Miles of sandy beaches, hotels to die for, fantastic local history and warm, friendly locals make Nevis a charming holiday destination.
Nevis is one of the most unspoilt, beautiful and relaxing islands in the Caribbean.
With only one large hotel, no casinos and no visiting cruise ships, Nevis is still very much “Old Caribbean”, where a few goats on a road constitutes a traffic jam, and where, within days, you’ll know the names of many of the locals.
With a population of just 12,000, it’s like a big, friendly village.
Fanned by the cooling trade winds, this little sister of St Kitts is dominated by the dormant volcano of the 3,232ft Nevis Peak.
The small island of 36 square miles boasts lush greenery, rainforest teeming with wildlife such as vervet monkeys, long white, sandy beaches, wonderful hotels, and an old-style, laid-back charm.
Most Brits fly in on the twice-weekly BA flight from Gatwick to St Kitts, which stops in Antigua for 30 minutes. You then hop on a water taxi to cross the
two-mile Narrows that separates Nevis from St Kitts.
Nevis has several wonderful old plantation-style hotels that you should at least visit for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner, even if you don’t check in.
These include Montpelier Plantation Inn, The Hermitage (dating from 1670) and Nisbit Plantation.
Montpelier Estate was the marriage place of no less than Horatio Nelson to one Fanny Nisbit in 1787, and it now serves as a fabulous luxury hotel.
Nisbit is run by a charming Scot called Alistair Forrest, and it’s a hotel oozing with history, character and happy customers who delight in the excellent food and 5-star service. Antique-strewn and wonderfully colonial, it’s a little gem.
At 800ft above sea-level sits Montpelier, an art-filled Relais & Chateaux hotel, set among lush forest and offering fine wine and food with a famed spa and swimming pool. Honeymoon heaven!
Dinner is about £50, but it’s fantastic and a real treat. Sadly, the hotel was fully-booked when I visited so I just went for a meal and look-round.
I stayed at the charming Oualie Beach Resort which is a real Nevisian institution.
Laid-back to the point of horizontal (don’t expect breakfast in less than an hour!), it’s comfortable and right on a sandy beach.
The rooms are Gingerbread Cottages with beach views, and there’s a range of activities on offer.
With live music twice a week and a lively bar popular with locals, it’s super value. Don’t visit without a massage in the Spa.
The capital of Nevis is Charlestown, a quaint little town, dotted with Georgian buildings and 19th Century churches.
Other sights are the old sugar estates, the Botanical Gardens, and as an activity, horseback-riding along the beach is a must.
Nevis Equestrian Centre was started in 1996 by John Jordan-Gilbert and he and his daughter Erika are the lead riders.
The Centre (nevishorseback.com) offers 10 different rides that include beaches, trails and mountain slopes.
The Nevis Heritage Trail takes in the key historical sights of the island, places such as Fort Charles from 1628, the Jewish Cemetery from 1670 and the 1778 Bath Hotel & Bath House.
You must visit Nelson’s Spring, where our Naval hero collected water for his ships, or take in Cottle Church, the first church in the Caribbean, built for all to worship together.
One thing I noticed as soon as I got on the island was that almost everyone I saw had a brown-stained right forefinger.
I was chatting away to the equally-stained General Manager of Oualie Beach Resort when I clocked his, too.
I didn’t like to mention it, in case it was some sort of local disease which had spread like wildfire.
But when he saw me looking at it he laughed and explained that the day before St Kitts & Nevis had their first General Election in 20 years.
To make sure no one could vote twice, they marked every voter’s finger with a dye that takes days to come off.
Anyway, the old regime had been ousted and on that very night, as I stood at the bar having a much-needed cold beer, who should arrive by boat other than the new Prime Minister!
The owner of Oalie Beach and he obviously had business, but in true Nevisian style, they just conducted it in the bar, chatting away, relaxed as you like.
Somehow, I can’t see David Cameron doing that, can you?
Oualie Beach Resort’s website is at Oualiebeach.com. Rates at Nisbet Plantation start from US $419 per night, based on two adults sharing a Superior room. BA offer flights to St Kitts from Gatwick. For more, see nevisisland.com.