There’s relaxing, and then there’s liming. You’ll know — and feel — the difference after a few hours in St. Kitts.
What’s liming? It’s drinking a rum-grapefruity “Ting with a Sting” as waves lap the sand. Or snorkeling alongside brilliantly colored fish at Reggae Beach. Or wandering around the church where Amazing Grace was composed. Or hiking rain forest paths to the rim of an ancient volcano.
For overachievers, all of the above.
Liming is Kittitian for extreme relaxing, and St. Kitts has elevated liming to an art — practically a religion. With such dedication to pleasure, it’s clear why the Caribbean isle’s original name, St. Christopher, gave way to a more fittingly casual moniker.
For visitors, liming rituals begin at resort beaches where trade winds rustle palm fronds, cool sunbathers, and propel kite-boarders across sparkling aqua waters. This setting would have sufficed for the whole weekend getaway, but we had a mountain to climb. Specifically, 3,792-foot Mount Liamuiga, which, promised an expat, rewards climbers with “360 degrees of heaven’s penthouse views.”
For those dreaming of volcano hikes, St. Kitts offers a quieter, more affordable alternative to Hawaii.
Liamuiga, which means “fertile land,” hovers like a vision beyond villages and sugar-cane fields planted after the British colonization in 1624. Strikingly beautiful, the dormant volcano can be hiked in a day.
For a quarter-century, Greg Pereira has led “volcano safaris” up narrow vine-and-rock-strewn trails through the lush rainforest and cloud forest leading to Liamuiga’s rim. The fifth-generation Kittitian spent his youth in these mountains when not working at his family’s hotel.
Picking us up at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on the isle’s Atlantic coast, Pereira trundles his modified 4x4 Land Rover along winding roads to the volcano trailhead. He brakes at Black Rocks, a surreal formation over which I clamber down to the coastline. The rocks spewed from the volcano’s past explosions. Liamuiga’s nickname, “Mount Misery,” suggests the violent eruptions that resculpted and primed the landscape for beauty long after.
The road passes stone quarries, seaside shanties, family farmers trucking juicy palm-size guava, medicine men hoisting bunches of herbs and ramshackle bars where patrons go liming with morning drinks that definitely aren’t fruit smoothies. At a junction, a fellow snoozing on the road rises unsteadily as the Land Rover approaches, then plops back down like a ragdoll after we pass.
In hillside villages, goats trot outside rickety fences. Clusters of wood signs broadcast curious, vaguely inspirational messages (“Be True to Yourself,” “It’s Working!”). Nestled in a foothill is the church where slave-ship doctor-turned-pastor James Ramsay preached for abolition, inspiring the song Amazing Grace.
A brief detour affords views of the island’s interior, where sugar plantations held sway until two decades ago. Now land has been set aside for preservation. Across from a stately inn, a path winds to a windmill set against lush vegetation and blue skies with cotton-puff clouds.
“Twenty-four percent of St. Kitts is protected reserve,” Pereira says. “It’s among the few places in the world where rainforest is expanding.”