If you get lost in Nevis, don’t worry. Everyone knows each other, and everyone is genuinely happy to meet you and help out. Nevis is a small Caribbean island—“green and serene”—southeast of Puerto Rico. Magical? Yes. And it isn’t an exaggeration.
This alluring spot—home to 10,000—is known for its gorgeous, volcanic-sand beaches, turquoise sea and historic sugar cane plantations. Families will especially love the charming, small-town vibe. The kids might hear African Green (vervet) Monkeys chattering in the trees and spy giant sea turtles swimming in the clear water. You can just lounge around all day or fill your time with snorkeling, sailing, nature walks and cricket—or all of the above. A delightful time to visit is sea turtle nesting season: June to October.
Writer Sarah Western Balzer shared with us her terrific photos from a recent family vacation at Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies. Sarah, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is the lifestyle editor for the London-based financial website, Here is the City.
1. Tropical weather + cool breezes + stunning surroundings = Island Paradise.
2. The newly renovated Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies (revamped in 2010) is the only Four Seasons hotel in the Caribbean.
3. Quaint, colonial Charlestown and its historic 18th and 19th century Georgian architecture. Plus, the colourful City Market near the ferry dock with fresh spices, homemade hot sauces and local produce: breadfruit, plantain, tannia, avocados (“pears”) and yams. Open daily, except Sunday; the best days are Fridays and Saturdays.
4. Exotic flaura and fauna means outdoor adventure Nirvana: to name just two… 1. Horseback riding on southeast side of the island past old sugar plantations. 2. Climbing Nevis Peak with a naturalist, spotting secret waterfalls, maybe a mongoose, and learning which herbs make natural remedies.
5. Catching a locals’ British-style cricket match (June to mid-July)—Thursday nights at Grove Park in Charlestown.
1. Beach bonfires.
2. The “coconut experience” with Mac kee France, the resort’s Director of Recreation. Guests join a picnic on the lawn by the pool and a Spiderman-like coconut climber arrives. He scampers barefoot way up to the top of the tree and brings down coconuts. Then Mac kee tells how Nevisians use every bit of the coconut for everything—from food and desserts to toys and medicine. Then he serves coconut milk, water and homemade tarts for guests to sample.
3. The best taxi ride ever: Hire a taxi for a flat-rate “island tour.” These personable island ambassadors are one of the island’s greatest assets. The kids will love the whirlwind look at all of Nevis: from downtown Charlestown to the ruins of 19th-century sugar mills to the almonds growing almost unnoticed along the sides of the road. Stop frequently to explore a bit on foot, shop, grab a bite—these tours are totally flexible, as if a friend were driving you around his hometown.
4. Kids’ club: Four Seasons Nevis has a fabulous, complimentary kids’ program, Kids For All Seasons (KFAS)*. There’s daily fun, games, pool time and adventures, including turtle- and coconut-inspired crafts.
1. Because it’s so small, it’s super easy to navigate and explore with the kids.
2. The romance of the place… the heady scent of ripe mangoes, the lush tropical setting, the refreshing breezes and post card views. Check the children into the kids’ club and take in a sunset hand-in-hand, barefoot on the soft sand, with your man. Remember him? Or…
3. Head out for an oh-so-Ascot day at the horse races.
4. Scuba diving: there are more than 40 beautiful sites, including reefs, caverns, ledges, thermal vents and wrecks. Or take a customised kayak tour along the coast, led by an expert guide. Stop at hidden snorkelling spots along the way and enjoy a picnic on a secluded beach.
5. The Spa at Four Seasons: a massage in your guest room or a daylong immersion package. The Golden Sugar Skin Buff combines gold particles, cane sugar, minerals and apricot kernel oil for a skin scrub and exfoliation.
6. Ranked one of the Top Golf Resorts in the Caribbean by Condé Nast Traveler, the resort’s Robert Trent Jones II golf course is a must-play for any visiting golfer. Picture slopes between a towering volcano and the clear blue waters, plus dramatic ruins of a historic sugar mill behind the second tee. Every Tuesday and Thursday, there are Junior Golf Clinics for children ages 5-12. The price is $30 USD per child.
7. Kids under five eat free (if you are six, you are out of luck:-)).
8. Star gazing: from your balcony, after the kids go to sleep. The sky is crystal clear…
Cheeky monkeys! These mischievous primates outnumber humans and live to play. Roaming in packs, the vervet monkeys are most active in the late afternoon. Four Seasons hosts 90-minute walking tours, daily at 4 pm at a nearby plantation, led by local naturalists. Or just ask a concierge to play chauffeur on a complimentary monkey reconnaissance of the resort golf course. In mango season (June to October), the monkeys keep busy stealing fruit off trees.
For kids—Once your family discovers Mango, on the ocean’s edge on the resort, you might not dine anywhere else. This place features open-air, West Indian dining. The fare is excellent and the decor is gorgeous. Go for an early seating with the kids. (Seaside tables are usually available for a 6 pm dinner.)
The resort’s KFAS* kids’ club organizes a kids’ dinner one night a week. Take advantage of this terrific service: 6:30 to 9:30 pm, including dinner and lots of new friends.
Join one of the community cookouts held in most every village on Friday and Saturday nights. The biggest one is Fridays about 5 pm, sponsored by the Water Department on Pump Road near Charlestown. There’s music, plenty of ice-cold beer for mom and dad, fresh-cooked chicken and ribs, and games like dominoes.
With the help of a Four Seasons chef, lasso your own lobster on a dive, and then cook it up on the beach.
For grown-ups—Get a sitter and get ready to savour the romance at Montepelier Plantation & Beach. Our top pick: shrimp with passionfruit and toasted coconut; mango-chili-glazed Mahi Mahi. Second is Golden Rock Inn for Caribbean-style fresh fish and lobster. Or for casual plus drinks, try Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill and order a Killer Bee rum cocktail.
Mango’s Famous BBQ Ribs with Nevisian cole slaw and sweet potato fries, Caribbean Beer Battered Flying Fish with French fries, tartar sauce and lime.
Caribbean Spiny Lobster Tail from the Sea with sauces: saffron, citrus, Hollandaise, lemongrass-coriander vinaigrette.
Salad Nicoise with herb marinated ahi tuna, baby romaine lettuce, green beans, kipler tomato, boiled egg, cherry tomato, red onion, white anchovies, herbs de Provence dressing.
1. See giant nesting sea turtles up-close: Join Lemuel Pemberton, founder and president of the Nevis Turtle Group, on moonlit, nighttime turtle walks (June to October 31). Count eggs, measure the prehistoric turtles or, if you’re lucky, observe fresh hatchlings. Four Seasons partners with both the Nevis Turtle Group and nonprofit Sea Turtle Conservancy to sponsor three sea turtles: Coral, Jewel and Paradise. (The program aids in their conservation.) And as part of the resort’s KFAS* program, Four Seasons puts on a Sea Turtle Learning Camp year-round—one day a week is Turtle Camp Day. Every child graduates with a sea turtle adoption kit and certificate for his own adopted sea turtle. Once back home, kids can continue to track their new friends online via GPS tagging (www.conserveturtles.org).
2. Beach time: Three-mile-long, largely undeveloped Pinney’s Beach is the best on Nevis—and it’s right in front of the resort. Snorkel, swim, make sandcastles and lounge in the beach huts. Four Seasons boasts the only Sail Laser School in the Caribbean and offers a learn-to-sail in eight hours class. Parents will love open-air watering hole Sunshine’s Bar (see above) next door, the island hangout. Rub elbows with visiting celebs and musicians. Grilled seafood, delicious rum drinks, live music, nightly bonfires and monthly full moon parties.
3. Educational fun at the Peak: Peak Heaven is a re-creation of a Nevisian village from over a century ago. It’s on five acres full of flowering gardens at 1,200 feet (364 metres) above sea level. Historically accurate wooden buildings include indentured slaves’ quarters. The Heritage House has a local museum depicting the island’s history from the 1700s. Beyond: hiking trails, historic ruins and a jungle gym playground. Grab a bite at The Coal Pot, a funky eatery serving up indigenous and period cuisine.
4. Garden tour: It’s stunning, plus the kids can frolic and play—five acres of gardens set on mountain slopes with panoramic ocean views. The Botanical Gardens of Nevis’ flora and gardens are by theme: Asian sculptures, fountains, water-lily pools and a conservatory enclosing a “rain forest” with squawking parrots. The gift shop and art-and-antiques shop are among the island’s best.
5. Sail away: Sailing on a resort catamaran cannot be missed. Spend a day touring from the ocean.
Read more on Nevis in Four Seasons Magazine.
*Kids For All Seasons (KFAS) is a Four Seasons complimentary recreational and educational program for children of resort guests. The Nevis KFAS club is designed for youth three to nine years old, and open daily from 9 to 5. (Other KFAS clubs cater to the five to 12-year-old crowd. Younger children can often join KFAS with a nanny or parent, or resorts can arrange for babysitting.) But details vary from property to property, so check the resort’s website for more information.
Kids can go all day or just for an hour or two. Activities inside and out include games, sports, music, treasure hunts, swimming, arts and crafts, cultural education, environmental preservation work and yoga. Not your average camp, the VIP offerings are pretty extraordinary—for example, at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, kids can help the resort’s marine biologist graft coral in the lagoon sanctuary.
Michelle Pentz Glave is the Have Family Will Travel editor. Before diving into communications/PR, she was a journalist for 25 years in the US and Germany including stints with The Wall Street Journal Europe, Gruner+Jahr (Bertelsman) and the Albuquerque Journal. Her work has appeared in Outside, Wired, Travel + Leisure, Sunset and Fortune. Michelle is passionate about family, food, farmers, her garden and taekwondo. She lives on Bowen Island, near Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two kids: Sabrina, 10, and Duncan, 9.
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