[y] Nevis Visitors Guide
Nevis, called by some the “secret of the Caribbean”, is unknown to many travelers despite its natural beauty and elegantly restored plantation inns. Approximately seven miles in diameter, covering a total of 36 square miles, Nevis rises out of the sea into a 3,232-ft mountain peak surrounded by clouds. St. Kitts and Nevis are like no other islands in the Caribbean. it seems to embody a kind of lush tropical paradise usually associated with the South Pacific.
Nevis is one of the most unspoiled and relaxing islands in the Caribbean. Vividly green with blue skies, clean air, and long empty beaches, Nevis has a pace of life that encourages you to stop and appreciate all the natural beauty around you. It’s a very special place famed for its charm and the easy-going genuineness of its people. Come and discover this remarkable jewel for yourself.
Charlestown, the island’s capital, is one of the most beautiful and picturesque of the Caribbean’s colonial harbor towns. In order to preserve the island’s precious natural beauty, the law says that no building here may be taller than the surrounding palm trees. Activities include hiking through the islands rain forest filled with waterfalls and hidden trails, golfing, horseback riding, fishing, boating, snorkeling and diving through underwater reefs and unexplored wrecks.
Traveling to Nevis
There are no direct flights to Nevis from the States. American Airlines, LIAT, WINAR, and several charters can get you there, most making stops in Antigua, St. Marteen or Puerto Rico where you catch a connecting flight. If you land in St. Kitts, the neighboring island, it is probably easier to catch a ferry than a flight. The ferry ride costs $8 and takes 40 – 60 minutes. Taxi cabs are waiting at the Nevis airport and ferry dock.
If you need a rental car, although it is certainly not necessary to enjoy the island, you must get a temporary permit from the rental car companies for $25. Skeete’s Car Rental in Newcastle Village is near the airport (869/469-9458). Don’t forget to drive on the left side of the road.
A normal day in Nevis is 84 degrees with very little humidity, a nice cool breeze and lots of sunshine. The yearly average temperature is 79 degrees and in the evening it dips down to 73. The water temperature is 84 degrees.
Staying In Nevis
Four Seasons Resort Nevis (Pinney’s Beach; 800/332-3442; fourseasons.com; $350 and up), is the most luxurious resort offering amazing facilities on 300 acres of exquisitely landscaped grounds. Impeccable services include a beach concierge with everything from books to CDs. Spacious rooms are furnished with mahogany armoires and beds, marble bathrooms, and rattan sofas and chairs. The resort offers a spa, with 12 treatment rooms, 3 restaurants, 18-hole golf course, 10 tennis courts, pools, health club, hair salon, hot tub, beach, dive shop, snorkeling, windsurfing, boating, bicycles, 2 bars, pub, library and video game room.
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club (Newcastle; 800/742-6008; nisbetplantation.com; $290-645), listed in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2005 Gold List, is the only plantation that opens to the beach. Nisbet is on an old coconut plantation with its guest cottages set under the palm trees. Rooms are impeccable. Grounds include the Great House restaurant, an island favorite, and two other restaurants, as well as two bars, a pool, tennis, and horseback riding.
Hermitage Plantation (St. John’s Parish; 800/682-4025; hermitagenevis.com; $170-790), is a collection of beautiful Caribbean cottages. Every bedroom has an heirloom canopy bed, antique and period furnishing, and full bath with showers and tubs. All rooms have unique and charming views from their private porches complete with hammocks. Hermitage has a restaurant, bar, pool, tennis courts and stables.
Montpelier Plantation Inn (St. Johns Figtree; 869/469-3462; montpeliernevis.com; $260-500), sits in the hills on a 30-acre estate. The large rooms are elegant and updated in corals and toile. A restaurant, two bars, pool, tennis, spa, horseback riding are all on-site at this unpretentious inn.
Banyan Tree Bed & Breakfast (Morningstar; 869/469-6109; banyantreebandb.com; $125 – $175) A New Hampshire travel agent and former commercial herb gardener run this bed and breakfast tucked in the hills beneath the 300-year-old banyan tree. Both the two comfortable rooms and the separate guest cottage have lovely furnishings.
Hurricane Cove Bungalows (Hurricane Hill; 869/469-9462; hurricanecove.com; $95-445), offers one, two and three-bedroom bungalows that sit on a cliff overlooking Oualie Beach. The glorified tree houses are done in gorgeous tropical woods with beds swaddled in mosquito netting. All have full kitchens and huge enclosed patios with ocean views. Several have private pools. The beach is within a five-minute walk.
Old Manor Hotel (Charlestown; 800/892-7093; oldmanornevis.com; $170-320), is surrounded by tropical gardens and sits on an old sugar plantation in the shadow of Mt. Nevis. Many guest rooms have exposed wood beams, hardwood or tile floors, and antique furnishings. The hotel offers a restaurant, bar, pool, Jacuzzi and is a 20-minute ride to the beach.
Mount Nevis Hotel & Beach Club (Newcastle; 800/75-NEVIS; mountnevishotel.com; $165-300), has large, spacious rooms in a tropical décor complete with incredible views. High end touches like granite countertops and Italian tile make the rooms beautiful on this former lime plantation. Suites have Jacuzzis on outdoor decks. The restaurant serves delicious food. Also at the hotel is a bar, pool, tennis, and exercise.
Dining in Nevis
Dining on Nevis is a delight. You can ‘go local’ and sample the wide choice of delectable Caribbean dishes, particularly the fabulously fresh fish, or you can ‘taste the world’ and enjoy a wonderful range of superb international cuisine. Embrace the variety and create an array of different dining experiences.
Bananas (Tamarind Bay; 869/469-1891), is perched atop a cliff with stunning sunset views. The dining room is very colorful with lots of local artwork for sale hanging on the walls. Food prepared by Montréal-born chef Ben Goldberg includes starters like conch or lobster ceviche. The main courses include duck breast with creamy plantain sauce, bourbon-glazed ribs, and lobster tails with pineapple and ginger salsa. Jazz music often heard in the lounge that is usually crowded with people.
Four Seasons Dining Room (Pinney’s Beach; 869/469-1111) is imposing yet romantic with beamed cathedral ceiling, imported hardwood paneling, parquet floors, ornate white-iron chandeliers and picture windows overlooking the sea. Chef Cyrille Pannier produces a Continental-inspired menu utilizing Caribbean ingredients, such as a butter-poached lobster, or New Zealand rack of lamb with an eggplant tomato gratin and bacon-wrapped haricots verts.
Gallipot (Tamarind Bay; 869/469-8430 A two-family venture, Gallipot, has a casual atmosphere, attracts locals with fresh seafood at reasonable prices.
Golden Rock Plantation Inn (Gingerland; 869/469-3346), is a romantic, unpretentious room done with island originals of pottery and art. The prix-fixe menu might include house favorites like pumpkin soup, raisin curry chicken, and grilled local snapper. Don’t miss the homemade juices, like passion fruit, and ginger beer. Reservations essential.
Hermitage Beach Club (Pinney’s Beach; 869/469-7840), is a great beachside spot with St. Kitts in the distance and the waves at your feet. The beach club serves a great lunch menu of great salads and sandwiches. Dinner is Italian fare.
The Cooperage (Charlestown; 869/469-3445), is set in a reconstructed 17th-century building and offers good Caribbean food. The menu includes a 12-ounce New York strip steak, charcoal-grilled filet mignon with a mushroom sauce, grilled Caribbean lobster and jerk pork.
Miss Junes (Jones Bay; 869/469-5330), is the private home of June Mestier, a Trinidad-born cook who was found by Oprah Winfrey when she was looking for the best cook on the island to serve up a private dinner. Oprah was so blown away she pushed Mestier to open her own restaurant and now many find this to be one of the best meals in Nevis. Guests assemble for canapés and drinks in the living room, then sit down for soup and sherry. Fish and wine follow. All this is followed with samples of about 20 to 40 buffet dishes that hail from Trinidad, New Orleans, India, and the French isles. After dinner, guests retire to a lounge for coffee, chocolates, and port.
Tequila Sheila’s (Cades Bay; 869/4691633), is set on a wooden platform nearly on top of the seashore, with just a roof overhead, no walls. It offers panoramic views and a menu of West Indian, Mexican, and international cuisine. Lunch is enchiladas, grilled or jerk chicken, and lobster quesadillas. Dinner offers items like vegetable-stuffed chicken, lobster, filet mignon with horseradish sauce or béarnaise sauce, and fish.
The locals will tell you that the best beaches on Nevis are on the northern and western shores. But all the beaches are well-cared-for, public and free. And because they are never crowded, you might have an entire beach to yourself.
Pinney’s Beach is the island’s showpiece, with almost 4 miles of soft, golden sand lined with a magnificent grove of palm trees. The Four Seasons Resort is here, as are the private cabanas and pavilions of several mountain inns. Probably the most famous and most popular beach on Nevis, Pinney’s Beach runs for about three miles and can be found on the outskirts of the capital, Charlestown. Choose to relax on the sand or enjoy a refreshing drink at one of the rustic beach bars or nearby Four Seasons Resort.
Gallows Bay is located in Charlestown, Gallows Bay is wide, sandy and scenic but it’s probably more popular with fishermen than sun worshippers.
Paradise Beach is close to Pinney’s Beach, this sandy location attracts visitors and locals alike – always a good sign. An ideal spot to relax, meet friends and swim in the inviting water.
Cades Bay is a tranquil bay with a big sandy beach and excellent views. Soak up the sun or find a shady spot. You’ll find Cades Bay just outside Charlestown.
Oualie Beach is on the northwest tip of Nevis. The sea gently laps this beautiful stretch of sand which makes it a perfect spot for swimmers, families and those who like activities on the beach. It’s also famous for its wonderful sunset views of St Kitts across the water. Oualie Beach is just south of Mosquito Bay and north of Cades and Jones bays, Oualie Beach is a beige-sand beach with lots of water sports.
Lovers Beach is virtually hidden from the road. This beach is on the north side of the island. It’s well named as it’s a secluded spot virtually guaranteed to provide visitors with privacy. A perfect place for a picnic or an afternoon swim.
On the northern side of the island, Newcastle Beach gets its name from the nearby village of Newcastle. It’s mostly covered with soft, yellow sand and is a nice spot to relax. It’s also a great place to visit on a Saturday and enjoy the atmosphere as the fishermen sell their fresh catches that day. Newcastle Beach is popular among snorkelers and sits at the northernmost tip of the island, on the channel between St. Kitts and Nevis.
Situated on the north coast, Nisbet Beach is well maintained and surrounded by palm trees. It’s largely frequented by guests at Nisbet Beach Resort Hotel but everyone is welcome. Its gentle ocean breezes make it a popular place to spend a relaxing day.
Not far from the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, Herbert’s Beach is renowned for its many reefs teeming with spectacular marine life. Naturally, this makes it a magnet for snorkellers. The beach is close to where the Atlantic Ocean begins on the windward side of the island.
Unusually for Nevis, Long Haul Bay is a mostly rocky beach with only a small amount of sand. It’s a quiet beach but its terrain perhaps makes other beaches more popular for swimming and relaxing.
Attractions and Activities in Nevis
Nevis is a beautiful island waiting to be discovered. There are many ways to explore it by yourself or you can enlist the help of one of the many excellent guides.
Charlestown is one of the best remaining examples of the colonial era in the Caribbean. The lack of modernization has kept much of Charlestown in its original state, and local efforts are underway to preserve the original buildings. Many art galleries can be found on the city streets.
Just outside of Charlestown are the ruins of the Hamilton Estate, which was a sugar plantation until the 1950’s owned by the Hamilton family. After sugar operation ceased, it became a diversified agricultural farm where a wide variety of products, from cotton to vegetables, were grown.
MUSEUM OF NEVIS HISTORY
This two-story Georgian style building was the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, who was born in Nevis in 1757. He helped draft the U.S. Constitution and was the first secretary of the Treasury. He was an outspoken advocate of the emancipation of slavery. Today the Hamilton House houses one of the island’s two museums on the first floor.
The hot spring at the Hot Springs Bath House has a stone pool surrounding and steps to enter the waters, which range in temperature from 104 to 108 degrees. Follow Main Street south from Charlestown, just past Caribbean Cove.
The 18-hole Robert Trent Jones golf course at the Four Seasons Resort has been ranked the 7th best golf resort by CondeNast Traveler Magazine. Except for the key holiday seasons in December and January, the course is open to playing for people who are not guests of the Four Seasons.
Horse racing is one of the most popular spectator sports on the island, sponsored by the Nevis Turf and Jockey Club. Held each month at the Indian Castle Race Track, the races are a full afternoon event, with races, music, barbecue food, and a carnival-like atmosphere enjoyed by young and old. The horses are thoroughbreds.
Winston Crooke and Windsurfing Nevis rent out mountain bikes (helmets are provided) at Oualie Beach.
Several hotels have tennis courts available for play while on the island. There are also public courts located in Brown Hill and Grove Park.
NEVIS EQUESTRIAN CENTRE
In 1996, the center opened and now offers 10 different rides that include beaches, trails, and mountain slopes (869-469-8118 or 869-469-3106).
Venture ll. Fisherman Claude Nisbett, the champion of the 2000 fishing tourney leads half and full-day trips (with a bar onboard) on his 28’ sportfishing boat, a Seasport. He catches mahi-mahi, wahoo, tuna, kingfish, barracudas, and an occasional marlin. The catch belongs to the boat. For reservations, call 869-469-9837.
Deep Venture. Captain Matt Lloyd has been fishing these waters professionally for seven years and provides an intricate knowledge of the local banks accessible on half and full-day charters. Deep Venture was custom built for working in the Caribbean and although the catch belongs to the boat Captain Matt offers generous portions to those who come fishing or to sample the catch at his restaurant Le Bistro situated in Charlestown. For information call Le Bistro 869-469-5110 or email [email protected]
With dozens of reefs and wrecks just minutes offshore, even the most experienced divers are impressed with the wide variety of choices off the shores in Nevis.