In Nevis, everyone knows everyone, or so it seems, and they’re happy to share news, gossip and helpful information.
Nevis (pronounced “NEE-vis”), six miles wide by eight miles long, is the smaller of two sister islands, former British colonies that make up the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Located in the leeward portion of the Caribbean’s Lesser Antilles, both islands have lush foliage, dormant volcanoes and uncrowded beaches, though Nevis, population 12,000, is quieter and less developed than its big sis.
Revealing Nevis as my destination to other travelers is like sharing a secret handshake in a club where those who love beach casinos, bars with DJs and nightlife turn one way as they exit the airport, remaining in St. Kitts, while the rest of us hop into cabs to the ferry. Crossing the two-mile channel to Nevis, we arrive at a destination with one sleepy harbor town and more than 50 churches, where wild sheep and donkeys roam freely, an island reported to have more vervet monkeys than people.
“Nevis offers a distinctive sense of disconnect, which I think is so difficult to find in today’s global world,” said Nancy Beckham, a former Nevis resident whom I met in Miami. “No buildings are higher than a coconut palm, there aren’t many vehicles, the people are educated and kind, the surroundings are lush and green, and there’s plenty to explore, including wonderful historical ruins that have disappeared from other Caribbean islands.”
For a recent visit — my second in five years — I lured my pal Libby down from Portland, Maine, with promises of swimming, touring, cocktail imbibing, eating and lounging in the sun. Call it Lollygagging 101.
A taste of sugar
Arriving at our hotel, Montpelier Plantation & Beach, Libby and I were greeted by Ziggy, a friendly, honey-colored hound dog. Javier Stanley, a bartender with an oval face and a thousand-watt smile, served us a welcoming rum punch in a tall chilled glass.
“Nevis is simple, subtle,” he said. “There’s not too much hustle and bustle.”
“Compared to other Caribbean nations, Nevis is a step back in time,” said Nikolas Mantas, the food and beverage manager. And he meant that in a good way.
Settling into island life was as easy as kicking off our shoes. After our cocktail and a dip in the pool, we took a taxi to Lime, a rustic beachside restaurant and bar with wood floors and a porch looking out at the stars. Michael Jackson rocked the sound system — “Oh baby, give me one more chance” — and we sighed over crisp tania (an island root vegetable) fritters, watermelon and feta cheese salad, and grilled grouper, sauteed onions and pickles folded in a flour tortilla. We washed it all down with a cold Carib beer.