© Whitney Lawson
For an Authentic Experience
This leeward island has a flat coastline that soars up to the rain forest–enshrouded 3,200-foot Mount Nevis. It feels intimate, in part because it’s tiny (population 11,000), but also because development has been tightly controlled: no high-rise hotels, and not a single traffic light.
It’s better to hire taxis, as the roads are poorly signed. But if you do rent a car, you’ll need a temporary driver’s license ($24), which can be issued when you pick up your car at Thrifty Car Rental (869/469-5430; from $45 a day).
The Four Seasons Resort Nevis (800/819-5053; fourseasons.com; doubles from $325; villas from $1,025) is the top hotel on the island and, some might argue, in the Caribbean. It has a prime location on Pinney’s Beach, elegant rooms (mahogany furniture, marble bathrooms), a decadent spa (try a salt-mango scrub), an activity-packed children’s program (opportunities to learn about sea turtles up close), and flawless service.
Nevis is unique for its many plantations that have been converted into luxury hotels. The Hermitage Plantation Inn (Gingerland; 869/469-3477; hermitagenevis.com; doubles from $170, including breakfast) is perhaps the most serene of them all, surrounded by gardens bursting with bougainvillea, hibiscus, and breadfruit trees. Fifteen pastel cottages decorated with antiques share the grounds with a 340-year-old Great House.
The miles-long Pinney’s is Nevis’s best-known, but locals head instead to the beach’s northernmost edge: the secluded and palm-lined Paradise Beach. Bring your own towels and food; there are no services here.
The Bath Hotel, on Main Street south of Charlestown, was built in 1778 to accommodate wealthy Europeans visiting Nevis’s therapeutic hot springs. The stone compound was converted into government offices in 2005, but the springs are still open to bathers free of charge.
Nevisians will treat you like one of their own when you’re hanging out—or lymin’, as the locals call it. Sip rum-laden Killer Bees at Sunshine’s Grill (Pinney’s Beach; 869/469-5817; sunshinenevis.com; lobster dinner for two $50).
Though sun-seeking Americans visit Nevis in winter, the island is at its most lively in July, during the annual Culturama Festival (nevisculturama.net), a weeklong Carnival-like party.