Only 36 square miles in size, this is the very definition of that fantasy island you thought you’d missed by 40 years thanks to cruise ships, resort hotels and charter flights.
Just 12,000 Nevisians live on this onion-shaped island, lightly sprinkled with pink and turquoise-coloured cottages, verdant orchards and home-style restaurants where donkeys and sheep graze freely and the loudest noise is likely to be from a humming tree frog or maybe a thump of a mango falling from an orchard tree onto the soft soil.
Abruptly sprouting out of the centre of Nevis at a whacking 3,232 feet, Nevis Peak is technically an active volcano though nary a peep has been heard out of it for at least 100,000 years. Climbing looks like a challenge – and is even harder than it looks. Be prepared for at least five hours of hauling yourself up ropes tethered to tree trunks and having the view from the summit obscured by cloud mist should you embark on the trek.
Right on the seafront in the bijou capital of Charlestown, the two cottages that make up the National Museum and Alexander Hamilton Birthplace Museum won’t take more than 20 minutes to explore in full. But the latter in particular is a fascinating insight into the life of the man whose face adorns the American ten-dollar bill. There are decorative plates, portraits and candleholders vouchsafed by Hamilton’s great-great grandson and a life-size statue of the great man on the shaded lawn outside.
Locals used to complain about the noise coming from the villa located in the centre of the delightful Botanical Gardens. At one time, it belonged to Oswald Mosley’s son Tim who would blast out operas from his record player every Sunday. Now, the seven-acre site contains a range of Buddhist sculptures from the collection of owner Christi Douglas and her late husband as well as talkative parrots, bougainvillea and unusual species like giant pineapple-shaped cycads, of which there are fewer than 50 on the planet, and the Flamboyant, the national tree of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Where to eat and drink in Nevis
All but buried amid the verdant foliage of the lower slopes of Nevis Peak, Bananas is a retreat in the midst of a sprawling tropical garden rich in ferns and orchids. Take a seat on the wide veranda, raised above the greenery below, at sunset for a high-end take on Nevisian classics such as pan-seared mahi-mahi with risotto cake and roasted red peppers or the island staple of ‘goat water’, in actual fact a slow-cooked, unctuous and smoky goat stew.
Passion Bar and Grill
Plates don’t come any more heaving than the ones that emerge from Karen Belle’s tiny kitchen at this unprepossessing-looking shack in the village of Cox, covered with flags from neighbouring Caribbean island nations. Come at lunchtime for the kind of meal that will leave you in a hammock all afternoon; choose from grouper sandwiches as thick as a rum bottle, coconut shrimp and Creole-style pork chops.
It takes an extraordinary rum punch to rise above the fray in the Caribbean but Sunshine’s, an al fresco collection of red, yellow and green painted wooden shacks and barstools on Pinney’s Beach has achieved legendary status for its ‘Killer Bee’s.’ There’s no glitz or glamour to this locals’ joint, but you simply cannot leave Nevis without sampling this lime and grenadine heavy concoction which, as all locals advise, shouldn’t be drunk in quantities of more than two glasses, such is its highly deceptive potency.
The fastest way to get from Toronto to Nevis is to fly and then ferry to Nevis