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You might not have heard of the small sister island to St. Kitts—then again, thanks to “Hamilton” mania you probably have—but this eastern Caribbean beauty makes up for its size with a gorgeous landscape packed with history and culture. Whether you just want to lay on a sublime beach, take a walking history tour or sample gourmet delights, Nevis has you covered. From the charming 18th-century architecture to the friendly locals, you’ll quickly understand why the island’s motto is Nevis Nice.

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Nisbet Beach, courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Nisbet Beach | Photo: Courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

1. The beaches

Yes, it’s a tropical island and beaches are a given, but a large portion of Nevis’ 36 square miles is covered with flawless, multi-colored sand beaches that you won’t see on every island. Nevis wasn’t nicknamed “Queen of the Caribees” for nothing. Not only are the beaches spectacular, but they are usually uncrowded, with just a few palm trees to join you with your lounging. From the gentle waves of Oualie Beach to the sea breezes of Nisbet Beach and the festive beach bars on Pinney’s Beach, you could spend a week just relaxing on a different beach every day.

The Hamilton estate, courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates.

The Hamilton estate | Photo: Courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates.

2. Hamilton history

The opening song of the blockbuster musical “Hamilton” describes his birthplace as “the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean” but Nevis is hardly forgotten as the place where Alexander Hamilton started hisearly life. Visitors can retrace his steps, from the humble Georgian house where he was born, which is now the Museum of Nevis History, to the sprawling ruins of his father’s sugar plantation, the Hamilton Estate, which was owned by the Hamilton family until the 1950s. There’s also the Anglican school that refused to educate Hamilton because he was illegitimate and the Jewish cemetery, which flanks the building that once housed the synagogue where  young Hamilton was tutored.

nevis

Nevis sugar mill | Photo: Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

3. Sugar mills

Sugar production was a major industry on St. Kitts and Nevis for centuries and towering sugar mills stand as evidence all over the island. Many of Nevis’ luxury hotels unfold on the grounds of former sugar plantations and Montpelier Plantation & Beach even features a restaurant inside of a 300-year-old sugar mill. There’s also an open air sugar mill museum, on the east coast of the island, on the New River sugar plantation. Roam through artifacts, machinery and boilers on what was the last operating sugar mill on Nevis.

Sunshine's Beach Bar, courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Sunshine’s Beach Bar | Courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

4. Sunshine’s Beach Bar

Where there’s beaches, there are usually beach bars and the thatched roof, waterfront hangout Sunshine’s is the ultimate Nevis beach lounge. The burly and gregarious owner, Sunshine, serves up delicacies like lobster, conch and barbecue chicken with notable Nevisian friendliness, but the real star is his Killer Bee rum punch. A secret concoction that’s as lethal as it is flavorful, a sip of a Killer Bee is worth a visit to Nevis alone.

5. Drag racing

Sure, you can snorkel, sail anddive but Nevis also offers a more unusual sport, namely the adrenaline focused competition of drag racing. Considered one of the best tracks in the Caribbean, St. James Raceway hugs the coastline for scenic views and dramatic meets.

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Mt. Nevis, courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Nevis Peak | Courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

6. NevisPeak

One of the island’s most prominent landmarks is the mostly dormant volcano of Nevis Peak, which hovers over the island at 3,232 feet. It’s the highest point on Nevis and visible at every point of the island, especially if you decide to take the challenging hike to the top.

Traditional dancers at Culturama, courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Traditional dancers at Culturama, courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

7. Culturama

For 12 days at the end of July, the entire island vibrates with the excitement of the annual cultural celebration of Culturama. Commemorating the emancipation of Nevis’ enslaved population in the 1830s, the festival includes a masquerade parade, beauty pageants, a calypso competition and a vibrant showcase of the island’s food and culture.

Green Vervet monkeys

Green Vervet monkeys

8. Monkeys 

One of the few Caribbean islands with a significant population of wild monkeys, Nevis boasts more Green Vervet monkeys than people. The creatures scamper around freely, but one of the best ways to view these fast-moving animals in on the sunset hike at the luxe Four Seasons Nevis resort. The property’s lush golf course and surrounding forest attracts lots of these playful primates.

9. Thermal springs

Besides scenic vistas, Nevis Peak also supplies a steady flow of hot springs heated by the geothermal energy of the volcano. Bath Hotel and Spring House is a historic spa hotel built in 1778 that sits across from five thermal baths and is free and open to the public. You can dip into the 100 degree water filled with minerals that are supposed to cure arthritis, rheumatism and gout.

St. Paul's Anglican Church, circa 1680, courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

St. Paul’s Anglican Church, circa 1830 | Courtesy of Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

10. Historic Georgian Architecture

Nevis’ charming capital of Charlestown is crammed with 18th- and 19th-century buildings that showcase the Georgian architecture of the Colonial Era. You can just stroll down the streets to take in the historic sites or join a Charlestown walking tour to learn about the architectural history.

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Tagged: Caribbean, Destinations

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

Rosalind is a writer/author/blogger/teacher based in Chicago. She covers travel, lifestyle and arts topics and her credits include Salon, Hemispheres, Miami Herald, Woman's Day, Brides, Midwest Living, Go Magazine, Bravo Jet Set and The Rough Guide to Women Travel. Follow her hyphenated adventures with her blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, as well as on Twitter and Instagram @FarsightedGirl.
Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

@farsightedgirl

Journalist, author & blogger of #travel, culture, #music & fashion.#binder Lover of passion fruit. Climber of volcanoes. Teacher of #journalism. SATW Member
RT @nhannahjones: My dear friend @kitastew has been working on this for months. She consistently unearths stories that no one else in media… - 4 hours ago
Rosalind Cummings-Yeates
Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

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