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Nevis travel guide: where to stay, what to do and where to eat

welcome to The weekend, Coveteur’s travel series where seasoned globetrotters share their insider guides to the best destinations around the world. Read on for the best places to eat, stay and enjoy.

My first full day in Nevis, a small island off St. Kitts, I spent the morning dragging my body weight up the side of a mountain – ropes were involved – traversing the jungle-like terrain so as I climbed in a cloud to the top of Nevis Peak. The second I was sunbathing by a swimming pool surrounded by the most eclectic garden I have ever seen. On the third, I was indulging in a massage under a sunset and waving palm fronds. This 36 square mile island is laden with jungles and framed by beaches. Throughout this sleepy town of around 12,000, you’ll find historic touches in the form of crumbling churches and a quaint main street. Essentially, there is something for every traveler.

I split my time between a beach resort (The Four Seasons Nevis) and an artist-designed getaway (Golden Rock Inn) nestled in the mountains. Plan your trip in such a way as to fully discover all the facets of the island. While these accommodations are complete experiences in themselves, the island’s capital, Charlestown, offers a glimpse of the local scene, as well as some not-to-miss dining spots. Think: the catch of the day smothered in a coconut sauce you won’t soon forget. My final pro tip: Nevis is known for its rum punch (often referred to as the “killer bee” thanks to the Sunshine Beach Bar), so be sure to sample one every chance you get. Oh, and order a side of hot sauce with every dish.

If I’ve convinced you to book a trip, find out where to stay, what to do and where to eat in Nevis below.

Where to stay

Golden Rock Inn

Golden Rock Inn secluded swimming pool.

Photo: Courtesy of Camille Freestone

New York artists Helen and Brice Marden have converted this former sugar estate dating back to the 1800s into a destination that prioritizes the natural landscape of Nevis and the owners’ unique design sensibilities. Nestled in jungle-like grounds, 11 rooms (one of which is literally a converted sugar mill) add to the property’s intimate vibe. The design inclination shines through in the details ranging from the Morosso and Tropicalia chairs by Patricia Urquoila dotted throughout to a painting by Rene Ricard in the bar.

The gardens themselves, spread over 100 acres, are a draw in themselves. (If you’re not staying here, remember that the grounds are open for garden tours, so be sure to stop by.) Ask the gardener to drop some mangoes from a tree for you (beware, they’re harder to catch than they look) and watch out for monkeys prowling – they like mangoes too.

The small estate promotes a very relaxed feeling. I suggest spending as much time as possible lounging by the pool, which is framed by unique foliage. Order a cold ice cream mid-afternoon, then head to the restaurant for dinner. But if you’re adventurous, the hotel has whatever outdoor activities you want (see more on that below).

RESERVE

The Four Seasons Nevis

The private beach of the Four Seasons Nevis.

Photo: Courtesy of Camille Freestone

A complement to the secluded jungle energy of Golden Rock, the Four Seasons Nevis satisfies all your resort desires. Walk inside the entrance building and you’ll be greeted with a panoramic view of the pool and beach – instant serenity. One hundred and eighty-nine rooms, furnished with a sumptuous dose of Caribbean beach charm with a slight nod to retro, span the 350-acre property and offer tantalizing views of the ocean and Nevis Peak.

Stroll along nearly three miles of beachfront or (my favorite) take no steps on a lounge chair under a beach hut except those it takes to dive into the water – beach or pool, it’s up to you. Take snorkeling gear to the beach to spot fish, turtles, stingrays and more swimming in the crystal blue depths. Then, head to the dock for a sunset cocktail on the water or experience rum tasting at the Crowned Monkey Rum Bar.

Take full advantage of this resort destination in the spa. Enjoy a massage in a traditional cottage that looks more like a little gingerbread house than a resort. For true indulgence, you and your loved one can book the Spa Under the Stars, a private outdoor spa experience followed by a secluded dinner.

RESERVE

What to do

Walk through historic Charlestown

The Nevis History Museum located in Charlestown.

Photo: Courtesy of Camille Freestone

While these hotels provide an immersive experience on their own, I highly recommend traveling outside of the properties to get a sense of the island culture. Charlestown is the capital of Nevis and is very small, so you don’t need more than one more morning here. First, head to the Nevis History Museum located at the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. (Hamilton is a much-loved historical figure in Nevis). The island is also covered in beautiful old churches, dating back to the 1600s in some cases which you will spot on your walk. All with a backdrop of a tropical landscape on one side and a breathtaking view of the ocean on the other.

To take a walk

The views before entering the cloud as you ascend Nevis Peak.

Photo: Courtesy of Camille Freestone

Be careful (both literally and metaphorically). I’ve personally attempted (and completed, might I humbly add) Nevis Peak, but I don’t recommend it for anyone looking for a leisurely hiking experience. I would classify this four hour excursion as a climb rather than a hike – expect to have your hand around a rope most of the way – but it is very satisfying to complete.

For those interested in a more enjoyable experience, Ocean Point departs from Golden Rock Inn and takes approximately two hours. The Nevis waterfall hike offers (you guessed it) waterfall views, if that’s your preference. Your hotel will likely be able to facilitate these activities for you.

Swim in the hot springs

Nevis’ hot springs can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Photo: Courtesy of Camille Freestone

This one was admittedly a bit of an odd experience, but locals swear by the restorative properties of hot water. Historically a hot spot for nobles and dignitaries, the spring water is naturally heated by the island’s volcano. Dive into a small tiled pool to test the theory for yourself and experience a temperature of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for yourself. Plus, stroll by the Bath Hotel along the way, it was built in 1778.

Where to eat

The rocks

Order the snapper at The Rocks.

Photo: Courtesy of Camille Freestone

The Rocks is Golden Rock’s restaurant, but it caters to more than hotel guests. Rated the second best restaurant on the island behind Indian Summer (more casual after-work fare), The Rocks offers a range of craft cocktails and a mix of fresh meats and seafood. Be sure to try the Conch Chowder and the Snapper (and a rum punch, of course).

The Hermitage Inn

Inside the historic Hermitage Inn.

Photo: Courtesy of Camille Freestone

Worth a visit for the interior alone, the Hermitage Inn is one of the oldest wooden houses in the Caribbean. The main house is quaint and has a wood-panelled bar and a fairly well-stocked library. Head to the restaurant for breakfast (I heard the pumpkin pancakes are to die for) or enjoy some rum at the bar.

Passion Bar & Grill

Passion fish of the day topped with coconut sauce.

Photo: Courtesy of Camille Freestone

At Passion Bar & Grill, you will truly feel like a local as you make eye contact with the goats while enjoying your meal. But don’t be discouraged. It was one of the best meals I had on my trip. Quench your thirst with a fresh juice (mango ginger, if you ask) then try the catch of the day and opt for the coconut sauce when asked for your preference (this is what the house recommends). Whatever you do, don’t leave without tasting a corn fritter.

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