Have you ever heard of Nevis? (KNEE-viss, not NEH-viss) If not, you’ve probably heard of her sister island, St. Christopher, a.k.a. St. Kitts. There’s a ton to do in St. Kitts. There’s a popular cruise port, the only railway in the Caribbean, zip lines, historic forts, great hiking and large hotel developments like Christophe Harbour and the Marriott. If you’ve been on a cruise in this part of the Caribbean, you’ve likely been to Basseterre. And if you’ve been cruising around this area, you’ve probably seen Nevis Peak off in the misty distance. If you haven’t been, read through our Nevis travel guide and just go ahead and pack your bags. Trust me on this one!
Where is Nevis?
St. Kitts and Nevis are one country in the West Indies, east of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and in the same neighborhood as Anguilla and St. Barths. Known as the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, the islands share a federal government and various resources, but also have autonomy in some things, a bit like U.S. states do. And while the two islands are technically the same country, like many sisters (The Jet Sisters excluded, obviously), the two could not be more different.
Where St. Kitts is the bustling, active, go-go-go sister, Nevis is the low key, under-the-radar, chill sis. There’s no port for mega ships. There isn’t a single chain restaurant. (No Starbucks, sorry!) Folks take the water taxi to St. Kitts to satisfy KFC and Burger King cravings. There’s only one big branded hotel, the Four Seasons, and even it is a modest 196 rooms. The rest of the hotels on the island are tiny by comparison (and fabulous – scroll down for our take on where to stay in Nevis). Unlike some Caribbean neighbors, the island isn’t overrun with tourists. As a matter of fact, the only invasive species we saw was the cute and frisky green vervet monkey. The island is just 36 square miles, so you could drive all the way around the one main circular road in an hour.
Nevis is truly one of the last spots in the Caribbean to remain — almost — forgotten.
St. Kitts and Nevis are separated by The Narrows, a 2-mile channel that takes less than 10 minutes to cross via water taxi. There’s the annual Cross Channel Swim from one side to the other which Rae claims she is going to attempt some day. (That’s about as likely as Alexander Hamilton coming back from the dead, just saying.)
Alexander Hamilton’s Nevisian Roots
Nevis might never have popped onto our travel radar if not for one lyric in our favorite musical.
“Dropped in a forgotten spot in the Caribbean…”
As you know if you follow us on Instagram, Rae and I have been obsessing over Alexander Hamilton for the past couple of years thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-award winning show. And when we get into something, we really get into it.
See our past pop culture pilgrimages:
There are usually costumes and a deep dive into life, history, canon and lore. There’s also a lot of quoting. (I’m not sure we could go a day without speaking to each other in Hamilton / Austen / The Office quotes.)
Once we made it to Nevis, we were surprised at how low key everyone was about Hamilton. Turns out, Nevis is pretty low key about everything. You almost get the idea no one paid Hamilton any mind at all until the musical came and put Nevis on the map for a new (old) reason. Around town, there are references to A. Ham here and there, including a modest museum and the ruins of the old Hamilton plantation, which we just sort of happened upon during our Funky Monkey ATV tour. We’ll dive more into Hamilton’s life here in a future post.
How to Get to Nevis
Via St. Kitts
If you’re visiting St. Kitts, either via cruise or air, there are plenty of tours and easy day trips with convenient water taxis, so don’t let The Narrows keep you from popping over. It’s such a small island, if you just want to see what it’s about before committing to a longer trip, you can really get a good feel in just a few hours. But just know that you’ll love it and want to come back.
Day Tours To Book in Nevis
Most people fly directly into St. Kitts (SKB) from Miami (MIA), Charlotte (CLT), Minneapolis (MSP), Toronto (YYZ), Atlanta (ATL), Dallas (DFW), London (LHR) and New York’s airports (JFK, EWR). Then it’s a 20-minute taxi from the airport to the dock, and then less than 10 minutes via water taxi across The Narrows to Nevis. Depending on which hotel you’re visiting, transportation is often included and arranged. We expected it to take a while, but it was less than an hour – no sweat getting from the St. Kitts airport to our hotel in Nevis.
You can also hop smaller flights from San Juan, Antigua, Anguilla and St. Maarten directly to Nevis (NEV). Then it’s a short taxi to your hotel.
Fun Facts about Nevis
- The island had several names before it came to be known as Nevis. The Caribs called it Oualie, or the land of beautiful waters. Early British called it Dulcina, the sweet island (an homage to forthcoming sugar cane production, perhaps). The Spaniards called the island Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, or our lady of the snow, because Nevis Peak appeared to have snow on the top. Eventually it was shortened to Nevis.
- Hamilton isn’t the only historic figure with Nevisian roots. British readers will recognize the name of heroic Horatio Nelson. He was stationed in Nevis as a young military man. He married the widowed daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, Fanny Nisbet, early in his career. You can stay at Nisbet Plantation today and have dinner in the great house where Horatio and Fanny spent their marriage.
- The capital of Nevis is Charlestown, population 1,500. The city / island has experienced both tsunamis and earthquakes as a results of volcanic activity in the region, but no major ones in recent history.
- Nevis Peak is a 3,232’ volcanic cone at the center of the island. It has not erupted in modern times, though it’s considered potentially active. Interesting to note, Montserrat is nearby and you may recall its volcano erupted and covered a large part of the island in 1995.
- Nevis has volcanic hot springs! I didn’t know until our Funky Monkey tour guide drove us right up to the edge. We dipped our feet into the different pools with various temperatures. A must do in Nevis, especially if you’re looking to walk in the footsteps of history. The nearby Bath Hotel, one of the Caribbean’s first luxury properties, served as a ‘hot’ destination since 1778.
Best Hotels on Nevis
When choosing a hotel in Nevis, consider how important it is to you to be on the beach. There are hotels with sandy shores and others tucked up in the hills at a cooler elevation of 1,000’. Every place we visited was spectacular and had its own personality and amenities, and there are options for those with big budgets or small. (Nevis would be PERFECT for an episode of The Jet Sisters!)
Here are our favorite hotels on Nevis. Take a look!
When Horatio Nelson married Fanny Nisbet in 1787, I’m sure he had no idea that one day, folks like the Prince of Wales and The Jet Sisters would visit the remains of his sugar plantation. We loved the sprawling, coconut palm-lined grounds leading from the great house down to a beach bar, restaurant and pool. Great food, great drinks and a beautiful beachfront location.
Golden Rock Inn
A stunner! We had dinner up at Golden Rock Inn one night and were instantly smitten with the creative design incorporating elements of its past as a sugar plantation. My favorite part was the reclaimed sugar mill that’s now a gorgeous honeymoon suite. You can bet we’ll be staying there in the future.
Oualie Beach Resort
A budget friendly option right on the water! Next to Lovers Beach, Oualie Beach Resort is family owned and eco-conscious.
Four Seasons Nevis
We didn’t stay at the Four Seasons Nevis, but we did spend a glorious day at the spa. Rae and I both had phenomenal Nevisian massage complete with a sugary foot scrub. It turned us right into butter and made the whole day float by in a tropical haze. We spent the rest of the day in our own private cabana on the beach, snacking, sipping and sunning in our very own hammock. You really can’t go wrong with the Four Seasons brand for consistency and convenience.
Airbnb & Vacation Villas
There are a host of available Airbnbs both on the beach and up in the hills at the foot of Nevis Peak. Take your pick!
Dining Out in Nevis
For such a small island, we were surprised to find so much variety! The Caribbean has really stepped up its dining game in the past 10 years, bringing diversity and creativity to local cuisine. Don’t miss anything made with mangoes – there are dozens of varieties grown here! Fresh mahi was in great supply and there were several conch dishes available to try if you’re so inclined. (You know I’m so, so inclined.)
Here are a few places we recommend to eat in Nevis:
The Great House, Nisbet Plantation
Dine like Admiral Nelson! As a matter of fact, I bet we dined even better. The service at Nisbet is fantastic and warm and authentic. Many of the staff have worked here for decades, and it shows how much pride they have in Nevis and Nisbet. A real Nevisian experience worth having.
TIP: Nisbet is hot-hot-hot on Thursday evenings, with a huge buffet down at the beach, a live band and dancing into the night.
Sunshine’s, Pinney’s Beach
A local staple! Sunshine’s beachfront restaurant is the place for fun, sun and shenanigans. Food has a Caribbean flair with jerk chicken and seafood on the menu. Be sure to try to the Killer Bee rum punch if you’re into that sort of thing. But beware – this is the Caribbean, and they aren’t kidding when they call it punch, because that’s pretty much what it does to you.
Oasis in the Gardens, Nevis Botanical Gardens
When you visit the lush Nevis Botanical Gardens, plan for lunch at Oasis in the Gardens with views of Nevis Peak and overlooking Charlestown. The charismatic owner travels to Thailand to go grocery shopping every couple of months, so if you are in the Caribbean and hankering for authentic Thai food, this is THE place to go. And do not miss the Purple Rain, the most refreshing non-alcoholic drink I’ve ever had. It’s made with rare flowers and trust me, it’s heaven on a hot day.
Bananas, Hamilton Estate
Tucked in the trees up a lush hillside, Bananas has colorful artwork on the walls, boutiques with local goodies and a couple of very cute pups serving as hosts. The food is great, too! Don’t miss the fish pie (way better than it sounds) and the banana creme brûlée.
The Rocks, Golden Rock Inn
Another cool spot up in the hills, Golden Rock Inn feels more like Bali than the Caribbean. Its artist owners pop in every so often to add more to the eclectic collection of imported art and curios. Dinner is served in the open air surrounded by stone and water. One of the most unique places to eat on the island – a definite must for a romantic night!
The Best Time to Visit Nevis
The Caribbean is usually busiest between Christmas and April or so, when weather in the Northern Hemisphere is at its nastiest. We were in Nevis in February and it didn’t feel busy at all, though I know the hotels were at pretty high occupancy. Booking well in advance is a good idea. The weather was fantastic, albeit a bit dry for the residents who were praying for rain.
Pinching pennies? Don’t be afraid to check out the Caribbean the rest of the year – yes, even during hurricane season. I know, I know. Famous last words. But the low season offers much cheaper rates and hurricanes are relatively rare. It may not sound like it based on the last couple of summers, but keep in mind, Nevis and St. Kitts weren’t affected at all by any of the recent storms. The Caribbean is a big area! Get travel insurance to ease your mind.
PIN ME FOR LATER
We spent five days exploring the island and never felt rushed to “do it all” or pressured to have a super-packed schedule, even though technically we were there for work. Nevis is on island time in the best possible way, and it doesn’t take long once you arrive until you find yourself “liming” – or chilling out. From our first day, we found ourselves saying, “When we come back…”
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Nevis travel guide! It’s is the kind of island where you start planning your return before you ever leave. We will be back!
Nevis Tourism hosted our editorial trip, but as always, opinions and advice are our own. Thanks to all the Nevisians and expats who made our visit so exceptional. We can’t wait to come back!
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