When you think of Nevis, one word quickly comes to mind: relaxation.
From the soft West Indies ocean breeze, to the white sandy beaches and crystal clear teal waters, Nevis is all about rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.
Nevis is the oldest British Colony in the Caribbean, and the small, untouched island of just 12,000 residents and 36 square miles boosts a different kind of island vibe. With a mountainous volcanic landscape, vacationers can choose to spend their time in the mountains, by the sea, or an exotic combination of both.
Thanks to a lack of chain hotels or restaurants (except the Four Seasons), travelers will find plenty of opportunities to experience the Nevian lifestyle. The island is dotted with quiet villages, brightly colored houses and unique accommodations, from plantations to villas to five-star properties. On this altogether unhurried, unspoiled, and unforgettable island, here are five things not to miss.
Stay: Smart luxury at Montpelier Plantation and Resort
This secluded mountaintop resort, at the base of Mount Nevis, is where Horatio Nelson married Fanny Nisbet and where Princess Diana spent time after her marital problems. The hilltop retreat was built around one of the island’s original 18th-century sugar plantations and is surrounded by 60 acres of lush tropical island gardens. The Relais & Chateaux property offers modern amenities along with intimate island service, gourmet restaurants, extensive wine options, and a private beach. Premier rooms, complete with private terraces, start at just $225 in low season -- nearly 60 percent off the "festive" rates and 50 percent off the high-season rates.
Do: A Botanical Gardens of Nevis walk
Situated on the Montpelier Estate, these gardens are dotted with lily ponds, terraces, and fountains, and feature tropical plants from around the world. Over 100 species of palm trees, 70 species of orchids, bamboo grove, cactus garden, and a mesh conservatory housing rainforest plants and parrots make this the best in the Caribbean. Privately owned by the Douglas family, a trip to the gardens is educational into island floral life. Adult admission: $13. Children 6-12, $8. Guest under 6 free.
Watch: A Booby Island Regatta race.
The Booby Island Regatta was started by locals on the island seven years ago, and has grown each year to three different races between the islands of Nevis and St. Kitts. Dubbed “the most relaxed yacht race in the world,” the three-day festival is surrounded by sailing and celebrations, and gives anyone a chance to enter and win. Cost of entry is $75 per yacht, or $125 on the day of the event. For 100 Eastern Caribbean dollars, (about $40 USD) book a space on the spectator yacht and watch up close and personal with cocktails included. Free sailing festivities include the welcome party and daily after parties.
Eat: Local specials at Bananas Bistro and Art Gallery.
Hidden high in the hills above the historic Hamilton Estate is a secret garden known as Bananas Bistro. A magical walkway flanked with stonewalls and lit with torches lead up to an exquisite garden and plantation-style building, complete with wooden shutters and Nevis stone flooring. The romantic ambiance is comfortably outfitted with dark wood, candles, chandeliers, and Caribbean artwork. Head to the rooftop to catch a sunset, and nibble on Nevian specials such as goat water ($10), Tannia Fritters with Nevis hot sauce ($8) and creamy conch gratin ($12). Entrees include a guava barbecue pork ribs with mashed yams and Caribbean slaw ($25) and fresh local catch of the day ($25).
Learn: Living history at Charlestown.
The capital of Nevis is an intact 18th-century historic site, as well as a living and working community, retained by the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society. The police station, Bank of Nevis, the post office, and the Treasury Building are beautiful examples of the restoration and history. Main Street uses a unique “skirt and blouse” type of architecture, where the “skirt” comes from stones made from volcanic ash on the island and the verandas are made from wood, and decorated with gingerbread fretwork, thus making the “blouse.” An afternoon of admiring the decades-old buildings and strolling the shops makes for a fun and cost-free afternoon.