Nevis has some of the friendliest, most welcoming people you will ever meet. We've traveled to various places throughout the Caribbean and Central America, hands down Nevis is at the top of the list in terms of feeling welcome.
As regular travelers to Mexico (always a special place in our hearts) it was nice to NOT have to deal with panhandlers and cacklers. Nothing against Mexico, we love it, but Nevis was very peaceful. I think we were approached once on the beach by a vendor selling jewelry, granted it was low season, but he made no attempt to badger us after we declined and he politely went on his merry way.
Heed the advice that this is a very conservative island. Don't plan on running around the island with a bathing suit, you will be out of place. While there are nice beaches on Nevis for sunbathing, I wouldn't consider this a "beach" vacation destination, but it is a lovely island to explore, and a nice quiet relaxing destination.
There were very few people at Oualie beach. Again, low season. Probably the best beach in terms of swimming - if you are open minded, head down to Herberts beach -- yes, I know it's not the "cleanest" beach and you take a long road with potholes to get there, but the water there is spectacular and other tourists said they enjoyed snorkeling in that area. The waters are calm and crystal clear --- better than we'd seen at Oualie beach. We visited Windward beach as well - not a swimming beach, saw runners there, but a nice trek and open vast of beach and visited the horse stables on our way back where the attendant let us pet the horses. We also went to black sand cove, somewhat an off the beaten path drive to get there, but my husband didn't mind as he enjoyed the four wheel drive. We walked through the gate, didn't look around the shrubbery, missed the staircase down to black sand cove, went on a hike and couldn't find it, so headed back. Well on the way back we saw the staircase and made our way down to the beach. I think it's best to go in the early hours to avoid high tide. Black sand, nice views, very picturesque, and quiet. Again, not a swimming beach, tides and waves are too strong.
We stopped at Newcastle Pottery - nice lady - and purchased some "votives" for our patio and other pottery souveniers. If you look out back, they'll show you how they fire the pottery - interesting stop.
There are some stores in Charlestown where you can purchase t-shirts, postcards, etc. There are also a few grocery stores conveniently located in town, and others as you trek around the island (Best Buy). We've stopped at the two in Charlestown and the other Best Buy located on the windward side. I'd recommend bringing your own spices if you plan to self cater.
Our accommodations were equipped with a full kitchen, so we cooked many of our lunches and breakfasts at home - eggs with tortillas. There are a couple bakeries in town too. We had dinners at some of the beachside restaurants, can't recall the names off the top of my head, but really good food. Lunches averaged us $25-30 for two adults, and that's without alcoholic drinks. We stopped for the infamous killer bee (wow, drink this slow - tastes like koolaid but it will catch up with you in no time), and checked out the tshirts for souveniers. I got "stung" while I was perusing the tshirt selection. They charged us $5 American for a coke.
Our best stop was probably at Rodney Elliots for lunch. What a nice, nice lady. It was the best, best, best homecooked lunch/dinner. We walk in, she tells us what she has on the menu that day, and I start to tell her what my veggie selection will be and she stops me saying, "I'll give you a little bit of everything" . My husband had the pulled pork --- oh my goodness, talk about mouth watering savory home cooked pork. THE BEST EVER. She then made us a refreshing cherry drink - fresh picked cherries off her tree outside the door. Scrumptious!!! I had a strappy summer dress on, and she tells us a story of how one customer wanted to learn how to cook cornbread -- think of how your grandmother was always proud of her home cooked meals - that's Ms. Elliot. Ms. Elliot proudly tells us she doesn't cook with flour. She gave the customer a cooking lesson in her kitchen and showed them how to make cornbread. As she's telling me this story, she looks at me and my strappy dress and says, "But you can't wear that in my kitchen". LOL. She's old fashioned, sweet and to the point. She makes you feel like you are visiting back home after a long departure. She's proud of her food, rightfully so, and makes a point to carry on native recipes and ingredients so they aren't lost in history. What a wonderful lady. I gave her a hug before we left.
We stayed on the leeward side of the island at Round Hill Cottage - it's on the mountainside in the cove overlooking Oualie Bay. Nice place, well equipped. Unfortunately there were little to no breezes there, so we tried to shower at the crack of dawn to avoid the heat of the sun. There are ceiling fans, but a portable fan would have come in real handy. The tree frogs at night were almost deafening, took a few nights to get used to it. The laundry facilities on site are nice. Wasn't too humid - we were able to hang dry our laundry and it would be dry by morning. Nice accommodations. Safe, private and quiet until nightfall (tree frogs). LOL. Just a few minute drive down the hill to Oualie beach. Next time we'll probably try the windward side of the island for more of a breeze, but if we had done that I'm sure we'd be saying we'd want to try the leeward side the next time around. Saw a few monkeys hanging out at the main house up the hill from us.
Cottage has a gas grill on site, an electric roasting fryer, stove, full refrigerator, dishwasher and pretty much anything you'll need. We purchased paper towels, extra toilet paper and aluminum foil at the local grocery story to get us through the end of the week. We rented our vehicle per the recommendation of RH owners, and were happy with our four wheel drive vehicle. I think we paid $250 for the week, well worth it. If internet access is a necessity to you, don't plan on having a reliable connection here. Our connection was intermittent, and extremely slow. Sometimes took us 1/2 hour to log on to email alone, must less send one out. Might be better off heading down to oualie beach or other areas where they have wi fi. Signal wasn't that good, even in clear weather. Adequate if you need to check in once or twice during the week and have patience. We send the owner an email before we left thanking her for the accommodations, telling her we had a lovely stay, and never heard back. Disappointing.
We did a lot of exploring -- and for guys who like to offroad, there are plenty of secluded off the beaten path dirt roads to go "offroading" here. We went on adventures where the only thing in sight were wild donkeys and mountain goats (on the windward side). We passed over a few small streams on these roads after visiting the old sugar mill ruins - plenty of ruins on the island to explore and if you are into old world architecture, there are some beautiful churches and buildings alike throughout the island. We snuck into the church to see the black Jesus crucifix as we perused the island. We also took a trek down to lime kiln. Couldn't find the haunted house that was on the map. Go to town to get a map of the island -- a definite must. The tourism agency will tell you which map is the best.
We opted not to hike Mt. Nevis as it was rainy season, but did our own hikes on roads and paths that lead to the secluded beaches on the windward side.
We opted to be adventurous and took the ferry over to Nevis from St. Kitts. Short ferry ride itself, but long adventure due to the wait at the docks, time it takes to load the ferry and depart, time it takes to dock the ferry and unload the passengers. At the suggestion of Round Hill, we took a private water taxi back to St. Kitts on the way home. What a time saver. Paid $100 for two adults. Well worth it. Would do the private water taxi in a heartbeat for a week long trip. If we had a longer trip, the ferry might be worth it for the adventure.
We visited town of Bath hot springs. There were locals bathing (soaped up head to toe) in the nude, but not in the designated bath house, only in the nearby streams. We didn't realize there were a myriad of bath houses, so we only stopped at one of them. We learned later that trails lead from one to the other. Man, was it hot. We only got in up to our knees. It was hotter than any hottub I've ever been in.
We also climbed Saddle Hill, and found Prentiss' grave marker on the way up. Nice trek up a gravel/dirt road. Can't get lost. BEAUTIFUL stunning views once you reach the top.
Even with a map, it was difficult to find some of these places on our own as a lot of the side roads aren't marked. But locals are extremely friendly and helpful, and it's nearly impossible to get lost.
We also stopped at the Botanical Gardens, glad we did. Smallish, but nice gardens. Nice gift shop, but don't expect to find any local souveniers there. Mostly imports.
Driving on the left side of the road was pretty much a no brainer - not as difficult as you'd think.
Stopped at the gift shop at Four Seasons for some really nice, but pricey clothing and a souvenier nautical map that we usually bring back with us from our island destinations (this was the only place that carried it). I purchased a comfy knee length summer blouse with sequins, wore that on the trip home for the comfort of it, sorry I did - I got stopped at every security checkpoint in the airport and was xrayed as well. In part because of the baggy clothing but also because of the sequins. Better safe than sorry, so no argument there.
Four Seasons - if this is in your price range, definitely a must stay. Beautiful, beautiful grounds and accommodations, spectacular location.
Stopped also at Nisbet beach for lunch. $30 for meals for two adults, but again, good food, great beach and spectacular views.
Wanted to stop at Montpelier for dinner, but never got around to it. Perhaps next time.
We'd definitely visit Nevis again. A nice quiet, relaxing destination with some of the most wonderful people you will ever meet. Proud of their island, proud of their heritage, 98% literacy rate and they are big on education. A really pleasant place to visit in the caribbean that hopefully will not become touristy with cruise ships and the likes. A must see.