There are no fancy clubs, casinos or even marinas on Nevis. But that’s not why we visited this 36-square mile Leeward Island politically linked to St. Kitts to the north. A friend had a keen interest in maritime history and Nevis is one of the best, if not the best, Caribbean island to indulge this passion. Why? Two 18th century nautical legends have both lived on Nevis. Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and father of the U.S. Coast Guard, was born in the two-story Georgian-style building on Charlestown’s Low Street that now serves as the Museum of Nevis History. British Naval Admiral, Lord Horatio Nelson, was stationed on Nevis as a young captain, and met and married Nevisian, Frances Nisbet. The Horatio Nelson Museum, touted to have the largest collection of Nelson relics in the Western Hemisphere, is on Bath Road right up from Fort Charles. Our friend immersed himself in both museums. Beyond this, we also found much more to enjoy as well on Nevis.
“Nevis is an Old World island, untouched. I like to tell people we don’t have any traffic lights and no branded fast food outlets. It’s a good destination for cruisers looking for a laidback lifestyle,” says Mark Theron, commodore of the Nevis Yacht Club, located at Oualie Beach. The Club is currently focused on running its youth sailing program and Theron proudly tells that some of the Club junior sailors have become skilled enough to race in regional Optimist dinghy events.
SEA & SHORE
The keelboat-oriented Booby Island Regatta and gamefish-focused Nevis Sports Fishing Tournament haven’t taken place for a couple of years. However, Nevisians do pride themselves in hosting several other sea events including Sunfish, Laser and Hobie racing as well as a cross channel swim race and smaller fishing tournaments.
“The annual Nevis to St. Kitts Cross Channel Swim occurs every March where swimmers swim 4.1 km across ‘the Narrows’ between St. Kitts and Nevis. The Indian Castle Fisher Folks Association holds an annual fishing tournament every first Monday in May and sometimes again in August at the Indian Castle Landing Site in Hanley’s Road,” says Inez Freund, spokesperson for the Nevis Tourism Authority.
On shore, we found the Bath Hotel is another popular historic attraction as it was the first hotel built in the Caribbean back in 1778. Below the property, there is the Bath Springs, a therapeutic, natural hot spring baths or customized pool. My husband enjoyed a stroll through the very photogenic Nevis Botanical Gardens as well as our visit to the Golden Rock Inn, whose property features the most amazing tropical gardens designed by famed landscape architect, Raymond Jungles. Our wild side did beckon one day, and we answered the call by booking a Funky Monkey ATV tour of the island’s back roads. Next visit, we plan to hire a guide to hike up Nevis Peak, which is a literally breath-taking 3,232-feet above sea level.
Currently, there is not a marina facility per se. However, in Charlestown, there is a tender pier which can accommodate small to medium sized yachts, small cruise ships as well as small boats. Presently there is major expansion work being done at the Pier in order to accommodate additional marine visitors. Pinney’s Bay, located close to Charlestown, is the best anchorage and there are moorings here too in front of the popular Sunshine’s Beach Bar and Grill. There is also a good anchorage to the northwest of the island in front of the Oualie Beach Resort.
“We are working on providing moorings,” says Pierre Borg, Oualie Resort’s marketing executive. “Yachtsmen are welcome to use our dinghy dock at no charge and use our restaurant and beach facilities. We can arrange island tours, car rentals etc. We will dispose of their garbage at no expense. They can also buy ice, water etc.”
Gas stations around the island readily supply fuel. You can get ice at most gas stations, or at places like the Pas’ Bar & Restaurant at Charlestown’s port or anywhere you see the ‘ICE’ signs. Nevis boasts many restaurants, from those set beachside to fancier eateries at upscale resorts. To provision, there’s supermarkets near Charlestown such as Rams and Horsford’s Valu Mart. There’s also a laundromat near town. Local stores such as TDC and S.L. Horsfords and Company Ltd. usually supply small boat necessities. However, Nevis does not have a boatyard or any repair facility on island as most local fishermen and boat owners/operators are skilled in boat repairs. That certainly makes sense on an island as steeped in nautical history and know-how as Nevis.