One of the best vantage points on St. Kitts can be found from high atop Brimstone Hill on the northwest side of the island, with neighboring St. Eustatius and Saba visible on the horizon on clear days.
In the 17th and 18th centuries—during the great struggle among the European colonial powers and the American republic—control of St. Kitts and Nevis was divided between the French and the British; everyone wanted to possess these rich sugar islands in the Caribbean.
Once the Brits realized the hill’s potential, it became a place of defense for them, and they mounted the first cannon in 1690 in an attempt to recapture Fort Charles from the French.
In 1782, Brimstone Hill Fortress was attacked and besieged by the French; the red coats surrendered but, not long after, the British regained control through the Treaty of Versailles, which turned over St. Kitts rule to them.
In 1852, the troops were reassigned and the fortress abandoned, and in the second half of the 20th century, the Brits formed a restoration society that was established to repair the landmark.
In 1983, St. Kitts and Nevis finally was granted its independence, and today Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be visited daily for an entrance fee of $10 per person.
The walk up to the fortress from the parking lot is no joke; it doesn’t look that far, but all of us were huffing or puffing by the time we arrived at the top.
Still, worth it once you arrive to this panorama.
The museum and officers’ quarters, all located in the chambers on the ground level of the fort, take you through centuries of history, starting with the slave trade that inhabited the islands.
An hour is all you need if you plan to read every last plaque; otherwise, allot 30 minutes for the fortress itself, though Brimstone Hill is also the perfect place to stop for lunch. There’s a cute, little, no-frills convenience store with a grille, and we all loaded up on $6 plates of Carib goodness.
The perfect way to start our St. Kitts vacation if I do say so myself.