I love islands and it’s not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Island life, whether it’s in the North Atlantic or the South Pacific, is different from the rest of the world. Secluded and self-reliant, the communities that have emerged from these rocky enclaves are each unique and each undeniably special. It’s a small community mentality, and one that I am always eager to enjoy, most recently on the Caribbean island of Nevis. I was down there to see the recent changes to the idyllic Four Seasons Resort Nevis, but my trip of course also included some time exploring this small island and learning more about what makes it so very special. What I discovered was a Caribbean island unlike any other I’ve visited, and one that won me over almost instantly. Today I want to share a few reasons why Nevis should be on your travel to-do list as well; excuses to visit paradise that appeal to almost any type of traveler.
At only 36 square miles, Nevis is not a large place and at times can be overshadowed by its neighbor island, St. Kitts. There’s more than proximity that connects these two spots, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is one country, although at times that relationship has been a bit strained. Nevis though is a lot more than just a small Caribbean island, its long and fascinating history is one of the many reasons why I was so excited to visit. Today Nevis is perhaps most famous as the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, thanks entirely to the incredible popularity of the eponymous Broadway musical. The island’s history though is much more expansive than one slightly cranky Founding Father, and at times Nevis has found itself at the center of world politics. First spotted by Columbus, the island has a long history of European interest, first as a principal port for the slave trade and then as the most profitable sugar cane plantation island in the Caribbean. Sugar was big business in the 17th and 18th centuries and the quality of the sugar cane juice so high that it was the most profitable colony in the British Empire, at one time more so than the 13 American Colonies combined. For a variety of reasons, this boom did at one point decline and for generations Nevis fell into a more modest lifestyle. Today tourism is the chief industry, although you can find remnants of those old plantations and sugar mills across the island.
Although Nevis is not a large island, the landscapes do vary widely but no matter where I found myself, it was always beautiful. I spent a morning with local tour guide Hillary, who was excited to show me around her home that she very clearly loved. She was excited when she heard I was from the DC area; her husband was from there originally. She said she tried living in Washington, but she missed her island home too much and the couple soon found themselves back on Nevis. And I quickly understood why. With near-perfect weather, even in the dead of winter, it’s a comfortable place to call home. Naturally, like most of the other Caribbean islands, Nevis also features incredible beaches but that’s not where the beauty ends. Nevis is also home to what is still technically an active volcano, Nevis Peak. Although the Peak hasn’t erupted in modern times, there’s always that danger as the nearby island of Montserrat shows. But on Nevis there’s really no worry about an eruption, instead the ever-present mountain adds a verdant backdrop missing on many other islands. It’s into this interior forest that we drove, spying a monkey or two in the branches of trees as we drove along the old roads. Since Nevis is so small, the circumnavigation really didn’t take very long and before I knew it, I was back at the beach, looking across the narrow strait to the neighboring island of St. Kitts. My morning with Hillary though was the ideal introduction not only into the natural beauty of Nevis, but the charm and warmth of the people who call it home.
One of the most well-established Four Seasons Hotels in the Americas, the Four Seasons Resort Nevis has been welcoming guests for nearly 30 years to their laid back and expansive property situated on the site of an old sugar plantation. All hotels and resorts though need to be updated from time to time, which is why last year the Four Seasons Nevis began the process of reimagining both their public spaces as well as guest rooms. And from my experience, the results are nothing short of amazing. Walking into my guest room, one of only 189 at the resort, I was immediately impressed by the light but still sophisticated Caribbean vibe. Soft fabrics, light colors with pops of brighter hues and large patio windows all come together to create a room that is light and modern, while also being intensely comfortable. It was the ideal oasis for me as I spent a few days enjoying the many amenities on-site as well as spending some much needed time just relaxing.
There are plenty of spots throughout the US, Mexico and Caribbean if all you want is a sunny beach. If you’re like me though and want an experience that feels unique, personalized and even adventurous, then Nevis is one of the best options. Thanks to the small size of both the island and the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, nothing feels prepackaged or formulaic because, well, it’s not. This is not your massive industrial-style resort experience, this is a calming and restorative travel experience that is unlike many others in the Caribbean. Before traveling down to Nevis, I chatted with several people who have been visiting for years, which struck me as odd at the time. With so many choices in the Caribbean, I wondered why they would keep returning to Nevis. I now understand the appeal of not only the resort, but the island. It really is a remarkable destination and one I know I’ll try to return to as often as I can.