The central fountain in Independence Square St Kitts

A Walking Tour from St Kitts Cruise Port

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If you are coming to St Kitts cruise port and don’t have a few days to fully explore the island, then we recommend walking the historic streets of Basseterre to get a real feel for this tiny Caribbean island. Basseterre has so much to offer it is often overlooked for expensive tours around the island or the white sand beaches. However, a self-guided walking tour from St Kitts Cruise Port is a free activity that you can easily do in a few hours, which still leaves time for other exciting activities.

Basseterre & Port Zante

Basseterre was founded in 1627 by the French. In 1639, the town turned into a large successful port, commanding Eastern Caribbean trade and colonisation. Today the city of Basseterre is still a bustling hub of activity, and the main point of entry for tourism to the island via cruise ships.

Port Zante consists of two piers and can dock up to 4 large cruise ships at any one time. Meaning the population of St Kitts can increase dramatically when 4 ships are docked. Port Zante is full of high-end boutique store and small local market traders. Where you can get your hair braided by locals or buy everything from expensive jewellery to souvenir fridge magnets. There is also a food court but this can be expensive so we would recommend going to one of the local restaurants instead. It’s easy to get lost in the atmosphere of the port with the music, performances and the cheap beers but venturing out of the port is a must.

Port Zante shopping area in St Kitts

National Museum of St Kitts

The National Museum of St Kitts is located just outside Port Zante in the old treasury building which was built in 1894. You can immerse yourself in the history of St Kitts colonisation, the rise of the sugar trade and the fight for independence. The museum also showcases the indigenous Kalinago and Taino people who were wiped out by European settlers. It also introduces local Kittitian lifestyle and important cultural traditions.

National Museum of St Kitts, a grey stone building

The Circus

From the museum walk North up Fort Street to the Circus. A roundabout which is the focal point of the city. It is supposedly modelled after London’s Piccadilly Circus and at the centre is a green clock tower.

The Victorian Berkeley Memorial has 4 clock faces facing the four streets leading to the Circus and features a drinking fountain as well as a clock. The circus is surrounded by colonial style buildings that can be spotted all throughout the town. So take a walk down the side streets to admire the architecture of the buildings.

Along the side streets you will also find locals selling their wares and we highly recommend sampling the fresh local produce, especially mangoes.

A green clock tower in the middle of a roundabout surrounded by cars and shops

Independence Square

Following Bank street to the East of the Circus, you will be greeted with the green open space that is Independence Square. Independence Square formerly known as Pall Mall Square was renamed in 1983 when St Kitts gained independence from Britain. The original square was created in 1750 by the British and was the hub of trade in St Kitts. The square is laid out with gardens in the shape of the union jack flag. Dotted around the square you can see British influence such as Royal Mail post boxes and red telephone booths.

At the centre of the square is a fountain, which was built to commemorate the development of a clean piped water supply in Basseterre in 1855. You’ll be lucky if it has water in it though, we’ve never seen it full.

Independence square is flanked by the courthouse on the east side. It is not the original courthouse as this has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Most recently in a colonial style to match the surrounding buildings. However, it is in the same location and is still in use today.

To the south is a building which is rumoured to have been the auction house that housed the cells in which African slaves were held in the 18th century. A huge part of St Kitts dark history is its prominence in the trade of African slaves.

If you happen to be here at lunch time, we recommend grabbing some tasty food from the local vendors. Either from the food trucks surrounding the square or the stands outside the port.

Teh central fountain in Independence Square St Kitts

Co-Cathedral of Immaculate Conception

On the east side of the square next to the courthouse is the Co-Cathedral of Immaculate Conception. The Co-Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is built on the site of the original Notre Dame Church. Built by the French in 1706, it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt as St Georges Anglican Church, not to be confused by the current St Georges Anglican Church which is also in Basseterre.

In 1927 the old church was no longer big enough for the congregation and so it was demolished. The new church was finished in 1928 and the ornate stone building with the stained-glass windows is still standing today. In 1981, the church was elevated to the status of co-cathedral within the diocese of St. John’s, Antigua and became the Co-Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.

A large stone church building with stained glass windows

St George’s Anglican Church

Head North from independence square onto Cayon Street and follow to the west. This is where you will find the current St George’s Anglican church at the head of Church Street. The largest church in Basseterre, it has been damaged and rebuilt multiple times including getting completely destroyed by an earthquake and hurricane in 1843.

The current church, which resembles an English parish church in style, was built to the east of the old church where people continued to worship in the old ruins. The cornerstone for the new church was laid on October 22, 1844 but it wasn’t completed until 1856. It was gutted in the Great Fire of 1867 and was re-roofed and restored in again 1869. The church continues to suffer in hurricanes and is restored each time, the latest being in 1989.

A large church building surrounded by gardens

The Cenotaph

Back on the Bay Road going west you will come across a large memorial known locally as The Cenotaph. It was built in honour of the West Indians who died in world war I and II fighting for Britain. The central obelisk type structure was originally located by the Treasury building (now the museum). But it was relocated in 1955 and made into the beautiful memorial it is today. The memorial features three ‘tombs’ that lie in front of the obelisk and decorative canons around the edges. Each tomb is constructed from the stone of former British colony that comprised the three islands of St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. While St Kitts and Nevis has been an independent country since 1983, Anguilla remains a British territory overseas.

The Cenotaph, a large stone obelisk war memorial in St Kitts featuring two canons

Palm Court Gardens

From the Cenotaph walk up Wilkin Street to Palm Court Gardens. Buy a day pass and enjoy the lush tranquil gardens, enjoy a tasty lunch or a few cocktails at the onsite restaurant. Or relax on the many comfortable loungers by the infinity pool overlooking Port Zante.

Palm Court Gardens pool overlooking Port Zante and the Caribbean Sea in St Kitts

Once you have finished walking the streets of Basseterre you could also grab a taxi and head to one of the best beaches in St Kitts near the cruise port. Or grab a snorkel and check out the top places for snorkelling in St Kitts. Maybe you want to head into the jungle and try ziplining? If that sounds too energetic maybe head to one of the best restaurants on island for a bite to eat. Or discover the best drinks on St Kitts before heading back to your cruise ship.

Whatever you enjoy there is plenty of things to do from St Kitts Cruise Port that you won’t be disappointed.

Have you been to St Kitts on a cruise? Let us know your favourite activity in the comments below!

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  • Vagabond

    6 September 2020 at 6:48 pm

    It’s been a while ago, but I still remember walking or cycling in town. The cruise ship I was working on docked in Basseterre on Wednesdays and wandering was the other option when I was not on a scenic tour around the island. Great memories! Thanks for your post, it was nice to reminisce!


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