“Nevis? Where is that?” This was the question many of my well-traveled friends would ask when I told them of my upcoming vacation plans. I’ve always been intrigued by the island’s reputation as one of the last holdouts of the Caribbean: Small in size (only 32 square miles), but big on preserving culture and traditions. Nevis embraces a slower pace of life by bucking the trend of mass tourism, all-inclusive resorts and fast food restaurants.
Often overshadowed by its larger, livelier, more developed sister island St. Kitts, Nevis epitomizes “off the beaten path.” This unspoiled jewel of the Caribbean is the perfect location for a week of light exploration and heavy relaxation.
After a four hour plane ride to St Kitts, we (my husband, youngest son and my parents) were eager to retrieve our luggage and meet our driver, who would transport our party of five to the harbor for our water taxi to Nevis. Along the way, there was an excited chorus of oohs and ah’s as we took in the breathtaking view of the “Cradle of the Caribbean”, where the wild Atlantic meets the calm Caribbean.
We arrived at Cockleshell beach and boarded our boat for the six minute ride to Nevis, everyone smiling with the anticipation that our long day of traveling would soon be coming to an end.
I sipped on a Carib and soaked in the welcoming sight of a palm fringed beach getting closer and closer as the majestic, cloud-capped Nevis Peak loomed in the background. We docked at Oualie beach and were greeted by Amelia, the lovely house manager, and Jonesy, the sweet and knowledgeable taxi driver who would both transport us to our villa.
Gazing out of the car window, I was transfixed by the untainted, natural beauty of Nevis: Vibrant flamboyants, bougainvillea, and hibiscus painted the hillside; mango trees, bursting with fruit, colorful cottages with gingerbread trim…it was everything I imagined.
The Retreat served as our base for the week. Perched above the Four Seasons golf course, with views of the sea and neighboring St.Kitts beyond, this beautiful home was equipped with modern furnishings, resort style pool, wifi, smart technology, and gorgeous gardens. We chose a villa over a hotel because I knew it would encourage us to get out and explore the island -- I didn’t want our vacation to resemble a Corona commercial.
A pitcher of rum punch (Yay!) along with provisions for the week were awaiting us upon arrival. After a quick tour, we all relaxed on the expansive balcony, slowly sipping the before-mentioned rum punch as we eased into vacation mode.
By the next day, we were ready to familiarize ourselves with Nevis. With only one main road circling the island, Nevis is easy to explore. Driving is on the left and there are no traffic lights. The only traffic jams we experienced were caused by the donkeys, sheep and goats freely roaming the streets—watch out for them at night. Seriously, we nearly collided with a drove of donkeys while returning from dinner one evening.
Nevis is definitely the place for you if your idea of the perfect holiday involves dining on freshly caught fish and tasty West Indian cuisine, meeting genuinely warm, friendly locals and expats, touring historical landmarks, exploring rainforests and dormant volcanoes, beach hopping, sea gazing, and watching magnificent sunsets with loved ones. Our time on the island was simple and uncomplicated. The hardest decision of the day for us was choosing which beach we would spend the day on.
With its laid back, old-school appeal, Nevis attracts visitors who want to connect to nature and embrace serenity. Our most memorable moments were experienced while sitting on the balcony, watching sheep graze in the field below as the sun disappeared into the sea; or seeing my son and father’s excitement upon seeing a troop of vervet monkeys snacking on the mango trees scattered about the property.
If you can peel yourself away from your beach chair, you should definitely take the time to visit the island's inns and hotels, many of which are located on the grounds of former sugar plantations. My husband and I visited Golden Rock Inn and fell in love with its riot of color, panoramic views and spectacular landscape. After soaking in the stunning surroundings, we made our way to the hotel's restaurant, The Rocks, where we dined al fresco on the terrace. The acclaimed Lobster Sandwich (served on homemade bread) was AMAZING. We were so moved by the incredible setting and the warm, courteous service, we returned that very evening with the rest of my family for dinner. Even our moody 16 year old, who is not easily impressed, remarked: "This place is really cool." Golden Rock is so special, it deserves its own feature. I'll share more on my next post.
Our week in paradise ended much too soon. It was hard to say goodbye to Nevis and its rustic charm. My husband and I agreed that we could have easily spent another week partaking in the Caribbean pastime of limin’- just hanging out and enjoying the scene.
-- If you prefer beachside accommodations, the Four Seasons on Pinney’s beach provides classic luxury and a full service resort experience. If you’re looking for privacy, Paradise Beach, located just down the road, is a collection of 7 villas, each with a full size kitchen, private pool, and the amenities of a boutique hotel (including concierge services and a small beach bar).
-- Many of the islands hidden gems are nestled in the hills, located on the grounds of former sugar plantations. My favorites include the elegant Montpelier and the magical Golden Rock Inn.
-- When we return to Nevis we’d like to experience the best of both worlds—a few days unplugged and away from it all at Golden Rock, followed by some uninterrupted beachside lounging at either The Four Seasons or Paradise Beach.
-- Stop by St. James Anglican Church for a view of one of only three black crucifixes in the Caribbean.
-- Visit the remains of Cottle Church, the first church in the Caribbean where slaves and plantation owners worshiped together. The names and ages of the slaves are listed on a plaque in tribute, along with other historical information in the pavilion opposite the church.
-- Take a stroll around the capitol city of Charleston, replete with stone churches and Colonial Caribbean architecture with gingerbread trim
-- Pack a picnic and a bottle of champagne for a romantic afternoon on secluded Lovers beach.
-- Hire a guide for the challenging hike up Nevis Peak.
The Gin Trap - The charming deck, featuring amazing sunset views, is the ideal spot to grab a cocktail before dining on fresh and local fare. The warm, friendly staff makes the experience here even better.
Chrishi Beach - A Sandi-chic beach club on Cades bay with thatched loungers, beach beds, delicious drinks, burgers, and salads.
Sunshine's - The best little beach bar in Nevis. Delicious ribs, jerk chicken and home of the “Killer Bee.”
Mango - Spectacular sunsets and Caribbean rim cuisine served steps away from the waters edge. Located at the Four Seasons
The Rocks - Al fresco dining at the magical Golden Rock Inn. The lobster sandwich was the best on the island.
Our Favorite Beaches
-- Pinney’s - The most famous stretch on the island with rustic beach bars and restaurants. Locals and tourists come here to enjoy the gorgeous ocean views, laid back vibe and delicious eats.
-- Oualie - A lively, palm fringed strand of beach with thatched umbrellas, hammocks, beach bar, and water sports. The calm waters make it ideal for families.
-- Nisbet - On the Atlantic, with a long stretch of silver sand and panoramic views of St Kitts. Perfect for sunbathing and romantic walks.
*Do not even attempt to walk on the sand barefoot. Holy Moly! The sand is comprised of dark volcanic ash - and attracts heat. I nearly got third degree burns while trying to walk from my lounger to the water.
*Nevis is very unpretentious and relaxed (Yay!) Let's all hope it stays that way.
*The beach restaurants are causal, but please remember to wear a sarong, cover-up, dress, or caftan when dining or walking around town. Nevis is a fairly conservative island. While bikinis and bathing suits are always appropriate near the beach or pool, it is not appropriate to walk around town (or the grocery store) in your bikini. (I'm writing this because the lady in the grocery store obviously didn't get the memo)
*For evening dressing at nicer restaurants, practice casual elegance. Dresses or elegant caftans are always a good choice.
If you need some packing inspiration, I've got you covered. You can shop some of my vacation looks below. xo
Lena Robe Dress By Rhode Resort. Available for preorder here
Jane Handwoven and Macramé Skirt by Jaline Resort available here
Similar Place Nationale crochet-trimmed dress available here