Even when it’s still hot and humid into September in the northeastern United States, my baby boomer brain is starting to worry about the cold, dark days of winter which are sure to bring on my annual case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s about then that I start thinking about the possibility of a Caribbean cruise or a Caribbean island vacation. Therefore, I was very happy when baby boomer travel writer/blogger and communications consultant, Michele Peterson, agreed to share Nevis, a favorite Caribbean island vacation spot.
Michele is Canadian. Like most Canadians I know, she is devoted to her native land, but is happy to hit the road for warmer climes during the long, f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g Canadian winter. Hence, she can claim home ties to not only Toronto, but also to Mexico and Guatemala. You can follow Michele’s travels on her award winning travel blog, A Taste for Travel.
Michele’s 5 Reasons Nevis Should Be Your Favorite Caribbean Island Vacation Spot
(Note from Suzanne: Even though I know how to spell Amurrican, I’ve left Michele’s quaint Canadian spellings. Long live the Queen. Unless otherwise attributed, photos and text are by Michele Peterson.)
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, had everything I loved about the Caribbean. Then, I ate a perfect lobster roll and swam beside a turtle, and I was smitten.
Here are five reasons why I believe you should consider the beautiful island of Nevis in the British West Indies for your next Caribbean getaway:
1. NEVIS HAS 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.
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. 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.
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.
2. VIBRANT FOOD SCENE ON NEVIS
The Nevis Mango & Food Festival, a 3-day annual culinary extravaganza in 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.
Typical festival fare includes grilled spiny lobster, an open-air food market in Charlestown, and 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.
If you want to expand your Nevis food options, there are many restaurants associated with hotels and resorts serving locally sourced, fresh cuisine. I enjoyed one such memorable meal at the Four Seasons Resort.
3. NEVIS RESORTS AND HOTELS OFFER 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. Although growing interest might prompt price increases, for now, the 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.
Charlestown, the island’s capital, is a 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 are several historic churches, the childhood home of Alexander Hamilton (now a museum), and the Market Place that make for an interesting way to spend several hours.
One affordable option is Oualie Beach Resort, a 3.5 star beachfront collection of 32 low-rise Caribbean-style cottages, offering reasonable rates. These pastel-hued cottages feature screened verandas as well as direct access to one of the nicest swimming beaches. The onsite restaurant is a happening place offering live music and dancing on certain nights.
If you want to splurge, I was fortunate to be invited to stay at the beautiful Nisbet Plantation Inn, a sprawling beachfront property that’s ideal for those who love history and luxury. 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. ENJOY FREE HOT SPRINGS AT THE BATH HOTEL ON NEVIS
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.
5. NEVIS IS EASY TO GET TO FROM ST. KITTS
There are many beautiful yet secluded islands in the Caribbean, but most require a rather rigorous commitment to get there. Fortunately, my favorite Caribbean island vacation spot is not as remote as it seems. 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.
NEVIS TRAVEL GUIDE
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.