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Nevis Trip Report

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Nevis had long been on our list of Caribbean islands to visit. It has always met all of our “no” based criteria (i.e. no shopping, no gambling, no night life, no cruise ships), but there were a few factors dissuading us: not known for having beautiful beaches, not known for great restaurants and not easy to get to. Recent American Eagle service from San Juan directly to Vance Amory International Airport in Newcastle eliminated that last factor, so we decided to give it a try this year.

Smart choice all around. Nevis is a little gem of an island. Its 36 square miles are chock-full of lush tropical greenery, diverse wildlife, loads of history, lovely beaches and some of the friendliest islanders (both native and expat) we’ve ever met.

Restaurant choices run the gamut from beachside BBQ to corner store rotis to fine, continental style dining in the plantation inns. We ate mostly low end and middle of the road (a couple of nights we didn’t feel like going out, so we cooked in, simple fare like omelets and toast). The one higher-end place we wanted to try, Montpelier Plantation, was fully booked with a group the night we wanted to go. Here’s a brief rundown :

Café des Arts – a funky little café cum art gallery on the main road which runs along the ocean. We had breakfast here in the garden, surrounded by flowering trees and plants and hummingbirds. Strong, strong coffee was served with steamed milk. I had the pancakes, which were light, fluffy cakes fried nice and crispy on the outside. Absolutely delicious. Hubby had his week’s allowance of cholesterol in buttery scrambled eggs and meaty bacon, served with toasted baguette. We really wanted to return during the week for another breakfast but never made it, opting instead for cinnamon toast and coffee at the house in the morning.

Sunshine’s – the ultimate beach BBQ place, on Pinney’s beach next to The Four Seasons. A lot is written about the “Killer Bee” served here – a potent rum punch – and we were a little worried that it would be too much of a “scene” for us, but it wasn’t. Just a low-key place on the beach, with a few tiki huts for shade and picnic tables painted the colors of the ANC. The first day we stopped here for lunch, we had just taken a long, hot walk on the beach and were really hungry. It was about 11:30, but hey, we were on island time and they don’t fire up the grill till 12:15 -12:30 so we couldn’t order any food but our gorgeous, friendly waitress brought us some cold Caribs and some water. At 12:00 we were able to place our order, and a few minutes later Sunshine came over with our salads: on oversized, square ceramic plates there was a beautiful salad of greens, ripe tomato, cucumber and perfectly ripe papaya dressed with a homemade sundried tomato and roasted garlic vinaigrette. The salad was followed by large platters of bbq ribs (dry rub, two thumbs up!), grilled chicken and curried rice with peas. Tab: $38.

Golden Rock Beach Pavilion – on Pinney’s beach, right next to Sunshine’s. Pavilion is perhaps too grand a word – it’s basically an open-air structure with a permanent floor, roof , bar area and very tiny, basic kitchen. It’s run by Golden Rock Plantation, a lovely old plantation inn in a beautiful setting near Mt. Nevis. They run a shuttle that brings guests to the beach, and every day Pam Barry and her assistants shuttle down provisions to stock the bar and kitchen.

Since they’re known for their lobster sandwiches, that’s what we decided to order the day we went for lunch. Once again, we were on island time in the off season, so even though their sign says “Open daily 11 – 3”, the shuttle van didn’t pull up to unload passengers and provisions until a little after noon. We had taken a walk along the beach and a few dips in the ocean, so we were pretty hungry…….and thirsty. We each ordered the lobster sandwich and a beer and shared an order of fries. The sandwich was fantastic! Since Caribbean lobster is virtually all tail, we had nice big chunks of sweet lobster meat. It’s also less stringy than New England lobsters. It was lightly dressed with mayo, pepper and little bits of pickle, and served on thick slices of homestyle white bread (crusts removed) from a local bakery, with hydroponic lettuce and tomato. On the side was a yummy, cheesy baked cabbage gratin. The fries were hot and crispy. Two thumbs up.

Bananas Bistro – Owned by Gillian Smith, who also owns Café des Art and a furniture store, Bananas sits high on a cliff in an enclave of villas collectively called “Cliffdwellers”. There’s a funicular tram that takes guests up to the restaurant, saving them from the steep walk up, and in the evening it’s a charming way to get up and back, especially when the sky is clear and you can see the stars and moon over the sea. Popular place with expats, it’s a lively, hip scene with focus on fusion food. Excellent drinks mixed by the bartender – I had something called a Bertini that was made with vodka, passion fruit juice and lime. We ate here twice, and had jerk pork tenderloin with mashed sweet potatoes, jerk chicken kebabs, ribs, Thai fish cakes, and grilled mahi-mahi. Divine coconut cake for dessert. Food was very good and the presentation was nice, but the service was a bit irregular. In fact, half of our second meal was comped by Gillian due to a mix-up with our order (we had to really insist on paying half, they wanted to fully comp us).

Gallipot - Another place that’s popular with ex-pats. Run by a British couple, who also run a deep-sea fishing business. The restaurant is open Thurs-Sat for lunch and dinner and Sundays for a traditional roast beef-and-Yorkshire pudding lunch. The night we went there was a big birthday party under way for someone local, so there was a festive atmosphere in the bar area and out on the lawn where picnic tables were set up. I had a fantastic piece of grilled mahi-mahi and my husband had a chicken and shrimp dish he loved. With a so-so bottle of Chablis – I should know better than to order wine in the Caribbean if it’s not a French island – two desserts and one Caesar salad, the tab came to just under $100. I can see why it’s so popular with the local community: really fresh food, prepared simply but well, and reasonable prices.

Culturama Café - This is a little corner bar and snack shop that was at the bottom of the hill leading up to our villa. On a neighbor’s recommendation we stopped in one day to grab a roti for lunch. Rotis are popular throughout the West Indies and are handy sandwiches comprising a chickpea flour pancake wrapped around a curried filling. The vegetable roti was stuffed with curried potatoes, carrots, peppers, onions and lima beans. The chicken roti contained all of the above, plus shredded chicken. These were completely delicious, eaten poolside and washed down with Heineken (him) and Ting (me). Ting is grapefruit soda that’s popular throughout the Caribbean (http://www.bevnet.com/reviews/ting/).

The Cooperage – This is the restaurant at Old Manor Inn, another one of the old plantation estates that is now a hotel. Lovely wooden building with a veranda that looks out over the ocean in the distance. The dining room is lovely and old fashioned – very formal table settings and short floral cloths over long white cloths. Instead of a centerpiece, there was a sprig of orchids lying on each table. Service was quite correct, and very warm. We each had the grilled lobster, which was a special that day. It was just perfectly gilled and served with a bit of beurre blanc, rice and nicely steamed vegetables on the side. I had a mixed salad to start and my husband had smoked salmon, which was quite good and presented nicely. After dinner we walked around the grounds a bit, by the old sugar mill and the coppers which were used to boil and process the sugar cane. The food was very good -- well prepared and satisfying as opposed to spectacular – but the ambience, service and setting all came together to make it a wonderful last evening in Nevis.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Nevis had long been on our list of Caribbean islands to visit. the morning.

Do you mind saying where you stayed? We're considering a brief trip there and this trip report is helping tip our decision in that direction.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Fabulous, we rented a villa in the Fern Hill Gardens area, Deja View Villa. This is a residential area up a steep road directly across from the path to the old Hermitage Beach Club It was a 2-bedroom villa w/pool and absolutely delightful. However, we did have a few problems with the refrigerator and the water pump during the week and since the owners did not offer even an apology I am reluctant to recommend. The website Nevis 1 has lots of villas listed, with property manager information if you care to contact individuals directly to ask about rentals. If you ahve any specific questions about location, price, etc. feel free to PM or email me.

Johnny, have you found any other hidden gems? I'm starting to look into St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada for trips in the future, but I think that would be pushing the envelope in terms of budget for us..........

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Nevis is one of the few islands that has been able to offer tourists good food and lodging without loosing its charm. St Vincent and the Grenadines are much more of a challenge for the vacation traveler. With the exception of Bequia, tourist development has often challenged the good nature of the local people who have lived without tourists for many years. Don't let me dissuade you from going, you'll have a vacation you won't forget, but don't expect to find the charm of Nevis on the other islands.

Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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Ed, thanks for your insight.

Although our next Caribbean adults-only vacation is probably a long way off, it's always fun to have some plan fomenting.......For now, we are seriously considering a family trip to Curacao for our youngest daughter's bat mitzvah. A way to combine our family's love for the islands with the rich history of our heritage. Speaking of which, I was quite moved to visit the Jewish cemetery in Nevis and have been reading a book on the history of the island's Jewish community during the colonial period. Fascinating stuff.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Don't be down, Sweet Willie. I don't really think you're missing too much. None of the local folks or ex-pats I spoke to mentioned Miss June's on their list of places we should go for good food........I think it makes the guide books more for the novelty.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Miss June's was indeed closed when we were there, oh well.

The Four Seasons Nevis (FSN) is not a super luxury resort in terms of the materials used to build it, in every other way it was a terrific resort.

The staff at the FSN was some of the best I've run into (including Asia); in fact even the taxi drivers were full of info and terrific to talk with when riding in their vehicle.

From spraying the beaches to keep sand flies at bay to being incredibly prompt with any request, the FSN lived up to my self made hype surrounding the trip. An example: I caught a 40lb Mahi Mahi from a fishing charter that picks you up right at the resorts pier (make sure you ask for Capt Claude, GREAT CAPTAIN!!!, knew his stuff and was very service oriented). The fish was a great fight. Upon return to the pier, Capt Claude filleted one side and put the 10 lbs of fillets in a plastic bag for me. (protocol is to give 1/2 the catch to the Capt). I walked up to the concierge at 11:30am and stated I would like this cooked for myself and 10 others. Chef Timothy of the cabana called me in our room as I was cleaning up after fishing to state that he would love to take his time and prepare a wonderful dinner for us. I mentioned that tonight was our last night on the island and there was a group awards dinner, his reply was "no problem, I'll have it ready for your group at 1pm". Let me say that that was some of the finest fish I have EVER had, just incredible, grilled w/just a hint of jerk to accent the fresh flavor of the recently caught fish. Chef Timothy also prepared a family style salad and some sides to feed the group. Man what a meal!!!

All meals were very good at the FSN, there was more than enough variety that one staying a week would probably not get bored eating the same item.

The resort is made up of groups of two story buildings with 8-14 rooms in each buiding, ground floor rooms have a nice patio and the upper rooms have a large screened porch.

There is a quiet pool if the noise elsewhere gets to you.

Tons of hammocks all over the property

The spa is wonderful, the comforts and pampering were terrific. There are two small pool areas, one that overlooks the mountain and one with a 5' waterfall. Both have 4 lounge chairs and are shaded. You have full access to these areas all day on the day of receiving any spa treatment.

I golf but not while on vacation. Those that did gave the course high marks.

Water taxi service can be arranged to/from ST Kitts if you land on that island.

Some of our group took it over for an evening of gambling on St Kitts.

Had dinner twice away from the resort. One night we went up to the Montpelier Inn http://www.montpeliernevis.com/ The dinner and view were wonderful. The pool sucked as it is very crowded and narrow. I don't think I would have been happy if we had stayed here.

The other place was (I’ll have to review my notes, I forget the name of this place and with good reason, very mediocre)

Some went to Sunshine's next door to the FSN for a rum drink called a killer bee, heard it was good and cheap as well.

Others went out to dinner at Bananas located at Cliffdwellers http://www.cliffdwellers.org/index3.html it is so steep that there is actually a tram that takes you up to the restaurant.

Only negative was that our company’s sales trips are always in the months of May or June due to our fiscal year end. As a result the temp was a low of 80F degrees with lots of humidity. I melt when it is above 75 so I was not too happy about that. The FSN lobby is open air and it was not that comfortable for me to enjoy a Cuban cigar and drink w/the temps and humidity.

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"
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  • 2 years later...

Wow - this is one of the better threads I've seen anywhere on Nevis dining options.

Anyways, I'll be staying at the Four Seasons the first week of May and all I have on my agenda is Double Deuce's burger with a CSR and ting, and the Killer B at Sunshine's.

Are there any new dining options on the island? How about more traditional West Indian fare? And how about the dining options at The Four Seasons - anything good?

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  • 7 months later...

If you like your restaurants(and the rest of the island)uncrowded and quiet, now may be the time to plan a trip to Nevis. The Four Seasons is shut down indefinitely to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Omar. In a week of dining, we never ate at a place that was more than one third of capacity. While I realize we were there during the off season, the restaurant people with whom we spoke are expecting a very lean year because so many folks from the Four Seasons won't be there spreading their dining dollars around the island.

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