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Would I like Nevis? Or something else? - Beaches, food, ability to explore

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I'm having the hardest time deciding on an island and resort. I've gotten worlds of helpful advice from the Fodors forum and wonder if you might be inclined to work your persuasive magic on my case.

I'm looking for a peaceful island, not overrun with people or certainly cruise ship excursions, that has a lot of local character (not too overdeveloped). Major criteria are:
- wonderful food, good variety of upscale fancy dining options and beach shacks
- safe and easy to venture around on our own, no need to look over our shoulder for fear of crime (either petty theft or, of course, armed robbery!)
- enough in the way of low-key activities to keep up busy for a week. I'm not much for difficult hiking, but I like beautiful easy treks. A little bit of snorkeling, where I'm easy to please. Golf and diving not important.
- gorgeous beaches
- a nice mid-luxury resort that has a good spa

We have been to Anguilla and loved everything about it. We had stayed at Cuisinart and loved being right on the beach, with the unobstructed views and the feeling of seclusion. Rendezvous Bay was incomparably lovely, but we loved being able to explore the other amazing beaches on Anguilla (Shoal Bay, Meads, Cap Juluca's beach). The other thing that made our trip so wonderful was that we could try a different restaurant for every meal, and the restaurants blew us away. We rarely at on-resort. We felt very safe on Anguilla, and we had been thinking of returning, but to tell you the truth, the recent spate of crime has us alarmed, especially since it has happened to tourists and in places where we previously had felt very safe. I don't know that I would be very comfortable wandering freely around the island until they apprehend the group involved.

I've been looking closely at the Four Seasons in Nevis. Nevis looks very beautiful, and I am almost embarrassed to ask this, but - does the darker sand make a difference? I have read all over the place that Pinney's Beach is just wonderful, so do people forget about the iconic white sand beach vision as soon as they lay eyes on the Four Seasons? Will I enjoy going around and exploring the other beaches?

The other question I have about Nevis is, if there aren't a lot of beaches to explore, will we have enough to keep us busy for a week? I ask this because I have a friend who came back from the Four Seasons Nevis recently and reported that a week was too much, relative to what there is to do on the island because it's so small. (Anguilla is also small, but we didn't have this experience of "running out of things to do" when we were there.)

I've also been looking a little bit at Little Dix Bay, but it fell out of the final consideration because I had read the food options were not very exciting. Everything else looks wonderful about Virgin Gorda though - could I be mistaken about the food possibilities?

I would love to try some of the farther flung islands, like the Grenadines, but I think they may be too hard to get to in the limited time we have.

Is there anything else I should be considering? I also looked at Caneel Bay, St Lucia, St Barths, Turks and Caicos, but for various reasons (isolation, food opportunities, $$$$$, local character), they didn't seem to captivate me as much as others did. I've never been to any of those places though and know that they have their devoted followings!

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    Here's some information about Nevis that may help you make a decision:
    1) Restaurants - there are no less than 8 upscale restaurants, 6 beach bars, 4 chinese restaurants, 2 pizza places, and dozens more casual and local restaurants to choose from - you won't go hungry on Nevis.
    2) The sand on Nevis' beaches is indeed darker than on Anguilla but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you want white sand, you'll be disappointed. If you want picturesque beaches lined with lots of palm trees and lush vegetation then you'll find Nevis' beaches fit the bill.
    3) There's very little "walk-in" snorkeling on Nevis and what there is is just so-so. The best snorkeling in the area is off of St. Kitts and is accessible only by boat (Four Seasons has 1/2 day sails that go there) and it is just "average". Simply put, no one goes to Nevis for the snorkeling.
    4) There are over 40 different hiking destinations on Nevis, many of which are relatively easy. You can easily hike rain forests, explore old ruins of sugar plantations, forts and ramparts, discover thermal springs, bat caves and abandoned villages hidden by dense vegetations. There are lots of "neat things" on Nevis.
    5) There's museums, historic buildings, hot springs baths, a botanical garden, the Nevisian Village, the remains of the oldest synagog in the Caribbean to visit.
    6) Besides Pinney's Beach, there's Gallow's Bay, Paradise Beach, Nelson's Springs Beach, Cades Bay Beach, Tamarind Bay, Jones Bay, Oualie Beach, Lover's Beach, Nisbet's Beach, Herbet's Beach, Camps Beach, Windward Beach, No Name Beach, Black Sand Cove and Gallow's Bay Beach.
    7) Nevis is a relatively safe island so if you use common sense there's no need to be "looking over your shoulder" and you should have no problems venturing around the island on your own.

    Regarding Virgin Gorda - while there are plenty of very good restaurants on the island, few are really upscale and are not of the same quality you found on Anguilla. There is some very good to excellent walk-in snorkeling from many of the island's beaches.

    If you want great restaurants take another look at St. Barth's - if you thought Anguilla's were good St. Barth's has them beat by a mile - dining on that island is like dining in Paris.

    Hope this helps.

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    RoamsAround is giving you good advice on Nevis.

    I'll be the first to admit that I am a total beach-o-phile. And yet, Nevis is the first place I dream about returning time after time. The beaches have nothing on Anguilla, but I go to Nevis knowing that; it's everything else about the island that makes it one of my favorite places. It's an exceptionally pretty island, with plenty of opportunities to explore -- indeed, you could spend the better part of a week just visiting the various plantation hotels, which welcome guests from other properties. (I'll admit that I could spend the better part of a day or two at Sunshine's on Pinney's Beach, just watching the world go by, with a Killer Bee in hand....) Above all, Nevis is a very friendly place. Nevisians are warm and welcoming.

    May I suggest that you consider not only the Four Seasons, but one of the plantation resorts (or at least spending part of your stay at one of them)? They are truly special places -- very much OF Nevis, not just IN Nevis. With the exception of Nisbet, which is on what is widely considered the best beach on the island, they are in the mountains -- lush and green with spectacular views, and a setting that merges the old (sugar mills, great houses) with modern amenities.

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    Thank you, thank you, RoamsAround and Callalou.
    I decided the only way to know for certain that I would love Nevis is to go to Nevis. So I will arrive in May. Thank you for your wonderful advice.

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    You will love Nevis and the FS. I was concerned about the brown sand versus the powdery white sands of Anguilla. Not to worry. The beach, brown sand and all, is fabulous.

    I would highly recommend dinner at Banana's Restaurant and lunch at Golden Rock (bring your bathing suits as GR allows you to swim in their pool whilst you are there). If you want beach shack food and drink, Sunshines is the place. Great lobster rolls and killer bees.

    There are also easy to difficult walking trails around the FS resort. We set out for a leisurely stroll the first full day we were at the resort. We started following the easy trail (well marked by signs) and were so overwhelmed with the beauty of the scenery that we missed the sign and ended up on the difficult trail. We completed the entire trail, in flip flops and it was breathtaking and not all that difficult.

    Spa and treatments were exceptional.

    A life time on this island would not be long enough never mind a week.

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