While my trip to Nevis in the Caribbean might have been short, I certainly made the most of every minute. From one very fun music festival and plenty of delicious eats to a gorgeous botanical garden and handcrafted souvenirs, there are so many ways to immerse yourself in local Nevis culture. Whether you’re in town for a week, a few days or longer, here are eight ways to make the most of your trip.
1) Join in a Festival
Nevis might not have the nightlife that St. Kitts does, but the island goes all out when it comes to yearly festivals. I was lucky enough that my trip coincided with the 2017 Nevis Blues Festival, a weekend-long event showcasing both local and international musical talent. In between sets—Atlanta-based band, AJ Ghents being my personal favorite—dancers in traditional garb took the stage.
Like most festivals, the atmosphere was really laid back yet the energy was contagious. This particular festival takes place at Oualie Beach, which is fairly easy to get to from just about anywhere on the island. I enjoyed strolling the grounds, sipping fruity, rum-infused cocktails and meeting some of the fellow festival goers.
2) Feast on Local Flavors
Ah, my favorite part of any trip! During my four-day trip to Nevis, I feasted on freshly-caught seafood, dishes made from the local breadfruit (as part of the Barnes Ghaut Breadfruit Festival), and everything in between. Travel is all about going outside your comfort zone…and maybe even your dress size.
For wood-wired pizza and seafood plates, try Yachtsman Grill at The Hamilton Beach Villas and Spa. It’s located in the historic village of Nelson Spring and is right on the water, making for quite the backdrop. If you’re up for sunset pictures, plan for an early dinner so you can watch the transition between day to night. You can also see the twinkling city lights of St. Kitts from the beach.
If you’re in the mood for something trendier, head to The Gin Trap. Painted pale blue on the outside and boasting British decor on the inside, this is one of Nevis’ new hotspots.
Before ordering dinner, I sampled a few of their cocktails, including their famous “Gin Trap.” While I can’t guarantee that their menu won’t change, I highly recommend ordering their creamy conch chowder for your starter and ribs for an entree. Don’t stress, vegetarians! There are plenty of non-meat dishes on the menu as well.
3) Shop for Handmade Goods
I’ve never been huge on souvenirs but there’s a soft spot in my heart for local handcrafted wares. So, when I discovered The Artisan Village on Old Hospital Road, I decided to swing by.
Truthfully, the first thing that caught my eye was the line of brightly-colored houses that comprise the market. Each little “house” is an artisan-run shop and the way it’s configured, very much feels like a mini community.
Since I had a few hours to spare before catching my flight back to the States, I stopped by before heading to the airport. After sifting through trinkets in several of the shops, I settled on a set of hand-stitched coasters, designed in the shape of the island. Whether you’re on the hunt for a typical souvenir or something more unique, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for here.
4) Stop & Smell the Roses
Just because Nevis is a tropical island doesn’t mean you need to spend you entire day at the beach. On my first full-day in town, I visited The Botanical Gardens of Nevis and wow, was I impressed! I might be a ‘city slicker’ these days but I’m a flower child at heart and there are so, SO many beautiful flowers growing here and the grounds are super peaceful.
Before wandering on my own, our guide took us through the 5-acre grounds. One thing you’ll notice right away is the Asian influence throughout. Not only are many of the flowers originally found in Asian countries, but there are several statues that hint at this influence as well. Having lived in Hong Kong and being a huge fan of their public parks, I felt right at home.
PRO TIP: If time permits, I definitely recommend either planning an afternoon picnic here or stopping for a refreshing drink at their Oasis Restaurant. It can get hot walking through the gardens, so a little bit of shade will do you well.
5) Head to a Hip Hangout
Nevis has no shortage of hip hangouts but Pinney’s Beach tops the list. As soon as you pull into the parking lot, you see a handful of bars, restaurants and beach bummers working on their tan.
Our group found a shaded table inside a cabana-like structure at Sunshine Beach Bar, which directly overlooks the beach. Before digging into our entrees, we ordered the joint’s famous “Killer Bee” cocktail—the ingredient list is a mystery to this day.
While I didn’t bring my laptop here to work, I totally would! I spotted several outlets and with the shaded outdoor areas, it’s the perfect place for catching up on emails (in my case) or simply digging into a great book, cocktail in hand.
FUN FACT: There’s a massive trampoline right next to Sunshine’s, although you have to be ten or under to use it (whoops)!
6) Pull up a Bar Stool
On the topic of killer cocktails, that’s another great way to meet locals and sample some local fruits. I found the cutest little bar at Chrishi Beach and, of course, photographed it like mad. Unlike Pinney’s Beach, which gives off more of a hippy vibe, Chrishi Beach Club is a bit more high-end.
The restaurant here is decked out with contemporary furnishings, brightly colored, pop-culture murals and edgy yet feminine throw pillows. As for the food, there’s a bit of everything. I ordered a duck salad while a fellow writer opted for their “Crazy Beach Curry Wrap.”
All in all, what I liked most about Chrishi Beach is that it’s as pretty as a postcard and yet not too crowded. The restaurant also has a selection of Insta-worthy pool floats up for grabs, should you want to take a dip in the ocean.
7) Take in the View
On my last full day on Nevis, I decided to get a little adventurous. While I didn’t pack well enough to go on a proper hike (there are some really great ones, by the way), I did opt for a short walk up to Saddle Hill, which is a lookout point used by British Admiral Horatio Nelson.
The climb to the top takes about ten minutes and is pretty easy to manage (even in sandals). For the past three days, we had been driving all around the island, so getting this aerial view of Nevis really helped me get my bearings. From the topmost point, you can see the ocean, the valleys and several of the local villages surrounding.
PRO TIP: The road to the trail is a bit bumpy, so consider going there before lunch just in case you start feeling queasy.
8) Tour the Town
Speaking of villages, visiting one or more is the perfect way to feel like a local. As mentioned above, I was able to stroll through Barnes Ghaut (one of four villages and towns in Saint Thomas Lowland) during their Breadfruit Festival.
Another easy way to see some of the villages is simply by taking the scenic route. Nevis is just over 35 square miles, so there’s always time to take a longer, but more colorful route. I saw some very pretty houses on my way to and from the Mount Nevis Hotel, where I stayed for four nights.
What’s your favorite Caribbean island? Tell me in the comments below!