Paradise Found

06/24/2014 11:30 AM

06/30/2014 2:22 PM

The hardest part about a honeymoon on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts is leaving the beach. At the seaside St. Kitts Marriott Resort (www.marriott.com), a wide stretch of golden sand sweeps around a cove with dramatic views of the island’s steep, lush mountains. And technically, you don’t have to leave this perch. You and your new spouse could easily bask in the sun seaside for your entire stay—with, of course, the occasional interruption for a fresh fruit cocktail to cool you down.

But there are plenty of gorgeous and historical destinations around the island to make a departure from the sand worth it. Plus, elegant restaurants and casual beachfront bars are just a quick drive down the road, making them the perfect places for exploring on an evening out after your day in the sun.

St. Kitts is home to a variety of eco systems and a quarter of the island is rainforest—which means you’ll find some of the world’s most rare flora and fauna tucked into the island’s unspoiled mountain forests. For an up close look, hop on to Greg’s Safaris (www.gregsafaris.com), a half-day tour led by local, Greg Pereira, that includes a hike into the forest. Along the shaded path, he’ll point out unusual and indigenous fruits and flowers, as well as the rainforest’s wildlife. (If you’re lucky, you’ll spot one of the forest’s stunning hummingbirds or a few of the vervet monkeys high in the trees.)

After working up an appetite on the hike, head into Basseterre, which is the capital of St. Kitts and its neighboring island, Nevis. The port city’s bustling streets are lined with pastel colored historic homes and shops. Stop in for lunch at El Fredo’s (www.facebook.com/elfredosrestaurantandbar), a charming Caribbean restaurant with hearty servings of local offerings like stewed conk and jerk chicken.

Take a post lunch stroll over to Basseterre’s historic Independence Square. Once the site of the island’s slave market, the square is surrounded by many of its most historic buildings including one that is now home to The Gallery Café (www.facebook.com/TheGalleryCafeontheSquare). In this charming two-story spot, artist mother Rosey Cameron Smith paints and her daughter bakes. Sun drenched rooms are lined with colorful art and a breezy stone patio is the perfect spot to indulge in one of the café’s sweet, freshly baked pastries.

And there is no shortage of spots to indulge in fresh fare on the island. Plan on spending at least one evening lingering over fresh caught fish dishes, wood-fired oven pizzas, and creative cocktails at the chic Spice Mill Restaurant on Cockleshell Beach (www.spicemillrestaurant.com). Another must for your palate is Carambola (www.carambolabeachclub.com), a sleek beachside restaurant offering elegant dishes from lamb to ravioli, as well as some of the island’s best sushi. Be sure to order the rolls featuring fish caught just off the coast that day for the ultimate flavor experience.

From Carambola, you’ll be able to see the twinkling—and tempting—lights of Nevis. This small, neighboring island is just a quick boat ride away and worth the trip. Set aside an afternoon to set sail on a catamaran from Basseterre for a quick crossing to its quiet, sandy beaches with views of St. Kitts’ forested peaks.

Of course, this is all assuming you ever want to leave the St. Kitts Marriott. In addition to its own pristine beach, the resort boasts a gorgeous palm-lined pool with a playful swim up bar and poolside pizza stand. You’ll also find numerous restaurants on site, a tranquil spa, a scenic golf course, and even a casino for fun when you need a break from the sun.

And just down the street from the resort a strip of beachfront bars and casual restaurants beckons for an evening out. Here you can dance to island reggae music and enjoy a cold local Carib beer with your feet in the sand, which feels like the perfect end to any day on this barefoot-meets-luxury island.

Getting There: US Airways offers seasonal nonstop, four-hour flights from Charlotte to Basseterre, St. Kitts. From the airport, it’s only a 15-minute drive to the St. Kitts Marriott. If you’re interested in also exploring the neighboring Nevis, book a reservation at its luxe Four Seasons (www.fourseasons.com) and take the hotel’s private boat for a quick trip across.

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