St Kitts

By | 16th January 2018

Should you rent a car in St Kitts?

Do you need a car in St Kitts > Should you rent a car in St Kitts St Kitts & Nevis > St Kitts ( SKB ) Do you need a car in St Kitts? Is it worth hiring a car in St Kitts? Should you rent a car in St Kitts?

St Kitts Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]

30%

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in St Kitts but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

€335

 #270/300

  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in St Kitts during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €X

300/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.


Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 35 - of which 27 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

77%

#29/300

  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in St Kitts, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

St Kitts public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.

10%

  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in St Kitts

80%

  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.

40%

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in St Kitts good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in St Kitts because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around St Kitts. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.

40%

  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in St Kitts, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - St Kitts Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in St Kitts", "is it worth hiring a car in St Kitts", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in St Kitts?

Do you need a car in St Kitts?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  St Kitts " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in St Kitts?

Is it worth hiring a car in St Kitts?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  St Kitts" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in St Kitts?

Should you rent a car in St Kitts?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  St Kitts, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  St Kitts compares with other destinations in  St Kitts & Nevis or  North America.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.


What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in St Kitts?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.

80%

Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.

8

  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in St Kitts if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in St Kitts for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in St Kitts for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in St Kitts if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in St Kitts if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in St Kitts if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to St Kitts, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in St Kitts if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in St Kitts if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in St Kitts if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in St Kitts, or are there good reasons not to?

This advice covers the question of car hire for both the island of St Kitts and for Nevis, although it assumes you are arriving on flights to St Kitts (Basseterre). Our separate car hire guide for Nevis just looks at that island on its own.

Do you need a car in St Kitts? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in St Kitts?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in St Kitts? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in St Kitts as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in St Kitts?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in St Kitts?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in St Kitts?
  • Explore at your leisure — with so much stunning scenery, a car is ideal for visiting both islands.
  • Poor public transport — buses congregate around the seafront in Basseterre, but they tend to leave when they are full, and there is no set timetable or interval.
    Also, there is no bus service out to Frigate Bay where the main Marriott resort is, nor are there any buses serving the peninsula. It is assumed that all villa users will have their own transport, but this is often not the case.
  • Sea Bridge — you can take the Sea Bridge ferry across to neighbouring Nevis and explore the island at your own leisure. Alternatively, you can park in Basseterre and use the passenger ferry – a hire car gives you the flexibility to use either option, whereas there is no public transport serving the Sea Bridge on the St Kitts site.
    Whether you bother with St Kitts car hire or not, an excursion to Nevis is highly recommended – see options for visiting Nevis without a car below.
  • Plantation Inns — both St Kitts and Nevis have a number of plantation inns which tend to be situated away from the bus routes. Wherever you are staying, these plantations are always good to visit for a meal or a very genteel afternoon tea.

Why not? Visiting St Kitts without a car

What is public transport like in St Kitts? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 3?
  • Car hire cost — in our survey of car hire prices around the world for cities featured on Carornocar.com, the cost of renting a car in St Kitts is amongst the highest in the world.
  • Taxis are widely available, and are usually reasonably priced, with fixed rates to and from major locations such as the ports and airports. Always agree the price in advance, and confirm whether the quote is in local (EC) dollars or US$.
    You can charter a taxi with driver for the day, although this will be considerably more expensive than getting a hire car or just making individual taxi trips.
  • Limited road space — a car might be fine for a day tour around the island, and an additional day on Nevis, but after that you might well find that you don’t need to go that far anyway, or that you’re doing other activities which don’t need a car.
  • Local driving licence — in order to drive a car in St Kitts or in Nevis, you need to pay for local driving licence, which costs US $20. Considering that a hire car in St Kitts is expensive enough as it is, this is just an unwelcome extra cost.
  • Sugar train — step outside Robert Bradshaw airport and it almost looks like there is a station right on-site. In fact, Basseterre has the curious distinction of being the only city with a station next to the airport, but no train service to the city centre.
    This is because the sugar train is very much setup as a scenic attraction, rather than a functional line, and if you can get a booking, this really is a great ride to take, and the only one of its kind in the Caribbean (outside Cuba).
    I would like to say that the St Kitts sugar train alone is a reason not to bother with a hire car, but unfortunately despite having made several trips to the island, I’ve never yet managed to go on it.
    Running patterns are determined more by the arrival of cruise ships than by any kind of regular schedule, and then the service tends to sell out quickly to block bookings from the cruise companies, so check ahead to see if you can get on board.
  • Buses — despite local buses not running to a European style schedule, they are still a great way of getting around either island.
    All the major settlements are served, and circular trips can be done from either Basseterre in St Kitts or Charlestown in Nevis.
    Buses usually have their names in emblazoned on the front, and they can stop anywhere on the route. Payment is usually around $3 EC per trip, made at the end of the journey.
  • Town ferry — whereas the Sea Bridge is mainly a vehicle ferry, a slower but far more scenic ferry operates between Basseterre and Charlestown, catering for pedestrian traffic. This makes it easy to travel both between and around the islands by a combination of bus and ferry.
  • Cycling — despite its compact size, Nevis has established itself as a leading destination in the Caribbean for cycling, and it even hosts an annual triathlon which attracts top competitors from around the world.
    Bikes can be hired from Ouallie Beach in Nevis. You can also hire a bike and explore both islands, using either the Sea Bridge or the town ferry.
  • Walkability — the islands are generally pleasant to walk around, and there are several reasonable hotels within the town of Basseterre. Any of the sea level hotels in Nevis are easy to get to by bus.
    Real cheapskates (we know, not usually an expression you associate with travel around the Caribbean, but there are a few of us) can even walk from Robert Bradshaw airport into Basseterre.

Ratings

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Verdict

What is our final score for St Kitts on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.

5


 To get the best out of both islands, a hire car is extremely useful to have. In any other destination we would say that the hire car costs are exorbitant, but nothing in the Caribbean comes cheap, so if you’re spent a fortune getting here and you want to keep things simple, a hire car is a good idea.

Verdict — yes.

Note: Very few car hire companies actually have representation at Robert Bradshaw airport in Basseterre, and there is no on-site car hire facility at Vance Amory airport in Nevis. Avis have an office in Basseterre, which is only five minutes’ drive from the airport, so it should be fairly straightforward to arrange a pickup.

Would you hire a car in St Kitts?

Have you driven in St Kitts? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in St Kitts}? Do you need a car in St Kitts? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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