Friday, July 06, 2018

Nevis: A Journey through The Best Caribbean Island You Haven't Heard of


It's pronounced "NEE-vis" and this island is like something out of a dream. Perhaps it's the impressive peak of Mount Nevis which juts from the islands center and seems to always be cloaked in shadowy clouds, or maybe it's the perfectly manicured homes, gardens and streets...but on my approach to her in the sleepy sun drenched sky of late afternoon, she took my breath away. Yes, even after years of island living the birds' eye view of an island approach still makes my heart pitter patter.

Welcome to Nevis: The self-proclaimed island of the "discerning traveler".

I'm here because my fellow island sister, Riselle, of Travelling Island Girl organized a familiarization trip with the Nevis Tourism Board, and I was chosen to join her (insert happy dance). I jumped at the opportunity. Not only was it a great chance to have a little "me" time (read: kid free!), but it was a way to get to know this tiny island better since Scott and I only breezed through for a night back in 2013 on one of our sails south. What follows is the travelogue of this trip through Nevis, and should you want to visit this magical little place (which you absolutely should!), you might just want to take this as your itinerary because we did a LOT...Hang on and enjoy the ride...

***

If you happen towards the cruise ship areas of island towns, you will likely find a shirt that reads "Same Sh**, Different Island". While islands obviously share similarities this could not be further from the truth. Immediately I'm struck by the difference between this island and mine. Lawns are tidy and manicured, the town is quaint, clean yet bustling, and vendor stalls bursting with home-grown fruit are never far. Did I mention the monkeys? Yeah. THERE ARE MONKEYS HERE! This is one of the few Caribbean islands with a monkey population and who doesn't love monkeys? (Turns out, Nevisians don't. The monkeys here are a *serious* problem and considered vermin, but more on that later...) My first impression? Me Likey.

We are greeted by the lovely Angelique of the tourist board and immediately she feels like a familiar friend. We are going to be dropped at the beautiful Mount Nevis Hotel, our home base for the next few days, to clean up and then taken for dinner at the gorgeous waterfront Nisbet Plantation. Nevis was a veritable sugar bowl for the Caribbean back in the day and the ruins of sugar plantations (even that of the famed Alexander Hamilton!) dot the countryside adding to this islands vintage allure.
The Mount Nevis hotel is absolutely heavenly and breakfast on a verandah with a view? YES
Easy and breezy, thats the feeling you get at this beautiful place. @Mount Nevis Hotel
My room in the Mount Nevis hotel is incredible. With high beam ceilings, a balcony with an ocean view, an open floor plan and clean tropical decor, it feels spacious and light. I throw myself on the bed, arms and legs splayed. "This is the life!" As former cruisers, hotels were one area of travel life we almost never experienced and living on a boat means spaciousness is a luxury so this. is. a. treat. I enjoy my shower and head to the lobby where I meet up with Ris and Jen (of Jen There Done That) for a very welcome rum punch while we wait for our ride. Cheers!

Our first outing is to the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club where they have an amazing Thursday night barbecue buffet followed by a live band. This place does not disappoint. The buffet is incredible and offers something for every palate. Freshly prepared, local, and bursting with color I'm drawn in for two plates full of food before I force myself to stop. (OMG, the bbq'd shrimp! Drool.) My girlfriends and I enjoy our dinners with cocktails, and shake it off on the dance floor later to the live band. We go to bed happy.

The next morning I enjoy my fruit and yogurt parfait and strong black coffee on the breakfast patio of our hotel (views sooo good at Mount Nevis Hotel!), and we are off to visit the home of Ermine Hendrickson. She's one of Nevis's local agro processers and makes jams and jellies from her home. We hop into Angelique's car, zip by the beautiful landscape and perfectly manicured home and lawns, fly by a few "monkey crossing" signs (yes, they are REAL), and we are there. Ermine is shy and soft spoken, but kind and wise. She is going to show us how to make a local treat that consists of coconut, simple sugar, and ginger (a few drops of bitters is the secret to her recipe!) We watch and drool as her concoction takes form - the smell of toasted coconut and ginger filling the air - until finally we get to taste the yummy gooey treat. It's sweeter than sweet can be and I cannot stop pinching pieces....We thank her for her time, leave with some of her famous home-grown pepper sauce and are on to our next adventure.

Mount Nevis pool and view. BLISS.

Jen of Jen there Done That and Ris of The Traveling Island Girl enjoying our breakfast to prep for a long day of fun.

A wander through the small town with highlight stops at the local Jewish Cemetary (very cool, very old) and the Clifton Estate Rum Shop (when in Rome!) leads us to the waterfront where we dine at the wonderfully eclectic Cafe des Arts. This is my kind of place. Open and breezy, casual and comfy. Signs and trinkets fill the space and the garden is abuzz with life and color. We take our seats under a wide sunbrella and enjoy our light lunch before the afternoon craziness: The Patterson Pub Crawl (to book call Patterson directly: 869-661-9184) starting at the famed Pinneys Beach. We are told there will be moonshine. I am equally excited and terrified.
Clifton Estate rum sampling. When in Rome, right?
Pub crawls haven't really been my "thing" since, oh I don't know, 2001, but when a guy like Patterson invites you on a tour of some of Nevis's local rum huts (read: off the beaten path), you don't say no. We meet Patterson at his super chic lounge and he immediately emanates charisma and charm. He's funny, friendly and boisterous and I know immediately this will be a fun afternoon. We zip from rum hut to rum hut, with Ris and I taking two shots of the local moonshine at each place (#islandgirls can hang). In some places it's called "bush tea", others "Hammon" but my favorite moniker is "monkey piss" for obvious reasons. This stuff is no joke and after four stops, the girls and I are giggly and loopy and feeling the love. Because everything in the Caribbean is an aphrodisiac.
Patterson's Place on Pinney's Beach. Loved it here.

Can you tell he's a charmer? The host with the most, and SO much fun.

One of our rum bar stops. Always greeted with smiles and shots. Could be worse! 

We head back to our hotel where we sober clean up. We are heading to the Yachtsman Grill for dinner. Right on the water and offering killer sunset views, the vibe is decidedly "yachty" (duh) and laid back; excellent for both couples and families. Lisa, the hostess, greets us with a huge smile and Jersey accent and we chat and laugh like we've known her forever. Her daughter, Chef Mary, is a young and inspiring chef who has recently taken over the kitchen and menu. She is unique and fresh, affable but with an edge, just like the amazing food she produces. Our dinner lingers on punctuated by occasional bursts of laughter and we toast the end of another amazing day.

The next day we are in for a real treat: an afternoon at the Four Seasons Resort. But first we view a few AirBnB properties to get a taste for what else is available here at a different price point. The stand out for sure are the Firefly Cottages which are the cutest, quaintest most fairytale-esque little one room cottages nestled deep in a jungle that SCREAM "honeymoon". I wanted to unpack my bags and move in forever to write a novel. If you are looking for a unique experience away from it all, definitely check these out.
Firefly cottage #1 of 2. They are sooooo adorable.

Vintage, eclectic, cozy and simple create the most magnificent ambience

Coziness abounds
One room cottage nestled in the rainforest, does this scream romantic getaway or not!? Swoon.
From there it was to the Four Seasons Resort. Having never been to a Four Seasons save the occasional wedding, I had no real idea what to expect as high end resorts are usually not my 'thing'. This place is INSANE. The grounds are expansive and gorgeous featuring an 18 hole golf course, private villas, manicured lawns and babbling brooks. We also had our first monkey sighting here! (SCORE!) We toured some absolutely incredible villas that rent for many thousands of dollars a night, as well as touring some rooms. Four Seasons Nevis lives up to it's world-wide reputation and every single aspect of this place - from the decor, to the food, to the (free!) kid's club - is top notch. Fellow islanders, it's definitely worth noting that they offer us a >>>CARIBBEAN RESIDENTS RATE <<< from May to December. I fully intend on using this in the future (TRAVEL TIP: it's also worth asking if other hotels offer such a rate as well!) 

Hi! I am in a 10K per night villa I have no business being in but it's fun!

The Four Seasons Resort in Nevis leaves no stone unturned. It is perfect in every conceivable way.
After a tour and an absolutely delicious lunch (fish tacos, FTW!) we were treated to a couple hours in our very own private beach cabana. Oh. My. God. We had bottle service, a selection of magazines, fresh baked treats, and our own luxe beach chairs with a beachy little tented living room to retreat in. Move over Beyonce! (Insert "z" snap) Feeling quite legit we kicked back with a bottle of prosecco and reveled in the magnificence of the ocean before us. The reggae rum cart rocked up just as we were packing up so we took a roadie. I honestly did NOT want to leave. But more fun was to be had...we had a sunset sail to catch.

Hanging out in front of our private beach cabana. Yeah, I could definitely get used to this!

You guys, when the Reggae Rum Cart calls, you answer! Thank you Four Seasons!
Still buzzing from the Four Seasons beach, we meet up with our hosts for the sunset sail, Leeward Islands Charter, and are welcomed aboard by Captain Lennox and first mate Stallone. Nicknames are part of the culture in Nevis, and with nicknames like that, we knew we were in for a good time. Stallone kept the rum punches flowing en masse, the tunes were jamming and before we knew it, we were full-on dancing like fools on the trampoline. Many, many boomerang videos were made and miraculously, no one fell overboard. This was for sure a highlight evening of Nevis and a sunset sail is a must-do if you visit this amazing place. A LOT of rum was consumed and the laughter was non-stop. We held down the "fun" button, hard.
This was basically us THE ENTIRE SAIL. Laughing, laughing, boomerang video, more laughing.
The next morning we were all feeling a bit worse for wear, but THERE WAS MORE TO SEE. The lovely Angelique whisked us up from our verandah breakfast where she deposited us with the Funky Monkey Tours - we were embarking on a three and a half hour tour that promised "beach and bush, resorts and ruins, and savannahs and rainforests" which is precisely what we got. It's hard to imagine this tiny island offering this much varied topography, but it does. Exploring in an open-air polaris was a great way to get off-road and feel the wind in our hair. This trip offered two highlights for me: my very own "horse whisperer moment" (you had to be there. I basically tamed a stallion.) and a trip to a natural healing hot spring.

You can just call me the "horse whisperer" this magnificent creature and I had a moment. I swear.
The volcanic-heated spring ranges between 104 and 108 degrees celcius and you must enter slowly. The pool promises to cure you of your aches and pains and while I have no such afflictions, I did feel incredibly relaxed and rejuvenated after soaking for the suggested time. We had a lovely conversation with a local women who's arthritis has been almost completely eradicated thanks to her daily 15 minute sessions. Aches and pains or not, this is a definite must-see on and a unique little experience uniquely Nevis (sadly not for kids, way too hot).

Of course the tour had to live up to it's name ("Funky Monkey Tours") and we were treated to a few monkey sightings which elicited squeals of delight. Unfortunately, however, we learned that the monkeys are a legitimate national issue here and are more or less despised by locals the way city dwellers loathe rats. While it feels almost unnatural to liken monkeys to vermin (they are SOOOOO cute) they are detested that much. They destroy farmers crops and multiply quickly. In fact, there are more monkeys than people here and when they migrate to the lowlands, they wreak havoc for the locals. While there are steps being taken to control them, getting rid of them is not an option either, as they are just another box on a long checklist of highlights that make Nevis special. Me? I love them and really, really wanted to snuggle one and take it home (shrugs).
The tour was so fun, getting off the beaten path was a great way to really see Nevis.

A trip to Nevis would not be complete without stopping at an old sugar plantation, right


Our day ended at the incredible Chrishi Beach Club in Cades Bay. Swanky, chic and a haunt for the local expats, this place reminded me of South Beach and St. Barts. Laid back and beachy with modern decor, contemporary food and great chillout music in the background, it feels very hip. Bubbles were in order for this lunch and we spent a few hours laughing and lounging, enjoying the beautiful scenery and company. Our last day was upon us, and in the morning our whirlwind tour of the little island that stole our hearts, would be over.
This is SO the kind of place you want to hang with your friends on a #sundayfunday and drink all the bubbles. We had a blast here.

Did someone mention bubbles? @Chrishie Beach Club
***

Nevis is an island that - even though it's technically part of St. Kitts and often mistaken as the "little sister" - stands alone. With her amazing people, her lush curvature and her sleepy authentic "island" vibe (no big box stores or chains here, they keep it quaint), she is, indeed, the island for the discerning traveler. Whatever your budget, there is something for you here. Nevis is for couples, families, yogis, thrill seekers and everything in between. Whether you are looking for off the beaten path adventure or a relaxing week being pampered on the beach, Nevis will ace it. And you will see monkeys. Lots of cute, little monkeys.

*Stay tuned for more specific posts on where to stay and what to do while in Nevis.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...