Travel Guides: St Kitts and Nevis
The twin-island nation of St Kitts and Nevis, situated in the Leeward Islands of the eastern Caribbean, is shaped rather like a tennis racquet and ball - the larger St Kitts is separated from its ball-shaped southern counterpart, Nevis, by a two-mile (3km) channel called The Narrows. At first glance, the small, sleepy islands appear to be forgotten in time: a pair of quiet, lush and natural islands that convey nothing of their former prosperity and turbulent history. From their wealthy position as the most illustrious sugar colony in the Caribbean in the early 18th century they became the centre of conflict, as European powers fought for control of the islands, and the surrounding waters were an irresistible attraction for pirates who lay in wait for the riches transported on the merchant ships. Today the population consists mainly of descendants from the slaves who were shipped from Africa to work the sugar plantations; and vestiges of splendid estates are all that remain as a reminder of the infamously profligate way of life of the rich and famous of days gone by. St Kitts and Nevis have become the tourist pearls of the Caribbean, valued today more as a tropical paradise than a major sugar producer, with clear and inviting waters, sandy beaches and a natural splendour to stun even the most avid city-slicker. Together with a diverse range of activities, historical sites, and the charm of their two capital harbour towns, the volcanic islands are a seductive blend of colour, sunshine and luxurious relaxation.
The climate is tropical, but sea breezes keep the islands relatively cool. There are no definite seasons; the yearly average temperature is 79°F (26°C). Although rain is possible throughout the year, the average is higher between July and November, which coincides with the hurricane season.
The official currency is the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD), which is divided into 100 cents. It is tied to the US dollar at a rate of US$1=EC$2.70. Most businesses accept US Dollar notes as payment, but change is given in EC$. Travellers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted, and major currencies can be exchanged at banks, with US Dollars the cheapest to exchange. Most banks are closed on weekends, but provide 24-hour ATM services.
Visitors are recommended to hold confirmed return or onward tickets, all documents needed for next destination and sufficient funds to cover their stay. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers travelling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA a valid passport will be required by immigration authorities. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Entry Requirements & Embassy Consulates
Irish nationals require a passport, but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
UK nationals require a passport, but no visa is necessary for a stay of up to three months. Passport holders with an endorsement British Overseas Territories Citizen (residents of Montserrat) may stay for six months without a visa, and may enter with a passport-replacing document that has photo ID (e.g. driver's licence).
British High Commission, Bridgetown, Barbados (also responsible for St Kitts and Nevis): +1 246 430 7800.
Canadians require a passport or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, as well as proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to enter St Kitts-Nevis. A visa is not required for a stay of up to six months.
Canadian High Commission, Bridgetown, Barbados (also responsible for St Kitts-Nevis): +1 246 429 3550.
United States passport holders must have a passport or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license, as well as proof of citizenship, such as an original or certified birth certificate. A visa is not required for a stay of up to six months.
United States Embassy, Bridgetown, Barbados (also responsible for St Kitts-Nevis): +1 246 227 4000.
New Zealand nationals require a passport, but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months.
South Africans require a passport, but no visa is required for visits of up to three months.
South African High Commission, Kingston, Jamaica (also responsible for St Kitts-Nevis): +1 876 620 4840.
Australians require a passport, but no visa is necessary for a stay of up to three months.
Australian High Commission, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (also responsible for St Kitts-Nevis): +1 868 822 5450.
No vaccinations are required for travel to the islands, but a yellow fever certificate is required from visitors travelling from a yellow fever infected country. Dengue fever is on the increase, and precautions against mosquito bites should be taken. There is a high incidence of HIV/AIDS. Medical facilities are adequate, but limited, and health insurance is essential, which should include emergency air evacuation. Most doctors and hospitals expect cash payment.
Although most visits to the islands are trouble-free, visitors should still guard against robbery and other crimes of opportunity. Valuables should be left in hotel safes where possible and remote places, particularly beaches, should be avoided, especially after dark. Hurricane season normally runs from June to November.
Business in St. Kitts and Nevis is conducted in a relatively informal manner, but a fairly formal dress is expected despite the heat. Handshakes for both men and women are the common form of greeting, and business cards should be exchanged immediately after being introduced. Business hours are generally 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken at lunch.
The international dialling code for St Kitts and Nevis is +1 869. The outgoing code is 1 for the Caribbean, USA and Canada, and 011 for all other international destinations followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 01127 for South Africa). City/area codes are not in use. Internet services are widely available at hotels and Internet cafes. Cable and Wireless Caribbean Cellular (St Kitts) Ltd (GSM 850/1900) and Wireless Ventures Ltd (GSM 900/1800) provide cellular phone service.
Travellers over the age of 18 may import 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 225g tobacco, and 1.136 litres of wine or spirits without paying customs duty.