Often overshadowed by its livelier sister island, St. Kitts, Nevis offers a low-key, tropical escape with a small-town feel. You’d easily overlook the West Indies’ hidden gem—at 36 square miles, Nevis (pronounced “knee-vis”) is about half the size of Washington, D.C. But Nevis, which is 1,200 miles from Miami, stands as one of the last-remaining Old Caribbean islands.
Its capital, Charlestown, looks the part with well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century Georgian-style buildings. The traditional “skirt and blouse” architecture, named as such for having a stone bottom and wood second story, remains intact. Fronting the small town square is the courthouse, with the town library on the second floor. Among shops—which typically close by 4:30 p.m. weekdays, 1 p.m. Saturdays and shut down Sundays for church—the only familiar name you’ll see is Best Buy; it’s not the electronics chain, but a grocery store.
Instead of overdeveloped land crowded with tourists, the island’s fairly empty roads see roaming donkeys, sheep, cows and green vervet monkeys (though you won’t see any traffic lights, you’ll spy “Monkey Xing” signs). In fact, the roads only received names and signs in October. Even the beaches seem somewhat deserted, giving you ample space to spread out. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors recently visited Nevis to scope out the best things to do on the quiet, alluring island.
Where to Stay
Nevis’ defining feature is Nevis Peak, a dormant volcano shrouded by clouds that sits in the center of the island. At its base amid tropical hills, you’ll find Montpelier Plantation and Beach, a 1747 sugar plantation that converted into a boutique hotel. Take in striking views of the mountain from Montpelier’s black-and-white mosaic pool with palms and a 300-year-old sugar mill in the foreground.
The hotel revealed a new look in October in seven of the 19 rooms. Martyne Kupciunas of The Design Garden in Miami injected vibrant colors into the individually designed guest rooms. You’ll find bright Trina Turk textiles, free-form stone coffee tables and décor that hints at the property’s past. One headboard bears distressed metal circles that resemble old sugar kettles, and another is made of stacked sugarcane stalks. The must-have rooms are the Garden Suite and the Tamarind Villa. The former is an island-chic space with bamboo flooring, a wood four-poster bed and a gazebo with a red-cushioned couch. The two-bedroom Tamarind Villa is a light and airy plantation-style cottage with glass doors that open onto a private plunge pool where you can soak up vistas of the surrounding hills and the water.
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