CHARLESTOWN, Nevis “Just 15 more minutes to the rock,” cajoled our
guide, Jim, as we inched up the muddy slopes.
We were “hiking” Nevis Peak, the 3,232-foot mountain that
dominates the middle of the tiny Caribbean island of Nevis. I’d
been warned this would be “strenuous,” but I hadn’t expected to be
pulling ourselves up by ropes tied to roots along the trail as we
scrambled up through thick rainforest. I couldn’t wait to rest on
the nice, big, flat rock.
Unfortunately, the rock wasn’t flat it was a vertical slab of
granite, and it had to be scaled to get to the top. I called it
Only after sliding back down to the bottom did Jim explain that
he also offers 15 other less tortuous hikes, such as “Jessup’s Rain
Forest: A Lovely Walk.”
In the past decade, Nevis (the smaller of the two islands that
make up the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis) has become serious
about tourism. It has welcomed the development of a Four Seasons
resort and spruced up its plantation inns. It has attracted the
likes of Beyonce Knowles, Catherine Zeta-Jones and best-selling
author John Grisham. And it has established itself as an active,
upscale vacation retreat offering everything from hiking to
horseback riding, scuba diving, mountain biking, windsurfing,
golfing on a championship 18-hole course and more.
Getting to Nevis from the West Coast is now a whole lot easier
too. As of June 15, a late-afternoon flight with American Eagle has
“A second connection out of San Juan [Puerto Rico] will allow
passengers from West Coast and Midwest gateway cities to reach
Nevis without an overnight stopover,” said Helen Kidd, CEO of the
Nevis Tourism Authority. “This is big news. It allows us to
introduce the beauty, warmth and hospitality of the island to a
huge segment of travelers that might not have considered Nevis as a
vacation destination in the past.”
Mind you, clients should know that Nevis isn’t exactly hopping.
You won’t find casinos, shopping malls or the nightlife of many
other Caribbean getaways. Goats, donkeys and monkeys are more
visible than the island’s 9,000 residents. “Nevis still evokes
memories of the Caribbean as it used to be,” Kidd said.
Take the lower fringes of the rainforest, where an estimated
7,000 green vervet monkeys are found. Of African origin, the
monkeys were introduced to Nevis by French sailors, who brought
them in as pets. A nature trail near the Golden Rock Plantation Inn
is a good place to spy them, especially in the morning and late
afternoon when they are feeding. Underwater is just as captivating
as topside. On two reef dives with Scuba Safaris, we saw sleepy
nurse sharks, spiny lobsters peeking out of crevasses, a mother and
baby manta ray and schools of colorful fish.
No doubt about it, clients looking for soft adventure on their
next Caribbean vacation should put Nevis high on their list.
Nevis Tourism Authority
|The Stylish Inns of Nevis|
No trip to Nevis is complete without either staying or dining at
one of the island’s elegantly restored, 17th-century plantation
A 10 percent agent commission is paid on hotel bookings.
Montpelier Plantation Inn: A gracious 17-room inn in the hills,
where Princess Di retreated after separating from Prince Charles,
now known for its superb dining. Lovely pool and complimentary
beach shuttle. Doubles $260 until Oct. 31, then $360 through Dec.
14. Breakfast and afternoon tea included. (869-469-3462;
Old Manor Hotel: This restored historic sugar plantation has
tastefully furnished suites and rooms. A deluxe room costs $170
until Oct. 31 ($200 through Dec. 14) and includes breakfast.
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club: The Caribbean’s only beachfront
plantation inn, with 38 guest cottages set in lush landscaping.
Doubles start at $200 until Oct. 31, then $250 through Dec. 19.
Oualie Beach Hotel: Not a plantation inn, but a comfortable
three-star hotel with gingerbread cottages spread along a nice
beach and a fun barefoot bar. Doubles start at $195 through Dec.
18. (869-469-9735; www.oualie.com)
Four Seasons Resort: Not an inn, but a luxurious beachfront
resort with spacious rooms, lavish spa and a championship golf
course. Bargain rates of $295 until Oct. 30, then $425 until Dec.
18. (800-332-3442; www.fourseasons.com/nevis)