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Nevis
The Island of Nevis:
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.

back yard bar sign at Nevis Island

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.

Thomas Cottle Church

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.

monkeys at Nevis Island

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 it.

herd of sheep on the Funky Monkey Tour

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? In Nevis?"

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.

donkeys

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 meaning...

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!

a hike in the woods

As we climbed higher and higher, however, I found myself longing for more medicinal plant information – urinary tract infection anyone?

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 nevisisland.com, nisbetplantation.com/blog/pattersons-pub-crawl and funkymonkeytours.com.

Related Articles:
Vieques, Puerto Rico; Costa Rica Adventure; Dominica; Aruba; Cozumel, Mexico

(Posted 3-3-2017)



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Let Fyllis know what you think about her traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Gullah Culture

I think a lot of the plantation enslaved Africans began with a variety of African languages and little contact with English speakers. Even today some of the speech patterns of modern descents of the enslaved hold onto this language or some of the patterns even after being away from the area for generations. That's what we heard in N Carolina.

-- Barbara, Mill Creek, WA

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Thank you for your extensive and accurate story of a remarkable, resilient culture!

-- Marlene O'Bryant-Seabrook, Ph.D. – Charleston, SC

And Marlene – thank you so very much for your comment. Nothing makes a writer feel better than hearing something like that!!!

Fyllis

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Nice story thanks, however there are also Gullah speak in southern Belize and Honduras coast to Trujillo, been all over both thanks.

-- Michael Johnson – Myrtle Beach, SC

Hi Michael,

Thank you so much for your comment. However, I think what you're referring to in the Belize/Honduras region is more accurately characterized as the Garifuna culture and language, which somewhat parallels the Gullah. If you'd like more information about that, please read my November 2011 story in travelingboy.com about the Garifuna.

Fyllis

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Toooooooo cooooooool Now I want to go to Florida!!!!

-- Kathy Marianelli – Columbia, Maryland

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Feedback for Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

I'm a Vietnamese and I can't help but went through all of your pictures. They are beautiful, both the couples and the natural sceneries. Vietnam is such a beautiful place, I love it. I have been to Ha Long Bay once, in fact, I have been too all places that you took pictures of. I love your pictures and certainly will comeback for more. Thank you for these wonderful images of Vietnam and its people.

-- Quyen

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Feedback for Family Magic in Orlando

Great article!!! Makes me want to go back and experience it ALL all over again.

-- Ariane – Chicago

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Feedback for Mohonk

I love your signature and the writing (in "Mohonk: Sumptuous Old-World Flavor Tastefully Wrapped in Casual Elegance")... but the place is a bit expensive... more like the Romney types! Is Vic a "photographer" or does he just take pretty good pictures?

-- John Strauss – Campton Hills, IL

Hi John,

Thanks so much for your kind comments. Much appreciated! Yes, I do know Mohonk is expensive -- as is true for so many of the fine resorts -- but it is a historical structure that has been in operation for so many years and offers so many activity options for the whole family without nickel and diming the guest, that for those who can afford it, it actually is somewhat of a bargain.

And no, Vic is not a "real" photographer as much as he is a travel writer in his own right, but sometimes, as he says, he does get lucky.

Again, thanks for your feedback.

Fyllis

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Feedback for the Road to Hana

We enjoyed seeing the Road to Hana from a helicopter! After you get to Hana you've still got to make the return journey. Thanks but no thanks!

-- Betsy Tuel – Rosendale, NY

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Feedback for Dominican Republic

Thank you, Fyllis, for this engaging tour. For years I thought the Dominican Republic was all-tourists, all-the-time. You just made me want to go there! (those waterfall adventures look like great fun)

-- Richard F. – Saugerties

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Feedback for Traveling the Canadian Rockies

We (our family) also took The Rocky Mountaineer (gold leaf) in early June 2011. Great memories! Great food! Great service! I am sorry to hear about this labor dispute, as clearly, the attendants were a HUGE part of the experience. They felt like friends by the end of the trip. Good luck to all employees!

-- Susie – Hana

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Hi Fyllis,

I am one of the locked out onboard attendants. I enjoyed reading your lovely writing based on the trip you took with the level of service that was delivered until June 22, 2011. It is misleading to share this review at this time. Many current guests are dismayed when they experience the low level of service which does not live up to what this blog post boasts. The company is not even responding to the complaints of their guests who have paid top dollar, and are now consistently ignored when they write to ask for a refund. If you do not believe me, go to Trip Advisor and read the recent reviews. There are a few good ones, and they are almost all from pre-lock out dates. Many of those are from complimentary trips and the company seems to be pressuring them to post positive reviews. If you are unaware of what is happening, please consider visiting a site which has many news stories and letters of support from guests and local politicians.

--- City: onboard – Vancouver

Can I ask when this article was written? One of the managers onboard would have been travelling on it for more than 6 years by now...last I heard Shauna was in Edmonton.

--- tnoakes – Edmonton, Alberta

Dear Whomever --

I am so very sorry to hear about the lockout and the bad feelings that have been engendered between management and employees. It was not a situation I knew anything about and realize the timing of my article indeed was unfortunate.

What I wrote about was based totally on my personal experience and only reflects my trip at that time. Please accept my apologies for the difficulties current and former employees are now experiencing and the apparent disparate levels of service experienced by me and more recent guests. It was not something I had any knowledge of.

Fyllis, TravelingBoy



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