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Tourists flock to the bubbly Caribbean destination of St. Kitts oblivious to its quieter sister island, Nevis, just a ten-minute water taxi ride away. While die-hard fans of the hit musical Hamilton will tell you it’s the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, most people are oblivious to the charms of Nevis (pronounced NEE-vis). This hidden treasure is most definitely worth a peek. Here are five reasons why:
Situated in the center of the island, Nevis Peak is an awe-inspiring dormant volcano that provides a beautiful backdrop to the island. Adventurers will be happy to learn they can hike the 3,232-foot mountain; just be sure to hire a guide to avoid getting lost amongst poorly-marked trails. And don’t wear clothes you care a lot about. You’ll be covered in mud by the end. At the top, enjoy impressive views of surrounding islands.
Monkeys and mangoes
Rumor has it there are more monkeys than people on Nevis. The primates were brought in as pets by French explorers in the 1700s. Today, thousands roam the verdant foliage of the island. They travel in groups in search of food, mostly seeds and fruits. (There are also donkeys, goats, sheep, lizards, egrets, and unfortunately, sand fleas.)
Mangoes are a monkey favorite, as well as a treat for travelers. The tiny nation boasts 44 varieties. If you’re a fan, you may want to consider visiting in July, when Nevisians host the Nevis Mango & Food Festival, a showcase for the tropical fruit’s versatility in an incredible range of dishes. If you can’t make it then, no worries: You can find refreshing cocktails, chutneys, and award-winning hot sauce year round.
A wonderful rum punch
Everybody has their own rendition of the classic rum punch on the island, and you bet they all claim theirs to be the best. Nevis’s entries include Sunshine’s Beach Lounge (where locals warn you not to have more than one of their potent Killer Bee cocktails), the Gin Trap’s memorable Monkey Slap, and Kendie William’s award-winning Spicy Island Turtle at The Four Seasons Hotel. You’ll have to sample them all to find out which one you like best!
Tour Funky Monkey-style
Explore the prettiest terrain and back trails of Nevis—which is only 36 square miles—in a Funky Monkey open-air Polaris 4×4 Ranger. The three-and-a-half hour tour stops at various historical sites and offers multiple opportunities for photos and memorable island stories. Check out these 13 other under-the-radar Caribbean gems.
The museum that pays tribute to Alexander Hamilton offers an overview of his life (he lived on the island until age 9). The stone building, where he once lived, overlooks Charlestown Harbor and is an ideal spot for a history buff to take a selfie.
The Botanical Gardens of Nevis, on the Montpelier Estate overlooking Mount Nevis and the ocean, are a marvel. There are five-acre gardens with tropical plants from around the world, dolphin and monkey fountains, cascades, water lilies, over 100 species of palm, orchids, roses, fruit trees, and more. Don’t miss the parrots in the Rainforest Conservatory that whistle and say Hello. Hungry? Head upstairs to The Oasis Bar and Restaurant for a spectacular view of the island and authentic Thai food. The Caribbean is definitely on our list of summer vacation packages worth the money.
No visit to Nevis would be complete without hitting the locals’ favorite hangout spot: Pinney’s Beach. Beyond soft Caribbean sand and gentle surf, with breathtaking mountain views, there’s the lively Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill, with fresh seafood, jerk chicken, and island music you can’t help singing along to.
Nevis has no shortage of island activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, sailing (you can private charter a yacht), snorkeling, scuba diving, golf, tennis, horseback riding, cricket, and even a small hot springs that’s open to the public. The question is not what to do, but what you can bare to miss.
Where to stay:
On the property’s 350 acres of greenery and tropical flowers, you’ll find a signature spa, tennis program, and a championship golf course which doubles as a playground for the island’s monkeys when the sun goes down. The clear, turquoise waters of Pinney’s Beach has dark volcanic sand that defy logic by being powdery soft. Choose from single rooms to luxury villas featuring breathtaking views of Nevis Peak, the golf course, lush gardens, and the Caribbean Sea.
American abstract artist Brice Marden’s exclusive inn features 11 guest rooms scattered through 100 acres within a mountainous tropical rainforest where you’ll hear gentle birdsong, monkey calls, and the occasional frog symphony in the evening. Dine al fresco with views overlooking the sea or the gardens.
Guests get afternoon tea and homemade carrot cake daily at this family-owned boutique inn, and once a week, there’s a West Indian feast featuring suckling pig. The building is said to be the oldest wooden structure in the Caribbean, dating back to 1670.
This sophisticated Relais & Chateaux property is famous for having hosted the wedding of Fanny Nisbet to British Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, the naval commander famous for his victories against Napoleon. The main house has the décor and feel of an English country manor, while the 19 guest rooms boast a contemporary flair.
If you like the idea of a secluded getaway, you’ll definitely want to see these 30 secret island escapes around the world.