Palm-fringed beaches, lush rainforest and pretty plantation houses converted into romantic hotels - the Caribbean island of Nevis has all the classic ingredients for an idyllic honeymoon
Imagine a romantic getaway where quaint old Caribbean charm reigns supreme. That's Nevis. Its tranquillity and charm take you back to a time when things were simpler, life was more peaceful and stress was an unknown word. It’s a green and serene place, with rainforests that tumble down to palm-fringed beaches. In fact, it has all the things you look for when planning a romantic honeymoon. And it doesn’t stop there. There are no high-rise beach resorts to cloud the horizon, just beautifully restored plantation houses, fields of sugar cane and lush paths ideal for romantic walks.
Part of the Leeward Islands, it's only seven miles long and five miles wide, with lush vegetation rising to the peak of Mount Nevis. You can drive around the island in one day and see most of the sights in one afternoon.
Charleston, the capital, has a handful of shops and a waterfront market. Here you get the feeling that you’ve stepped back in time, as most of Charleston’s buildings have been kept in their original 18th and 19th-century state. As you wander around the island, there are tiny churches like the Fig Tree Church (where you can view Nelson’s wedding certificate) set in tropical gardens, and plantation houses that look like gingerbread cottages, and are mostly now hotels.
If you really want to explore Nevis’s natural beauty, there are island ecologists on hand to take you on guided hikes through the rainforest and deserted sugar plantations, or you may want to step back in time and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime plantation carriage ride in an authentic mid-19th-century crafted coach. You’ll really feel royal on your two-to-three mile trip through the scenic, laidback roads of historic Gingerland, watching the routines of everyday West Indian country life.
Even the beaches spell romance on Nevis. Secluded Lover’s Beach is great for a stroll or a leisurely swim whilst Long Haul Bay is perhaps the best for snorkelling. One beach you must visit is Penney’s Beach, a three-mile strip of soft white sand, and home to the famous Sunshine’s Bar. It’s a laidback beach shack with wicker furniture and numerous pictures of the owner, Llewellyn Caine, with celebrities who have visited his place and tried one of the most famous cocktails in the Caribbean: Killer Bees. Though he won’t tell what’s in them, there’s certainly rum and passionfruit. Sunshines opens just before midday, seven days a week, and keeps going with dining, dancing and music until the early hours. Visit on Sundays for great beach parties and bonfires lighting the sky.
Nevis restaurants offer everything from simple to sophisticated. Miss June Cuisine, run by a former Trinidadian beauty queen, is a great place to enjoy an evening, starting with cocktails in the living room before adjourning to the dining room to enjoy a superb five-course meal, with Miss June, your host, adding to the atmosphere with lively anecdotes and reminiscences.
Perhaps the most romantic hotel on the island is the Montpelier Plantation Inn, surrounded by over 60 acres of unspoiled mountainside. During the 18th century it was a sugar plantation and this is where Lord Horatio Nelson and Fanny Nisbet tied the knot under the 200-year-old ficus tree, with its intertwined trunks and spreading branches.
The 17 cottage-style guest rooms, with verandas and ocean views, are set in bird-filled tropical gardens dotted with hammocks. The Great Room is a great place to dine by candlelight or, for pure indulgence, you can experience intimate candlelit dining in the 18th-century sugar mill, which caters for only 12 guests at a time.
The 36-room Nisbet Plantation Beach Club is just off the beaten track in coconut groves by a white sandy beach. This plantation house has old-style elegance – it's like being a guest on a country estate, yet at the same time there’s every modern amenity. The antique-filled house has a wonderful traditional dining room and veranda bar and croquet and afternoon tea are available. There’s a swimming pool, hot tub, beauty rooms and a fitness centre if you want to get active, and a beachfront bar and poolside breakfast area if you are feeling lazy.
One of the oldest Nevis hotels in operation is the Hermitage Plantation Inn. In fact, it is one of the oldest wooden houses in the Caribbean. A boutique hotel, it's set 800 feet above sea level at the base of the Nevis peak, and the beautiful beaches are only 15 minutes away. Period furniture adorns the main house, and the guest rooms are painted in bright pastel colours, with four-poster beds and private verandas. Take dinner on the porch in flickering candlelight or enjoy an in-room massage or a romantic sail. This place is made for honeymooners who don’t need to be beachside.
For honeymooners, Nevis has everything and there’s a saying on the island: “You’re only a stranger here once”, which is true. You’ll certainly want to return again for that special anniversary.
You can’t fly direct to Nevis; you have to go to Antigua or St Kitts and then take a charter plane to the island. These charter flights are usually arranged by your tour operator or hotel.