#NevisNice is more than the island’s hashtag, it is their way of life.
By Tab Hauser
GoNOMAD Senior Writer and Photographer
Viewing rainbows off the Nevis shore was our “good morning” view frequently during our ten days on this small and beautiful Caribbean island.
Nevis is located two miles from its sister island of St. Kitts and 50 miles south of St. Martin. In 1671 it earned the nickname “Queen of the Caribbean”, and during our stay, we got to understand why.
Nevis is 36 square miles and nearly round with an extinct volcano dome peaking in the center at 3232 feet. Below the peak is a pristine jungle and rainforest. The island has only 11,500 people so you will never find Nevis’s beaches or restaurants crowded.
Nevis reminds me in some ways what many of the Caribbean islands must have been like 75 years ago. Here you will find no KFCs, Starbucks, or even a traffic light. During my visit, I met a lot of friendly people, ate some good food, and relaxed on the beach. I also got off the beach to see what this island had to offer.
For many, going to the tropics is primarily about the beach. At four miles long, Pinney’s is Nevis’s most popular beach on the leeward or calm side. It starts near the beach bars at Sunshine’s and goes north past several condominium resorts and hotels. Lover’s Beach is a pretty stretch of sand with few people on the north side having no services.
The Hot Springs in Nevis
Near Charlestown, you will find the same high mineral concentrated, 108F degree water that Alexander Hamilton soaked in as a youth.
During our half-dozen visits to this simple tiled hole in the ground, we met locals and repeat tourists that swear by its therapeutic powers. I can say a muscle issue in my shoulder I had for weeks went away.
To enjoy this no-charge and no-frills hot spring, simply drive up and step in. There is a booth where ladies rent towels for $1 and offer afternoon massages for $1 a minute.
If you don’t have your bathing suit, do as many do and strip down to your skivvies and walk in (There is no nudity here). We were joined by business people, grandmas, island officials, and tourists. It is the best place to meet locals and learn about Nevis.
Next to the hot springs is the stone ruins of the original bathhouse. Above it is the restored 1778 Bath House Hotel, believed to be the oldest hotel in the Caribbean.
When arriving on the island, arrange an island tour with Kenny by E-Z Taxi and Tours. (869-665-7802). For a few hours, he will drive you to the best of Nevis with a lunch stop if requested.
The Island’s Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens of Nevis is five beautiful acres of shrubs, orchid terraces, tropical flowers, and ponds complete with dolphin fountains. It is a nice place for some quiet time amongst the perfect landscaping with views of Mount Nevis.
The garden has a “mysterious” rainforest conservatory complete with waterfalls towering over what looks like a lost temple. Christi Douglas, the garden’s owner, has added a fine collection of Asian art that is spread over the property.
It should be noted that Britain’s greatest navy officer, Horatio Nelson, was married here in 1787. Their unique boutique is worth a look. www.botanicalgardennevis.com
Alexander Hamilton and Nevis
Near the sea in Charlestown are two museums worth a quick visit. One is the Museum of Nevis and the other the Alexander Hamilton Museum. The buildings sit on the historic site where he lived.
The Nevis Museum is in an old Georgian-style stone structure. It has one large room containing informational boards and artifacts telling the island’s history. This includes pre-colonialism, its growth in sugarcane as well its slave history.
The Alexander Hamilton Museum is dedicated to the patriot who was George Washington’s ride hand man, a designer of the U.S. Constitution, and the father of the U.S. National Bank.
The museum is in one room with large boards detailing his life. On the walls, you will see copies of documents and paintings pertaining to him. Don’t forget to take a selfie with the life-like statue of Mr. Hamilton. https://www.nevisheritage.org/
The New River Estate dates back to 1720. It was the last sugar mill on Nevis that ended production in 1968. To get an overview, check out the map at the entrance showing the different buildings and slave villages. To understand the place look for informative signs. Usually, there is a guide on the estate that will take you around for tips.
On the property, you will see the ruins of the cisterns, a steam mill and its gears, a cotton ginnery, a chimney, storage rooms, and copper sugarcane kettles. The stone structures here are impressive. The view looks down to the Nevis’s rough Atlantic side.
Fresh Fruit Off the Tree
Cades Bay Food Orchid gives a 30-minute “Around the Garden Tour”.
Here we learned about the various fruit trees growing on Nevis. Our guide was passionate about his trees and helped us pick a few tropical fruits to taste. The tour ended with smoothies made from the fruits grown there. firstname.lastname@example.org
Queens City ATV Adventures runs tours in Nevis. Our easy ride took us up to two viewpoints to see the surrounding seas and St. Kitts across the way. We also stopped at the ruins of the 1824 stone-built Cottle Church.
While Cottle Church was built by slaves, it was the first church opened up to them for worship. This was extremely radical for the time. Inside the church, ruins are boards describing its history and people.
Clifton Estate Rum
The proprietor Mark Theron is the owner and master blender of Clifton Estate Rum. He produces in small batches of a unique all-natural spiced rum. To start, Mark uses a two-year-old dark rum. I watched him begin the process by infusing it with fresh orange skins. He then adds his special blend of natural flavors and finishes it up with a touch of honey.
You can enjoy it on the rocks or with your favorite mixer. Clifton Estate Rum offers a $45 fun experience. It starts with a tasting of their various products. Before leaving you fill, wax seal, and take home your own unique glass barrel bottle of spiced rum. http://www.cliftonestaterums.com/
Nature Up Close
To see Nevis’s lush jungle arrange a hike with Reggie. Being of average condition, we opted to be guided on the three-hour round trip Russell Rest Trail.
(If you are ambitious and in excellent shape, you can hike up Mount Nevis.)
During our walk, Reggie pointed out various fruit trees and plants used for medicinal purposes. We ended at a small waterfall. If you are in good shape he will take you up to a second tier of falls that has a steep grade. http://www.nevisadventuretours.com/ for hiking and biking tours
Consider booking a cruise aboard the “My Dream”. This boat is owned by husband and wife Captain Fitzroy and Gretchen Wilkenson. Going aboard their 40-foot cruiser for sunset was about as relaxing as you can get.
Service and comfort are what they are all about taking no more than a dozen guests. During our smooth 90-minute ride we were offered cocktails, beer, and light snacks. We cruised along Nevis’s leeward side turning back just before the big orange ball went below the horizon. https://nevismydream.com
Dining Highlights in Nevis
Below are the restaurants we enjoyed during our stay.
Bananas is in a pretty plantation-style building. It is located in a remote area on the mountain making it comfortable to dine in their open-air restaurant. Stick to the Caribbean-inspired dishes and good rum selection. https://bananasnevis.com/
Indian Summer has very good Indian food. The manager there is helpful in working with anyone not familiar with this type of cuisine. www.indiansummernevis.com
Chrishi Beach Club is an upscale beach club where you can order your lunch near the sea. https://chrishibeachclub.net/
The Hermitage puts on a Wednesday dinner buffet of Caribbean-style food featuring roast suckling pig. The ladies of the restaurant make you feel like we were part of a large family meal. Reservations should be made well in advance. https://hermitagenevis.com/
The Mount Nevis Hotel starts with their homemade bread. They have a good choice of six starters and six main courses of mostly Caribbean-inspired fare. For simpler tastes, there is steak and fish and chips. Save room for their Pina Colada Panna Cotta with chili and lime salsa. https://mountnevishotel.com/cuisine/
Montpelier is a must for their weekly beachside BBQ of meats, lobster, and delicious casserole-style vegetables. Dinner starts with prosecco, music, and sunset. Reservations must be made in advance. The setting here is perfect. https://montpeliernevis.com
The Golden Rock should be visited if not just to see this preserved plantation hotel, then for its lobster salad lunch, served in its shell. The rum punch here is very good. www.goldenrocknevis.com/
The H & M Seafood Bar is the place to go if you really want to have lunch like a local. Simply order from the counter and then take the freshest seafood back to the beach.
Lodging in Nevis
We opted to rent a beachfront condo from VRBO for our 10 days. There are a few developments to choose from depending on your budget. For something unique, consider one of the pretty boutique hotels on a restored plantation up on the hill. Many offer transportation to the beach and all have nice pools. The below places are all very charming:
Golden Rock Inn https://www.goldenrocknevis.com/
The Hermitage https://hermitagenevis.com/
Other accommodations can be found here , including hotels on the beach.
Getting to Nevis
Most people fly into St Kitts and take the five-minute water taxi to Nevis. St Kitts is serviced by American Airlines through Miami as well as with WinAir from St. Martin.
There is also direct service from St. Thomas on Cape Air’s seven-passenger planes.
Getting Around Nevis
Renting a car is the best way to get around Nevis. Just taking a taxi to dinner round trip may cost you close to the rental cost. I recommend renting from Strikers. They arranged my airport pick up and water taxi. At the Nevis dock the paperwork took five minutes. Returning was as simple as leaving the keys under the mat. Tell them GoNOMA sent you. (My tip for British-style driving is to put a “post-it note” on the inside windshield saying “think left” directly under your line of site)
Visit all things Nevis island website.