St. Kitt’s Sister Island.
If the “Twin Island Nation” of Saint Kitts and Nevis were siblings, then Saint Kitts would be the wild and crazy one while Nevis would be the laid-back relaxed one; a real odd couple. These two islands are both remarkably unique, but if you prefer to relax and explore nature, Nevis is the right island for you.
Nevis is best known for being charming and quaint as well as affordable. There’s much more city life and activity on neighboring St. Kitts, especially in the capital of Basseterre, but it would be a shame to ignore Nevis — the quieter half of the island nation. Although it sustains a slower, almost meandering pace of life, it’s also a great spot to enjoy activities without stress or concern for time.
Zooming around Nevis on a Polaris; life becomes a blur.
In case you’re wondering, Nevis is something of a misnomer. It was derived from a fractured version of the Spanish phrase “Nuestra Señora de las Nieves” – meaning “Our Lady of the Snows”. Apparently, Christopher Columbus believed he saw snow on top of a mountain. What he actually observed was just a low cloud encircling Nevis’ peak, a common occurrence on this volcanic Caribbean island.
Nevis is very peaceful and not too touristy, which is great if you’re looking to have a quiet, contemplative time. They only received electricity about 25 years ago, which affirms the natural elegance and peaceful lifestyles here. The island is also relatively small. A drive around the island on the main road is only 25 miles and takes about an hour if you don’t stop.
I opted to rent a four-wheel-drive Polaris golf cart thing to explore the island. Essentially it was like a golf cart on steroids; loud and fast. So fast in fact, that at one point while driving along the beach, my sunglasses flew off my face and landed in the street! Another casualty from traveling, I suppose. I should also mention that there are no doors or windows, and there was no windshield on this bad boy either. I highly recommend driving one, especially if you like adventure. I also probably shouldn’t mention this, but for the sake of entertainment, I’ll tell you there is a horse racing track on the west end of the island that is usually completely empty and vacant. I won’t tell you what happened, but let’s just say it was a lot of fun, and I won the race despite the fact that I was the only competitor.
A monkey sits in the
hands of its owner.
If you aren’t much of a trouble maker like I am, take a guided tour of the rainforest in the interior of the island; options range from physically strenuous hikes, to more modest clear-trail hikes. Whatever route choose, be sure to see the monkeys before they see you, or your snacks will be in jeopardy. They’re quite intelligent little thieves!
Also visit abandoned historic sectors where you’ll find remnants of old houses, mills, and other ruins from the sugar industry days (which are now long gone on both St. Kitts and Nevis). There also are ruins from an old fort near the capital city of Charlestown on Nevis.
After a few days of near solitude on Nevis get ready for some human interaction; Charlestown is worth checking out. Slightly Victorian, and very British, Charlestown is the economic center of Nevis. The streets are narrow and reminiscent of a small English fishing village from the ‘50s. Stop into a local eatery to try some goat water, a splendid little dish that tastes like a beefy stew. Some other classic delicacies include banana fritters, banana bread, banana crepes, and every possible permutation of bananas. Oh, and don’t forget the banana rum beverages. Local bars and restaurants on Nevis have a penchant for the yellow fruit and its cousin, the plantain.
Sail around Nevis’ beautiful coves.
I like watersports and Nevis is better positioned for windsurfing than some of its peers in the Caribbean, thanks to the friendly but brisk trade winds. Less crowded than the beaches of St. Kitts, the waters of Nevis provide the same clean sand and clear turquoise water I’d expect from any Caribbean island beach — without most of the noise and fanfare of rabid commercialism. Cades Bay Beach, Pinneys Beach, and Oualie Beach are all great spots to relax and enjoy the surf. Nevis offers many beautiful hikes, including the ones along the Upper Round Trail, to “The Source,” and to Nevis Peak (3,232 ft). The latter is hard to find, though, without a guide.
Swim and scuba with creatures of the sea.
Those interested in the island’s past may enjoy visiting the Museum of Nevis’ History. Nevis (Charlestown specifically), is also the place of birth of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, and the first Secretary of the United States Treasury. Charlestown also hosts Cafe des Arts, which has a pleasant gallery to meander through. Be sure to get a glass of cool freshly squeezed lemonade here.
Music being a large part of the Saint Kitts and Nevis culture, there are a number of musical celebrations, including “Carnaval” in late December, and the St Kitts Music Festival in June. Additional festivals on the island of Saint Kitts include Inner City Fest, in February, in Molineaux; Green Valley Festival, usually around Whit Monday, in Cayon; Easterama, in the village of Sandy Point; and Fest-Tab, in late July, in the village of Tabernacle. These celebrations typically feature parades, street dances, with salsa, jazz, soca, calypso, and steelpan music.
Enjoy a romantic sunset at Oualie Beach.
Despite the many festivals, nightlife on Nevis is relatively low-key. Eddy’s in Charlestown has a DJ on Wednesdays; Nisbet Plantation has a buffet dinner and a live band with dancing on Thursdays; Oualie Beach Hotel has a local band on Fridays and a steel drummer for Sunday brunch; and Four Seasons has a Calypso band every day. Many hotels on the island are renovated plantations that can be fun to visit, but if you’re looking for a more luxurious active stay, consider the Oualie Beach Resort Hotel.
Oualie Beach Resort Hotel (pronounced o-wally), is a luxurious eco-friendly resort property with a distinctively Nevis-style boutique feel. It’s a great place to stay if you’re looking to spend some quality time near the beach in luxurious rooms with an ocean view. Located on one of the most tranquil bays on Nevis, Oualie Beach Resort Hotel sits on a sugary white sand beach complete with beautiful floral landscaping. While Oualie Beach itself is beautiful, its charm extends throughout the environment by being the only tourism product on St Kitts and Nevis ever to be “Green Globe” certified.
Cottage-style livng at Oualie Beach Resort.
Delicacies at Oualie
Beach Resort’s restaurant.
On site activities include beachfront dining, spa treatments, mountain bikes, island tours, car rentals, and forest hikes. If you’re considering other hotel options, you may want to note that most of the other hotels on Nevis send their guests to Oualie Beach for the water sports. Some other watersports options include scuba diving with tropical fish, sailing the azure islands waters, windsurfing, sport fishing, or just a relaxing swim. So despite the fact that Nevis is a relatively quiet island, there’s clearly no shortage of things to do.
The rooms at Qualie are scattered along the beach in single and two-story Caribbean-style cottages that offer the feeling of an expensive condo complex along the water.
The patios are technically open, but are enclosed within a thin mosquito net, which is a really nice touch, especially for those predisposed to getting bug bites like I am. Each room is equipped with a/c (which I ran fervently), hairdryer (which I did not run fervently), cable TV, choice of king, queen, or two double beds, fridge/minibar, and high-speed wireless internet access, which also works along the beach. There is also a complimentary guest internet access computer for those that leave their laptops behind, and a small snack shop in the lobby in case of an emergent chocolate craving.
A spacious suite at the Oualie Beach Resort.
Participating in all of these activities will undoubtedly work up quite an appetite. The Oualie Beach Resort’s restaurant shines here too by offering a full menu of local delicacies, delectable treats, and a full bar for beach boozers looking to get a little sloshed. They feature predominantly West Indian, seafood, and continental dishes to appease all types of palates. Complementary WIFI is also available from the restaurant.
Pamper yourself with a massage
at the Oualie Beach Resort.
Overall, the Oualie Beach Resort is a neatly packaged Caribbean getaway that should appeal to both the active water sports enthusiast as well as the family looking to escape the hustle and bustle of bigger city life. But even if you don’t stay at or near Oualie Beach, make sure to at least stop in for a cool drink or light snack to see the best that Nevis has to offer, unless, of course you decide to head to the racetrack in your Polaris.
— Feature by Josh Edelson, Jetsetters Magazine adventure writer; photos by Josh and courtesy of Qualie Beach Resort.