Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Whole Kitts and Caboodle; with Its Crowd-Free Beaches and Green Hills, This Caribbean Island Has Got It All, Says Orin Gordon

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Whole Kitts and Caboodle; with Its Crowd-Free Beaches and Green Hills, This Caribbean Island Has Got It All, Says Orin Gordon

Article excerpt

Byline: says Orin Gordon

Has anything ever happened to anyone when you've taken them zip lining?" I asked as I prepared to be strapped in for the solo ride a couple of hundred feet in the air.

Lex, a Shia LaBeouf lookalike, replied with a smile and a story that's probably too risque for print (let's just say one woman was "very happy" with the experience). This was his Kittitian way of telling me I needn't worry about plummeting into the forest, since they run regular safety tests on the lines.

Looking down while taking an adrenaline-fuelled ride on the highstrung wires, one appreciates both the incredible view and the lush greenness of St Kitts below. The bigger of two islands in a union with Nevis, it sits on the arc between Grenada and Puerto Rico, in the centre of the Caribbean Basin. The chicken drumstick-shaped island has lovely uncrowded beaches, green hills and one of the best preserved forts in the region, the 17th-century Brimstone Hill. St Kitts changed hands between the British and the French over the centuries, and the fort's views of Dutch island neighbours St Eustatius, Saba and on a clear day St Martin, allowed the British rulers to see invaders coming from miles away, and to unload deadly cannon fire on them when they got close.

Those lush, steep hills also offer hiking. The most famous trail is up a dormant volcano, Mount Limuiga. O'Neil, 60-something but as lean and fit as a man half his age, was my guide. He hopped from one dangerously slippery boulder to the next while I laboured up the steep incline and stopped regularly to catch my breath. Once at the top, you can peer into the vast, deep crater, now overgrown and filled in by bush. It was a foggy day, and standing hundreds of feet up at the summit, looking down into the steep hill bowl, was an other-worldly experience. You can descend into the crater if you wish, but I chose not to.

Part-guide, part-botanist, and part historian, O'Neil had picked me up from the capital Basseterre ("Lowland" in French). During the 20-minute drive to the trail, he'd stopped and pointed to the fertility rock, a small volcanic outcrop which, Carib Indian legend has it, helps women conceive after they've rubbed it.

The best views are to be had from the island's south-east peninsula.

Nevis, the peak of its dormant volcano perpetually blanketed by cloud, seen from St Kitts is one the most gorgeous sights in the Caribbean. Towards the tip of the peninsula I found the charming Spice Mill restaurant, where the owner Roger whipped up my cocktail a soursop mojito that was one of the most delicious drinks I've had. It was also one of the strongest they certainly don't scrimp on the rum in St Kitts. Luckily there was plenty of delicious food to line my stomach with; the lobster risotto with curry butter (above) will linger in the memory. …

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