After spending three amazing days in Barbados, my trip got even better with a trip to St Kitts Island.
I had heard that St Kitts Island is much calmer and less developed than Barbados. Barbados is one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been, so I had no idea what to expect. So we couldn’t imagine the level of gorgeous relaxation we were talking about.
Traveling in a small plane, we first stopped in Antigua before landing in St Kitts during a tropical storm. I actually love the excitement of a tropical storm with its incredible lightning, intense humidity, and drenching but warm rain drops. Dere from the tourist office greeted me. He was prepared to spend the next three days showing us around this beautiful island.
We went straight to our hotel at Timothy Beach Resort and then went straight to a bar across the road called Shiggidy Shack, which was voted one of St. Kitts’ top 10 beach restaurants and shacks by the Guardian.
Even at 9pm, the bar was slamming as a live band blasted through the speakers. It was more than enough to shake off the cobwebs of jet lag and join the singing and dancing crowd in the austere pigpen. I instantly fell in love with this place while enjoying jumbo shrimp and local beer.
My breakfast spot at Timothy Beach Resort
The next day we had an early start and headed to Wingfield Estate, where there was plenty to do, including ziplining, exploring the woods, touring the ruins of an old rum distillery, and visiting the Kariber batik factory at Romney Manor.
Caribelle Batik factory in Romney Manor
I was guided by a very nice British man, Maurice Widdowson, who bought the Romney mansion and brought batik to the island. He showed me around the beautiful gardens, and I especially loved the in-between space where rainforest meets manicured plants. This is where nature and humanity meet, and for me it shows how beautiful the world can be when we work together. Although it remains wild and unspoiled, there is structure and beauty to the bright flowers and cascading trees.
As you will see by the end of this post, St. Kitts has had a huge impact on me when it comes to appreciating natural beauty. I met some amazing people who had a huge passion for nature, and that had a huge impact on me.
After the garden tour, we were shown around the batik factory. Batik is an ancient Indonesian method of dyeing materials. Apply wax to the fabric and apply dye to the areas without wax. By repeating this process over and over again, a wonderful design with beautiful colors is created. Many local artists work at the factory and I was lucky enough to go behind the scenes and try it out.
I took a seat next to a pot of boiling wax and warned Pat, my teacher for the day, that I had no artistic bone in my body. She laughed at me, but she then spent the next hour patiently teaching me the art of batik. Using a jaunting tool and a fine paintbrush, I carefully applied the wax over the pencil lines on the fabric. I felt like a child learning to draw again, and there was something wonderfully therapeutic about it. Once I got the hang of not dripping wax and staying within the line, I relaxed and got to work.
When I say I was in a factory, you might think it’s some kind of warehouse, but this was the most beautiful “factory” I’ve ever been to. Built from wood and perched on a mountainside, Kariber Batik overlooks the rainforest and countryside. A gentle breeze blows through the open windows, washing away the artists as they work quietly. We could have stayed here all day, but it was saved for the next tour. Maurice and Pat have promised to complete my work and send it to me, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product.
My next stop was a forest tour with Greg from Greg’s Safari. He was also a man with an incredible passion for nature and wildlife, and we explored the forest with childlike enthusiasm.
Caribbean Cooking Class
At this point in the day, I was ready for my cooking class at Nirvana Fairview. Nirvana Fairview is a stunning 300-year-old mansion that was once home to French military commanders and other wealthy and important families. It still retains its original splendor and is a fascinating place to explore.
The main reason I came here was to meet Chef Janice, the resident instructor of the Caribbean cooking class.
One of my favorite things about traveling is discovering new foods, and Caribbean food is no exception. I love taking cooking classes so I can take home a great souvenir from my trip. It’s a recipe that recreates my favorite dish!
What Johnny’s made:
chicken stuffed with plantains
green banana escabeche
fish with plantain topping
black beans and rice
I’ll be recreating some of these dishes from class (as soon as I get home with enough time!), so keep an eye out for posts coming soon. I love seeing the different ways to use plantains and can’t wait to add them to my cooking at home.
That evening the rain cleared in time for dinner at the Spice Mill. I have never seen rain like this in my life and I was once stuck in my car for 20 minutes before getting out!
Luckily, the Spice Mill was worth getting soaked in, and the atmosphere inside was inviting and inspiring. The restaurant is exposed to the elements, but we managed to stay dry as we ate delicious food by candlelight. Then I sat and watched the storm and drank a mango cocktail
Your final day in St. Kitts is another action-packed adventure, starting with a horseback ride along the beach no kidding.
Horseback riding on the beach is so romantic. I imagine the wind or the sea breeze caressing my hair. Your horse will look like his beauty in black and will be calm as you relax and stroll around admiring the scenery.
My experience was nothing like this, but it was so much fun!
My horse had two speeds. It’s so slow that it almost stops and zips along like it’s the Grand National. I would start to relax into a slow waddle and then suddenly find myself lagging behind, sometimes zooming out without warning.
The weather wasn’t perfect, but I loved the dramatic clouds rolling off the ocean.
I wish I had opened my eyes in this photo. It’s the only thing I’m not completely terrified of!
Brimstone Hill Fortress and Black Rocks
We made a few more stops on our St Kitts adventure, first visiting Brimstone Hill Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built between 1690 and 1790. The fort offers great views of the island, but it was a rushed visit due to rainy weather.
Our next stop is Black Rocks, a reminder of St. Kitts’ volcanic history.
Ottley’s Plantation Inn
My final destination was exactly what I needed on St. Kitts: relaxing in a peaceful paradise before a long flight. St. Kitts has many peaceful havens, but my favorite is Otley’s Plantation Inn.
I met Marty, one of the lucky owners of this wonderful home, and instantly fell in love with this place.
There was a wedding going on when I visited, and there was some nervous excitement as staff and guests were busy moving around the garden in preparation. We kept our fingers crossed to avoid the rain, but come rain or shine, Otleys is a beautiful place to have your wedding.
Remember how I said St Kitts made me see and appreciate nature in a new way? Well, I guess I have this guy to thank…
Marty has an endless passion for Otley’s beautiful gardens. He almost skipped over and looked around at them and was so excited to show me the different plants, flowers, trees and all of his ideas to help the guests enjoy and appreciate them more. I did.
When I first arrived, Marty asked if I was interested in the gardens. I wasn’t actively waving my hand to suggest take them or leave them, but within 10 minutes I was just as hooked as he was.
Marty showed me plants that cleverly reflect sunlight, butterflies that mimic dead leaves, and the largest and most impressive tree I’ve ever seen in my life. Plus, it made me fall in love with grapevines!
Mango Orchard Spa at Otley’s Plantation House
butterfly that looks like a dead leaf
Can you see the man in the tree?
Marty takes pictures of beautiful things in the garden every day. He has created his own version with #100HappyDays and you can see some of his gorgeous photos on his Facebook page.
Before leaving Otley’s we had a delicious Caribbean lunch of chicken and fried plantains. This was the perfect end to an amazing trip.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Time Out London and British Airways for making this trip possible. My Caribbean feature is featured in this week’s Time Out, so if you’re in London, be sure to pick it up!