The Caribbean is known for many things: white sand beaches, delicious rum, friendly people, and amazing weather. But what about hiking up a volcano? Mt Liamuiga in St Kitts might make you regret not including it on the list.
After hiking across Silhouette island in the Seychelles, my partner and I were decided on giving these tropical day hikes a chance. So on a whim, we hopped on a flight to St Kitts for a weekend and strapped on our hiking shoes.
Mt Liamuiga’s nearly 4000ft peak and sunken volcanic crater and lake definitely intrigued us. But more important to us was the hike itself.
We had been quoted $100 per person for a guide, which seemed a bit steep. This left us wondering:
- Is it possible to hike Mt Liamuiga by ourselves without a guide? Could we get lost?
- Just how hard it is it hike Mt Liamuiga? How long does it take?
- Is it even worth it?
Hiking St. Kitt’s Mt Liamuiga without a guide: solo, but so high
Much of our research about hiking Mt Liamuiga without a Kittitian guide left us with conflicting info.
Many people said they were glad they went with a guide, some went solo and had interesting problems (like falling 60 ft from a ledge and cracking their skull – more on that later), others gave up halfway.
But as pretty decent hikers, we were resolved on giving it a try. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?
Navigating Mt. Liamuiga without guidance
Just to be safe, we downloaded an offline map of Mt. Liamuiga on AllTrails just to be on the safe side.
But in reality, we found that we didn’t need it. Although the trail isn’t as well maintained and indicated as a national park in the US, it’s still remarkable just how easy it is to navigate.
If the heavily beaten tree trunks to step on aren’t enough, spray painted trees on the side and pink plastic ties are there to help. And when it gets confusing, there are official signs pointing out the directions.
We found ourselves not needing our downloaded map at all. The basic directions to hike up St. Kitt’s Liamuiga volcano are:
- Enter the fenced area and turn left
- It’s easy to follow from then on – whether it’s pink ribbons, spray paint on trees, or official park signs
- When you reach the top, take a left and continue 5 minutes for awesome viewpoints
- Turn around and do it all over again!
Difficult and time needed to finish St. Kitt’s most popular hike
It took us 2 hours going up and 1.5 going back down, but make sure not to rush;
- The trail is very muddy in some parts, and slippery – including on the tree trunks
- Some parts require your hands to balance and climb/descend
- There is a rock scramble on the way up, but we didn’t find it very tough
We climbed on a clear, dry day. It had rained lightly the day prior, but not enough to deter us. I wouldn’t do the hike on a very rainy day.
Going down into the Mt Liamuiga crater is at your own risk
I do not recommend going down into the crater.
Here’s why. The Liamuiga crater is where, according to one of the reviews we read on AllTrails, one man fell 60 feet when the attached ropes came loose. He cracked his skull, and his wife had to all but carry him back up to the top… then all the way back down to the start of the trail.
We met some cruise ship crew members who had attempted the descent, and subsequently gave up and came back up.
Is it all worth it?
The slipping and sliding, reaching and climbing, sweating and grinding… is it all worth it?
For us, hiking up Mt Liamuiga was intrinsically worth it. Not only are the views at the top spectacular, the hike itself is truly enjoyable.
The views along the way are great; on a good day, you can see St. Maarten, St. Barths, and Saba. On a normal day, Eustasius is plain to see. And the green tropical jungles, warm humid air, and sound of birds and insects fill you with joy as you climb higher and higher.
We love how the hike is a challenge – while not being dangerous. It’s well enough marked not to get lost, but not so much that you feel like you’re being held by the hand.
Plus it’s something completely different from the typical laying on the beach, getting drunk on rum you might be doing the rest of your vacation.
You can find the latest St. Kitts travel restrictions here.