Arriving to Nevis
Arriving in Nevis is an adventure in and of itself. After landing in Bassterre, St. Kitts and clearing customs, you're spirited away on winding roads through undeveloped (and often unpaved) roads that give you an early taste of what to expect from the island in general—unspoiled, unpaved, and unbelievable views of both the Atlantic and the Caribbean.
You arrive at a small beach with a pier and a small fishing boat, which will carry you across "the Narrows," a two-mile wide crossing. You can barely make out the Nevis volcano peak through the low hanging clouds, but directly ahead of you sits Nevis, in all its glory.
Upon arrival at the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, you're met with the island's signature rum drink (CSR and Ting—which knocks your travel-weary socks off) and are escorted to a beautiful room most likely overlooking the ocean. Palm trees, a brisk and cooling wind, colorful flowers on trees and bushes, the beach right in front of you... This must have been what the rest of the Caribbean was like before the all-inclusives and Margaritavilles showed up.
The Nisbet Plantation is spread out on about 30 acres, with 15 or so cottages dotting the property. It is spread out, adding a welcomed touch of privacy. Its regal "Avenue of the Palms" is lined with swaying palm trees and stretched from the beach up to the Great House, where a lounge, bar, and restaurant await, all decked out in a cool island colonial style.
Put plainly, Nevis is as close to Caribbean heaven as you will ever find. There are no crowds to battle on the beach. Lunch usually consists of conch fritters and plantain chips washed down with a few rum cocktails. Post-lunch plans are a toss-up between a nap in a hammock, or a nap on the beach. After your nap, it's time for ogling the crystal blue waters before you and an imposing volcano shrouded in clouds in the center of the island behind you.
Repeat Day Two. Oh, you want more to do than that? Okay, over-achiever.
Near those volcanoes that tower above you in the middle of the island, you can take an afternoon to explore rain forests where green vervet monkeys live among the mango trees. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, there are ample opportunities for snorkeling, hiking, biking, kayaking, boating, the works. Book the best sounding excursions through your hotel. And a word to the wise: lather on the sunscreen—the sun is strong down there.
Breakfast at the Nisbet Plantation offers stunning views overlooking the pool and the beach and a lovely breeze washes through the plantation shutters. The spread is a tropical cornucopia that, I'm sure, you can expect from most of the resorts on the island (of which there are very few). Think exotic juices like star fruit, guava, passion fruit, and pineapple; as well as Nevisian takes on the beloved pancake with toppings like bananas, coconuts, and mangoes.
In the early evening, the Nisbet hosts a manager's rum party at the hotel's beach bar—an activity you'd be sad to miss. Rum punches flow generously, made with freshly grated Nevisian nutmeg on top. Cocktail hour is followed by a fantastic dinner of grilled fish—the day's freshest catch—including snapper, mahi mahi, and wahoo, as well as scallops. And to end an already spectacular night, the entire hotel—staff and guests alike—went back to the beach for dancing the night away to live music.
Today's the day to leave your perfect Nevis cocoon to explore the Montpelier Plantation, if you're not already staying there. It is set above sea level in the cool, tropical mountainside with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. The setting is worth the trip alone, but if you take a car up from your beachfront hotel, the driver will happily recount the history of the island as well as the sights you pass along the way. For example, you might learn that the island's population of 12,000 people are able to attend any of the tiny paradise's 48 churches. They'll also tell you of the traditional Friday night barbecues held all around the island.
Montpelier Plantation welcomes guests with antique, colonial furnishing and décor, open windows that beckon you into the mountain breezes, and exquisite cuisine. Make sure you head to the hotel for dinner—it is served inside the old sugar mill. Just three tables sit inside, making it more romantic than anywhere else you've ever dined. The hum of activity by the pool and at the hotel's main bar is a fantastic soundtrack while servers bring you an impeccable four course meal. Think scallops with a pear and citrus cream sauce, snapper with red pepper coulis, and a mango sorbet served between courses to cleanse your palate. You'll want to finish the dinner (and really, your trip) with the banana rum tart.
One Last Look at Paradise
Take one last stroll on the beach the morning of your inevitable departure. Pick up shells from the sand and rue the day that you booked your return flight. Enjoy your last guava juice on the island at breakfast, and perhaps tuck into another plate of deliciously tropical pancakes. Take one final swim in the pool and if you have time before re-joining the real world, a nap in the hammock. Try to resist the temptation to book a return trip on your phone at the airport.
Photo credits: Nisbet Plantation courtesy of Nisbet Plantation Beach Club; Dinner at Montpelier courtesy of Montpelier Plantation; all others via Dreamstime.com