Nigel Tisdall, The Daily Telegraph, February 16, 2014
These recommendations, and hundreds more, can be found in the free Telegraph Travel Guides app . The app features expert guides to destinations including Paris, Rome, New York and Amsterdam, with Edinburgh, Barcelona and Venice among those to be added in the coming weeks.
To mark the launch of the free St Kitts Telegraph app, here is my pick of eight beach bars where you can get into the spirit of this easy-going Caribbean island. The app also has recommendations for a further 39 attractions, beaches and restaurants.
For many of us, a Caribbean holiday doesn’t really kick in until three things happen. First, we have to step off the plane and think “Oh yes!” as a thick blast of heat ravishes our poor, sun-deprived bodies. Then we need to take a swim in that warm and bewitching turquoise sea. Finally, we have to be in a beach bar, with sand under our toes and glossy palm trees overhead, savouring a chilled Carib beer or some luridly coloured rum cocktail to a lilting reggae beat… Cheers!
At this early stage, almost any bar will do, but as the days progress some discernment is required. On St Kitts, where life is forever relaxed, there are watering holes for all moods. I like my rum punch with a view, so Cockleshell beach, which looks across to the mighty peak crowning its sister island of Nevis, always goes down well. I also love freshly grilled fish, and this is a place where the boats still bring in their daily haul of wahoo, tuna or mahimahi, which is best eaten in a breezy castaway bar to a soundtrack of crashing waves. The drinks are important too. Perhaps it’s time to bag a bargain pail of ice-cold beers for a few bucks, or try a definitive rum sour mixed by a sweet-talking bartender just back from Miami. At night, on the strip of bars along South Frigate Bay beach, you’ll find live bands, blazing bonfires and wild dancing under the stars. Here are some of my favourite ports of call:
Part of “The Strip” of informal beach bars lined up along South Frigate Bay beach, Buddies is an unpretentious drinking and dancing venue set inland from the main drag. It is built from wood on two levels, and its upstairs club is popular with international students from the island’s medical and veterinary universities. The music is “a bit of everything” featuring local DJs. Meals are available, including ribs, and fish and fries, and there is free Wi-Fi. Friday nights are liveliest, with things hotting up from 8.30pm.
South Frigate Bay beach; 001 869 465 2839
Carambola Beach Club
At the western end of South Friars Bay beach, Carambola Beach Club brings a touch of Ibiza to the St Kitts beach bar scene. I find it offers a welcome change from the more casual beach bars that are the island norm. There are smart daybeds and wooden loungers set on grey-yellow sands, with a large modern bar and restaurant serving modern European dishes with a Caribbean twist.
South Friars Bay beach; 869 465 9090; carambolabeachclub.com
In the middle of South Friars Bay beach, this easy-going bar and restaurant brings a taste of Jamaica to the shores of St Kitts. Diners sit at wooden tables beneath a corrugated metal roof with the sea breezes wafting through. I like the feel of it, and its chef and manager, Michael Clarke, serves up all the favourites, including jerk chicken, pork and ribs, plus a “Jam Burst” salad and local catch of the day such as grouper or wahoo.
South Friars Bay beach; 869 662 5150
Mr X's Shiggidy Shack
This is one of the best-known beach bars on “The Strip” of watering holes and nightspots that borders South Frigate Bay beach. A simple, sand-under-your-toes, wood-and-palm leaf shack, Mr X’s has a friendly and inclusive atmosphere and soon fills up if there’s a cruise ship visiting. During the day it’s an easy-going place to grab some beach time, with watersports available and a menu featuring burgers, ribs and fish dishes. Thursday nights are the time to go if you want to party, when there is a bonfire and a live band that always gets everyone jigging.
South Frigate Bay beach; 869 465 0673; mrxshiggidyshack.com
Reggae Beach Bar and Grill
“Rush Slowly” is the motto of this well-known beach bar and grill on Cockleshell Bay beach, at the south-eastern tip of the island. With safe, shallow water and panoramic views across to Nevis, I think it’s one of the best places on the island to have some seaside fun, Caribbean-style. The soundtrack is predominantly reggae and the menu offers salads, sandwiches and grilled fish, with a Lobster Fest on Friday nights (when reservations are recommended).
Cockleshell Bay; 869 762 5050; reggaebeachbar.com
Rum Barrel sits in the centre of Porte Zante, where Basseterre welcomes thousands of visiting cruise-ship passengers with a parade of shops, market stalls and street entertainment. An open-sided bar with wooden stools and tables, it’s a useful place to stop for a drink, and it’s not just for tourists. Kittitians also come here, particularly on Friday afternoons when there’s usually a DJ from a local radio station.
Port Zante, Basseterre; 869 466 9852
Shipwreck Beach Bar & Grill
At the east end of South Friars Bay beach, Shipwreck is a friendly beach bar and grill that is popular with visitors and resident expats. It is set on the rocks above a narrow strip of sand. I admire its individual style – the look is decidedly scruffy castaway, with ramshackle wooden decking, and fishing nets hanging from the rafters.
South Friars Bay; 869 764 7200
Wedged between the sea and the island’s coastal road, Sprat Net is a large, casual wooden barn of a place owned by two fishermen. There’s a garden area by the waterfront while the odd cannon and nautical paraphernalia add a touch of theming to a place that over the past decade has grown from a shed into a spacious restaurant and music venue. I like to come here to eat local fish, lobster and seafood cooked without fuss.
Old Road; 869 661 1901
Part of the Timothy Beach Resort, The Dock sits at the eastern end of South Frigate Bay Beach, close to a jetty and small sandy beach. In the afternoon it’s an easygoing hang-out, then in the evenings it becomes one of the pit-stops along “The Strip”, with bright rope lights adding a party mood. It is popular with both locals and visitors. Sunday is the main night, when there’s a live band playing reggae, soca or R&B (usually 9pm-midnight).
During Happy Hour (Monday to Friday, 5pm-6pm), beers and house-brand mixed drinks are half-price – a bargain I feel is certainly worth taking up.
1 South Frigate Bay Beach; 869 465 8597; timothybeach.com
Vibes Beach Bar
The beach bars lining “The Strip” along South Frigate Bay Beach are always changing, and Vibes is one of the newest spots to drink and party. It’s a large, slick affair, with TVs screening US sports and a DJ booth that likes to keep the volume at max. Close by is a second bar housed in a tower similar to a lifeguard station. If Vibes was in a city I’d say it would be par for the course, but set beside the crazy miscellany of beach shacks and restaurants here it seems shockingly sophisticated.
South Frigate Bay Beach; 869 465 8423; vibesbeachbar.com
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