Whew! I’m back from the incredible island of Nevis and I have so much excitement and beauty to share with you today. Brace yourselves – we’ve got a lot of pictures and a lot of activities to cover!
I visited Nevis for the Nevis Running Festival as a guest of the Nevis Tourism Authority. I didn’t know much about the island before I visited aside from having flown over it on my way to the Run in Paradise Half Marathon in Antigua and seeing how beautiful it was. Nevis is a small island in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean that is about 36 square miles in size (about half the size of Washington, D.C.) and has a population of less than 12,000. It’s also absolutely stunning! The island has a large dormant volcano in the center and is covered in lush vegetation and plenty of gorgeous beaches.
Not Nevis, but possibly the first decent picture I have ever taken out of a plane window.
Upon landing in neighboring St. Kitts, I took a quick water taxi ride across the ocean to Nevis, which is how pretty much everyone gets to the island. It was quick and painless and in less than 10 minutes, I was landing on the island and headed to my room at the Mount Nevis Hotel. I had looked up the hotel on Trip Advisor before I arrived, and WOW – the views did not disappoint!
This is really real and I was really there. My room had the same view!
On Friday morning, I headed out to see some of the historic sights of Nevis. For such a small island, there is an amazing amount of history here! For example, did you know that Alexander Hamilton was born in Nevis? Well, he was, and the house he was born in is now a museum. And yes, they play the soundtrack for the musical nonstop.
Hamilton House and Museum
One thing that immediately struck me about Nevis is the tremendous emphasis on historic preservation. Many of the buildings in Charlestown, the capital, are original to the colonial era and have been kept in working condition throughout the island’s history. The architecture and colors are stunning! Houses all over the island are constructed with the intention of blending in well with the historic buildings, and there are strict architectural guidelines. For example, no building on the island is allowed to be more than 3 stories tall (no taller than a palm tree!) – that means no high-rise condos or hotels!
Building in historic Charlestown
Up next was one of my favorite things to do when traveling – visit local artists! I try not to bring too many souvenirs home since they just take up space on my shelves, but I always bring back a piece of local artwork and a Christmas ornament if nothing else. Nevis has a newly constructed artist’s village that makes shopping for handmade local crafts easy! And of course, there were plenty of adorable colored buildings to obsess over and take endless selfies in front of. What more could you possibly want?
I think I took a picture in front of every single one of the shops… The self-timer made things a little awkward.
Most of Friday was spent exploring the town and the history of the island, but Saturday was race day! I’ll do my race report in the next post, so for now, let’s talk about what I did afterwards. After grabbing some lunch, I headed to Oualie Beach, which was actually the first beach I visited during my trip. The crystal clear waters and beautiful mountain scenery were exactly what I had pictured. Although I’m not much of a beach person, I can definitely see why people travel to Nevis for this.
On the pier at Oualie Beach
In full disclosure, I’m a little bit of a nutcase when it comes to travel. You probably already knew that. I get really wound up about making sure to get the most out of my experience and see as much as humanly possible that I sometimes make questionable decisions about how to manage my time. Take, for example, my brilliant idea to rent a bike to ride around the (very hilly) island on Saturday after the half marathon despite the fact that I had almost passed out both during and after the race and was having stomach problems. I mean, what could go wrong?
My questionable choices paid off in the form of seeing some parts of the island I would never have seen otherwise!
Cyclists are pretty common on Nevis and it is very hard to get lost since the island is small, so it was a great place to rent a bike! The owner of the Wheel World Bike Shop, Winston, took me on a tour of the island and we rode for about an hour and a half before I decided to save my dignity instead of collapsing on the side of the road and head back to the hotel. It was a gorgeous tour and Winston couldn’t be a better guide – definitely look him up when you visit!
On Sunday morning, it was time to head out for a Funky Monkey tour! This ended up being one of the most fun tours I’ve ever done in all my traveling! The tours take 4×4 vehicles (not ATVs – more like a very rugged golf cart, for lack of a better description) all over the island and take you to lots of offroad places that you couldn’t go with a car or bike. The first stop was the Cottle Church, which was the first church in the Americas where white people and black people worshiped together.
People still get married here regularly!
The tour took us off road to many different spots on the island that we wouldn’t have visited otherwise, like some secluded beaches where I took some of my favorite pictures from the whole trip! Our guides were extremely well informed about the island and told us lots of interesting facts. They also gave us free beer and rum punch, so I do not remember most of the facts.
Cruising in our beefed up golf carts, which I’m sure have a much more dignified and specific real name. They held from between 2-6 people!
One of my favorite stops was gorgeous Herbert’s Beach. It’s away from most of the hotels and not near Charlestown, so very few tourists or locals ever go there. In my opinion, it was the most beautiful beach I saw while I was there! Some people had other favorites, but I just thought it was magnificent.
I mean, come on. COME ON! Herbert’s Beach.
There was also a long wooden pole that hung out over the water. Now, looking out at the pole, I thought, “maybe I should try to head out there and take a picture on the pole.” Well, as it so happened, Ross Edgley, who is apparently a bit of a superhero (he completed a marathon while pulling a car. With his body.), was also on this tour with us and he headed straight out to the pole and started doing all types of feats of strength. I mean, he finished a marathon while pulling a car, so clearly, he is in a bit better shape than me. But his fearlessness inspired me to head out there and try some of the stunts he did, too! He patiently coached me through how to do them and I have to say, it resulted in some pretty cool pictures. Also: he is genuinely one of the nicest, most thoughtful people I have ever met and incredibly humble. I would not be humble if my body was made of sheer muscle, but he is.
Embracing my inner strong-woman and hanging out the Caribbean way!
Our tour continued and took us through several plantations, small villages, and past a group of kids from a local school who were practicing for marching band! Apparently, it is too loud when they play near their homes, so they go off on trails and dirt roads and play in the woods! I naively thought they had assembled to play for our little caravan, but sadly, that was not the case. We still got a private performance, though!
Just casually practicing the drums on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, as you do.
We also got to see plenty of old sugar mills and ruins of the old plantation system. Some are in the process of being restored by the government, but even those that aren’t seem to be in the most beautiful of locations. Some people on the island have even incorporated the old sugar mills into their actual homes and built onto them!
One of the old lime kilns!
On my last day on the island, I knew I had one thing left to accomplish – hiking. You guys know I love adventure, and Nevis has a huge mountain right in the middle of it! Although I wouldn’t have time to climb the whole thing, I did have time to take an early morning trek to a series of waterfalls in the mountains. A little backstory: when I arrived in Nevis, I told my contact with the tourism authority, Yvette, that I wanted to go hiking. She thought I was nuts. As it turns out, many locals do not hike on the island, although some tourists do. Yvette had lived on the island all her life and never been hiking there! And so began my relentless campaign to get her to come with me. Neither of us had any idea what she was in for.
On our way through the Nevisian rainforest!
We left at 5am to meet our guide for the hike. As it turns out, our guide had cut the trail through the mountains himself! While I do a lot of hiking, this was like no hike I’ve ever done before. Although there is a trail, it doesn’t really last for very long. After a while, you’re not hiking so much as you are climbing! The rocks are very steep and slippery, so you use ropes to pull yourself up many parts of the mountain. Yvette must have thought I was insane given that I kept talking about how much I loved hiking!
Cresting the top of a steep hill with the rope system!
Still, she was extremely tough and game, although at one point she said she wasn’t going to go up any higher because everyone else she knew had stopped at the fourth waterfall (there are technically six). Obviously, I couldn’t let that go, and of course, the last two were the hardest to reach! She pulled through like a champ, though, and never complained – just gave me a lot of suspicious looks, which is totally fair. She was elated when she reached the top, and so was I!
Since it wasn’t the rainy season, there wasn’t a whole lot happening at the waterfalls, but the hike itself was breathtaking. It was definitely one of the tougher hikes I have done, but totally worth it! Nevis is such a naturally diverse and beautiful island, and if you only visit the beaches, you’re missing out on a huge part of what it has to offer. There’s so much to see, do and conquer! Yvette has assured me this will be the last hike she does until I come back, though.
With our awesome guide, Kenneth! I don’t think I could have done it without him! Clothing by KUHL
Pretty much right after the hike, it was time to shower and jump on the plane back home! I hated to bid such a beautiful place goodbye, but hopefully, this is more like a “See you later!”
Until next time, Nevis!
LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your favorite Caribbean island? Have you ever visited Nevis?