The Island of
Come to Relax; Stay to Re-Energize
Story by Fyllis Hockman
Large resort hotels. Check.
Three to four cruise ships a day. Check.
Beach bars galore. Check.
Extensive nightlife. Check.
Chain restaurants. Check.
High end jewelry and clothing stores. Check.
Casino Gambling. Check .
Those are just a few of the things you won't find on
the Caribbean island of Nevis. And all the more reason to go there.
So yes, it's a better description of St. Kitts, Nevis'
much more commercialized sister island, a 45-minute ferry boat ride
away. And although Nevis may be synonymous with tranquility, that does
not mean it's boring. Far from it.
Case in point, we started our visit with a Pub Crawl
from Nisbet Plantation, an inn founded on a former sugar mill plantation.
But these are not the usual beach bars most tourists frequent. Instead
they're the local rum shops, small shacks along the road that seldom
have a sign on them and rarely attract any drive-by traffic. My husband
and I regularly seek them out when in the Caribbean because we relish
the sense of island flavor and the excuse to talk to laid-back locals,
but we've never seen them part of an organized activity.
Being with a large crowd detracts from that intimacy
a bit but it nonetheless is a wonderful opportunity to feel comfortable
going off the beaten path. Each of the five bars has its own ambience
or in most cases, lack of one which only adds to its appeal. As
one imbiber exulted: "This is great because we're visiting places
we would never go to on our own." Not sure how the local residents
felt about the influx of tourists but everyone was welcoming and eager
to engage in conversation.
The Pub Crawl was a perfect segue to the Funky Monkey
Tour, a three-hour ATV tour with Waz who kept us all enthralled throughout
the wild ride. First stop Lover's Beach, where Waz said, "They
don't promote nude bathing but..." The fact that there were no
people on it at all precluded any prurient interest on my part. Lack
of people was to become a theme.
Next stop, more historical, less lascivious. The Thomas
Cottle Church, built in 1822 and operated as the first integrated church
on the island. Plantation owner Cottle believed that he and his slaves
should worship together, not a common practice in those times. Okay,
the inspirational part of the tour.
We traveled over a lot of roads that no self-respecting
normal car would ever consider driving over. When I asked the name of
the road, Waz responded, "The 'I'm Lost' Road." At one point,
after an exceptionally rocky part, he forewarned us that the next stretch
was going to get really bumpy. We were like, "HUH?" I'm not
just talking back roads here but trails glutted with rocks and roots
and gulleys so as to be seemingly untraversible or so I thought until
they weren't. But the views at the end of the stomach-churning drive
were worth it. And the monkeys scurrying in the bushes provided additional
distraction when needed.
Hard to categorize the total appeal of Funky Monkey.
Part nature tour, part exciting adventure, part history lesson all
intermingled in rapid succession. Oh and did I mention the rum punch
out of the cooler in back?
Onto another stop at Nisbet where remnants of the 18th
Century plantation windmill greet you upon arrival. Waz related the
custom that if you get married on the property and there are
very few more beautiful settings they plant a coconut tree with
your names on it. And, of course, you're welcome to come back anytime
to watch it grow. How's that for a marketing ploy?
We visited a local wild herd of sheep, which not surprisingly
were missing the usual wool covering. Little warm in the islands for
that. Which makes them almost indistinguishable from goats except, we
learned, goats have tails that go up; sheep down. In my hometown of
Washington, DC, there's a restaurant called Tail-Up Goat. Now I understand
When I queried Waz as to how far our lodging was, he
replied, "Nowhere on Nevis is far." And upon actually seeing
another car on the road in front of him, he lamented, "Traffic?
And indeed, rush hour is more likely to be a herd of
goats or a family of donkeys than another car. Making up for the lack
of cars are an abundance of donkeys, monkeys, goats, sheep and chickens.
Another reminder of Nevis's laid-back charm.
Waz took us to a hidden area of woods that he claimed
was his private sanctuary; no trails, no paths, no clearing. And once
again, no people. Since we had seen not a soul on any beach or other
destination, I was beginning to wonder where the 11000 Nevisians were.
This is not an island where you feel over-run by tourists! Or people,
for that matter. Rum, on the other hand, was still flowing freely. Also
monkeys. There are 30,000 of THEM.
Exciting adventure #3 on this island that allegedly
has nothing on it? A nature hike with Baba who provided lots of information
about the flora and fauna as we walked. Unfortunately, I hate flora
and fauna. I was in it for the exercise so my eyes glazed over pretty
quickly. We walked about two feet and smelled four plants. There are
plants to cure every ailment: hangover, mosquito bites, toothaches,
constipation. I was beginning to feel a little ill myself...
But looking up from the medicinal plants are bushes
and trees and leaves of white, orange, yellow and red flowers among
towering trees all vying for attention with the medicine cabinet below,
We were walking through the Golden Rock Estate, a sugar mill plantation
from 1801-1815, the remnants of which are integrated into the buildings
and grounds. An old in-ground windmill, we were told, is the highlight
of the honeymoon suite having the earth move takes on a whole new
So much greenery as to encapsulate every variation of
the color in the largest box of Crayola crayons and every shape
and size of multiple leaves extracted from the world's largest protractor.
It's like being in your own personal botanical garden. The entire setting
is the very definition of romantic!
As we climbed higher and higher, however, I found myself
longing for more medicinal plant information urinary tract infection
So yes, most people coming to Nevis envision living
by the following five rules: 1. Pack several books. 2. Take a deep breath,
exhale, relax. 3. Order a rum drink. 4. Try to forget what's happening
in the rest of the world. 5. Repeat. But be open to my own Rule #6.
Be prepared to have a hell of a lot of fun! For more information, visit
Puerto Rico; Costa
Rica Adventure; Dominica;