Nevis, West Indies
Nevis is a small, friendly island in the Caribbean that’s perfect for exploration at a leisurely pace. To help plan your next getaway, we asked Vanessa Paris, Guest Relations Ambassador at Four Seasons Resort Nevis, to share her tips for embracing island life while on Nevis – from where to find the best beach to the top off-the-water attractions.
Playful vervet monkeys, which move about in large packs, are said to outnumber the people on the island. In fact, there’s not a single stop sign on the island, but monkey-crossing signs line the roads. The animals are most active in late afternoon, and the Resort offers 90-minute walking tours daily at 4:00 pm, at a nearby plantation, guided by leading local naturalists. And you can ask one of the Concierges any time to play chauffeur on a free monkey-viewing search of the Resort’s golf course. Along the way, the Concierge will also describe local flora and fauna. In mango season (June through October) the monkeys are extra busy stealing fruit off the trees.
The best beach
Three-mile-long (5-kilometre) Pinney’s Beach, in front of the Resort, is the best on Nevis. It is largely undeveloped, but a wonderful exception is Sunshines Beach Bar and Grill, right next door. Arguably the island’s most famous watering hole, this open-air beach drinkery is a favourite of local and visiting celebrities and musicians who come for fresh grilled seafood, delicious rum drinks, live music and a relaxing Caribbean vibe. The bar hosts nightly bonfires and monthly full-moon parties. Try a Killer Bee rum cocktail and the fresh Caribbean lobster.
Heaven on Nevis
Peak Heaven is one of the most beloved attractions on the island. Located 1,200 feet (366 metres) above sea level, it is a recreation of a Nevisian village from over a century ago, with historically accurate wooden structures, including indentured slaves’ quarters, set on 5 lush tropical acres (2 hectares) full of flowering gardens. The Heritage House contains a local museum that explores the island’s history from the 1600s.
Beyond are hiking trails, historic ruins to explore, a zip-line ride and a jungle gym playground for kids, plus The Coal Pot, a funky and popular island restaurant focused on recreating indigenous and period cuisine of early Nevis.
One of Nevis’ greatest assets is its friendly, small-town charm, and this includes the handful of taxi drivers, island ambassadors who all know each other – and seemingly everyone on the island. Hire a taxi for a flat-rate “island tour,” lasting anywhere from two hours to a full day with lunch and stops for cocktails at different plantations.
You’ll get a whirlwind look at all of Nevis, from downtown Charlestown to the ruins of 19th-century sugar mills to the almonds growing almost unnoticed along the sides of the road. Stop frequently to explore a bit on foot, shop or grab a bite to eat – these tours are completely flexible, as if a friend were driving you around their hometown.
Flora and fauna
Many visitors cite the Botanical Gardens of Nevis as their single favourite attraction on the island – and it’s easy to see why. The 5 acres (2 hectares) of gardens are set on mountain slopes at altitude, with panoramic views out to the Caribbean Sea. The flora and gardens are neatly divided into themed sections, and besides flowers and plants there are Asian sculptures, fountains and water-lily pools, and a conservatory enclosing a rain forest – complete with parrots. As a bonus, the gift shop and attached art and antique shop are among the best places to shop on the island.
From January to mid-July, take part in the fun of cricket, the island’s favourite sport, by attending matches at Grove Park in Charlestown. On select holiday weekends, witness horse racing hosted by the Nevis Turf and Jockey Club at Indian Castle Race Track. Enjoy live music and extensive barbecues there, along with the carnival-like atmosphere. Any time of year is a good time to watch a practice session of children playing the island’s classic musical instrument, the steel pans, in Charlestown.
See the sea turtles
Don’t miss the chance to see protected giant sea turtles up close in their natural habitat. From June 1 to October 31, Lemuel Pemberton, founder and President of the Nevis Turtle Group, leads night-time turtle walks on moonlit Nevis beaches. You might count eggs, help measure the turtles or, if you’re lucky, see fresh hatchlings. The Resort also currently sponsors four Nevisian turtles – Caribelle, Banjo, Pinney and Neve – who are GPS tagged so you can follow them online in real time.
As part of the Resort’s Kids for All Seasons program, the Sea Turtle Learning Camp is offered all year round, and one day each week is Turtle Camp day. Every child attending graduates with a sea turtle adoption kit and certificate for their own adopted Nevisian sea turtle. They can then go online to follow their turtle in the sea even after the vacation is over.
Some come to Nevis to lie around and do nothing, but others seek adventure. American Indians called the island Oualie, or Land of Beautiful Waters, and for certified divers, there are more than 40 beautiful diving sites, including reefs, caverns, ledges, thermal vents and wrecks. Seafood lovers can join a Four Seasons chef and dive master for the unique Dive and Dine programme, where you’ll catch your own lobsters to barbecue on the beach. Nevis is also home to many land adventures, including an annual triathlon.
For something less strenuous, local hero Reggie Douglas, two-time Sportsman of the Year and four-time national cycling champion, leads adventurers of all ages and experience levels along old sugar cane trails and village paths on a leisurely bike tour, visiting historic plantations along the way. Hikers can climb Saddle Hill, a two-hour trek up Nevis Peak offering stunning views of St Kitts, Antigua and Montserrat.A number of other nature-, history- and scenery-focused hikes are offered through the Resort.
For a different natural perspective, try a kayak tour along the coast, led by an expert guide who tailors the route to any age or level of experience. Visit hidden snorkelling spots before enjoying a picnic on a secluded beach.
Local flavours and traditions
The Resort hosts a vibrant selection of local experiences that showcase Nevisian culture. Move to the beat and sway with the calypso dancers, snorkel with a guide and discover the marine life just off the Resort’s shoreline, or learn to speak Nevisian dialect. For the ultimate local activity, try the Coconut Story, hosted by Nevis native Director of Recreation, Mac kee France.
Gather for a lawn picnic to watch Mac kee demonstrate the many different uses of the coconut and its importance to the island. Then, enjoy coconut snacks as you watch a local tree climber scale the Resort’s 125-foot (38-metre) palm trees to harvest the coconuts.
The Robert Trent Jones II–designed course is one of the best in the entire Caribbean and a must-play for any visiting golfer. A true roller coaster ride, the course climbs and drops again and again along the slopes between a towering volcano and the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. Dramatic ruins of a historic sugar mill sit behind the second tee, while the signature 15th hole is the highest point on the hilly course.
The immense par-5 stretches 663 yards (606 metres) from the back tees, offering sweeping views over the rest of Nevis and the sea. The good news is that the hole drops nearly 20 storeys and the prevailing tropical wind helps from behind. If this sounds daunting, a calmer and gentler way to experience the beautiful layout – strictly for fun – is to partake in the nine-hole manager/guest scramble and cocktail reception. Held weekly, this event is a Nevis tradition.
Relax and rejuvenate
The Resort’s Spa offers everything from a simple massage in the privacy of a gingerbread-trimmed treatment cottage to daylong spa immersion packages, but since Nevis and St. Kitts have hundreds of years of sugar-producing history, try the Golden Sugar Skin Buff. Gold particles, cane sugar, minerals and apricot kernel oil are combined in a heaven-scented scrub that exfoliates and hydrates your skin, especially after the climatic changes of travel. Next, a golden, shimmering oil of apricot, carrot and calendula is applied all over, leaving your skin feeling radiant, smooth and supple.