I don’t know how batik came to the West Indies all the way from Indonesia, but just like the introduced coconut palm (yes, that came from Asia, too) the ancient art of wax-resist dyeing is deeply rooted in the Caribbean.
Growing up, many kids (me included) learned batik in grade school. And walking around St. Kitts it’s not uncommon to glimpse brightly colored and intricately designed pieces on locals and visitors alike. They can be whimsical or simple and used to dress up or down any time of day.
The best place to pick up one of these creations for yourself is Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor. There you can watch as artists take you through the steps of applying wax, dyeing, and boiling hue after colorful hue. Then explore their wide selection of wraps, dresses, beach tops, bandanas, wall hangings, bags, kaftans, and men’s dress shirts for just the right piece.
As a bonus, the five acres of botanical gardens that make up Romney Manor happen to have once been home to Sam Jefferson II, great, great, great grandfather of Thomas Jefferson. But get there early to beat the rush—this is a stop for some of the cruise crowd.