It may be the smallest country in the Caribbean, but the twin-island federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis rivals other tropical destinations with its gorgeous beaches, lush rainforests, and authentic cultural experiences. A narrow two-mile-wide strait separates the two islands. Saint Kitts is the larger, more developed of the two islands. Nevis is quieter and offers a laid-back atmosphere. The beaches are never crowded. There may not be as many restaurants on the tiny island of Nevis, but you’ll have no problem finding authentic, delicious cuisine on the island.

Despite the country’s small size, there is no shortage of luxurious accommodations. There are historical sites, festivals, beaches, four beautiful golf courses, cricket matches, water sports, and miles of hiking and biking opportunities. Saint Kitts is also the home of the oldest British settlement in the Caribbean, Old Road, dating back to 1624.

01Saint Kitts Scenic Railway

The scenic railway on the island of St Kitts with the island of Nevis in the distance

It may sound a bit touristy for your liking, but this scenic excursion is anything but that. Open-air, double-decked rail cars provide panoramic views of lush island vistas, magnificent coastlines, and historic sugar plantations for the first 18 miles of the 30-mile trip. Travelers then jump on a sightseeing bus for 12 miles to complete the circle around the island. Sip on complimentary drinks while being serenaded by a trio of acapella musicians singing Caribbean folk songs.

02Frigate Bay

Golden sand beach in Saint Kitts and Nevis, exotic travel destination in the Caribbean

In central Saint Kitts, you’ll find two beaches offering two different experiences. If you’re seeking a relaxing, tropical experience, beautiful views with long stretches of sun-warmed sand, magnificent sunsets, and picturesque coconut palms, head to North Frigate Bay beach, which faces the Atlantic Ocean. But if you prefer exploring local cuisine at nearby restaurants, experiencing after-dark nightlife, and rubbing elbows with locals and fellow travelers alike, visit South Frigate Bay beach. Also known as The Strip, it borders the calmer waters of the Caribbean.

03Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park

Cannon faces the Caribbean Sea at Brimstone Hill Fortress on Saint Kitts. Nellmac / Getty Images

It’s quite impressive for such a small country to boast a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But this unique locale is a well-preserved and intact example of 17th- and 18th-century military architecture. It is not only an example of European expansion into the Caribbean, but also a historical reminder of African slave-trade labor. A fort stands atop the 800-foot-high Brimstone Hill, a double-peaked hill overlooking the coastline. From the top, enjoy panoramic views of lush green forests, cultivated fields, and nearby towns that surround the site.

04Mount Liamuiga

A view of Mount Liamuiga from Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park on St Kitts. Wirepec / Getty Images

For those who enjoy a physical challenge, a nearly-vertical hike up the tallest peak in Saint Kitts, Mount Liamuiga, won’t disappoint. Grab your hiking boots, put on some long pants, and prepare for a three-mile, boulder-covered ascension to the top. And if you’re brave enough, a descent into the now-dormant volcano. Experienced hikers say it is a difficult and somewhat treacherous climb, due to the wet ground and rough terrain. But once you reach the top, you’ll experience unforgettable, spectacular views, topped off by monkeys swinging through the treetops.

05Natural Pools at Black Rocks

a scenic overlook in the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, USSupernet / Getty Images

On the northeastern coast of Saint Kitts, near a small village called Saddlers, you can explore black lava rock formations left behind by the first and only eruption of the Mount Liamuiga volcano. Throughout time, the waves of the Atlantic carved out dramatic boulders that created natural pools of ocean water along the shore. The captivating view is perfect for photographs, with the deep blue colors of the ocean providing a striking contrast against the black rocks and green vegetation. Guided tours are available, and local vendors sell coconut milk and souvenirs nearby.

06Petroglyphs near Romney Manor

Panoramic view to the eastern part of Saint Kitts island and to Nevis island from Timothy Hill Nellmac / Getty Images

Visit the site of authentic rock carvings created by the first inhabitants of Saint Kitts. Locals say the best petroglyphs are those found on two rocks not far from the entrance to the Wingfield Manor Estate near Romney Manor. The white paint is so vivid that some people speculate that someone touched up the carvings over the years. Experts disagree; they believe the images either depict Caribbean gods or are ancient fertility symbols.

07Pinney’s Beach

Aerial view of the Four Seasons Nevis hotel, a luxury resort located on Pinney's Beach at the foot of the Nevis Peak volcano and the Caribbean Sea.

Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, sits on the western side of the island. You’ll find Pinney’s Beach here, the longest and one of the most popular beaches in the country. In the distance, you’ll see Nevis Peak rising above the horizon. The easy-going atmosphere, stunning scenery, and authentic Caribbean cuisine have also created an escape for celebrities over the years, including Princess Diana, Meryl Streep, Oprah, and a long list of others.

08Scuba Diving at Oualie Beach

Smile! dsabo / Getty Images

The clear waters at Oualie Beach are a renowned site for scuba diving. To get there, hail a water taxi at Pinney’s and head north to find this sheltered, serene beach. Dive in and experience the views of a diverse underwater landscape, and experience sea fans and sponges growing over mounds of lava rock. For a unique and thrilling scuba outing, join a night dive safari and see phosphorescent sea life, lobsters, and more in the quiet depths of the warm waters here.

09Explore Nevis on Horseback

A Ruined Sugar Mill on the Caribbean Island of St Kitts with ocean background and blue sky with white clouds BCWH / Getty Images

If you’re seeking family-friendly activities, explore the beach on horseback. These trail rides cater to both the novice and experienced rider. You’ll learn about the history of the island and view the local landscape from a unique perspective. For couples seeking a romantic excursion, consider a private sunset outing and enjoy the eruption of colors across the sky and the sounds of ocean waves gently lapping at the shore as you and your significant other ride along the beach.

10Mountain Biking

View on a fountain and a catholic church in the background at Independence Square at Basseterre, St. Kitts island, Caribbean. A-Babe / Getty Images

Cycling is a popular sport in Nevis. The main road around Nevis is a distance of 20 miles, so it’s perfect for those who enjoy the fresh air and exercise. Cyclists who prefer an off-road trek can rent a mountain bike from one of the local shops or through their hotel. Choose a guided ride with an expert who knows the local terrain or strike out on your own and head to Pond Hill or the Killer Bee, two popular mountain biking climbs.

11The Nevis Mango and Food Festival

A chef picking a live lobster from a dock on the Caribbean Sea at the Park Hyatt St Kitts,

The residents of Nevis are proud of their culinary scene and the 40 varieties of mangoes they grow on the island. Each year, on the first weekend in July, the four-day Nevis Mango and Food Festival hosts a variety of dining experiences, masterclasses, and demonstrations. Every dish served features mango. The events build up to the highlight of the festival, the Nevisian Chefs Mango Feast, featuring celebrity chefs who cook alongside local chefs to show off their creative mango preparations.

12Limin’ at Lovers Beach

Tranquil beach and crystal clear water on Saint Kitts

This nearly deserted mile-long beach in northern Nevis is the perfect spot for doing nothing, kicking back, and relaxing, or as the locals call it, limin’. You won’t find a lot of facilities or amenities on Lovers Beach, but what you will find is quiet solitude. Hidden from the road, this secluded beach earned its name because couples can enjoy privacy away from the prying eyes of beachcombers and tourists. The beach is just a short walk down an unmarked path from Oualie Beach Resort and is the perfect spot for a romantic picnic and a day under the Caribbean sun.