If you’d be perfectly happy doing nothing but reading a book or listening to music while swaying gently in a hammock on a soft sand beach and sipping a rum punch at 1 p.m. — welcome to the island of Nevis. The 36 square miles of volcanic land formation in the Caribbean Sea is the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, and although we’re glad he did, one has to wonder why he ever left. The pace is slow; the water and air temperatures consistently reside in the 80s; the lodging is luxurious; and there’s plenty of tasty food and drink to be savored along with the sun.
Many who know of Nevis are familiar with the Four Seasons there — a full-service resort now owned by Bill Gates. It offers everything you’d expect from a beachside Four Seasons on a tropical island, plus a handsome, Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course to boot. Yet just a ten-minute stroll down the shoreline sits Paradise Beach, an aptly named collection of extraordinary five-star private villas. The multi-room units are handsomely designed with Indonesian thatched roofs covering sky high vaulted ceilings, opening to an outdoor patio with its own pool. Each villa comes with a fully equipped kitchen, plus indoor and outdoor dining areas, creating an ideal setup for those traveling with family or a group of friends.
Every detail has been thoughtfully provided, including an outdoor shower, a gas grill on each patio, twice daily housekeeping, and even a Bluetooth speaker to take your tunes to the beach. Although the villa’s amenities make each day feel like a party, you literally have to walk only steps to delight in the picture perfect Paradise Beach itself. Everything you’d need is there, including a handsome bar where continental breakfast is served daily. Don’t miss the Tuesday evening lobster dinner and bonfire with live music held right on the seashore at this magnificent property.
If you’ve ever dreamed of escaping it all to open your own little bistro on an island somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Bananas is that kind of place. And if there is such a thing as “out-of-the-way” on Nevis, this funky, eclectic, art-filled bistro is it. While great songs emanate from the sound system, a collection of fine, aged rums and stellar views of the night sky from the veranda above provide a cozy island vibe with which to appreciate seriously good cooking by a coterie of local women. Try the fresh local catch of the day, or rich and rustic braised Moroccan lamb shanks, free-range jerk chicken, and a scrumptious chickpea and vegetable Thai curry. Desserts such as coconut cake will not hurt you either.
Where to dine on Wednesday night?
That would be The Hermitage. Two words: “Pig Night.” The Hermitage Plantation Inn is the quintessential, charming boutique hotel run by the Lupinacci family for 40 years. We were advised to eat there on a Wednesday evening when local ladies lovingly lay down an impressive feast of West Indian classics. The evening begins with an exemplary rum punch served in one of the quaint anterooms, followed by a luscious first course of fish soup and hot-from-the-oven dinner rolls at your table in the jalousied dining room. The headliner is a whole roasted pig, all pink meat and crispy skin, served to order from a buffet table that includes an enticing variety of mouthwatering side dishes. It was like a fabulous Caribbean Thanksgiving — without any family friction.
For something completely different, there’s Indian Summer. To be blunt, you’re not here for the atmosphere, but the classic Indian dishes are indeed worthy. Although they wasted zero resources on the look of the place, you can gladly eat outside on the screened-in patio. From the samosas, parathas, and naans (try the garlic cheese) to the biryanis, butter chicken, and superb lamb, the cooking was consistently on point and the prices reasonable.
What about that perfect beach shack?
Conjure up the image of a dive, but in the best possible sense of the word. Your toes touch the sand as you watch waves cascade rhythmically along the shore. The sweet scent of salty sea air intermingles with the fragrance of frying fish. Various sounds vie for your audio attention as well; the sea, Bob Marley classics on the speakers, and high-speed blenders concocting high-potency drinks. The place is Sunshine’s, and Sunshine himself will seat you. You might begin with the house specialty, known as the Killer Bee. Some cocktail names can be silly or misleading. Others, however, define their intent. The Killer Bee is the latter — its purpose is to inebriate. That settled, move on to fresh caught conch in garlic butter, a platter of jerk-spiced wings, or a superior salad composed of local lettuce and vegetables. Contemplate another Killer Bee if you dare… and what life could be like in true paradise.