By Paul Shoul
After a short four-hour flight from Boston and a 10-minute water taxi ride from its sister island St Kitts, I arrived in paradise. Waves lapped the shores of a palm lined beach, turquoise waters glimmered, the view was spectacular from my beach chair. A” killer bee” rum punch in my hand, I had no where else to be nor deadlines to meet.
Nevis, “Queen of the Caribes. “Land of Beautiful Waters”, The “Sweet Island”.
A cloud topped volcano in the middle, Nevis is the picture postcard Caribbean Island.
Nevis lacks the crowds of many Caribbean islands. A runway too short for big airplanes, and a harbor too shallow for huge cruise ships, it is protected from rapid development.
The birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, Nevis is steeped in a history so long and deep that belies its small footprint in the ocean. Some of the islands most beautiful lodgings are built within the remains of the old sugar plantations so important to trade in the early Americas.
Nevis sugar was sweeter. For the plantation owners it brought great wealth but for the African slaves who toiled there or the thousands who passed through on ships bound for America, life was not so saccharine.
Remnants of the past dot the island, rusted hulks of machinery, sugar mills and furnaces that seem drawn from a Jules Verne novel slowly recede back to the sand and jungle from which they were hewn.
The small capital city of Charlestown feels caught in time. Wood and stone colonial buildings intersected with streets too thin for the cars that brave them, all roads lead to Chalrestown. In fact, there is only one major road. You can circle the entire island in about 3 hours.
Where to Eat:
There is no shortage of great food to be found on Nevis. For an upscale dinning experience, Mangos restaurant at the Four Seasons is quite good and they have a rum collection of over 100 bottles that I am still trying to get through. At the Hermitage Inn, the Wednesday night pig roast is a must eat.
The Gin Trap restaurant is a new hot spot with a fusion feel. Bananas Bistro is a hidden gem, a little hard to find, and totally worth the trip. Sunshines Beach Bar and Grill is everything you want an island restaurant on the beach to be. A great party atmosphere, Killer Bee rum punch, and grilled local spiny lobsters. Paradise drive through is always packed with locals, and the place to go for goat water stew, jerk chicken and barbecue ribs. Scrambled eggs and Lobster for breakfast?, You should try it at Montpelier Plantation Inn. Not a bad way to start the day.
Where to Stay:
Of the only 430 or so hotel rooms on the island, the Four Seasons Nevis claims a third of them. Rumor has it that Bill Gates just bought it, as you would expect, it is pretty damn nice. Nevis also has a number of historic Inns.
The Hermitage plantation Inn has delightful wooden cottages and historic colonial manor house. Montpelier Plantation is all about comfortable five-star luxury, my personal favorite. Golden Rock Inn has extensive tropical gardens in a lush out of the way jungle setting.
Paradise Beach villas are huge, each with a private swimming pool and full kitchen. Oualie Beach Resort is in a sweet spot, right on the beach and economical. Nisbet Plantation Beach Club is a propper British establishment with beautiful cottages and a spectacular beach. Each offer a fantastic and unique level of Caribbean style and comfort.
Slowed Down Pace of Life
The main attractions in Nevis for me are the slowed down pace of life, truly friendly people and the simple pleasures of nature itself. Whether hiking up the volcanos jungle paths, exploring the wild rocky eastern coast , snorkeling, or just sinking into a days contemplation on any beach, it is hard to put into words just how beautiful this little gem of an island really is.
For more info on travel to Nevis, Got to, Nevis Naturally.
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Paul Shoul is a Northampton, MA-based photographer who doubles as a staff writer for GoNOMAD. For thirty years he’s lived in the Pioneer Valley and chronicled life there through his work in the Valley Advocate. He’s also been seen in the Boston Globe, New York Times, BBC, the Chronicle of Higher Education and many other publications. Today as well as shooting around the world for GoNOMAD he works for local nonprofits, banks and advertising agencies.