2 tank boat dives cost $115 with rental gear ($100 without gear rental). Discounts are offered for people interested in diving for multiple days throughout their trip.
We did 2 dives during our trip with Pro Divers. Our first stop was at the wreck of the River Taw. The River Taw sank during a hurricane in 1981 and provides divers with the opportunity to see lobsters, octopus, and stingrays.
Our second dive site was Brimstone Shallows Reef, about 2 miles off shore. The boat is moored in about 45 feet of water, but the reef extends down a wall which plummets over 130 feet. The highlight of the second dive was the group of reef sharks that followed our dive ground around the reef.
Not a certified scuba diver, but curious about diving? Pro Divers offers a discover scuba course for $20 at the Marriott pool. That $20 will be used as a credit if you choose to follow that with discovery ocean dives which costs $160 for 2 dives with an instructor. The Discovery ocean dives are still $160 if you do not do the pool portion first.
Beach & Snacks at Chinchillas
After diving we wanted to enjoy a little time at the beach, but were also in the mood for a drink and snack. After being dropped back off at the Marriott, we went down the street to Chinchillas Mexican Restaurant & Beach Bar. We hung out there for bit and enjoyed a nice conversation with some people who just finished a cruise ship excursion and were waiting to meet up with the rest of their group to head back to the ship.
After a little beach time and a couple of drinks, we went back to the Marriott to enjoy a nice nap and get cleaned up for dinner.
Dinner at the Pavilion - Christophe Harbour
The Pavilion Beach Club is located in the Christophe Harbour complex also housing the St Kitts Park Hyatt Hotel. Normally open only to club members and guests of the Park Hyatt, the Pavilion Beach Club is open to the public for dinner on Tuesday through Saturday (5:30pm – 10pm), and reservations are required.
Featuring open air dining with ocean views and stone fireplaces, the Pavilion was a lovely place to enjoy a nice dinner. I cannot recall exactly what we ordered, and I failed to write it down. The menu changes quite often, so the chances are it would be completely different on your trip anyway! The important thing is that it was all very good, especially the desserts. We ended up ordering 3 desserts because we couldn’t decide!
We started our third day in St Kitts with an awesome dune buggy tour provided by Mad Max. They offer tours and dune buggy rentals if you want to explore on your own. Each dune buggy has seating for 2 people, and if you both want a chance to drive, you can swap who is in the drivers seat about halfway through the tour. The cost of the tour is $250 per buggy (assuming one driver and one passenger). Adding a second driver is only an additional $25, which covers the cost of the required driving permit for the second person.
For us, hotel pick-up & drop-off, a 4+ hour guided tour, and the dune buggy rental for $250 was worth the cost. Compared to some other tours, $125 per person for 4 hours (or a little over $30 per hour per person) is a good deal. But at the end of the day, it is up to you to decide what makes sense based on your interests and budget! But, if you are looking for the opinion of someone who has taken the tour to help you decide, it was awesome and totally worth it!
The dune buggies were fast and a lot of fun. We were able to cover some serious ground, and even got to go up into the hills of St Kitts for amazing views. Plus, the tour guides were great. They not only gave us some interesting info about St Kitts during the stops, they also made sure everyone got all the photos that they wanted.
One of the final stops on the dune buggy tour was a lunch stop at Shipwreck Bar & Grill. We had plenty of time to have some food, and still have time leftover to walk around and enjoy the beach. We had hoped to see some wild monkeys that are known to hang around to scavenge food, but they were not around when we stopped.
An Evening at the Marriott: Pool Time & Blu Restaurant
Our original afternoon plans were to go zip-lining at Wingfield Estates. They offer an hour long “half tour” or a 2 – 3 hour “full tour”. However, the dune buggy tour took a little longer than we expected, and we did not think we would be able to make the drive to Wingfield Estates in time for the afternoon session. So, after we were dropped off following our dune buggy tour, we rinsed off the dust in the shower and headed to the pool for the afternoon. It was nice to have a little down time and a frozen drink while we enjoyed the sun. I even got in a little reading on my new waterproof Kindle paperwhite. And pretty sure we both dozed off at one point! It was so relaxing.
I had originally planned for us to go to Mr X Shiggidy Shack for dinner because they do a bonfire on Thursday nights. But after the pool, we really didn’t feel like getting back out, so we opted for dinner at one of the restaurants at the Marriott Resort. We chose the oceanside seafood restaurant, Blu. Our expectations when eating at a hotel restaurant are not as high as other restaurants, but Blu was surprisingly good!
Of all things, the bread basket was amazing. We couldn’t stop eating it. I was obsessed the thin crunchy breadsticks.
The dinner entrees also exceeded expectations. I got scallops and Chris got a mahi dish. Both were fresh and well prepared. The plating was also nice in both cases.
Our waiter was very enjoyable to interact with as well. So I guess I should say the entire experience exceeded expectations.
UPDATE: I am sorry to say, Blu Restaurant is no longer open.
From what I have read, it may have merged with another one of the dining options, but I cannot find much information about it on the Marriott website. Bummer. They currently have several restaurants offering steak & seafood, Italian cuisine, Japanese cuisine, pizza, and more.
The next morning we were picked up bright and early by our guide from Grey’s Island Excursions for our Mount Liamuiga volcano hike. It is a bit of a drive to the trailhead, and it gets quite hot in the Caribbean, so it is best to start the hike early. We opted for a guided hike after reading reviews online that talked about unmarked trails. I would say that was a good call for us. The trails are obvious paths, but nothing is marked, even where the trail forks and goes in multiple directions. Plus, for us, the hike was difficult enough without worrying about navigating. If you are a seasoned hiker / backpacker you could probably get away without having a guide, but we enjoyed having someone to chat with and tell us more about St Kitts and the volcano. If we are able to go again, I think we could remember the trail well enough to make the hike without hiring a guide. The volcano hike with Grey’s Island Excursions is $69 per person, and includes transportation, refreshments, and the 6-ish hour guided hike.
As we were driving to the trailhead, Mount Liamuiga became visible in the distance. Well, all except for the top which was still covered in a cloud layer. That is about the point we started questioning why in the hell we thought we could climb a 3,792 foot volcano.
(A little perspective: In January of 2019, Chris and I were both at our highest weight and not exactly in the best physical condition – especially after moving and the holidays.)
The initial part of the hike consisted of trekking through a dense forest. It was beautiful and the shade was pleasant. For whatever reason, this part was the most difficult for us. Our guide (and his 2 trainees) were super patient, as our fat asses kept needing to stop and rest.
The only thing that kept us going was sheer morbid curiosity. I’ve used that term before, but it was never so appropriate than it was on this hike. Our guide told us that the hardest part, 3 steep climbing sections, was yet to come. I was struggling so hard I just had to see what the hell he considered worse than what I was experiencing at that moment.
(After the hike, Chris admitted he had the same thing going through his mind. And, apparently, we were both just waiting for the other one to pull the plug, but didn’t want to be the one to say anything!)
Between that sick curiosity and our guides encouragement that we could make it, we both kept pushing forward. And do you want to know the funny part? We thought the “hard” part – where it got steep and you have to climb up, was not nearly as bad as the gradual incline part. Something about having to pay close attention to your next step, and having your arms helping pull you up, made it not as bad as the other part. Or maybe we are just weird.
When we got to the rim of the volcano, we were so glad that we pushed ourselves to make it to the top. Even with the fog that day, the view was amazing. You could absolutely tell you were standing on the top of a volcano. Our guide had brought juice and a snack, which we got to enjoy while taking a rest before the trek back down. For the trek down, those steep parts were the most challenging, but not terrible. We made much better time on the way down.
Looking for an additional challenge?
As you get to the rim of the volcano, there is a trail that descends down into the crater. We were in no shape to attempt such a thing at the time, but now that we have improved our fitness level, I would consider it next time we are in St Kitts.
Absolutely exhausted but feeling accomplished after our volcano hike, we headed back to the hotel to shower and get ready for dinner. It is probably a good thing that we didn’t have a spare moment to sit down or we may have fallen asleep and missed our dinner reservations.
We had wanted to make a trip to Nevis at some point in our trip, so we squeezed in a dinner based on the ferry schedule. We had a taxi drop us off at the ferry and purchased our tickets to Nevis. There are different boats and companies that operate the ferries, but it was easier than I expected to purchase the appropriate tickets. Some of the ferry boats are faster than others, and they have slightly different schedules. The ferries run later on the weekends, which is how we were able to make a dinner and still get back to St Kitts on the last ferry.
Upon arriving in Nevis, we were greeted by taxi drivers assisting tourists and hoping to find fares. Being a sketched out American, I was suspicious of this behavior, thinking it was some sort of a scam to hike the fares. Couldn’t have been farther from reality, and I definitely got humbled by the experience. That’s one of the things I love about traveling – it can shake up your assumptions about how the world works. I didn’t realize I had become so jaded until someone tried to help me and I immediately assumed ulterior motives. Definitely felt like a jerk.
So, that is how we met John Prentice. If you are ever in Nevis and need a taxi – give him a call.
John’s Taxi & Tours: 1 – 869 – 664 – 9323
Even with me acting like a spaz because I was being paranoid and worried about missing the last ferry back to St Kitts, he was super friendly. As he was driving us to dinner, he assured me I was correct about the ferry times and that I did not need to pre-purchase a ticket, and even called to confirm the time for me. When we arrived at our destination, he got out of the taxi to speak with the owner, and arranged an appropriate time to pick us back up to ensure we didn’t miss our return ferry. At this point my mind was blown. This guy was genuinely kind, took great pride in his job, and here I was thinking it was some sort of a play to overcharge for fares.
Nope… turns out I’m just an asshole sometimes… not that I should be that surprised.
We had dinner at the Hermitage, which is a beautiful plantation turned bed & breakfast boasting the oldest wooden house in the Caribbean (built in 1670).
The menu at the Hermitage changes every day depending on what is brought to the kitchen from local farmers and fishermen. The chefs are also local, and prepare the dishes with local techniques, including those that require the use of the only traditional wood burning oven on the island.
Since we were eating dinner rather early (remember that part about me being worried about catching the ferry back to St Kitts), we had one of the beautiful patios off the dining room to ourselves.
The Hermitage is family owned, and you get that feeling of being welcomed into someone’s home the minute you walk through the door. The owners and staff were all so wonderful, and ensured we had an amazing time even though we were not overnight guests. As we were leaving, we were greeted by other guests arriving for dinner. It seemed as though they had all started to get to know each other during their stay and we willing to welcome us into the group as well. It made us wish that we were able to stay the night!
There Hermitage plantation sits on 5 acres and is quite breathtaking. We couldn’t resist a stroll around the main house while waiting for dinner to be prepared.
We started our meal with the Hermitage’s speciality rum punch, which is made from a 400 year old recipe utilizing fresh citrus from the mountains of Nevis. It was DELICIOUS!
To start, I chose a tomato bisque. Chris teased me a little bit for choosing something so basic. But, I have to say, it was one of the best bisque I have ever had. I don’t know what made it so different, but it was amazing. Chris tried it, and was jealous that he didn’t get it. It was that good.
For our main course, I chose sea bass (probably my favorite fish to eat), and Chris chose a lobster dish. The food was incredible, and sealed the deal that we would have to come back to Nevis and stay at the Hermitage on our next trip.
Our dinners came with a rice & beans side that I could eat by the pound. It also came with a vegetable that I had never experienced before called a Christophine. (It is also called Chayote, but in Nevis they called it Christophine.) It reminded me of a zucchini but with a peppery kick. We have since found them at our local international farmers market at made them at home.
We also experienced an unexpected treat during our time at the Hermitage – a wild monkey sighting!
John picked us up after dinner right on time and we headed back to the ferry dock. He even stood in line with us to make sure we got the tickets, and showed us where to enjoy a beer while we waited for the ferry. Then he called ahead to a friend on St Kitts to make sure we had a ride arranged for the trip back to our hotel. Yup, John is amazing, and I left the experience with my eyes and heart open a little wider. And my guess – that is just how he is, and he has no idea of the impact he had – not only on my trip to St Kitts & Nevis, but in changing my perception of people in general.
Note: While it was very kind of John to help us and his friend, there are plenty of taxis hanging around at both docks. So, don’t worry – it won’t be an issue if you do not have a pre-arranged ride at either dock. You may even get lucky and meet someone who challenges your jaded world view one kind gesture at a time. Or go for the sure thing and call John if your travels take you to Nevis.
Day 5: Spa Day / Return Home
For our last day, we got up, grabbed a light breakfast at the hotel, and packed up our luggage before heading to the Marriott Spa for massages. We timed it for the last day of our trip because we thought we would likely be feeling a massage after the crazy volcano hike. That assumption was 100% correct. Plus, we figured we wouldn’t have a ton of time to go exploring and make it back before Tropical Tours picked us up to go to the airport.
I am definitely not an expert when it comes to hotel spa services. I usually find them to be too expensive when compared to massage therapy back home. But our Delta Vacation package included 1 spa treatment. Since we both enjoy massages, we decided to go ahead and book one for each of us instead of fighting over the voucher.
That being said, I did highly enjoy my experience at the Marriott Spa. You check in and are taken to the lounge area, which has lockers, showers, restrooms, etc. There were saunas and spas in there as well that you can use before or after your services. At your appointment time, you are escorted to the massage room. The massage itself was excellent. The massage therapist was skilled, professional, and friendly. After your services, you are able to head back to the lounge area to change or continue to relax in the spas until you are ready to go. I can see why people choose to budget those kind of experiences into their trips.
I am however a lover of the late check-out. I have been known to pay a little extra for one. This time we were given an extra hour at no charge, which gave us time to use our own shower and finish packing up before having to check out of the room.
We grabbed a little lunch at the hotel while waiting for our ride to the airport, and arrived with plenty of time to go through customs, grab a water, and hang out until our flight.
Final Thoughts & Other Ideas
I had a wonderful time in St Kitts & Nevis, and would recommend a trip to anyone who has the opportunity to visit. Even though it is one of the smallest countries in the world (only 261 sq km / 67.18 sq miles combined over the 2 islands), you could easily spend a week on the islands and not run out of things to do. In fact, 4 nights was not enough to scratch everything off my list.
On my next visit I would like to spend more time on Nevis (staying at The Hermitage) and spend a couple of nights relaxing on St Kitts at Belle Mont Farm. I also have a list of activities & restaurants that I would love to try that we did not have time for on this trip.
Activities For Next Time
More Tips for Your Trip
- Take Cash for Tips – We used US dollar cash tips on both our dune buggy tour and volcano tour. Our tour companies let us know up front the best way to tip and pay for tours.
- ATM in casino at the Marriott – If you forget to bring enough cash, there is an ATM in the casino at the Marriott Resort that provides cash in US dollars & EC (Eastern Caribbean dollars).
- Plan for 1 Activity Per Day – Most of the activities are offered once (or maybe twice) per day. In the off season, it is usually only once. Plan the length of your trip accordingly. This will also alleviate stress when the “island time” schedule of your first activity goes longer than you expected.