Friday 11 January, Nevis: Continue road trip around east and south side of Nevis, visiting several former plantations.
Today we continue the road tour around Nevis, starting where we left off yesterday, at New River Plantation, the ruins of. It is well preserved with the original steam engine and cane processing plant still intact. The former plantation covered a large area judging by the ruins that go down almost all the way to the coastline. And we visit all of it, twice in fact, thanks to Glen who dropped his eyeglasses and we went back to look for them. There was one building with a vaulted ceiling that had 100s of bats hanging from it. He tried to make noises to get them to fly, and in doing so the glasses dropped out of his pocket. One bad deed deserves another!
On the way to our next stop, the Botanical Gardens, we get sidetracked by a road sign to the Golden Rock. And what a sidetrack it was! Golden Rock Inn is a boutique hotel set 1000ft up the volcano slope, in the tropical forest, and was a former plantation. It is absolutely stunning. The owners are famous artists from New York and the landscaping was done by a Miami landscape architect. The cottages are hidden in the forest, and to get to them the narrow paths are meandering through lush tropical gardens. A true oasis, and we would recommend this place to anybody looking for a hidden-in-the-jungle type relaxing vacation. There is also a pool fed by natural spring with breathtaking views.
We walk around taking it all in, the fresh air and the decor, and we decide for a change of plans: we’ll remain here for lunch, it is too beautiful to rush this stop. Delicious food, great service and inexpensive compared to other venues which are at much lower standards. What a great find!
We then reach the south-east corner of Nevis, where the map marks Indian Castle Estate. What we find is the dumping ground for building refuse, an old abandoned horse race track, and a Moody sailing yacht called Katniss, washed up against the rocks. By the shredded mainsail it’s clear it was sailing when disaster struck. We wonder for how long it has been there, bouncing on the rocks with each incoming wave.
Driving along the south coast we follow the signs to Montpelier Plantation, which was recommended to us as the nicest estate. And when we get there, we tend to agree that for sure is nicely restored. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, and the buildings remind us of a mixture between Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua and Habitation Clement Estate in Martinique. The dining and rest areas, set in the old plantation house, are beautifully decorated and look very comfortable. We are well impressed by this former plantation as well as the Golden Rock. And we both agree that we are liking this island more and more.
A short drive later, we arrive at The Hermitage, a former 17th century estate. It is interesting, but quite different feel from the rest of the estates we visited today. It is rustic, somehow basic, yet charming. The grand house is very well preserved, with some of the original furniture still in the sitting area, apparently furnished as it was when Lord Nelson visited in 1778.
Reading through the panels displayed we learn it is the only wooden house of its type left in the Caribbean. Glen used to own a 16th century farmhouse in UK and noted a lot of the carpentry joints and markings were of a similar type. Yet 400 years ago these 2 houses would have been literally worlds apart.
It’s nearly sunset time by now so we drive back to Pinney’s beach for sunset drinks. We stop at the Turtle Time and while enjoying our drinks we start chatting to a very nice and interesting couple from South Dakota. We exchange impressions on the islands we traveled to and suggestions for future travels. Before we know it, several good cocktails and beers later, it’s nearly midnight and we head back to Cloudy Bay. Tomorrow they leave back to snowy South Dakota. We don’t envy them for that!