The Caribbean island of Nevis might be only 36-square-miles in size, but there is much to do – from climbing its mountainous peak to playing pickleball, here's a taste of what it has to offer.
Nevis sits next to its sister island St Kitts to form the singular nation of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. You’ll find the small onion-shaped island just 80km west of Antigua. Nevis isn't exactly the easiest place to get to from the UK - with just a couple of flights a day into St Kitts - but it's even harder to leave. Free from looming cruise ships and sprawling resort hotels, it's perhaps the last true hidden gem in the Caribbean.
Whether you want an action-packed adventure or a luxury vacation with monkeys as your only company, the island has something for everyone – as I discovered after spending a week there.
Things to do in Nevis Caribbean island
1. Climb the Nevis Peak
You can see the Nevis peak from (almost) no matter where you go on the island - although it was shrouded in clouds for the majority of my stay. If you enjoy all the benefits of hiking in the UK, then a trip to the lowlands of the peak, at least, is a must-do – to summit took me about five hours in total.
If you do decide to go all the way up, be prepared for a path guided by ropes attached to tree trunks, thick fern trees, and the occasional scamper of vervet monkeys to greet you on your way. A guide makes things easier – mine was called Devito. Cooly dressed in trainers and sweatpants, I presumed my initial expectations of the looming peak were wrong, that it would be an easy wander up to the top somehow. Not so much - turns out, he’s just very used to the 900-meter climb.
Climbing the Nevis peak is certainly not for the faint hearted. I go running for 30-minutes a day and do strength training regularly, and I was struggling to move the following day. But if you're not up to the full climb, getting halfway would be reward enough, with views across Gingerland, an area on the southeastern part of the island, and the Caribbean sea. When it come to things to do on Nevis, this is a must.
2. Explore the life of Alexander Hamilton
Calling all Hamilton fans - a little-known fact about this American founding father is he was born on Nevis. The lack of mention in the musical is something locals are only slightly irked about, given the success of Lin Manuel Miranda's production.
In Charlestown, the capital of the island, you can take a vivid trip into history - unlikely not your first or last on the island during your stay - and into the life of Alexander Hamilton at the Alexander Hamilton Birthplace Museum.
You won’t need much time for your visit, leaving plenty of time for a walk around the picturesque, pastel-fronted town – it’s worth a visit for just £10. Two cottages make up the museum, the first being a walk-through of his life and work, and across a sunshaded courtyard, a second cottage. There are candleholders, portraits, decorative plates, and descriptive plaques to carry you along the journey.
3. Visit Sunshine's
You haven’t been to the Caribbean until you’ve had a rum punch – and you haven’t truly experienced Nevis without a visit to Sunshine’s, a bar just a few minutes walk from the Four Seasons Hotel, open to anyone. A collection of high tables is centred around the bustling bar, filled with locals who've parked along the beach front outside. The signature drink, a 'Killer Bee' has achieved a legendary status of its own on the island – everyone’s heard about it, everyone’s had one, but any more than two and they can't remember much else.
The Killer Bee is a deceptively rich rum cocktail ,with a splash of lime and grenadine that appears in a cup with a red straw. Combined with the pulsing music from both the bar and outside, the Caribbean heat, and the low lighting illuminating the decking, it's an unforgettable atmosphere that will have you coming back night after night.
4. Explore the local cuisine
During your time on Nevis, there are two places you can’t miss if you want authentic local food and a truly unique experience. Bananas is the first. Tucked away in the dense foliage at the bottom of the Nevis Peak, the veranda covers two floors. The bottom featuring dining tables and chairs, neatly stacked with a few of the foliage and winding road from afar. Though I visited in the day, the top floor I imagine would be ideal for taking in a sunset cocktail.
Menu highlights include huge salads with piles of local lobster, pineapple salsa and island greens, salt fish and johnny cakes (a speciality) and – my personal favourite – goat water, a bowl of slow-cooked smoky stew of goat meat.
The second is Passions in the small village of Cox. At first, as you pull up to the restaurant, you might wonder if you’re in the right place. But come lunchtime and the smell of fish (snapper and grouper, served with rice or in huge sandwiches) cooking in the small kitchen on the side will assure you that you are.
5. Visit the botanical gardens
Down the road from Montpelier Hotel, where Horatio Nelson married Fanny Nesbit in the late 1800s and Princess Diana famously holidayed in after her separation from now-King Charles, is Nevis’ Botanical Gardens.
Here, a huge collection of plants - including examples of the national tree (the Flamboyant, by name and nature) and the national flower, the Poinciana - fall under the care of owner and collector Christi Douglas. Among the gardens and in the green hours, parrots echo your words and vervet monkies run amuck across the grounds - a common feature across the island, much to local’s annoyance and tourists' delight.
If the heat becomes too much or you're looking for time away from the beach, to touch grass, smell the aromas of tropical plants, and take in some alternative history, then this is the place to come.
6. Take a coastline cruise
Perhaps the best way to view Nevis' natural coastline (and, of course, the ever-present Nevis peak) is by stepping off the island and onto a boat.
The chopping waves of the Caribbean sea, covered at speed by the water taxi on the way over to the island from St. Kitts, might have you feeling a little on edge, but a gentle cruise down the coastline on a sailing yacht complete with other visitors to the island - or your own private vessel - is an entirely different experience.
I took a motorboat down the coastline, rum punch in hand, and enjoyed the waterfront sights from the dock to the Four Seasons Hotel. Passing luxury villas and celebrities' hideaways and touching the end of the island, the trip provides a viewpoint from a step-back and a chance to take in the sunset bouncing off the waves of the Caribbean sea.
Where to stay in Nevis
Four Seasons Hotel Nevis
The Four Seasons Hotel Nevis is the only resort hotel on the island and there’s perhaps no better place that embodies the island’s motto of 'rush slowly' than here. While it is heavy with the brand's American influence, it does mean there is plenty to do, from pickleball lessons to spa days.
With an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, a newly-opened sushi restaurant serving huge platters of local fish, and no stone left unturned with luxury around every corner - from platters of tropical fruits on arrival to the thread count of the towels set up for you on the beach - it's a paradise for anyone looking to drift away from daily life.
Golden Rock Inn
For a more modest price and an experience closer to the reality of Nevis' intense natural surroundings, there’s the Golden Rock Inn. Its heavy grey stone interiors nestle into the looming, thick foliage under Nevis Peak and the winding pathways leading to the private, individual rooms, dimly lit in the nighttime, truly make you feel like you're in the heart of the island.
Yet, the interiors are bright with striking artwork on the walls, a restaurant sits in the courtyard, and a serene, natural swimming pool sits unobserved up one of the winding pathways, so relaxation still sits at the top of the agenda.
How to get to Nevis
British Airways offers twice-weekly flights from London Gatwick to Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport in St.Kitts, where island visitors are then transported via water taxi to Nevis.
For more information about Nevis, please visit http://www.nevisisland.com/.
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Grace Walsh is woman&home's Health Channel Editor, working across the areas of fitness, nutrition, sleep, mental health, relationships, and sex. In 2024, she will be taking on her second marathon in Rome, cycling from Manchester to London (350km) for charity, and qualifying as a certified personal trainer.
A digital journalist with over six years experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace has covered (almost) everything in the world of health and wellbeing with bylines in Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more.
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