5 reasons Nevis might be your next favourite Caribbean island
Even before I floated in the clear blue sea, my only companion a giant sea turtle who glided past — just his leathery head peeking out of the water — I was tempted to declare that Nevis might be my new favourite Caribbean island.
I’d spent a few blissful days swimming, basking in the sun and eating mangoes while attending the Nevis Mango & Food Festival and was already halfway convinced that this little island, the smaller, quieter sister to Saint Kitts (check out my post on the Carambola Beach Club on what to see and do if you only have one day in St. Kitt’s), had everything I loved about the Caribbean. Then, I ate a perfect lobster roll and swam beside a turtle and I was smitten. Here’s why I think you should consider the beautiful island of Nevis in the British West Indies for your next Caribbean getaway.
1. Few Crowds
I walked the beach each morning at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club (the Caribbean’s only historic plantation inn located on a beach) and rarely saw anyone apart from a few snorkelers heading out for a morning swim. Nisbet Beach offers a mix of fine golden sand sprinkled with black volcanic dust that glint in the sunlight and although it faces the Atlantic, it’s actually quite swimmable thanks to rocky breakers built to protect the shoreline and waters. With no undertow or enormous waves to pull an unsuspecting swimmer under, it’s a welcoming beach for non-swimmers. A string of tidal pools along the shoreline makes for interesting beach combing.
Unlike other volcanic islands where you’re likely to find mostly black sand beaches, Nevis has been blessed with a surprising number of white and golden sand beaches to choose from.
On the Caribbean side, Pinney’s Beach is one of the best of the island’s white sand beaches. The beach at Four Seasons Resort Nevis is also relatively free of crowds and if you splurge on a private beach cabana, you’ll score butler service, a choice of comfy loungers, excellent WiFi and of course easy access to the translucent blue waters.
Don’t be surprised if you spot a celebrity or two. Nevis is a top hideaway for jet-setters, celebrities and A-Listers. Just check-out the Wall of Fame at nearby Sunshine’s Beach Bar (a short walk along the beach from the Four Seasons) and you’ll recognize Beyonce, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and many others among the photos.
2. Vibrant Food Scene
The Nevis Mango & Food Festival, a 3-day culinary extravaganza that takes places each July, is well worth adding to your calendar. In between dining on mango-themed fare, you’ll get to meet celebrity chefs such as Natasha Corrett and even Iron Chef UK, Judy Joo, who helms Jinjuu Restaurant in London and Hong Kong.
There’s fine-dining on grilled spiny lobster, an open-air food market in Charlestown, lots of street vendors (note to the unadventurous, beware of ordering the “tree mutton” which is actually monkey) and plenty of beach bars such as Sunshines — all of which adds up to a happening food scene.
Read more about what to eat and drink in Nevis in my article The Best Places to Eat on the Island of Nevis for Travel Age West
3. Great Value
Interest in Nevis is booming due to the smash Broadway hit “Hamilton”, a musical that tells the story of the Nevis-born Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father of the United States. But although growing interest might prompt price increases, for now, island still offers excellent value. For example, while there are loads of beautiful luxury properties to choose from, including the dreamy Relais & Châteaux member the Montpelier Plantation and Beach, you can also rent a modest sea view room at a guest house in historic Charlestown for just $45 a night or get a cottage all to yourself for $80 a night. Check out these budget options at Explore Nevis.
Charlestown is the island’s capital and is small, walkable and still-authentic, not overrun with duty free shops or fast-food outlets. The leafy town square is circled by a fine selection of 18th and 19th century Georgian-style buildings with wooden second stories built above stone foundations. Nearby, several historic churches, the childhood home of Alexander Hamilton (now a museum) and the Market Place make for an interesting way to spend several hours.
Further afield, another affordable option is Oualie Beach Resort, a 3.5 star beachfront collection of 32 low-rise Caribbean-style cottages, offering rates beginning at $166 USD per night. These pastel-hued cottages feature screened verandas as well as direct access to one of the nicest swimming beaches. The location isn’t as private as Nisbet Plantation Beach Club ( the water-taxi as well as several other boats depart from the dock at Oualie Beach) but the onsite restaurant is a happening place offering live music and dancing on Tuesday nights.
I was fortunate to have been invited to stay at the beautiful Nisbet Plantation Inn, a sprawling beachfront property that’s ideal for those who love history and luxury. It’s also great value. Summer rates for 2017 begin at $495 a night for a standard room, a rate that applies to two guests and includes full breakfast, afternoon tea and gourmet dinner. Suites feature wifi, AC, a refrigerator with mini-bar, coffee/tea maker, bathrobes and more, all of which adds up to a luxury stay. Complimentary airport transfers from St. Kitts (SKB) or Nevis (NEV) airports are also included for stays of 5 nights or more.
4. Hot Springs and Spas
There are many volcanic islands in the Caribbean, but few where you can actually soak in thermal waters as easily as you can in Central American countries such as Costa Rica. Nevis has done a fantastic job of preserving and restoring the series of natural hot springs located in front of the aptly named Bath Hotel in Charlestown. Although the historic Bath Hotel, built in 1778 and once the playground for royalty and aristocracy, was converted to offices decades ago, rumours say it may be returned to its former glory as a hotel within the near future. In the meantime, it’s still possible to soak up the therapeutic benefits of the scorchingly hot natural springs for absolutely free.
Or, if you’re looking for something more swanky and private, the spa at the Four Seasons Resort Nevis offers one of the Caribbean’s most stunning settings. The treatment rooms are located within a meandering collection of spa cottages tucked beneath the palms and are just steps to a luxurious soaking pool with soothing warm waters. The spa treatment of choice is a Nevis Naturally Massage featuring herbs and botanicals harvested from the spa’s organic garden.
5. Easy to Get To
There are many beautiful yet secluded islands in the Caribbean, but most require a rather rigorous commitment to get there. I’ve flown on tiny 6-seater airplanes clutching the ashtray holder as we careened past rocky cliffs, and taken ferry boats across turbulent seas, so it’s a real treat to discover a still-under-the-radar island where an easy water taxi gets you to your destination faster than you have time to finish a Red Stripe. Many of the resorts include transfers for minimum stays.
More info: Learn more about the island of Nevis by visiting the Nevis Tourism Authority website.
Getting There: Travellers from North America or the UK can fly to St Kitts and then connect to Nevis via ferry or private water taxi. Another option is to fly to St Maarten and transfer to Nevis on a WINAIR flight.
Nevis Mango & Food Festival: This new annual event features cooking demonstrations, mango-themed dinners prepared by local and visiting celebrity chefs, a street fair and more. It takes place each July, when the mango crops are ripe. Check the Nevis Tourism Authority website for exact dates and details.
Disclosure: I travelled to the Nevis Mango & Food Festival as a guest of the Nevis Tourism Authority. However, my opinions are my own and they did not review this story or try to stop me from eating my weight in mangoes each day.
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