Peter and I had the opportunity to travel to the island of Nevis, a Caribbean paradise that exceeded all of our expectations for a relaxing vacation. I wanted to share our experience with you and provide you with some travel tips and advice, as this small island has plenty to keep you entertained and offers some excellent beaches perfect for lounging and de-stressing from life’s daily routine.
So come along on our adventure and then start planning your visit to Nevis!
Thank you, Nevis Naturally for helping me put together this travel guide!
Where is Nevis Island?
Nevis is one of two islands—the other being St. Kitts—belonging to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. Nevis Island is part of the Lesser Antilles archipelago, also called the Caribbees, along with St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, and a few other small islands. Located east of Puerto Rico, this tropical locale is a 3-hour flight from Miami, 5-hour flight from Dallas, and about 7.5 hours from Los Angeles.
Given the tropical nature of the island, you will never be cold. In fact, it rarely dips below 70 degrees at night, hitting highs around 90 during the summer months. So you can expect mostly sunny days in the 80s nearly year round, with light trade winds. There is a fair amount of rainfall, averaging about 12 days per month, but it’s very much like Hawaii—warm rain that comes and goes, rather than steady downpours that keep you holed up in your room. Who could ask for more?
Before our trip, the beginning of December Peter and I were frequently checking the weather before to make sure we planned accordingly. The weather forecast kept projecting rain, and we like wondering if it was going to rain every day we were there and we were actually kind of worried. But to our surprise during our entire stay, it only rained once for a couple of hours.
We asked Yvette if it will rain during our stay and she mentioned not to worry about rain. Weather changes so frequently in Nevis that you should never check the weather app because it’s never correct. (Unless it’s the rainy season.) It is a small island, so it’s amazing to see how quickly the clouds moved and the shifts in weather.
Best Time to Visit Nevis
High season in Nevis is from December to early April. This is when the island is the busiest and resort rates will be a little higher. If you are planning to visit Nevis during high season make sure you book in advance to ensure you have a room when you arrive as many resorts can be fully booked. Peter and I arrived the first week of December, and it was still pretty quiet with excellent weather.
If you prefer a vacation that is a bit quieter or less busy, then look to travel to Nevis between May to June. This is after peak season and before the rainy season.
July through November on Nevis island is the rainy season.
How to Get to Nevis
Any trip to Nevis will originate by plane; however, the airport on the island of Nevis can only accommodate small jets, turboprops, and light aircraft.
You can fly from the U.S. to St. Kitts, and from there you can take a ferry or water taxi across the narrows over to the island. You can also fly into St. Martin and then take Winair on a small jet over to Nevis. Alternately, you can fly into San Juan, Puerto Rico, and then catch a connecting flight either directly to Nevis or St. Kitts (and then hop on a ferry or water taxi).
Peter and I traveled from Austin to Miami and from Miami to St.Kitts. From St.Kitts we took a shuttle from the airport to a boat dock to take a 20-minute water taxi to Nevis Island. Make sure you double check return flights as well depending on the time of year you travel to Nevis as there may be limited flights available.
What to Do in Nevis
We found that there is no lack of activities and sightseeing opportunities on the island of Nevis, which is surprising given its small size (and a total population of about 12,000). But nonetheless, we ran the gamut from relaxing on the beach to snorkeling in the vivid blue Caribbean, visiting the Botanical Gardens and hiking in the jungle, to participating in a pub crawl. So there’s something here for everyone!
Here are a few of our favorite things to do on Nevis Island.
Botanical Gardens of Nevis
We were totally enchanted by the Botanical Gardens of Nevis, a 5-acre paradise outside of Charlestown. Located on the site of the historic Montpelier Estate, this tranquil oasis has much to offer, and we found ourselves lost in time wandering the grounds and taking in the beauty that nature has bestowed on Nevis.
There are six separate gardens within the estate, including the Orchid Terraces, Cactus Garden, Tropical Fruit Garden, Tropical Vine Garden, a stunning Butterfly Garden, and the Herb Garden. Additionally, there is the Rainforest Conservatory, which mysteriously contains the ruins of a Mayan temple set amongst waterfalls, really gorgeous flora, and some very mischievous parrots.
The Orchid Garden is a terraced landscape featuring one of the largest collections of orchids in the Caribbean. Set in a shady palm tree setting, we saw a brilliant variety of (heavenly smelling) orchids, along with some very vivid tropical flowers. I thought that the Cactus Garden seemed a bit out of place in such a lush tropical environment. Typically set in a more arid environment, the cacti nevertheless seem to thrive here.
The gardens are dependent on and thankful for the local bee population, which is located in the Tropical Fruit Garden. Beehives dot the terraced landscape, providing service to the plants and producing some delicious (and apparently famous) honey. You’ll also find a cornucopia of fruit trees, among them several species of mango, apple, cherry, guava, papaya, as well as grapes and spice trees. The Tropical Vine Garden was one of our favorite places at the Botanical Gardens of Nevis. Not only did we witness flowing vines literally dripping from trellises, but we had unobstructed views of Mt. Nevis and the Caribbean Sea.
Throughout our self-guided tour of the gardens, we also encountered waterfalls, stone statuary, multiple fountains, and small ponds full of aquatic plants. We also stopped in at the Oasis Bar and Restaurant for a refreshing drink and some pretty delicious Thai food. Many of the herbs used in the dishes here come from right outside its walls, in the Herb Garden, where the aromas make you hungry just walking through.
Hiking in the Jungle of Nevis
The center of Nevis is dominated by the 3,200-foot Nevis Peak. Surrounded by—and covered in—dense, lush jungle, the climb all the way to the top is a serious one.
We didn’t hike all the way to the top of Nevis Peak; we did the waterfall hike. We went with the aid of a guide, although you can certainly do the trek on your own, but it’s not advised. The hike is along a well-define dirt track, which gets so steep at times that we had to use a fixed rope railing to help us safely through these portions. While we saw a lot of flora and a variety of birds, and the most majestic looking trees. Trees that looked like they came straight out of the jungle book.
Our guide Baba was fantastic. He explained what the different plants are used for and the plant’s various healing abilities. He pointed out a variety of plant and tree species that we might have overlooked. We not only got a workout but we learned so much about the island’s natural life and the environment.
During the hike, the vegetation is so high and thick that you can’t see the sky. You’re surrounded by plants and trees on your hike. The hike was so much fun and unlike anything I’ve done before. I highly recommend you take the waterfall hike or even take the hike all the way up the peak if time and energy allows.
Snorkeling/Going Out on a Boat
Given that Nevis is an island and surrounded by water, it’s natural that water-based activities are available. You can swim at one of the idyllic beaches, go snorkeling or scuba diving, head out on a sailboat, canoe or kayak, or do some deep-sea fishing, to name a few. We chose to go out on a chartered boat and do a bit of snorkeling.
There are coral reefs along the northern and eastern shorelines, perfect for snorkeling (while those in the south and east are deeper and better suited for scuba diving). Many of the dive sites have old shipwrecks or thermal vents, and all feature some sea life.
The water was not cold and comfortable enough go snorkel with just a swimsuit. It was fun seeing the bubbles coming up from the thermal vents. The boat ride had a wonderful relaxing feeling to it. Unlike others types of highly commercialized boat tours. Our boat captain Nedd was the best, he shared local fruit with us and shared information about the area and different islands.
While staying at the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club (more about that below), we had the opportunity to join in on a fantastic planned pub crawl. What we loved about the Nevis pub crawl was getting to go to small out-of-the-way places that we might not have found on our own. For a small fee ($25/pp) we got squired around the island to a whole host of bars and restaurants. We learned about rum pairings, taste local beers, strong alcohol, and met some really amazing locals.
The bar hop departed from Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, and we traveled around the island to various locally owned bars. These bars ranged from tiny stops along the street to bar with amazing views of the ocean, to the most colorful bar I’ve been to yet!
As a fun side note, as you can see from the photo, during this pub crawl is where we saw lots of roosters crossing the road. Too cute.
We can tell you, without a doubt, this island paradise is home to some really tasty rum drinks and some very memorable food.
Relax on the Beach
The island of Nevis is home to numerous accessible sandy beaches. All perimeter hotels have beaches of their own, and there are public beaches available as well. We were staying at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, and chose to avail ourselves of their picturesque piece of the shoreline, a half-mile of pristine black sand.
Since these beaches are at the foot of a volcano the sand at the beach at Nisbet Plantation was black. It looked so cool and was very different.
We had our choice of lounges or hammocks, set on a sandy beach, with cocktails and food service available all day long. The quiet lapping of the water provided a relaxing backdrop for several naps, and we’d often take a dip into the water to cool off a bit. No blaring music, no annoying leaf blowers, just a chill location offering us the ability to unwind and relax, which is nothing short of a miracle for us.
Walk Around Charlestown
Charlestown is the capital of Nevis, founded in 1660. The island settled early on by both the English and the French—and part of the British Commonwealth until the 1980s—shows its early heritage in the architecture of Charlestown. British, French, and Caribbean influences are seen in the brightly painted Victorians, colonial homes, and heavy Georgian stone buildings, all of which the government is working to preserve. It’s a treat to wind your way through the town, whether on your own or on a walking tour.
Charlestown is not a big city; in fact, it is far from it. By American standards, it’s better defined as a quaint town or village. You won’t find mass retailers here; everything is locally owned and much of what you find in the shops is also locally crafted. We found everyone to be very friendly, from shopkeepers to locals we passed on the street. We enjoyed the slow pace of the restaurants, where no one is in a hurry, and you can take your time and eat at a leisurely pace.
If you happen to be around on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, you can visit the local open-air market near the port. The produce from the local farmers just doesn’t get any fresher, and the fruit, in particular, makes a great afternoon snack. When you’re done, you can take a stroll along the waterfront. If you’re feeling adventurous, stop and get a map at the ferry booth of the Nevis Heritage Trail, which will lead you to Fort Charles. This abandoned British fort once defended the island against multiple European nations, as well as rogue pirates. There’s not a whole lot left, but you can see a few old cannons, some walls and a cistern, along with a great view of the ocean.
Museum of Nevis History
This small island has quite a history between its original occupants, the invading British and French, and it’s longtime rule by British Commonwealth. There is also a strong connection to the United States. The Museum of Nevis History, located in a two-story Georgian stone building that was the birthplace of one of our founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton lived in Nevis until he traveled to the U.S. to attend college, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The building houses historical artifacts from the original Indian settlers, pirates that passed through, as well as local plantations and settlements. While the museum itself is small, it’s a testament to how this island nation came to be and provides a glimpse into the early years of a man who helped shape our nation (and is the subject of one of the hottest plays on Broadway!).
Where to Stay in Nevis Island
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club
Our home for the week was Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, a boutique resort located on the northeast side of the island. You could easily get lost on this 30-acre property, which originally served as a plantation. In addition to the great house, cottages are dotting the property, each located on a quarter-acre of ground to ensure privacy.
The reception and one of the resort’s restaurant are located at main house of the resort. The main house is at the top of the property. From the main house, all the way to the beach are the cottages. The brightly colored yellows cottages are little-hidden hideaways that you get the stay in during your vacation!
Our cottage had a living room with large windows that are mesh lined to keep the bugs out and framed with wooden shutters. The windows were one of my favorite features about our room because it let the fresh ocean breeze in without letting in the little bugs. Walking through the living room was the bedroom, with air conditioner, and in a warm, humid island, you bet we used that at night.
Another one of my favorite features of the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club was the palm tree lined walkway from the main house all the way to the beach. As you can see from the photos, it’s breathtaking.
The property also features a freshwater pool with comfy lounge chairs and plenty of shade, a fitness center, tennis court, croquet lawn, a spa, and even some resident monkeys!
In addition to the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, there are a number of larger resorts such as the Four Seasons Resort, Montpelier Plantation and Beach Club, Mount Nevis Hotel and Beach Club, and the Oualie Beach Resort. For something unique, there is the Hermitage, a Plantation Inn that is the oldest wooden house on the island. They offer rooms within the plantation house, as well as cottages and private villas.
Nevis Dining (Restaurants and Dining Experiences)
While Nevis is a small island, there are some good choices, both within resorts and in the towns for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, where we stayed, has three restaurants, and dining in all three was a pleasure. We enjoyed the authentic cuisine, friendly staff, and especially the location of each. The Great House is a more sophisticated venue serving afternoon tea, British style, as well as dinner.
Coconuts is an open-air restaurant adjacent to the pool that overlooks the vivid blue ocean. This is where we had breakfast each morning. We found it the perfect place to start our day. My favorite thing about breakfast was the freshly made fruit drink. Every morning was a new juice, and every single one was delicious! I also loved how everyone remembered your name. When we arrived for breakfast each morning, the breakfast staff was friendly and truly felt like they loved being there.
Coconuts also have a great Thursday evening barbecue. For this barbecue event, locals bring their handcrafted art, a live band performs, and you try an array of delicious barbecue and sides, not to mention their famous rum punch.
For something a bit unique, you have to attend the Pig Roast at the Hermitage Plantation Inn. This Wednesday night spectacle features a perfectly roasted pig alongside a buffet of authentic West Indian dishes. It provides a nice glimpse into local cuisine, and you won’t get fresher cracklins that at this weekly event. As you can see from the photo, the food options were plenty, and everything was delicious!
Over at Montpelier Plantation, you’ll find a gourmet paradise. Restaurant 750 is an intimate restaurant with well-crafted food, paired perfectly with wine by their sommelier. Truly unique is the Mill Privee, a restaurant set in a 300-year-old sugar mill on the property. This marvel of architecture offers a 5-course tasting menu that is well worth the money (and reservations are required).
As mentioned previously, the Oasis in the Garden at the Botanical Gardens of Nevis is quite a treat. Set amongst the lushest environment, this restaurant serves Thai cuisine that is equally tasty and beautifully presented, and if you do make it here, you have to try the Purple Rain. Thai food is one of my favorite types of cuisines, and I have to say that this food was delicious!
The Gin Trap, located on the water just west of Newcastle on the main road with an open air bar is known for their libations (with fresh squeezed juices) and creative uses of local meat and produce. We enjoyed dinner here one evening during our trip, and it did not disappoint. Make sure to allot enough time to watch the sunset from the bar while enjoying an excellent local cocktail.
As you read from our drink choices, rum punch is a big deal and if you want to partake is getting a Caribbean buzz from one of the most known rum punches on the beach then you need to visit Sunshines Restaurant. They make a delicious rum-based drink called the Killer Bee, yes the Killer Bee because it has quite a sting! We enjoyed a sunny afternoon here and enjoyed some killer bee’s with some delicious island’s barbecue. This restaurant is also on the beach so after your big lunch you can enjoy some time lounging on the beach.
An Escape from Your Fast-Paced Life
Our visit to Nevis was not only incredibly peaceful, but it was an escape from the ordinary. The island is unlike any other place I’ve visited before. It’s perfectly slow-paced and my days were never rushed. I felt at peace on this island, and all of my worries just slipped away. Anything you carried on your shoulders immediately slips away as soon as you step foot on the dock and take the boat to the open ocean. It also helps to get a hello from a local monkey.
Here’s to stylish and relaxing travels,
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