First-time travelers to St. Kitts are often uncertain what is their best choice for on-island transportation: to rent a car for their vacation, or to rely on taxicabs. There are pros and cons to each option, and the decision should be based on numerous factors such as budget, convenience, and the kind of traveler an individual is. While driving on St. Kitts is relatively simple as compared to driving in large cities and on high-speed interstates, it can present challenges to those unfamiliar with island road rules and hazards. However, renting a car can give one additional freedom during a St. Kitts vacation and be more economical for active travelers. Read on to determine which might be the best choice for you, if planning a trip to St. Kitts in the near future.
Rental Cars vs. Taxis on St. Kitts: Comparing the Costs
Taxi fares on St. Kitts are set by destination and departure points, and are posted around the island and on various websites such as Discover St. Kitts and Nevis. Assuming a traveler is staying at one of the Frigate Bay area resorts, these are the one-way taxi fares he or she is most likely to need to know:
* Frigate Bay to RL Bradshaw International Airport: $12 US.
* Frigate Bay to Basseterre (St. Kitts’ main city): $10 US.
* Frigate Bay to Friars Bay (one of St. Kitts more popular beaches): $10 US.
* Frigate Bay to Turtle Beach and other Southeast Peninsula destinations: $20 US.
* Frigate Bay to Golden Lemon or Rawlins Plantation: $30 US.
These fares apply for 1 to 4 people, and tipping, while not mandatory, is generally expected at perhaps 10% of the fare. So it is easy to see that a trip into Basseterre to go shopping or dining will run a person $20 US round trip, and a beach trip anywhere from $20 to 40 US – more if you ask your driver to wait for you there.
In comparison, rental car rates on St. Kitts start at about $30-36 US a day for a small compact car, including basic taxes and surcharges. If you purchase additional loss/damage waivers, that can bring your daily cost closer to $50 US a day, based on recent quotes. You will also have to buy gas while on the island, but may not have to fill the tank more than once or twice on a trip given that the island is fairly small. You will need to purchase a visitors driver’s license for approximately $20 US at the time of your rental as well, so make sure you bring a valid drivers license from your home country with you.
So which is the better choice from an economic point of view? That depends on how active a traveler you plan to be. If you will primarily spend your vacation lounging and relaxing at your resort hotel, making only one trip elsewhere a day such as to a peninsula beach or town for dinner, you will likely do best sticking with taxicabs. However, if you plan on being very active and making multiple trips around the island a day, going to various beaches or exploring villages around the island, you will definitely come out ahead with a car rental.
Rental Cars vs. Taxis on St. Kitts: Convenience
In many ways, rental cars have a clear convenience edge when vacationing on St. Kitts. Rental car companies typically make it very easy to pick up and return your car, either at your resort hotel, at the airport, or at a central office in the Basseterre area. While most of the large hotels will have taxicabs waiting and ready at all times of the day, this is not the case at the smaller hotels or rental villas, where you will likely have to call for a cab to come pick you up. If traveling to one of the island’s beaches, you can come and go as you please with a rental car. Otherwise, you will likely have to arrange a pick-up time with a taxi driver and hope that he shows up when he says he will – most beaches do not have drivers waiting around for fares, nor phones where you can call for one. That also means you can’t plan on leaving early if you get overheated or tired out, nor can you stay longer than originally estimated without then paying your driver for waiting time.
Rental Cars vs. Taxis on St. Kitts: Safety and Road Hazards
Most taxi drivers on St. Kitts are extremely safety conscious; in over twenty-five years of travel to the island I have never felt unsafe in a taxi, nor witnessed or been in any accidents with a taxi driver. They are all very familiar with the hazards which can present themselves around the island, from tightly-packed village roads to narrow mountain passes to chickens, goats, and even bulls which can decide to park themselves in the middle of the road.
For a driver used to United States driving rules and roads, getting accustomed to driving on St. Kitts can be a bit of a challenge at first. You must remember to drive on the left side of the road instead of on the right, and follow roundabout traffic in the proper direction. Driving in Basseterre can be tricky in times of heavy traffic, as many of the streets are extremely narrow and you must pay attention to which are one-way and how to allow cars to pass parked vehicles – as well as where it is legal to park your car yourself. Some roads in the hillside, or to the beaches, can be difficult to take on if you do not have a 4-wheel drive vehicle due to steep inclines or unpaved conditions. After heavy rains, the road down the Southeastern Peninsula can be hazardous as well with fallen rocks and washed-out areas. Therefore someone who rents a car on St. Kitts should be a fairly confident, experienced driver ready to deal with these challenges.
That said, navigating around the island is relatively simple. One main road circles the island and then extends down the Southeastern Peninsula. Major landmarks and attractions are generally clearly marked with signs, and should you get lost in one of the island villages, residents will surely be quick to help you get to your proper destination.
Rental Cars vs. Taxis on St. Kitts: In Conclusion
There are numerous reasons to choose to rent a car on St. Kitts, and many reasons to rely instead on taxicabs. If you are an adventurous traveler who wants complete freedom and is comfortable taking on the challenges presented by island roads, a rental car is likely a wise choice. If you are planning a more relaxed vacation and do not plan to travel around the island frequently, nor wish for the additional responsibility of driving, than using taxicabs can be a preferable option. No one choice is right for everyone, so consider your plans, budget and experience carefully before making a decision.
For more information on renting a car on St. Kitts, see this List of St. Kitts Car Rental Agencies.
* Personal experience
* Avis Car Rental – Official website
* Need Help Getting Around? Take a St. Kitts Nevis Taxi.