Summer Vacation: Nevis, Part One

This vacation post is a long one, so I'm going to divide it into two parts. The first part today is  about the island and our hotel. The second post will be about the churches and restaurants.

We flew from Miami to St. Kitts and then took a 45 minute ferry ride to Nevis. Let's start with the pronunciation of the island. It ought to be Nevis, the "e" sounding like the e in never. But everyone, islanders included, call it Neevis, with a long e.

Nevis is a volcanic island in the Caribbean, located near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles archipelago. It's seven miles long and 5 miles wide with a population of 11,000 and the capital is Charleston. 

Nevis was first sighted by Columbus in 1493; an island settled for more than two thousand years by Amerindian people. The current name Nevis was derived from a Spanish name meaning "our lady of the snows", probably referring to the white clouds that usually cover the top of Nevis Peak.

The island of Nevis is divided into five administrative subdivisions called parishes; 
each parish is shaped like a pie slice. The first part of the name is the name of the patron saint of the parish church, and the second part of the name is the traditional common name of the parish.The five parishes of Nevis are:

Saint George Gingerland

Saint James Windward
Saint John Figtree
Saint Paul Charlestown
Saint Thomas Lowland

Nevis retains old world charm with 18th and 19th century stone buildings and refurbished plantations and great houses scattered about the island. The island is also known by the sobriquet "Queen of the Caribees", which it earned in the 18th century, when its sugar plantations created much wealth for the British. We had dinner one night in an old sugar mill on Montpelier Plantation, which you'll read about in Part Two.

 Nevis is also of particular historical significance to Americans because it was the birthplace and early childhood home of Alexander Hamilton.

For the British, Nevis is the place where Horatio Nelson was stationed as a young sea captain, and is where he met and married a Nevisian, Frances Nisbet, the young widow of a plantation-owner.

It may be a small island, but one thing you'll never be is bored. There's so much to do: hiking (you can even climb Mt. Nevis), sailing, golf, tennis, a lovely botanical garden, scuba diving and of course, beaches. There are any number of beaches, but the longest is Pinney's Beach, where The Four Seasons is located. This resort also has three lovely pools (one for adults only), several restaurants (we'll discuss these in Part Two), a golf course, tennis courts, spa and workout room; in other words, everything anyone could possibly want. We had a room overlooking the ocean. (That's my daughter in the first photo with Mt. Nevis in the background....she had her hair braided!...and my youngest son with my daughter in the final photo.)

The island is awash with green vervet monkeys. It's said they number 4 times the population. While they didn't seem to encroach on the space around rooms, beach and hotel grounds (how that was avoided here I can't imagine as on other islands in the area they actually come down to the beach and steal food and drinks away!), there were lots of them on the golf course. One afternoon, we took a tour and look what we found (some of them had been cavorting around on the golf course greens but took to the trees when we came along).

They may seem cute, but they are pests. They eat everything so it's almost impossible for anyone on the island to keep fruit or vegetable gardens, which is a shame in a climate like this. The monkeys' preferred trees are mango and another called a genip tree. It bears an interesting fruit; I'd never heard of it before. We broke off a branch and tried the fruit. It's quite small and when you bite into it, you find a large round seed covered with a slightly furry fruit layer. There's nothing substantial about the fruit and all you can do with it is suck on the seed. It's sweet and no wonder the monkeys like it. I did too!

A little about flowers: one of the most common was Coralita, a twining vine found growing everywhere. It's really considered a weed, but the pink or white flowers are very numerous and make a conspicuous bed of color. Look how it's taken over this old house! If you look closely and you can see the pink flowers. (There's a close-up of Coralita in the slideshow on the Botanical Garden below.)

Another interesting tree is the cherry tree....and it's not what you think. 
This particular cherry tree yields a sticky fruit that was/can be used as a homemade glue. There's a photo of that tree in the slideshow too. 

The flamboyant is the national tree of Nevis, with long, brown seed pods  that are shaken like castanets to make music. In Florida we call it a Royal Poinciana. The red blooms are something to behold and we are fortunate to see them blooming everywhere in the summer.

And before I forget, let me tell you about the goats and sheep. They wander about freely in fields around the island. Lots of them. The sheep don't have the heavy wool coats we are accustomed to seeing; we were told it was because of the year-round warm weather. You can barely tell the difference between them. How? Goats: tails up. Sheep: tails down.  :)

One afternoon we visited the Botanical Garden. It was lovely, very well kept and had one of the nicest gift shops on the island.


Did I mention Tracy and I had been here before? In 1996. Oddly enough, one of the things we remembered best was a trip to the race track. Yes....they have a race track. It used to be open on holidays only, not terribly well organized and when we went years ago, one of the horses dumped his jockey, took off across the field next to the track and wasn't found until the next day.  :) We had gone with a British couple we had made friends with and spent an afternoon of fun and laughter. I'm sure we lost every cent we bet too. Not too many tourists know about the races. Anyway, things are much more organized now, a serious business....fun, but not nearly as much fun.  The track has covered bleachers now and they actually smooth the track out in between races. The same jockeys are used race after race, so there's quite a wait in between races. All the same, a trip to the race track is not to be missed if you're fortunate enough to visit Nevis when the horses are running. Food and drinks are for sale (as well as betting) and everyone brings their family and makes an afternoon of it. As you can see below, many of the local women sport Kentucky Derby-type hats!

Our driver, Dale, showed us a drag track and said drag racing was quite a popular sport here and then a cricket field, which stood practically in the center of Charleston city. Needless to say, cricket is a big sport on Nevis. Unfortunately, we didn't see a match, even if I could understand the rules, which always have left me in total confusion!

Stay tuned for Part Two......


  1. What an interesting place! I love the goats.



  2. Fascinating and beautiful, but I'm chomping at the bit for the next installment. You see, the Scottish spelling of my maiden name is Nisbet...

  3. first i am jealous you travel so much...

    second i am glad we get to come!

  4. I can see why they would be a nuisance but I still think those monkeys are pretty cute! I guess I might change my mind about that if I lived there.

  5. That is so interesting about the sheep on the island. I never knew there were wool-less sheep in the world. They do look just like the goats don't they?.

    It is a beautiful place Barbara, and I enjoyed seeing this much of it so far. You and your girl make it to such interesting places.

    The monkeys having full run of the island would kind of freak me out I think. I am a little scared of them (don't know why, just always have been).

    I hope your day is going good my friend.
    hugs from here...

  6. Your children are all so lovely!

    I loved the plants too..the cobea.. brugmansias..and the ones I discovered through you..
    Thank you for sharing all these great shots..

  7. Hi Barbara,

    What an interesting post and I enjoyed hearing about your trip and seeing your wonderful photographs.
    Have never seen sheep that look like goats, but the big wool coats like we know over here in NZ, would be too hot. Lovely to see your children.

    Happy week

  8. Your children are lovely, how nice to be able to take such a fantastic trip with them! Terrific shots, I'm looking forward to the second part. Interesting fruit, never heard of it.

  9. Luckily, I adore you, because otherwise, I'd hate you. What an amazing trip. I can't wait for the second installment.

  10. I can see why you would return, Barbara. And how lovely to have the "kiddies" join you.

    Thank you so much for "bringing" us along. It sure looks like a place of beauty.

  11. I'd love to find some monkeys on a golf course! So long as they don't steal my ball or move it back from the green. And, poinciana trees are so lovely. I'd never heard them called flamboyant tree before. Looking forward to part two!

  12. oh my goodness, how fun! what a fabulous trip, the pictures are gorgeous. i can't imagine living in a place with so many monkeys, haha!

  13. The scenery is so gorgeous and I can't believe the monkeys got so close to you! Sounds like an awesome trip, so far...

  14. I'd never heard of Nevis--lovely and intriguing post. the national tree is an absolute knock-out!

  15. Fantastic photos! I always love your trip posts. Looking forward to part 2!

  16. You always visit the most enchanting places. Thanks for the arm chair travel. Enjoy!

  17. Beautiful pictures! What a wonderful vacation!

  18. Wow !! A brochure from a tourist agency wouldn 't be as fun..Your daughter? Quelle classe !!! Congratulations Barbara! You must be so proud of her!

  19. What a beautiful vacation! Monkeys and naked sheep, hehehe. (Did you know a cross between a sheep and a goat is a geep?) Gorgeous photos!



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