Sandy beaches and rolling waves without the crowd? This is what you get in Nevis, a quaint island paradise which is part of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. With a population just above 10,000, this mountainous island provides a respite away from the crowds. I made the journey over the Christmas holidays to visit my in-laws who live there. While I did not have the full "tourist" experience, we made it to most sites and took in most of what the island has to offer. Instead of a long travelogue, here are my top 5 places to visit in Nevis (in no particular order)!
1 - Museum of Nevis History and the Alexander Hamilton Birthplace and Museum - This very informative museum provides an in-depth history of Nevis and provides context for what the island has become today. You learn about the island's sugar legacy, slavery, native traditions, and Nevis's most famous son, Alexander Hamilton. To manage expectations, this is a very modest museum. It does not boast interactive displays or a great number of artifacts, but it is a good place to start your Nevis tour and it is the only significant cultural museum of its kind on the island.
2 - Bath Hotel and Spring House- The Bath Hotel is touted as the oldest hotel in the Caribbean. My historian mother-in-law shared that it was a place of respite for the acquaintances of its owner more than a hotel, but the fundamental use is the same. The hot springs are hot! There are several places to dip your feet in and a bathhouse if you would like to immerse. Interestingly, the locals used to bathe in the springs regularly before running water was widespread on the island. When I visited, children were bathing there with their parents looking on so note that there are families who still use the springs. This is not solely a tourist attraction. The hotel was recently used as a government building. However, it is no longer in use. There is an awesome cannon mounted on the hotel's veranda that is worth a photo op. This is a great part of Nevisian history that is a "must see" for all visitors.
3 - The Botanical Gardens of Nevis - Simply gorgeous! Explore the native flora and fauna in an impressive setting. The only aspect of the gardens that I found a little odd was the collection of mostly Asian statuary. One of the best decisions that we made while visiting was to dine in the #1 Trip Advisor rated Oasis in the Garden restaurant. It's Thai food (another odd Asian reference), but it is good. The gift shop has locally published books and gift items. Very few arts and crafts are made in Nevis. So, don't expect to go home with artwork or artisan made keepsakes. The items that are available can be purchased at the Artisan Market near Pinney's Beach.
4 - Cottle Church - This Anglican Church ruin was built by Thomas Cottle in 1824. It was a place where both slaves and free people of all races could worship together. There are a number of church and sugar mill sites all around the island, but I found this location the best kept with the most information on site.
5 - Pinney's Beach - There are a number of beaches in Nevis. Pinney's Beach is the main beach for tourists. There are several restaurants, most notably, Sunshine's (try the world famous Killa Beez Rum Punch), Turtle Time (excellent food with an Asian twist) and Lime (the only place to get pizza). These restaurants also serve as the best local spots for entertainment like live music, Bingo (every Thursday at Lime), bikini contests (also at Lime), and watersports. Unlike popular beaches in other places, no one will bother you! There aren't folks walking around hawking goods or playing unwanted music. And, the locals who love the beach enjoy it along side of you!
Because I didn't stay overnight in a hotel, I can't truly recommend lodging. But, I did stop by Golden Rock (www.goldenrocknevis.com). This was the most impressive and enchanting place on the entire island to me. Even if you don't stay there, it is worth a visit to take photos or dine. For the design enthusiasts, Golden Rock is heaven with it's incredible architecture, sweeping views and eclectic style.