Lying on a table, my body bathed in natural oils infused with sage, mint and lemongrass, it’s easy to imagine I’m drifting through a fragrant herb garden. The chorus of peeping tree frogs adds to the sense of tranquility. “Lemongrass offers a boost of antioxidants while sage promotes harmony,” explains Ruthlyn, my massage therapist.


Indulge in a spa treatment featuring natural botanicals at Four Seasons Nevis
Photo: Michele Peterson

A day basking in botanicals and outdoor hydrotherapy pools at the Four Seasons Nevis is an immersion in history as well as relaxation. For centuries, Nevisians have honed the art of welcoming visitors who need to power down.

But unlike other Caribbean islands like St. Barth’s where celebrities go to see and be seen, the smaller sister of the dual-nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis is blessedly paparazzi-free. It’s a place where A-listers such as Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman, Robert DeNiro and even Justin Trudeau and family go when they want to escape the crowds.

But the smash Broadway musical “Hamilton” is fast drawing international attention to Nevis. Will a surge in popularity destroy the island’s reputation for tranquility? I set out to learn more.

Rich History


Alexander Hamilton’s childhood home
is now a museum
Photo: Michele Peterson

Theatre fans are flocking to Nevis to learn more about one of the island’s earliest citizens, an orphan who became an influential Founding Father of the United States. The compelling tale began in 1755 in a small cottage set in a tangle of bougainvillea overlooking the harbour in the capital of Charlestown. The Tony award-winning Broadway musical “Hamilton” tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, who was born out of wedlock and shunned by society, but became a leading figure of American Independence.

Today, visitors can explore Hamilton’s childhood home, browse special exhibits within the Museum of Nevis History, enjoy Hamilton-themed hotel packages, soak up colonial atmosphere at faithfully-restored plantation estates, and stroll among 18th and 19th century buildings in Charlestown.

Echoes of the past also abound in Patterson’s Pub Crawl, a popular new tour that takes visitors off the tourist track to explore local watering holes. Hosted by Patterson Fleming, the amiable maitre’d at the historic Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, this 4-hour tour offers a chance to “lime with the locals” and taste Caribbean fare such as Johnny cakes, BBQ ribs and jerk pork.


Horseracing returns to Nevis this winter
Photo: Nevis Horse Racing

Also worth exploring is The Bath Hotel, a stately structure currently being used as government offices. Built in 1778, it was once the playground for the rich and famous who came to soak in the therapeutic thermal waters cascading through the property. Plans are underway to return the hotel to its former glory, but the spring-fed pools are currently open to the public who are welcome to soak in steaming waters shaded by majestic kapok trees.

Of special interest is the scheduled return of horseracing at Indian Castle racetrack this winter. With its grandstand offering views of palm trees, coastline and the distant island of Montserrat, the home of Nevis Turf and Jockey Club offers plenty of racing excitement. It’s also said that Indian Castle is one of the few racetracks where the horses run clockwise rather than counterclockwise around the track.

Natural Attractions


Freeform swimming pool at
Four Season’s Nevis
Photo: Michele Peterson

Although it’s easy to spend much of your time exploring the island’s rich history, its natural attractions deserve attention too. First discovered by visitors in 1493, its name was derived from the Spanish name Nuestra Señora de las Nieves or Our Lady of the Snows in reference to the cloud-shrouded volcanic peak at its heart. Today, visitors can hike its rain-forested slopes, passing ruins of the stone sugar plantations that once dotted its fertile lands.

Riding stables offer the opportunity to master your equestrian skills with a horseback lesson through the hills. Enroute, you’ll see goats and wild donkeys grazing among the ruins. Troops of African Green (vervet) monkeys roam freely in the forest canopy.

Yet, unlike other lush volcanic islands of the Caribbean, Nevis is blessed with an abundance of sand and surf. At Oualie Bay Beach, gentle waters and beach bar amenities draw day-trippers and hotel guests alike. Sightings of sea turtles outnumber views of vendors hawking wares.

Another prime spot is Pinney’s Beach, an alluring stretch of white sand and warm, clear sea. This is the home of Sunshine’s Beach Bar where an afternoon sipping Killer Bees, a potent rum punch, might prompt you to dance on a tabletop.


Robert Trent Jones 18-hole course at the Four Season’s Nevis

Hotel Hideaways

Celebrities, or those simply seeking privacy, have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to luxury hideaways. The Four Seasons Nevis offers 5-star resort amenities including an 18-hole Robert Trent Jones golf course, beachside infinity pools, new luxury villas as well as private beach cabanas available for daily rental. These beach cottages decked out with flat screen TVs, loungers and butler service are the perfect place for couples or families to kick back and relax.


Bask in a mix of luxury and history at
Montpelier Plantation and Beach
Photo: Montpelier Plantation & Beach Resort

Further along Pinney’s Beach, the secluded ambience is reason enough for guests to book a stay at aptly-named Paradise Beach Nevis, where seven villas come equipped with private pools and all the bells and whistles a celebrity might desire.


Luxe hideaway on Nevis
Photo: Montpelier Plantation & Beach

High on the island’s slopes is the elegant Montpelier Plantation and Beach Hotel where more than 20 years ago, Princess Diana escaped paparazzi to vacation with young Princes William and Harry. This Relais & Chateaux hideaway offers stunning views from guest rooms set within the archeological remains of a 300-year old sugar plantation.

Another atmospheric retreat is the Hermitage Plantation Inn set in the foothills of Nevis Peak amid tamarind, mango and palm trees. Here the Great House, built in 1740, features West Indian cuisine while guest cottages trimmed with white gingerbread-style fretwork offer seclusion along with dreamy views.


Celebrity Chef Judy Joo at the 2016 Nevis Food & Mango Festival
Photo: Judy Joo

Fine dining is a highlight at Nisbet Plantation Inn, the Caribbean’s only plantation set on a beach. This former sugar estate is where the legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson met his wife, Nevis native Frances Nisbet. Today, amid the gracious setting of citron-hued cottages and vast gardens, you can enjoy historic charm as well as modern amenities including a chic new beach club.

As I wrap up my visit to Nevis with a hike along the windswept northeast coast, I realize that despite centuries of historic figures, celebrities and theatre fans passing through this living museum, it’s still possible to walk an unspoiled shoreline. No paparazzi in sight.

Travel Planner

Official Tourism Site:

Nisbet Plantation Beach Club:

Paradise Beach Nevis:

Four Seasons Nevis:

Yachtsman Grill:

Montpelier Plantation & Beach:

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