St Kitts Caribbean Scenic Railway

Probably the last place that I would expect to experience a scenic railway is on a relatively small Caribbean island, but on the island of St Kitts in the East Caribbean there is indeed a narrow gauge scenic railway journey which admirably diverts your attention from the island’s gorgeous resorts, whilst taking you on an excellent tour of the countryside.

Originally built to service the sugar industry, the railway still performs that function at harvest time, but the administrators have also introduced a tourist train with the aim of opening up the island to sightseers as part of a push to over visitors more opportunities and reasons to visit the island apart from the usual dependence on shopping and sun bathing.

The entire three hour journey covers 30 miles, 18 of which are by train and the remaining 12 by bus, but the trip does reveal the unsurpassed beauty of St Kitts.

The track was originally built in 1910 as a way of modernising the sugar industry, and the railway, which is one of the last remaining in the Caribbean, runs from the capital Basseterre to the various sugar plantations on the island.

The train itself is very unusual, utilising the “island’ series of passenger carriages that are double-deckers with the lower compartment being enclosed, and the upper compartment being covered, but with open sides to allow for maximum unobstructed viewing. The lower compartments are air conditioned and called ‘parlours’, and are styled in a type of tropical chic. The parlours are carpeted and have huge six-foot vaulted windows, which also allow for great viewing, and instead of normal railway-type seating, they are furnished with cushioned rattan chairs.

It simply wouldn’t be very Caribbean if drinks were not supplied, so passengers are treated to complimentary drinks such as rum punch, frozen daiquiris, soft drinks, fruit juices and water. There is even a St Kitts Railway Choir to entertain passengers.

There are a couple of tours from which to choose. Firstly, the Railway Tour, which combines both train and bus for a standard tour of the island and its sugar plantations. There is the rail and sail tour, which includes the added bonus of a trip on a catamaran along the western coastline of St Kitts. The third option is the Rail, Fortress and Great House Tour for which passengers, in addition to the regular railway tour, visit Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, where you tour the 300-year old fortress and enjoy spectacular views over the island and also visit the historic Fairview Great House and Botanic Garden.

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