Many people who hear “St. Kitts and Nevis” think of the dual-island nation as one entity, but in truth St. Kitts and Nevis are two very different worlds. Nevis is the place that people from St. Kitts go for some real quiet. You’ll find miles of secluded beaches, numerous outdoor activities and a unique, unspoiled lifestyle.
When jet-setters plan a trip to St. Kitts and Nevis, it will usually be St. Kitts—a laid-back gem with old Caribbean charm, top-notch modern beach resorts and cruise ships. Nevis (pronounced NEE-vis) is only accessible by water taxi from the Kittitian shore and in contrast to its sister island, it’s completely lost in time. No movie theaters, traffic lights, train stations, shops or big restaurant chains. Its harbor is fairly small and big cruise ships don’t fit here (and locals prefer them not to).
Skip the crowded beaches in the popular Caribbean destinations and enjoy Nevis—a secret paradise where you can relax, live well and find peace from an often-hectic world.
How to Get To Nevis
Jet set to St. Kitts’ international airport at Newcastle to get to Nevis. The Reggae Beach Bar on Cockleshell Beach at St. Kitts’ southernmost tip offers water taxis to and from the island. While loading the boat, you can see Nevis right ahead, so close that you could almost swim across. In fact, there’s an annual swimming contest for just that.
On arrival, you’ll notice that Nevis really looks like a world tucked away from ours, with an ominous peak surrounded by puffy clouds on a hilly green island
Nevis Is a Step Back in Time
Within moments of stepping onto Nevis, you’ll realize that this Caribbean country is different than any other you’ve visited. People here are so laid-back that many will start long conversations with you out of nowhere, and even your taxi driver will have “got chattin” and arrive a little late. From the hammock on the veranda of the police station to cars leisurely parking in the middle of the street and monkeys roaming freely in the jungle, Nevisians live life unhurried—like the island itself.
Laid-Back Culture on Nevis
You’ll quickly be drawn into their relaxed lifestyle. Most food is still grown locally, as you will see when you walk the many old sugar preserves. The art of converting cane sugar into table sugar was actually developed on Nevis.
Cedar trees are used to make furniture, sea grapes used to hold drinking water and a plant called the cattle tongue is used to help with the common cold. If interested, you can learn many new tips and tricks on how to practice a low-maintenance and healthy lifestyle here.
Historic Buildings on Nevis
Nevis has the oldest structures in the Caribbean, many of which you can stay in today as some of the historical buildings and old sugar plantations have been converted into boutique hotels. One of the most fascinating places to rent is the 350-year-old Hermitage—its main house was built in 1670. Other buildings you may want to explore include Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace—a 1700s Georgian-style house—an old botanical garden built to preserve the world’s flora and fauna and the 1778 Bath Hotel that was once a playground for visitors who came to Nevis for therapeutic, hot spring baths. You’ll see many more houses, plantations and chapels of that era and feel like you’ve really traveled to a bygone era on Nevis.
Cocktails on Nevis
Another thing Nevis hasn’t changed from the past is its famous island cocktails, made from old Caribbean recipes. It’s especially known for its award-winning cocktails, like the Killer Bee Drink, at Sunshine’s Beach Lounge and the Monkey Slap drink at the Gin Trap bar, both located on Pinney’s Beach. Or, the cottage-style, family-owned Oualie Beach Resort on the northern shore features some of the best traditionally-made rum punch. Here, you can sit back at the Oualie Beach Restaurant and dine on freshly made international or local cuisine while watching the water taxis leave for busy St. Kitts in the near distance. The sunset here is unlike anywhere else in the Caribbean—with St. Kitts reflecting off the waters, it makes for an amazing view.
While you enjoy that rum punch, you’ll surely notice the permanently cloud-shrouded, mysterious Nevis Peak that makes up much of the island at 3,232 feet high. Its clouds are even present during ideal weather, causing many explorers back in the day to mistakenly think its peak was covered with snow. Christopher Columbus called the peak Nuesta Senora de las Nieves, “Our Lady of the Snows”.
Climbing this peak offers an unforgettable experience—just make sure to have a guide with you, as the trails are poorly marked and the foliage is very thick and filled with streams and grottos. Once you reach the peak, be prepared for breathtaking views and possible monkey, wild goat and donkey sightings. As the clouds part, you’ll see neighboring islands like St. Kitts, Antigua and Montserrat. It’s like you’re standing on the top of the world.
Private Retreats on the Beach on Nevis
Want something more secluded than a beach resort? Nevis’ private retreats hidden deep in the jungles away from civilization are a true charm. Spend a night in a converted sugar mill and listen to the songs of tree frogs at night. Instead of waking up to city traffic or the garbage collector, wake up to birds singing and peaceful sounds of water rushing down a rocky slope into a deep pool. Here the temperatures actually drop at night so you cool off enough to enjoy the warmth the next morning, especially as you go higher on the peak. These are the charms of Nevis.
The Golden Rock Plantation Inn is an enchanted retreat converted from a former sugar plantation nestled at 800 feet on the Nevis Peak. Plus, an expert landscaper beautified Nevis’ jungles here: you’ll see that some of the foliage gives way to sudden artsy picnic tables or chairs. It’s like walking in a botanical garden right within wild nature.
Fishing on Nevis
The locals commonly live off fresh-caught fish and harvest their own foods, like sugar, garlic and okra.
Deep sea fishing here is a must—fishing charters are often private and you can contact the captains personally to book a ride. You’ll drive a bit further out to sea depending on the weather, but charters offer equipment and gear. Expect to catch mahi mahi, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, kingfish, marlin and sailfish. Or, if you prefer reef fishing, there are options for that, too—Nevisians go reef fishing to catch grouper, snapper and other types of reef fish.
You can even bring your catch to the resort and let the chef cook it for you!
Swim With Turtles on Nevis
Nevis is home to three types of endangered sea turtles: the Hawksbill Turtle, Green Sea Turtle and Leatherbacks. The island’s underdeveloped coastlines are a perfect breeding ground for them and Nevisians host several programs to create awareness and track the turtles. Among them are a few famous celebrity turtles, such as Nevis, who swam between Nevis and distant St. Martin, and Mango, who swam all the way to the Yucatán Peninsula!
Most Nevis’ resorts rent snorkel and diving equipment so you can swim among turtles and other sea life. Or, keep an eye out for turtles at night during moonlit beach walks, especially at Lover’s Beach. In the summer months, turtles swarm the Nevisian beaches to lay their eggs for the next generation. For a more educational experience, many resorts offer kid-friendly programs that sometimes include watching turtles hatch on the beach.
Quiet Beaches on Nevis
The best thing about Nevis’ beaches is that none of them are ever crowded, and Nevisians like to keep it that way. For serenity and a bit of luxury, check out Oualie Beach, a calm stretch of pearly white sand with shallow, turquoise waters. Here you can eat and stay at the popular Oualie Beach Resort and enjoy the otherworldly sunset views with St. Kitts and Booby Island in sight. There is also a dive center, bike rental, sports fishing and water sports facilities.
For absolute luxury, try out Pinney’s Beach, where the islanders go to party. It’s home to Four Seasons Resort Nevis as well as some of the best restaurants on the island. The Four Seasons Resort offers the award-winning Spicy Island Turtle cocktail, and the jerk chicken at Lime Beach Bar is a must-try! The beach also offers volleyball, music, watersports and plenty of family picnicking events.