Trip Report, Nevis Island, October 2005
It's a long one, so pop open a Carib, sit back, and read on, my wonderful Fodorites...
My husband and I (47 and 50 yo) decided we needed a two-week vacation in the Caribbean. Over the years, we have vacationed in Aruba, Bahamas (Nassau, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, and Abaco), Bermuda, Tortola, Jamaica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, St. John. Also, we have taken cruises and stopped in additional ports, but no overnights. This time we wanted to try either St. Kitts or Nevis. After some research, we settled on Nevis.
Booked flights from Tampa to San Juan, San Juan to Nevis. Our plane from San Juan was only half full! But we were going in the off-season and so I guess that’s why. Sat on the runway for one hour in San Juan (“Computer problems”), then bussed back to the terminal, then an hour later, off to Nevis! We arrived two hours late, but it was still only 3:30 PM when we arrived at the tiny but modern Nevis airport.
We rented a villa instead of a hotel—we have “evolved” over the years, from all-inclusive, to small hotel, and now we are spoiled by the roominess, privacy and value of a villa. After a little research, we chose Yellow Bird villa—and were very pleased with our choice! The villa rep, Stephen, met us at the airport (scolded us for being late!) and instead of driving us the five minutes to the villa, which was the arrangement, he had arranged for us to follow in a taxi (which we ended up stupidly overpaying for in U.S. dollars—but hey it’s only a few bucks and who cares?) . We arrived at a spotless Yellow Bird, Stephen showed us a few details—he was not informative, and indeed we asked all the questions. The villa was located across the street from Oalie Beach Resort. This one-bedroom home in a very lush setting included a plunge pool—which we LOVED, and had lovely views. Also a very Caribbean construction: louvered French doors everywhere, so that during the day you could open up the whole place for breezes and sunshine. At night, it was a different story, though. We knew there was no A/C, but being October, and Rainy, we were HOT at night, especially my husband, who gets hot easily. It was a choice of leave the doors open and get bugbitten, or close things up and sweat a bit. After a night of being bitten, we chose to sweat. But hey there’s nothing like waking in the morning, and taking a quick jump in the pool to get your day started!
Our villa came with maid service 2 times per week, gardener, pool guy (they showed up whenever—very unobtrusive), and three cats. We were delighted to see the first cat, surprised to see the second, and when the third showed up, it felt like work! But hey the catfood was already on the premises, so what the heck. There was a starter package of tea, bread, eggs, juice, and coffee in the villa, very much appreciated. But NO RUM! The same taxi driver who overcharged us, also refused to let us stop for a moment at the liquor store on the way to the villa. But it did not matter: we had reserved a jeep through TDC/Thrifty ($650 for two weeks, including 2nd driver’s license), and it was waiting for us at the villa. So a quick trip to the rum shop and we were all set!
We were on somewhat of a budget (I had talked my DH into staying two weeks by promising to spend the same as one week hee hee), so we cooked a lot and packed picnics etc. We loved shopping around town for all our goodies. Thanks to many Fodorite tips, the best places to shop were the Ram supermarket, the Saturday market, Manza’s produce, even made it to the TDC Bottle Depot for our case of Caribs! We changed our money over to EC at the bank downtown, this way you save a little by not having the merchant calculate the exchange at a profit.
Places we stopped:
Sunshine’s: I thought the food was excellent, the ambience was perfect, the music was very good, and Sunshine and staff were the friendliest folks we encountered. Stung by the Killer Bee!
Gallipot: Delicious, great setting, reasonable prices.
Montpelier Plantation. This was a splurge night, we got dressed up, and they treated us like royalty. Upon arrival you have cocktails in the great room, really a beautiful building loaded with history. It was amusing to see the Gold Labs lying at the open door, tennis ball in mouth, just dying for somebody to come outside and play fetch. They were trained not to come inside, so we did not disappoint and went out on the veranda and threw a few balls. The lobster was tender, the wine was wonderful, and the company was the best! Very very expensive.
Double Deuce: We stopped and ordered a hamburger. About 20 minutes later we were informed that it would “frozen for a long time”, so we switched to BBQ chicken. 20 more minutes, and the chicken came out raw. Ten more minutes and it came out just fine. But you know what? The friendly staff, the smiles, and that gorgeous surf made up for it (the beers didn’t hurt our attitude either!). I would go back for sure.
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club: We went for lunch, I finally got my Cheeseburger in Paradise, juicy, delicious, and of course expensive. But in that setting, it was worth every penny.
Miss June’s: OK, I hate to say this, because I know how much you all love her, but we did not like Miss June. At all. When we called on Thursday for a reservation, she insisted we come that evening. Well, we already had plans (it was 5:30 PM already), so we asked if we could make it another evening, we have two weeks after all. She said she had been closed for five weeks, this was her first evening re-opening, and to call back on Monday and she’s see what she could do! Imagine a restaurant opening Thursday, closing Fri/Sat/Sun, and *possibly* re-opening Monday! Talk about island time! We agreed and called back on Monday. She said to come the next night, Tuesday. We arrived at 7 PM, apparently the first ones there. We eventually wound our way through the dining room and into the bar (no signs, it was dark, we just kind of wandered around the lovely grounds til we found the entrance). A young lady asked our names, and a bar tender made us some wonderful rum punches. After the other guests arrived, Miss June appeared from the kitchen and announced that this was her smallest group ever, there were seventeen of us, and we should arrange ourselves into three groups: a table of seven, a table of four, and a table of six. A little awkward, but we’re not shy, and hooked up with a trio of lovely British ladies, and another couple. It was uncomfortably hot inside the house, and we were glad to be seated on the beautiful verandah. After a delicious soup course and fish course, we were invited by Miss June to two consecutive buffets: one was “International/curry” and one “west Indian”. The food was overhwhelming in abundance and choice, beautifully presented, and absolutely delicious. No complaints at all on the food. Miss June embarrassed one guest, admonishing her because she was apparently a vegetarian, and did not tell Miss J when making the reservation, causing her to come up with another fish dish at the last minute. We were given a choice of red or white wine. After the first glass of wine, our glasses were not refilled. Ever. Through two trips to the individual buffets. We enjoyed getting to know our tablemates, and eventually the talk got around to the (lack of) wine. One of the gentlemen went back into the bar to ask for more wine. The server came out and said there was no more red, and this would be our last glass of white! That she got “in trouble with Miss June” for over-pouring. Hmm….Then, we sat. And sat. And sat. No more Miss June; eventually dessert was brought out. We ate that and sat some more, still expecting the great repartee with our host. I went inside to use the ladies room and passed by the bar, where our hostess sat drinking and arguing with the server! Honest! Another awkward moment: let’s pay our bill and go home. Well there was no bill forthcoming, so we all got up (all three tables at this point) and went into the bar—where we were instructed to pay a young lady who waited with credit card machine. Except remember we were paying with EC Cash? She told us it was “$80 US per person”, but she DID NOT KNOW what that was in EC! We should “figure it out” ourselves. So we did and got the heck out of there. Later on in our trip we saw another couple from one of the other tables, and I asked them what they thought of Miss June’s. They were as disappointed as we were, but they were “cornered at the bar by Miss June” and she “refused to let them leave til 3 AM”...who knows? I asked if her stories were interesting, and the husband just rolled his eyes... She literally never spoke one word to my husband and I—and believe me, we are friendly and smily. Maybe just an off-night?
Oalie Beach Resort: It became our habit to go over to Oalie for a sunset cocktail now and then. Such nice people! Very few guests at this time of year...we ate there for one ala carte dinner and their Tuesday BBQ. Both delicious—in fact, I never order steak in the Caribbean, I know better. Well they had it on the buffet, so I took a small sample—actually tender and medium rare! And the soups were lovely. Also, after the BBQ, there is livemusic by some local string musicians, homemade instruments, a great crowd, and different folks would come in and join the band for a song or two. Lots of fun—it was good to see the inter-racial good vibes too. We sat for quite awhile and chatted with just everybody. Very friendly place!
Seafood Madness: Good lunch stop!
Rumours, by the airport: Delicious local food, too many flies though!
Airport Restaurant:: Who knew? We checked in early for our flight home, went upstairs and had a wonderful chicken roti lunch, and a couple of the best rum punches of our entire stay. Nice lady running the place too, we promised her when we return, before we leave the airport, we’ll make her bar our first stop!
Turtle Beach Bar & Grill (St. Kitts): Good food, cruise ship crowd sometimes, but what a view! We realized we were looking across the water at our own little Oalie Bay! Incredibly fun ride to get there too...a must see.
Stuff We Did:
Drove around Nevis—lots of fun, it rained A LOT while we were there, so this made great use of a rainy day. Stopped at the (deserted) horse track, some abandoned lime kilns, explored every nook and cranny of Nevis.
Golden Rock—the monkey hike. No monkeys, only water pipes lining the walk. Pigs though!
Ferry to St. Kitts: Wow, St. Kitts seemed so Big and Busy compared to Nevis. We liked it (see Turtle Beach) but were glad to head back to “our” island at the end of the day! A young man hitched a ride into town with us from Turtle Beach, when we said yes, out came his three female companions. Six people in a tiny jeep...wow!
People watching—Saturday market. Fabulous. I got scolded by an old lady for wearing a short dress (after I carefully chose a sundress with sleeves and not spaghetti straps! Who knew?) and my husband got his nipple twisted by a beggar lady when he refused her!
Monkeys!!!! We finally saw them on our tenth day. Where? In our own yard! They were stealing grapefruits...kind of scary, kind of cool!
Shopping: we are not big shoppers, but I got a fabulous handmade straw rug from the Nevis Crafthouse, an unlikely looking warehouse on the main road. They were closed the first two times we stopped, but persistence paid off: the ladies were weaving, let us watch and take their picture, to go along with my big mat! Also visited Caribelle Batik on St. Kitts and got some pretty handmade items there. And of course hot sauce, right from the supermarkets, my husband is still picking his favorite from the four we picked up! Oh, and handmade Nevisian pottery at Bocane on Nevis. Pretty!
Anything I forgot? TDC car rental went smoothly, of course it was Too Weird getting used to the steering wheel on the wrong side...turn on the windshield wipers if you’re making a turn! Haha! We especially enjoyed trading for the day in St. Kitts at no charge. I will say that the drivers on Nevis were reckless at times. Our cottage was on a blind curve, with no shoulder. We had to stop and close the cottage gate, so idling in the roadway became a daily hazard. However there was an MTV concert while we were there—probably adding to the increased traffic as well as the craziness of the drivers.
Beaches! I almost forgot! Aaaahhhh. We did as Viceroy suggested and walked south all the way from Cades Bay to the Double Deuce in Charlestown one day—by beach (clambering over just a few rocks along the way). We fortified ourselves with beers at the various bars on the way. What a fun day that was! Oh, and Lover’s Beach...mmmm….we know why it’s named that. Say no more.
And that about does it! Lots of rain, the most ever for us, but we got to read three books! That’s a first! And it’s true what they say, the Nevisians are a wonderful people. Someday we shall return!
Thanks again to all the Fodorites who made our trip that much better. You guys are the best!
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Trip Report, Nevis Island, October 2005