Eco-tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global tourism arena and this trend will continue to grow, especially with consumer trends indicating the increase in demand for products and destinations to focus on environmental best practices and sustainable tourism development. "Eco-tourism/Green tourism" is and will continue to be a sector for sustainable growth and development of tourism in St. Kitts & Nevis.
The conservation and protection of our fragile eco-system and biodiversity is of critical importance to the sustainable development of tourism in St. Kitts. Without a sustainable approach to management of the environment/eco-system, the socio-economic growth and development may be challenged significantly.
The underwater world of St. Kitts is frequently praised by divers and snorkelers for the pristine condition of its coral reefs, its numerous historic shipwrecks, and colorful marine life. With the objective of sustaining and enhancing this environment, St. Kitts has been working with the respected marine conservation organizations C.O.R.A.L. (the Coral Reef Alliance) and Philippe Cousteau’s EarthEcho on a comprehensive assessment of the conditions of the reefs and ecosystems in the waters surrounding St. Kitts. The island’s goal is to create Marine Protected Areas, which will help preserve and protect its marine environment for now and years to come through strict regulations and policies.
St Kitts is equally well known for its lush and picturesque central mountain chain, which rises to nearly 4,000 ft at its highest point and is covered by a verdant, thriving rainforest. To help protect this precious natural asset, the St. Kitts & Nevis National Parliament has declared all land above the 1,000 ft contour to be a National Forest Reserve, effectively protecting most of the island's lush rainforest. Classified as an American Oceanic Rainforest, it is one of the rarest types found on the entire planet and it’s actually expanding rather than shrinking! Those who choose to venture into the rainforest on one of many winding trails will be embraced by a canopy of rich green leaves sprinkled with brightly colored flowers and the soothing sounds of nature.
With a lush, verdant rainforest encompassing fully 1/4 of the land on St. Kitts, the island's interior is ripe for adventure and discovery. Hikers and mountain bikers will find numerous trails of varying difficulty that wind past tropical plants and flowers, sparkling streams and waterfalls, and a seemingly endless forest of many types of trees. For a less physically demanding experience, many tour operators offer four-wheel drive tours or more leisurely walks with a guide to explain the sights, sounds and surroundings. Those who crave thrills can soar above the canopy on an eco-friendly zipline with one of the Caribbean's newest zip tours. Birdwatchers will enjoy gazing at the many avian species that call St. Kitts home, while other visitors try to catch a glimpse of the island’s playful Green Vervet monkeys.
Golfers around the world agree that St. Kitts is a "must play" for enthusiasts of the sport. One of the most scenically beautiful courses in the world, the 18-hole championship Royal St. Kitts golf course features a magnificent layout on 125 acres with two full holes on the Caribbean Sea and three complete holes on the Atlantic Ocean. Plus, eco-conscious players will appreciate that the course recently became the first in the Caribbean to achieve Audubon certification for its environmental practices. The course is par 71 and is considered challenging enough for pros yet still enjoyable for novice players. Redesigned in 2003 by famed architect Thomas McBroom, it also features water hazards on 10 holes, 80 bunkers and a multitude of gently swaying coconut palm trees along the shoreline. There's also a clubhouse and grille, driving range, putting green and golf pros for private or group instruction, while tee times can be reserved in advance for reasonable greens fees.
For those who prefer a day at the spa to time spent on the golf course or in the rainforest, both of the island's two exclusive spas have plenty of "green" to offer spa-goers. On the northern side of the island, the intimate one-room Mango Orchard Spa at Ottley's Plantation Inn overlooks the tranquil rainforest, creating a naturally soothing ambience. Perched at the edge of the rainforest ravine, the wide double doors open to overlook the forest canopy. Soothing for both body and soul, the sights and sounds of the habitat surround guests while they relax and enjoy treatments from massages and wraps to facials or manicures. Meanwhile, the Emerald Mist Spa at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort provides another type of spa experience. With a number of treatment rooms and personnel, you can choose from a wide variety of treatments, take yoga classes and even purchase products to bring home. For a fun diversion that's uniquely Kittitian and also "green", try a refreshing Mt. Liamuiga Volcanic Mud Wrap.
From now through June 15, the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN) is a community based non-profit organization that provides a great way for both kids and adults to connect with Mother Earth. This special conservation project provides a way to help save critically endangered leatherback, hawksbill and, yes, green sea turtles, since St. Kitts serves as a nesting ground for these magnificent animals. Visitors can accompany research team from 8pm until midnight to see nesting female turtles, and later their hatchlings, on a special ecotour with a trained guide from 8pm until midnight. For those not visiting St. Kitts during turtle nesting season, it's now possible to get online and track a tagged turtle as it journeys through the sea or adopt one online for just the cost of a tour and receive a special certificate of adoption. Handmade glass bead sea turtle jewelry crafted from only recycled glass is also available for purchase. All SKSTMN proceeds are used to fund the St. Kitts sea turtle program.