Discover the authentic Caribbean. A visit to the West Indies island of Nevis is to be immersed in a welcoming, slow travel destination. Typically, our travels are about fancy food and hip hotels, but when you reach Nevis everything resonates with natural, unpretentious authenticity. This is the greatest luxury in travel.
Nevis is a captivating, quintessential West Indies hideaway, evocative of the Caribbean before generic luxury resorts and mass tourism transformed much of this sought-after archipelago. Nevis is the partner to Saint Kitts, in the two-island independent Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis. Flights arrive at the low-key Robert L. Bradshaw Airport terminal. Within moments of arriving, you are embraced by island time.
The Rocks, Golden Rock Inn
Golden Rock Inn is a bohemian boutique bolthole on the slopes of Mount Nevis. This unique inn has become renowned for its relaxed, outdoor restaurant, The Rocks, which welcomes the public throughout the day. Visitors to the island seem to enjoy restaurant- and bar-hopping, eating their way across the island, and the food of Chef James Eaton has become a favourite.
Breakfast at the inn means a leisurely start to the day, usually shared with inquisitive birds that attempt to steal a morsel of the hearty dishes like Golden Rock Benedict of poached eggs with local smoked wahoo fish, or Lobster Hash with local seafood over poached egg potatoes, onions, and peppers.
Then after a day idling by the swimming pool, reward yourself for taking it slow, with dinner under the stars, starting with a chunky conch chowder, or coconut-crusted shrimp before a tempting plate of local Caribbean spiny lobster tail, or Moroccan chicken, a dish inspired by the well-travelled owners.ç
This charming plantation-style boutique property was created by Gillian Smith, who first visited Nevis 25 years ago, and stayed. I can imagine a way. The island is captivating, the quintissential West Indies hideaway, evocative of the Caribbean before generic luxury resorts and mass tourism transformed much of this sought-after archipelago. At Bananas Restaurant, Nevis guests can enjoy Caribbean dishes prepared in a contemporary style, accompanies by live music like a Creole jazz band. This is a good place to try authentic dishes like the spicy, flavourful ‘goat water stew,’ a hearty Western Caribbean dish of local goat in a gravy made with vegetables, molasses and spiced with chili and clove.
But make sure you start your evening on the roof terrace enjoying sundowner cocktails as the horizon is ignited with warm colours of the setting sun.
If you’re touring the island, make sure you pay a visit to the fascinating Nevisian Heritage Village estate, where traditional buildings help tell Nevis’ story. Here experienced cook and charming host Sofia Wallace has recently created the Heritage Café. I wanted to try the local shellfish, and devoured some light and fluffy conch fritters, with a satisfyingly crispy outside, simply perfect for dipping in the spicy guava mayonnaise. I couldn’t resist a side dish of fried, caramelised plantain with cinnamon – flavours so evocative of the West Indies. The homemade fiery ginger beer was the perfect accompaniment.
Passion Bar & Grill
Famous for its Guinness rum punch, the colourful and friendly Passion Bar and Grill Nevis is open for lunch and dinner. I sought out a table in the shade of a mango tree and enjoyed tuna fish fritters, and a plate of tasty aubergine with caramelised onion, prepared by owner Karen Belle. I’m told there are more than 50 types of mango on Nevis, and there is an annual mango festival! This is an authentic dining experience in a rural setting on the edge of the village where goats graze metres from the al fresco tables – I loved it!
Charlestown is the capital of Nevis, and a visit here is a fascinating insight into the island’s history. For sustenance, seek out the legendary Wilma’s Diner on Main Street. Chef Wilma, who once cooked for the Princess of Wales during her island visit in the 1990s, suggested I savour some classic rice & peas, and a flavoursome curry with a meaty texture, made using local breadfruit. This island staple grows on trees and can be enjoyed unripe like a vegetable (I’m told it is as versatile as a potato) or sweet as a fruit.
Sunshine’s Beach Bar and Grill
This is the place to try the most famous rum punch on the island of Nevis! Head for Sunshine’s Beach Bar and Grill on Pinney’s Beach, to try the killer bee, made with strong rum mixed with passionfruit juice, lemon, lime, and pepper and garnished with nutmeg. Founded by charismatic local, ‘Sunny’ who started his business as a one-man BBQ grill shack and is now an island institution – a popular stop for visitors.
Funky Monkey Tours
This friendly local firm is present on both Saint Kitts and Nevis. These local adventure specialists promise to open up the wilder side of the island. I particularly enjoyed an off-road island tour with the crew at Funky Monkey Tours, in one of their fabulously rugged and versatile buggies. You can self-drive or join a tour aboard one of these 4×4 buggies from local adventure specialists Funky Monkey Tours – either way, you will be given access to the island’s unspoilt beaches, lush interior, where you can spot wild donkeys (the population dates back to the era of slavery when the animals were ‘beasts of burden’) to the fascinating ruins of the old sugar cane estates.
Bac 2 My Roots Spa
During my visit to Nevis, it was an inspiration to meet so many entrepreneurs who have created their own business. One of these was Yejide Njambi who has established the island’s most welcoming spa and salon, Bac 2 My Roots. Yejide is an experienced hair stylist and certified organic therapist. At her charming spa I enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing massage, in her beautiful treatment room – highly recommended.
Nevisian Heritage Village
The Nevisian Heritage Village is an open-air museum that tells the story of Nevisian social history through housing. The houses, dating from the Carib Indian era, are replicas and are furnished with antiques. The display includes the blacksmith’s shop, rum shop, and the shoemaker’s shop, along with the islanders’ houses.
Golden Rock Inn
Golden Rock Inn is a remarkable hidden Eden on the slopes of Mount Nevis, where the greatest temptation is to idle the day away by the pool sipping rum punch. Golden Rock Inn is a bohemian boutique bolthole on the slopes of Mount Nevis. This restored sugar mill, built of elephant grey volcanic stone, punctuated with wooden window shutters painted in imperial red, is a spectacular hotel, set amongst glossy green palms and flowering trees. There are 11 charmingly simple guest rooms in standalone bungalows set within the privacy of verdant botanical gardens offering sea views towards Antigua and Montserrat, and a destination restaurant, The Rocks, where Chef James Eaton created hearty Caribbean fare.
Golden Rock Inn is an extraordinary place, redolent of the island’s history, as well as having a creative, artsy vibe. Understandable when I learn it is owned by the celebrated US abstract artist Brice Marden and his artist and photographer wife Helen. The couple has created a bespoke guest experience, transforming the estate into a living canvas of colours, textures and flavours evocative of the West Indies. Inside the communal area in the main building, you’ll find colourful modern art, vibrant throws, and contemporary furniture as well as souvenirs from Helen and Brice’s globetrotting scattered around.
Four Seasons Resort Nevis
If you’re looking for an elevated guest experience away from the traditional, homespun charm of Nevis, then there is only one compelling option, the Four Seasons Resort Nevis.
The modern embodiment of the spirit and soul of the Caribbean, this beachfront oasis promises to be everything you could need in a luxury getaway. Accommodation includes suites and cottages. Dining includes beach bars and signature restaurants. The resort intents to be a place where smiles greet you as you step off the boat, where the crest of the sun over Nevis Peak sparkles on the waters of two oceans that meet.
For comprehensive information about the island of Nevis, visit their destination website: nevisisland.com