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Nevis Trip Report....Aaaaahhh! Now That's What I Call Relaxing!

Nevis Trip Report....Aaaaahhh! Now That's What I Call Relaxing!

Old Nov 7th, 2005, 01:15 PM
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Nevis Trip Report....Aaaaahhh! Now That's What I Call Relaxing!

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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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 01:26 PM
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Oh, and another first: we both got "Montezuma's revenge" at the end of the trip...but we did indulge carelessly in the local fruits and veggies, so it's our own fault I suppose. Unfortunately, we had to cancel a snorkel excursion with Miss Barbara Whitman of Under The Sea at Oalie...I bet it would have been great.

We also tried to book a sailing excursion with Les Windley of Sea Nevis...but his boat was out for repairs. We asked him to recommend another "real" sailboat - not a catamaran booze cruise, but apparently he's the only one on Nevis! Darn!

(I put both these comments in my original editing but somehow they didn't appear)

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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 02:36 PM
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I guess my experience of Nevis and St. Kitts has been quite different or I have been extremely lucky in my visits there. I have never met a Kittian or Nevisian who was anything less than kind and civil.

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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 02:37 PM
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Welcome back, Joan & hubby. I can't apologize for the weather you encountered nor feel that the treatment at Miss Junes (and a couple of other instances) was typical...but I do like your attitude about how you guys handled things. Despite the bugs, I'm really happy that you found the Yellow Bird and Oualie Beach area to your liking (I had my fingers crossed, never-the-less). At least you didn't suffer the loss of your luggage like we did! Your report reminded me of some of the small frustrations we found on our visit but "attitude" and "limin'" plus the generally very friendly residents seemed to always erase any negative vibes. I guess if one wants to be held by the hand and pampered 24/7, forking out mega bucks is the only way to go, regardless of the destination. In the case of a small villa on a small island and a "do it yourself" kind of vacation, I would always prefer what you did...and (when the stars align/bank account permits) what we'll do again, and again. A great report. Maybe we'll cross paths in the future and get Les to sail us around Nevis or at least join forces to chase those damn monkeys away from the grapefruit trees. Cheers, Richard.
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 02:39 PM
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joan,

i enjoyed your trip report. i've never been to st. kitts or nevis although i would like to go in the future. did you look around montpelier inn when you went for dinner? i've looked at info about this for a potential future visit and it looks lovely.
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 03:14 PM
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Joan,

Thanks for your wonderful report, written with great detail and that wonderful sense of humor that you always show !

I think you'll remember that I've rented a villa on Nevis for the month of February.
I believe it's close to Yellow Bird. So, my anxiety kicked in, a little, when reading about your visiting monkeys. Please tell me that they stayed outside, and were only after fruit...please !

My anxiety about driving was already in place as well meaning friends laugh in my face at the thought of my driving on a "different" side of the road. I did chuckle over the windshield reference...I do that in my own, familiar vehicle.

Any reassurance about monkeys and/or other creatures would be welcome ! I guess the driving, or not, will be up to me.

Marion
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 03:38 PM
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Joan,
Thanks for the Trip Report.I have never been to Nevis and would love to go oneday.I laughed my butt off at the monkeys!That would be neat to watch.

Christie
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 03:59 AM
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Yes, Richard, let's plan to take that sail together! I loved seeing Nevis from the water, and I bet it would be magnificent from that 360 degree trip! And you joked about the grapefruits, but that's how I noticed the monkeys - a giant "hand" reaching out and grabbing a great big fruit! All your advice was right-on, by the way, and we thank you again. We would not have made that beach trek if you hadn't described it in your trip report. Incidentally, we had a different housekeeper (so couldn't send your greetings) and we never did see neighbor Chris.

Mah, it was dark and we didn't get a good look around Montpelier, but what we did see was first-class, and the service was awesome. Not to mention the food!

Marion, I do believe the two villas must be very close neighbors, judging from the views (Tigh-Na-Mara, right?)...you will love the location. Oalie provides that social/restaurant option, without having to worry about driving after dark. But really, you must rent a car - it's not bad at all once you get used to it - so much fun going into town at a whim.

Don't worry one bit about those monkeys! They are vegetarians and you are Meat! However, our maid was not pleased with us one day, since we had left the bathroom shutters open (they open onto the deck). She did say that "they like to come inside" so after that we closed up when leaving... Maybe the others have more (comforting) experiences to share?

Thanks Christiegr!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 04:54 AM
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Joan - thanks for your report which I read with great pleasure. It really 'took me back' to Nevis where we vacationed 5 years ago. Like you, we also visited the Golden Rock hotel, did the hike and did not see any monkeys either! We were impressed by the rainforest though.
We stayed at Nisbet Plantation - glad to hear you liked it, wonderful location and atmosphere, and the friendliest service ever!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 06:05 AM
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What a Trip Report! Your fingers must be sore...

You should become a member of www.discover-stkitts-nevis-beaches.com
You will find a forum at www.islandimage.com

Your feedback on Nevis is helpful to future visitors.

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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 06:32 AM
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I loved your trip report! We are going to Nevis in January. Like you, we went back and forth on whether we should go to St. Kitts or Nevis. Looks like we too made the right decision. Can't wait!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 11:11 AM
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Joan - great report. I am glad you enjoyed Yellowbird. The monkeys are a hoot, aren't they! I can never sleep my first night on Nevis, mostly because of the donkeys though, lol. Thanks.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 02:44 PM
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For what its worth, from a year ago, here's my trip report...scroll down to the third entry: http://www.debbiescaribbeanresortrev.../marriott.html
And try this if you're a foodie:
http://www.myeyez.net/cgi-bin/stkitt...num=1105987339
And:
http://www.myeyez.net/cgi-bin/stkitt...num=1105987401
Cheers, Richard
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 03:51 PM
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Hey Joan:

Very nice trip report...you've got me seriously thinking about taking a trip to Nevis...Have friends from there and St. Kitts...but not one of them ever mentioned monkeys (lol).
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 05:20 PM
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Your report is excellent! I was there in June and I totally agree with everything that you said. I ran into some locals who said that Ms. June's was recommended for the island flavor only and we read into that...don't waste your time. Sorry about that experience. Oprah loves her dinner.... Anyway, glad you liked Oualie Beach experience. We love Chef Jason and think that area is awesome. We will take your comments with us on our next visit in the summer ( I teach). I can't imagine a villa w/o ac.....hummm The bugs are awful there! I haven't found a villa there yet that did have a/c mentioned in the write-up. Any ideas? Thanks, Karen
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Old Nov 11th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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Thanks for your excellent trip report Joan. We are leaving for Nevis on Dec. 16 for 10 days. One thing confuses me. On what side of the car is the steering wheel? It's been referred to as "the wrong side", but that would depend on where you live, wouldn't it? We are US citizens, so to us, the wrong side is the right side. In St. John, USVI, the wheel is on the left side, but one has to drive on the left side of the road. Help!

Can one take the rental car on the ferry? What do you mean by "trading for the day at no charge"?

Thanks for all the tips on dining. We will definitely avoid Miss June's. The food may be superior, but rudeness can spoil even the best meal. I'm sure Oprah was never treated that way at Miss June's.

Did you book your car directly, or did the villa management arrange that for you? I have to get moving on this, so please let me know ASAP. Thank you



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Old Nov 11th, 2005, 08:59 AM
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To Ruthrie - When someone says the steering whell is on the "wrong side" it usually means they are from the US and are used to driving a car with the steering wheel on the left . In Nevis and St. Kitts you drive on the left so most (but not all) of the rental cars will have steering wheels on the right hand side (so you can see oncomming traffic). It's takes a little getting used to but most drivers adapt quickly.

The rental companies will not let you a rental car on the ferry (by the way there's only one ferry capable of carrying a few cars at a time - the others are passenger ferries). A couple of the rental car companies (TDC, Avis and one or two others) have reciprical arrangements on St. Kitts and you can arrange to "swap" cars for a day trip. The same hol;ds true if you are staying on St. Kitts and want to visit Nevis for the day.

You can book your rental directly or your management company can arrange a rental for you. If you choose the latter and are planning to do a day trip swap in St. Kitts make sure your management company knows this so they can use the proper car rental firm. You will need to purchase a temporary St. Kitts/Nevis driver's license. You can get them from the car rental agency or at the police station.
 
Old Nov 11th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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Ruthie1:

A website you might find helpful is www.discover-stkitts-nevis-beaches.com

Everything you need to know about St. Kitts and Nevis.
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Old Nov 15th, 2005, 12:29 PM
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Sorry I haven't responded to my own thread lately...but I just returned from another wonderful vacation! (Key West)

iw, I didn't even worry about A/c...didn't think we'd need it, and I much prefer not to use it. But my husband was uncomfortable...perhaps we'll wait til later in the fall next time. Like you, I haven't found a Nevis villa (in my price range) with A/c.

ruthie1, I see Sunnyboy has already answered your questions. We booked the car on our own, after researching which ones have the free exchange on StK. TDC is a Thrifty franchise, here's the website:

http://www.tdcltd.com/thrifty/

As for Miss June's, the food was soooo good, I hope someone else reports back that she was more fun...there was another Fodorite planning to go there, fsleeps where are you?

Funny thing about those steering wheels, we saw cars with them on either side - so who knows? Just be sure to arrange ahead of time which day you'd like to switch the car - and you drive down to the ferry, park it, and when you get to St. Kitts, walk a couple of blocks and pick up the new car for the day. Easy, but do try to be flexible on your day, because I imagine if it's a cruise ship visiting StK there would not be a car available. Have a wonderful trip. Where are you staying?
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