Nevis is the smaller of the two islands that make up the small Caribbean island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. A former British colony, the islands became independent in 1983. They are separated by a 2-mile (3.22 km) wide channel.
The island of Nevis is divided into five parishes:
- Saint George, Gingerland
- Saint James, Windward
- Saint John, Figtree
- Saint Paul, Charlestown
- Saint Thomas, Lowland
Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, is a small, picturesque town, with a Main Street lined with Georgian stone buildings which are examples of the architectural style of the colonial era, sporting breezy balconies and wooden upper floors over a ground floor built of stone.
Topless sunbathing is not allowed on the beaches of Nevis. The people of Nevis in general are a conservative lot, attending Church regularly (and often several services at different churches on the same day). Cursing, provocative dress, and rudeness are frowned on. It is appropriate and common to greet everyone you meet saying, "Good Morning," "Good Afternoon," or "Good Night" (which is said instead of "Good Evening."). People do tend to be friendly if approached in this manner. You can expect that most non-tourist specific places will have lines. Expect waits in banks, grocery stores, and government offices. Local people expect that you will not complain or act irritated by the delays.
The very first inhabitants in Nevis were the Sibonay Indians. The belief is that 2,100 years ago, Nevis broke off from Central America and arrived in the stop it stands today. Other Indian tribes migrated themselves over to Nevis including Arawak Indians from Venezuela and Carib Indians. On November 11th, Christopher Columbus spotted the island, and had mistaken the cloud over the mountain (which is always there, even today) for snow. On the map, he marked the island with the spanish word "Nieves", meaning "snow". This name showed up on many travel maps and the name stuck. Though Christopher Columbus was the first to spot and name Nevis, he never went onto the island. Captain Barthemow Gilbert was the first recorded visitor in 1603. In 1628, the British settle in Nevis. In 1629, the island was invaded and taken over by the Spanish. For the next 200 years, this went on. The government switched constantly between the British, Dutch, French and Spanish. By 1854, the island became vacant. The sugar industry that was so important on the island was going downhill. Everyone now had their own sugar in their own countries. Today, many of the sugar industries are shut down. Most of them closed down in 1958. There are still a couple of them running, though. Nevis is not commercially developed. It is a very quiet and relaxing island. The marketplace is very small, and a lot safer than most islands. The people who live there are very kind and welcoming, always saying hello to the guests. Today, Nevis has one of the highest literacy rates. Education and religion is a very important aspect of the islander's lives.
Unless you live on one of the surrounding islands, you will most likely have to take two flights to get to Nevis. The first one brings you to an island that is larger than Nevis, with a much larger airport, like Puerto Rico. At those airports, you get on a smaller plane that holds about twenty people. They fly over to Nevis's tiny airport. Nevis at one point had their own airline, but had to end that because of the expense. Some people may be able to find direct flights to St. Kitts and then just get a ferry over to Nevis.
- Taxis are efficient, clean, and the drivers tend to be knowledgeable and friendly. Drivers will bring you to your destinations, wait for you or come back and get you at your convenience. Although a great bargain in terms of what you get (really more like a personal limo -- and the charge remains the same no matter how many people are going)-- taxis are relatively expensive in absolute amounts (US$10-20 is typical) to go anywhere.
- The "H" Bus. These are privately owned, but government registered, vans that haul people from point to point for around 3-5 EC -$1-$2 US (depending on how far you are going) per person. H Buses range from luxurious vans with air conditioning and televisions to crowded dingy things with broken seats. The buses generally make circuits on part of the ring road (the road running around the island) with each group going back and forth on roughly a third of 17 mile loop. Stand on the side of the road, look for a van whose license plate starts with H, wave at them as they approach. You pay on your way out. If you want to go somewhere outside the loop the driver is running, he (never have seen a female driver) will explain this to you and drop you at a point where you will meet the next bus. H-Buses are safe (although sometimes a little forbidding looking), cheap, and kind of fun. Everyone from old ladies to little kids will be getting on and off.
- Car Rentals are the way to go if you plan to stay for more than a couple of days. The rental agency will issue you a temporary drivers license at the time you take posession. Arrangements can be made via phone or email prior to arrival, including airport pick-up and drop-off. Driving is on the left. Proceed with care and courtesy toward other drivers and watch out for livestock and pedestrians in the road.
Several Nevisian buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries are still in use today.
- Hermitage Plantation' in Saint John, built of lignum vitae wood in 1640, is the oldest surviving wooden house still in use in the Caribbean today.
- Bath Hotel of 1778, located just outside Charlestown, is the first hotel built in the Caribbean and once served as a luxury hotel and spa. The soothing waters of the hotel's hot springs lured many famous Europeans, including the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Antigua-based Admiral Nelson and Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence, the future William IV of the United Kingdom. They attended balls and private parties at the hotel. Today, the building serves as the government headquarters and the hot springs are open to the public. Many of the churches on Nevis also date to this time period, as well as some of the reconstructed mills.
- Culturama, an annual cultural festival, is celebrated the first week of August as part of the Emancipation Day weekend.
- Pinney's Beach on the western (Caribbean) side of the island is the most popular and developed beach.
- Golf at The Four Seasons Each golf hole has an absoloutley gorgoues view of the island and the ocean. It winds around the bottom of the volcano. If you are not into golfing, they even offer a tour right around sunset to show the monkey the wander the the grounds, and the spectacular views. It is breathtaking and a "must do" when visiting Nevis.
- The Eva Wilkin Art Gallery Evan Wilkin had lived in a windwill from the 18th century. She died in 1989 but people still visit her home to see all of her sketches and paintings that represent Nevis culture from the views to the interaction of people.
- Ruins Architecture from the past. Things like estates and sugar mills and churches. Popular ruin destinations are: Hamilton Estate, New River Estate, Coconut Walk Estate, The Lime Kiln, and Cottle Church.
- For the Adventurous There is mountain biking and hiking to Nevis's Peak, all the while catching the breathtaking views of the island. There is also deep sea fishing and scuba diving of course.
- For the Romantic Located South of Charlestown, there are about seven acres of beautifully landscaped garden.
Resturaunts and Nightlife
There is a wide range of food in Nevis. Many different cultural food, and of course the exceptionally fresh fruit and coffee. Do not let the appearances of the resturaunts sway your decision on where you eat. The bars and grills are in the lower price range and hold a lot of Nevis's Culture. There are also many moderatly prices food venues. The high priced resturaunts are mostly located at the hotels.
Nevis has exceptional food that is a blend of European, American, and hints of African. The food is fresh and further complimented by the island's lack of pollution. Nevisian food ranges from sophisticated European flavors to simple (equally delicious) Roti. Restaurants serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and usually close in between. Expect to eat dinner before nine or ten or not at all.
Food service on the island is uniformly terrible. Expect slow service with errors that will lead to slow service in correcting them. The waitstaff of various restaurants, while substandard in performance, was generally very kind and pleasant to deal with.
Some local delicacies are breadfruit, coconut jelly, goat water, fresh mangos, fresh tamarind, and roti. The adventurous will want to try pickled mangoes (tastes exactly like pickles) and stinking toes.
It is nearly impossible to get a bad meal on the island.
To visit Nevis, there are no vaccinations needed, and water is perfectly safe to drink. Nevis has a very low crime rate, very very rarely is a tourist in danger, there have only been occasional crimes. There are also no large, dangerous animals, there was only one shark attack in September 2009. Same with any other island, never wear anything the shines or sparkles when snorkeling or diving. This attracts fish, they think it is food. When hiking, go with a guide, and tell someone where you will be. This is important even off of the island incase of an accident, there is a better chance you will be found and helped. Nevis drivers drive on the left side of the road. BE SURE YOU ARE DRIVING ON THE CORRECT SIDE!!
Nevis's airport used to be one of the easiest airports to get in and out of. Customs is quick, and the lines are usually not too long, because the airport is so small and Nevis is not commercialized. However, they search your carry-ons, and you are not allowed to bring anything you found in nature back home with you. Things like shells, or even a vile of sand, will be confiscated. They also do not have a large cafeteria in case you get hungry. They only sell things like canned sodas, hot dogs, chips and pretzels.