Comprising the understated half of a dual-island Caribbean nation with neighboring St. Kitts, the tiny 36-sq. mi. island of Nevis radiates a combination of the simple and lush, a hidden gem exuding steady confidence, unconcerned about the more famous nearby destinations. At once majestic and mysterious, the Lesser Antilles Leeward Island is anchored by an iconic 3232-foot volcano whose peak is mostly shrouded in a gauzy, haze of clouds. Just two miles from St. Kitts, this unpretentious spot is yet dubbed Queen of the Caribbean, evoking a stately yet quiet elegance, thickly laced with romance.
Nowhere will you experience the island’s soulful romantic character more clearly than when staying at Four Seasons Resort Nevis. At the airport, resort representatives wearing their signature pale cherry blossom pink escorted us to our shuttle, bound for the ferry. I love chatty drivers when traveling and this chap was a wealth of information, talking nonstop the entire 20-minutes about his country and culture—from the meaning behind the colors on the flag to the national flower found on the “shack-shack tree.”
Our ferry’s crew handed out rum punch and things were just loosening up when we docked at Four Seasons Nevis’ private pier. A friendly entourage welcomed us by name, offering cool eucalyptus-soaked hand towels to blot temples and wipe hands.
Be warned, it’s the beginning of an irresistible charm offensive you’re sure to succumb to—and love—whether you’re new in love, old in love or trying to stay in love.
Palm trees dotted the landscape with bewitching orchids growing effortlessly from their trunks at eye-level, as if the bushes bursting with blooms weren’t enough. While waiting for our room, I got lost staring at the turquoise water, sipping Kendie’s Kick!, a cocktail crafted by the resort’s acclaimed mixologist.
In Case You Didn’t Know, 2022 is the Season of Love
Lucky for us, this Four Seasons devised big things this year with its sights set on stoking passions and fanning the flames of love. How convenient, right? Season of Love is one year-long toast to love, a package offering a spicy concoction of lux romantic experiences like a sunset sail aboard a catamaran, private cooking class and al fresco dinner-party-for-two at the Sugar Mill ruins. A highlight, Spa Under the Stars, offers sole rights to the entire spa starting at dusk. After a coconut milk footbath, a couples’ massage and four-course candlelit dinner under the stars you’ll stumble contentedly home to your secluded villa with a private plunge pool, ensconced by lush tropical vegetation.
But as they say, anything is possible at Four Seasons and couples can choose à la carte from the resort’s menu to create their own brand of paradise. With limited time on our hands, we fell solidly into this camp, mixing and matching to craft an unforgettable romantic escape.
The morning after our arrival, we wandered past the main pool in front of the Great House, the plantation-styled structure which anchors the 350-acre resort, to Pinney’s Beach where we prepared to adopt our island identity as professional relaxers. Kisha, who overseas waterfront operations, swooped over to assist, helping us find our beach cabana.
In Caribbean speak, our chief objective for the day was limin’ (hanging out), a goal easily achieved. From my hammock, it was just a short stroll to the watersport outpost, where I could have checked out a number of cool toys such as hydro bikes, snorkeling gear, and paddleboards. But my body felt heavy and refused to move. Even changing up the scenery and hitting the adults-only pool would have to wait—#seizetheday be damned.
Paradise is Nevis’ Middle Name, However You Like It
Island mornings are unhurried, and we’d walk over to Esquilina—one of four restaurants on the property— for breakfast on the veranda, passing cheery families absorbed in competitive rounds of shuffleboard or chess on the lawn. The island parfait with coconut yogurt, mango, and seasonal berries was perfect for folks like us with light breakfast appetites.
We were in good hands with one Mr. Paris behind the wheel for our island tour, which followed the lone 20-mile road counter-clockwise around the island of ~12,000 residents, offering a glimpse of all five parishes. Our guide Alexis Arthurton from Nevis Tourism told us there are no stop signs on the island—jesting that “the goats and donkeys wandering into the road keeps everyone’s speed in check.” This made for an entertaining drive.
“Nevis is an island of firsts,” said Alexis, pointing out Founding Father Alexander Hamilton’s home in Charlestown, the capital, today the Nevis Museum—and later, the oldest active parish church in the Caribbean, St. Thomas Anglican circa 1643. Earlier I was lucky to have enjoyed a beautiful view down over this iconic church from the gardens of Villa Le Mangabey, one of Four Seasons’ private rental homes on the mountain.
Strolling around the ruins of the Caribbean’s first hotel, the 1778 Bath Hotel, Alexis said the wealthy flocked here to take in the therapeutic hot springs nearby. We could understand the appeal especially because of our appointment with Myra Jones, an expert in massage, meditation and movement. In our couples session at the 107-degree hot springs, Myra stressed controlled breathing and incorporated invigorating ayurvedic dry and wet brushing techniques—a first for me, to echo Alexis’ point—which I’m certain boosted my circulatory system to its healthiest level ever.
In St. John parish near Montpelier, the inn where Princess Diana and her sons once stayed, we stopped at the mountainside Botanical Gardens, one of Nevis’ prized treasures. “Anything can grow on our island,” owner Christi Douglas told us, referencing the rich volcanic soil. Available to rent for weddings and company parties, the intoxicating garden affords sights and scents from around the world including tamarind, guava, jackfruit, West Indian cherry trees, and rainbow eucalyptus trees, stunning with their multi-toned trunk. Douglas also exhibits the artwork of Nevis’ “First Lady of Art” Dame Eva Wilkin, who counted Prince Charles among her patrons.
At the secluded boutique inn Golden Rock we lunched under a pagoda and surrounded by Asian-inspired fishponds, a hushed sacred setting. General Manager Ivo Richli told us guests stay an average of seven nights and often don’t leave the premises.
It’s Always Rum Time
Right out of the gates, Kendie informed us there’s a rum for every part of the day. With orange and pineapple, chocolate and candied walnuts to sample with six specialty rums, Kendie held court from behind the bar. A gifted storyteller, she sizzled with insight and suggestions, such as adding a drop of chocolate bitters to Spanish-styled rum Ron Zacapa for a pleasant twist, and drizzling St. Kitts-based father and son rum Shipwreck over waffles.
We later tucked into chicken curry and mahi-mahi as live music filled the air. Appropriately, the band sang “Paradise” by Coldplay, a song that ran continuously through my head during the rest of our stay—and will forevermore be associated with the magical island.
Kathryn Streeter is a Washington, D.C.-based travel writer. Her work can be found in The Washington Post, AARP and USA Today. Find her on Instagram @kathrynstreeter.