EXPLORING A HIDDEN GEM
Nevis is the sister of St Kitts and the smallest of the islands covered by Hike Caribbean. The name of the island is an abbreviation of a Spanish name which refers to the miracle of snow falling on the hills of Rome as though the clouds on the peak of the island reminded someone of miraculous snowfall in a hot climate. Its history is intertwined with its neighbour, which is barely two miles away at the closest point, although they were originally governed as separate countries. Indeed, there were times when Nevis and Saint Kitts were in the hands of warring nations and French invaders from Saint Kitts launched numerous attacks on Nevis during the seventeenth century. Although relationships between the islands are far friendlier in modern times there are still noticeable differences between the islands.
The island itself is dominated by the peak and appears conical from a distance with the whole island seemingly rising towards the summit. The island is surrounded by a single road which circumnavigates the island and is popular with cyclists. Like most Caribbean islands Nevis’s economy is dominated by tourism even more so than others given its size. Its colonial legacy has been used as a foundation for development with four exclusive restored plantation inns. Nevis also has a small but growing offshore financial services industry and for the first time since the seventeenth century its GDP rose above Saint Kitts in 1991.
Evidence of Nevis’s rich cultural heritage can be seen throughout the island. In the capital Charlestown is the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton who latter helped draft the US constitution and was the first secretary of the Treasury as well as being an outspoken advocate for abolishing slavery. The building today houses one of the island’s two museums. Nevis was also home to Frances Nisbet, the widower of a plantation owner, who met and married the young sea captain Horatio Nelson. In recognition of this, Nevis’s second other museum is dedicated to Lord Nelson.
Although a small island Nevis also has its own sporting traditions, if not the famous stars of its neighbouring islands. There is an annual swim across the channel to St Kitts as well as a Nevis triathlon and a running festival which make use of the circular round the island road. There is even a horse racing track on the island, though visitors might be surprised by the lack of starting stalls and the ramshackle appearance of the track and grandstands.
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Our preferred accommodation in Nevis is the Montpellier Plantation, which is a boutique hotel in a unique location. The hotel is idyllically situated 750 feet above the Caribbean Sea in the foothills of Nevis Peak. Surrounded by 60 acres of lush tropical gardens and built around one of the island’s original 18th century sugar plantations, this charming getaway is delightfully secluded.
Montpelier has 19 contemporary plantation rooms designed with a light touch and a sense of intimacy. The open design allows you to move effortlessly between indoors and outdoors and feel connected to the sights and sounds of island life. The individually decorated rooms are designed for your comfort with sumptuous linens, Egyptian cottons, private verandas, sea breezes and panoramic views. At Montpelier luxury thrives on simplicity. As well as the hotel itself, Montpelier has access to its own beach with transfer from the hotel.
Oualie Beach Resort
Oualie Beach Resort is a family owned hotel located right on the best beach on Nevis and offers a more traditional Caribbean experience compared to Montpelier. Rooms are spaciously scattered along Oualie Bay in single and two storey gingerbread cottages that reflect the traditional Caribbean style architecture of the Island.
The resort started as just a beach bar on the leeward coast of Nevis, adjacent the famous Lovers Beach built has now evolved into an eco-sensitive beach room property with 32 bedrooms. Oualie ensures that each visitor has the authentic Caribbean experience that complements your hiking adventure!
Medium length / challening (some pulling yourself up on tree roots and ropes)
Take a strenuous hike to the summit of Mt. Nevis with Lynell. Along the way you’ll be introduced to plant and animal species natural to these elevations and conditions and the panoramic views of Nevis and neighbouring islands. As you go up you can view the fields of desolation locally known as “Maroon”. Ropes are tied along the trail and there is plenty of opportunity to slip and slide in the mud as you near the peak. From the top on a clear day you can see all of Nevis and neighbouring islands Antigua, St Kitts and Montserrat. For those that make it to the top and back you end with aa certificate of achievement from Lynell and his team!
Devil’s Copper & New River Springs
Short / easy
Available in one hike are the area’s known as Devil’s Copper, New River Spring and Three Waterfalls. An interesting hike into the area that historically supplied water to the New River area of the island. Devil’s Copper – believed to be haunted by the spirits – where locals don’t venture – is an interesting excursion to one of the volcanic vents and from there where the water falls to the area known as Three Waterfalls. That’s not all, see our multicoloured tropical birds and the green vervet monkeys as they chatter through the mango and breadfruit trees. Sniff the air in the vicinity of Devil’s Copper and picture yourself in paradise!
Hamilton Estate & Rainforest Hike
Short / easy
Take a leisurely hike within Hamilton Estate, an Eighteenth-century sugar plantation, that ceased operation in 1951. While we wander the old estate grounds you can imagine what it was like to live back then. Stroll along the part of the Upper Round Trail that traverses this grand estate and learn about the indigenous plants with healing powers native to the area. Also enjoy the panoramic views of St. Christopher (St. Kitts), Charlestown and Nevis Peak in the background. If you are lucky you will get to see green monkeys, mongoose and wild donkeys roaming in the wild.
Water Source Hike
Medium length / medium challenge (some steep sections)
Starting moderately challenging, this hike leads you through the lush cloud forest to an ideal spot for panoramic views and continues past becoming progressively challenging as you reach 2,000′ above sea level. You will be introduced to flora and fauna such as bamboo, tropical fruits and vervet monkeys. Hike along the great iron pipe that the British originally installed in 1900 to bring water from the source to the villagers and Lynell’s great grandfather helped install – being paid 2 pence per day or a shilling a week!
Short / easy
Take a leisurely walk along scenic Charlestown the capital of Nevis. The birthplace and childhood home of the Alexander Hamilton one America’s Founding Fathers. The restored stone building which was his place of birth now houses the Museum of Nevis History on the ground floor. There are two other museums in Charlestown: The Nelson Museum, and the Nevis Sport Museum, as well as the Philatelic Bureau. On the walk you will also see the learn about Charlestown’s other significant historic sites, bustling public market and grand architectural buildings.
Other activities we can arrange on Nevis if you wish to spend more time on the islands include bike tours through sugar plantation estates, or if you are feeling energetic, you can ride around the entire circular route around Nevis. We can also arrange a more sedate hike through Russel’s Rest on the Atlantic side of the island, which incorporates waterfalls and rapids, and from where you can view the diverse flora, such as cocoa and other fruit trees, and fauna such as Nevis’s vervet monkeys. For an even more sedate experience, the capital Charlestown and its museums are well worth a visit and the beautiful Botanical Gardens of Nevis are a tranquil oasis, full of tropical flowers and shrubs, orchid terraces, dolphin fountains and water lily ponds.