Thursday 10 January: Road trip around beautiful Nevis, visiting east and north coast.
It was quite a rolly night at anchor in the lee of Nevis. With little to no wind, the swell is creeping around the back of the island. I wake up to Glen singing me a children’s lullaby: “rock-a-by-baby…..”. And we both giggle.
After breakfast we head ashore to Charlestown, to pick up the hire car. The main town dock is for ferries only, but the next one along has small fishing boats tied to it, and seems like we can leave the dinghy there. But it’s not a good dock for the dinghy to be bashing up against all day. So for this particular one we choose to hold the dinghy out with the stern anchor, away from the concrete pillars. When we try to step out, we find all the wood planks are missing on the dock – it’s just concrete pillars. So a bit of equilibrium exercise to walk along it to safety, with our bags.
The town waterfront is very pretty, with nicely kept buildings. And here is where we meet the rental car company representative, in CDS drugs store.
As we are signing the papers the guy is chatting with the ladies in the store. When the locals speak to us it’s in very clearly understood English. But when they speak to each other you can only make out maybe every 10th word. It’s almost like they have a completely different local language. But whenever we ask we always get the same response: “no, we are speaking English”. We have lived in many different countries where the English dialect is difficult to understand at first, but this local Caribbean English really is in a league of its own!
Then we get our car, and on this particular occasion, we get a brand new car! How about that?! Only 250km on the clock.
We decide to drive clockwise around the island. The roads are very good and clean, the entire island is very tidy and well kept.
Up from Jessup’s village, we find beautiful roads with nice properties either side and great views over St.Kitts as we drive down. On some of the roads, where we reach the dead ends, there are either phenomenal houses or building sites to build yet more phenomenal houses. The ones up the hill have lush vegetation with the tropical forest in the background. Very pleasant viewing.
Back on the main road we stop for a while at St.Thomas’ Church. The oldest in the Caribbean, dating from 1642. And inside the church there are grave stones dating back to the same era. This island has some serious history.
Just passed Cotton Ground we spot a sign to The Hamilton Beach Villas & Spa and the Yachtsman Grill. Let’s have a look, of course. The villas are having an uplift, we see painters rolling fresh paint on the buildings. We have an interesting coffee (tasted of nutmeg) at Yachtsman Grill, which is very nicely set up but deserted of guests except us.
Next stop is Chrishi Beach Club in Cades Bay. Again, a very nice setup and expat run. Beautifully decorated and very inviting. We’ll come back here for lunch one day. Maybe.
Just a little further along we come across The Gin House, next to Oualie’s Bay. It’s a very attractive restaurant and bar with prices to match. Again we vouch to come back for lunch one day.
As we round the north west tip of the island, we come across the driveway signed to Nevis Mountain Hotel. So it’s a sharp right turn and up the hill we go, to see this hotel too. It is a collection of villas, tidy looking but not exactly modern. As we walk the grounds we come across the reception, and pool area, which has spectacular views over the Narrows and St.Kitts. A delicious curry smell comes from the kitchen of Happiness restaurant as we pass through the reception. When we discover the entire staff are an Indian family from Gugerat (NW India) we can’t resist having a real Indian lunch, especially as the smells are making us drawl. I know, not exactly authentic Nevisian cuisine 🙂 Throughout our meal we chat to our waiters while admiring the amazing view over the pool and pristine slope stretching down towards the Narrows and over to St. Kitts.
Again, we are the only diners in this wonderful setting with amazing food, and even at reasonable prices. And we discuss that this island has some really nice places to eat and drink at. Yet none of them have many guests, even in this high season. Just how do they survive? Well, the answer to that is that not many do. For every nice place we see we can also count a shut down restaurant business too. Some with amazing locations, but completely abandoned.
On the north east corner of the island we visit the Nisbet Estate, the former home of Frances Nisbet who, at 22, married Lord Nelson on this island of Nevis. It is currently an inn built on the foundation of former plantation buildings. The small villas are hidden among dozens of palm trees which make for a nice shady garden that stretches down to the sea. And on the seafront there is a beach club with restaurant, swimming pool and a very well kept golden sand beach. We are so taken with the place in this golden late afternoon light, that we fly the drone to capture the scene from aloft.
Next beach along is Herbert’s Beach, which is mentioned in our guide book as the perfect kite-surfing beach, with water sports services and instructors. But when we arrive here, it is a wild and deserted beach, no sign of it ever having any facilities. It could be very good for kite-surfing with the right wind, so maybe we will return with the gear.
We drive to Long Haul Bay looking for a “Golden Beach”, but we find only a rocky coastline there, next to the American Medical School of Nevis. What an unusual place to study medicine, a campus build on rough ground on the semi deserted east coast of this tiny island. Odd.
By this stage it is already late afternoon and we only have 40 minutes till sunset. So we drive the rest of the east coast and then around the south without stopping to any of the attractions, to make it on time for sunset drinks.
On the way we spot a tiny baby goat on the road that is squealing for its mum, who is the other side of a broken fence. Glen stops the car and rescues the poor little thing, carrying it across the ditch, over the broken fence and back into its paddock. But once he puts it down it follows him back to the fence! Only after taking it again to the middle of the field does it finally go and join its own herd. So cute! Just why do they have to grow up into ugly goats?!
We arrive at the Chrishi Beach Club just on time for the sunset. Again, hardly any customers. So we walk straight to the beach and watch the sunset to the sound of waves crashing on the steep beach slope. It was a nice sunset, mostly because we could actually see the sun go down into the sea this time. Today’s weather has been unusual: very little wind, virtually no low cloud and most clear skies. And we curse a little as we see both volcanoes have had completely clear summits all day. Something we have not seen before. It would have been an ideal day to climb one.
As we drive back towards Charlestown we do briefly stop at Yachtsman Grill and Sunshine’s to check out the scene. But both are pretty empty, so we close the adventure onshore and return to Cloudy Bay.
When we dinghy back, the sky to the west is an orange glow, 20 minutes after sunset.
Cloudy Bay is where we left her, and still playing the rocking game, but a little less than this morning.
So ends a lovely day on an island which we declare is in the top five we have visited. It is so clean, tidy, peaceful and picturesque – and yet quite a lot to see and do.
Looking forward to more discoveries tomorrow.