Basseterre, St Kitts & Nevis
The disabled cruiser visiting St Kitts will discover that while attempts have been made to make most the island accessible, there is not much follow through after you pass the entrance. While ramps have been installed at the entrance, no elevators, several lips and stairs exist in many venues. The city of Basseterre, lacks curb cuts and ramps and the sidewalks are narrow and uneven in many places, which makes it difficult for a wheelchair accessible walking tour.
You will find plenty of taxis in St Kitts, most are mini vans and should have little difficulty storing a collapsible wheelchair in the “trunk”, but don’t expect to find a van with hydraulic lifts or wheelchair tie-downs. The island has very few accessible vehicles. It is recommend that you pre-book your accessible ramped vehicle to make sure you have a wonderful, hassle-free experience.
The Disabled Cruiser exiting the cruise ship through the cruise terminal will find that not only is the dock area flat and smooth, but the walking/rolling distance to the tour operators are short, with fully accessible restrooms available in the small welcome center. On the other side of the arrival hall, you will find a large flat area with ramps into most shops and bars. The tour suppliers are able to park their vehicles on a lot right next to the building with a ramp from the dock down to the parking lot.
Ramps have been installed in many venues that were inaccessible such as the popular Batik Factory at Romney Manor and the majestic Brimstone Fort. While parts of the Manor still is not completely accessible due to stairs, the fascinating Batik factory has been adapted with ramps in several places. Also, at Brimstone Fort, the lower level of the fort including the movie room, shop and visitor center all have ramp access, but there is no elevator to the top of the Fort, which is the most impressive part.
St Kitts is a very hilly island. While winding roads and mountains makes the island beautiful, it also makes travel a challenge for disabled visitors. To visit anything outside of Basseterre, disabled visitors will need an accessible vehicle. St. Kitts has several beautiful beaches, and many of the beach restaurants and bars have been adapted for wheelchair users. The only problem is, there are currently no beach wheelchairs available. Therefore, wheelchair users will have great difficulty trying to navigate the sand or get in the water.
Basseterre, St Kitts & Nevis
Basseterre, the capital, is situated on the north west coast of the island of St Kitts, in the eastern Caribbean.
Places of interest include Independence Square, a former slave market and now an attractive park surrounded by 18th Century houses. Not far from Basseterre is Romney Manor, ruins of an old sugar plantation set in 6 acres of pretty gardens. The Caribelle Batik factory is situated in the grounds.
Brimstone Hill National Park is a huge fortress with a small museum, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The St Kitts Scenic Railway is a popular way of touring the island.
There are shops, restaurants and a few arts and craft galleries in Basseterre, the Pelican Shopping Mall offers more familiar branded goods.
Beaches range from the black sands further north, to Frigate Bay with it’s soft white sand. There is an 18 hole Championship Golf Course here.
At Friar’s Bay, you can swim in the Atlantic Ocean on one side, the Caribbean Sea the other.
Turtle Beach is a paradise for both nature lovers and bird watchers.
Where You’re Docked
Port Zante Cruise Terminal in Basseterre is about 15 minutes walk into the center of town. Facilities include a casino, shops and restaurants.
A ferry operates from the pier, over the tiny neighboring island of Nevis.
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.
Good to Know
Watch your step at Brimstone Hill. The fort 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. Taxis are widely available on both St Kitts and Nevis. Most of them are vans and they can be easily identified by their yellow license plates with a “T” or “TA”. There are several options available to you if you need to take a taxi in St Kitts Nevis. From the cruise ship, you will be able to take a taxi just outside the arrivals building at Port Zante. For the Disabled Cruiser, the island has very few accessible vehicles and it is recommend that you pre-book your accessible vehicle.
By Rental Car: If you’re planning to rent a car, you will need to obtain a visitor’s driver’s license that 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.
The official currency is the East Caribbean Dollar. 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.
English is the official language, spoken with a distinct accent and West Indian idioms.
Anything made of batik cloth is a great souvenir. You can watch artisans create the brightly colored fabrics using hot wax and colorful dye at Caribelle Batik, located at Romney Manor. Pick up a swimsuit cover-up, or a wall hanging.
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.
Take some time to visit Basseterre’s art galleries, boutiques and craft shops. At Spencer Cameron Art Gallery 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 on Bay Road include soft dolls dressed in vivid island clothing, leather wallets, flip flops, purses, cellphone pouches and earrings.
St. Kitts has a wide variety of restaurants, ranging from restored plantation houses to casual beach hideouts. Here are some of the most memorable tables. Goat Water Stew is a well known local dish as is Pelau, which combines chicken, pig tail, saltfish and vegetables with rice and pigeon peas. Rum is also popular as with most Caribbean islands.
Points of Interest
- Brimstone Hill Fortress – The Gibraltar of the West Indies boasts expansive views overlooking St. Kitts and Nevis. One of the best preserved military fortresses in the Americas. For the Disabled Cruiser, the main level is accessible with ramps but there is no elevator to the top of the Fort. To reach the top level, you have to walk uphill about 100 steps.
- Romney Manor – The oldest sugar plantation on St. Kitts was once owned by Sam Jefferson II, an ancestor of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. The property contains ruins, petroglyphs, botanic gardens, and rainforest. The Disabled Cruiser visiting the Romney Manor will find that parts of the Manor are not completely accessible due to stairs, the fascinating Batik factory at Romney Manor has been adapted with ramps in several places.
- Caribelle Batik – Masters of the ancient Indonesian technique of wax resist dyeing; the artisans of Caribelle Batik transform Sea Island cotton into beautiful garments that are sold in the shop at Romney Manor. Caribelle Batik and Botanical Garden is located in historic Romney Manor. For the Disabled Cruiser visiting the gardens, ramps have been installed in several places so the disabled can enjoy the gardens.
- St. Kitts Scenic Railway – The St. Kitts Scenic Railway is a vintage double-decker sightseeing train that showcases an historic sugar cane route. Refreshments and live entertainment add to the adventure. For the Disabled Cruiser in a wheelchair, the accessible first level has air conditioning and wide windows for an amazing view of the mountains, sea, sugar canes fields, and local houses.
- Plantations & Great Houses – Wealthy landowners during the early estate days of St. Kitts have left behind grand homes which have been restored and filled with antiques.
- Pinney’s Beach – Pinney’s Beach is three miles long stretching from just outside of Charlestown to Cades Bay on Nevis. It is considered to be one of the loveliest beaches on this charming sister island of St. Kitts.
- Nevis – Once sprawling with sugar plantations, this reef-laden Caribbean gem boasts rainforests and tropical gardens that have enticed the likes of many a suitor, including the late Princess Diana.
St Kitts Accessible Excursions
This fertile isle is a land of rain forests, tropical flowers, and abundant sugar cane. After a stroll around the charming colonial streets and shops of the capital, Basseterre, tour the island or visit Brimstone Hill Fort, an impressive construction that is one of the wonders of the Caribbean world.
Private Accessible St. Kitts Island Driving Tour
On this 6 hour accessible St. Kitts island driving tour, you will meet your private driver/guide at the cruise dock and be escorted to your comfortable, air-conditioned accessible van with a ramp. As you exit the port area, your wheelchair friendly tour will start with a short driving tour through the capital city of Basseterre before heading out on a drive through the rainforest to the first stop of your driving tour, Romney Manor and Caribelle Batik. Romney Manor is an old sugar plantation dating back to 1626, with beautiful old ruins, vibrant lush grounds. On the property, you’ll find the Caribelle Batik store and exhibition. While parts of the venue are inaccessible due to grass and steps, your guide will lead you using the accessible routes to show you as much of the venue as possible.
The next stop is Brimstone Fortress and National Park. This well-preserved fortress is located on a hill and offers spectacular views of the ocean and old ruins. The lower level of the fort is accessible with mostly flat grounds. There is some grass if you wish to get close to the old ruins or the cannons. The movie room and gift shop is fully accessible with ramps. Please note that the upper part of the Fort is not accessible. There is a long steep flight of stairs and no elevator on site.
As your drive around St. Kitts continues, you’ll make a short stop at the famous natural formations of black rocks, also called Black Stone and Timothy Hill Scenic Outlook. Get out of the van and stroll to the viewing area of the cliffs to see these fascinating black rocks, and capture beautiful photos with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Ocean on the other.
After a full day of exploring this beautiful paradise island, you will slowly start making your way back to Basseterre where your guide will safely get you back to your ship before departure time.