261 sq km (101 sq miles). Saint Kitts: 168 sq km (65 sq miles). Nevis: 93 sq km (36 sq miles).
197.5 per sq km.
Head of state:
Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General Samuel Weymouth Tapley Seaton since 2015.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Timothy Harris since 2015.
230 volts AC, 60Hz (110 volts available in some hotels). Plugs with three square pins (British-style) or three round pins are used.
Palm-fringed beaches? Check. Limpid lagoons? Check. Tropical rainforests? Check. The twin-island nation of St Kitts and Nevis embodies everything travellers have come to expect from the Caribbean, except, that is, for the crowds.
Somehow, this vibrant island state has remained under the radar of mass tourism, carving out a niche as an alternative destination for those looking to avoid more mainstream Caribbean islands.
The smallest sovereign state in the Americas, St Kitts and Nevis are compact and easy to navigate, which is just as well because the pace of life here is slow – and proudly so.
St. Kitts is the larger and more developed of the two and is home to the laidback capital, Basseterre, a former colonial outpost renowned for its historical monuments, vibrant markets and lively beach life.
Dominated by Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano carpeted with verdant rainforest, Kitts is also home to the defunct British fortress, Brimstone Hill, one of the best preserved citadels in the Americas and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Remnants of the sugar cane industry, once the beating heart of the Kitts economy, remain; old sugar plantations have found new lives as bijous hotels and restaurants, while the island’s narrow-gauge railway, once used to transport the cane, has become a popular attraction.
And then there’s Nevis. Fanned by trade winds and dominated by an active volcano, this island is the quieter of the two. The scenery remains relatively unchanged by progress; its undulating landscape punctuated by plantation-style hotels which offer lazy lunches and charming lodgings.
Those looking for something more adventurous can pass the days hiking through forests, pedalling down mountain trails or surveying the island’s coral reefs, which are popular with scuba divers and snorkelers.
There is little competition for space on Nevis’ powdery beaches, and, for the discerning gastronome, there are plenty of excellent restaurants to choose from.
St Kitts and Nevis will, alas, not stay under the radar forever. The authorities are keen to boost tourism and those familiar with this corner of the Caribbean will be hoping they do it without diluting the islands’ many charms.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Most visits are trouble-free, but there have been incidents of crime including murder, armed robbery and sexual assault.
You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as you would in the UK and make sure your accommodation is secure. This also applies if you are staying on a yacht. Be vigilant at all times. Take care when walking alone off the busy main roads and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, particularly after dark.
Only use licensed taxis and take particular care at late night street parties, especially during the festival season.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. If possible, leave valuables and travel documents in a safety deposit box or hotel safe. You should check that the hotel safe is securely fixed before using it to store your items.
Driving is on the left. To drive on the island you must get a local temporary driving licence. The car hire companies will usually assist with this process. You must present a valid UK driving licence.
Take care when driving on the roads as there can be potholes and speed bumps. Observe the speed limits. You should take extra care on minor roads and in rural areas where there are narrow roads and blind corners. Pedestrians often walk on the roads and indicators are not always used.
Take extra care when driving at night as some roads are unlit. Road signs and hazards may not be easily visible.
Don’t stop if you’re flagged down by pedestrians. Keep car doors locked when driving.
In the event of an accident, call the police and don’t move the vehicle.
Taxis aren’t metered. Standard taxi fares exist for most destinations. Agree the fare in local currency with the driver before you set off. You can often pay in US dollars as well as EC dollars.
Public transport is available and cheaper. Minibus drivers may drive above the speed limit.