Nevis is the smaller of the two islands that make up the small Caribbean island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
A former British colony, the islands became independent in 1983. They are separated by a 2-mile (3.22 km) wide channel.
The island of Nevis is divided into five parishes:
- Saint George, Gingerland
- Saint James, Windward
- Saint John, Figtree
- Saint Paul, Charlestown
- Saint Thomas, Lowland
Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, is a small, picturesque town, with a Main Street lined with Georgian stone buildings which are examples of the architectural style of the colonial era, sporting breezy balconies and wooden upper floors over a ground floor built of stone.
Topless sunbathing is not allowed on the beaches of Nevis. The people of Nevis in general are a conservative lot, attending Church regularly (and often several services at different churches on the same day). Cursing, provocative dress, and rudeness are frowned on. It is appropriate and common to greet everyone you meet saying, "Good Morning," "Good Afternoon," or "Good Night" (which is said instead of "Good Evening."). People do tend to be friendly if approached in this manner. You can expect that most non-tourist specific places will have lines. Expect waits in banks, grocery stores, and government offices. Local people expect that you will not complain or act irritated by the delays.
- Taxis are efficient, clean, and the drivers tend to be knowledgeable and friendly. Drivers will bring you to your destinations, wait for you or come back and get you at your convenience. Although a great bargain in terms of what you get (really more like a personal limo -- and the charge remains the same no matter how many people are going)-- taxis are relatively expensive in absolute amounts (US$10-20 is typical) to go anywhere.
- The "H" Bus. These are privately owned, but government registered, vans that haul people from point to point for around 3-5 EC -$1-$2 US (depending on how far you are going) per person. H Buses range from luxurious vans with air conditioning and televisions to crowded dingy things with broken seats. The buses generally make circuits on part of the ring road (the road running around the island) with each group going back and forth on roughly a third of 17 mile loop. Stand on the side of the road, look for a van whose license plate starts with H, wave at them as they approach. You pay on your way out. If you want to go somewhere outside the loop the driver is running, he (never have seen a female driver) will explain this to you and drop you at a point where you will meet the next bus. H-Buses are safe (although sometimes a little forbidding looking), cheap, and kind of fun. Everyone from old ladies to little kids will be getting on and off.
- Car Rentals are the way to go if you plan to stay for more than a couple of days. The rental agency will issue you a temporary drivers license at the time you take posession. Arrangements can be made via phone or email prior to arrival, including airport pick-up and drop-off. Driving is on the left. Proceed with care and courtesy toward other drivers and watch out for livestock and pedestrians in the road.
Several Nevisian buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries are still in use today.
- Hermitage Plantation' in Saint John, built of lignum vitae wood in 1640, is the oldest surviving wooden house still in use in the Caribbean today.
- Bath Hotel of 1778, located just outside Charlestown, is the first hotel built in the Caribbean and once served as a luxury hotel and spa. The soothing waters of the hotel's hot springs lured many famous Europeans, including the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Antigua-based Admiral Nelson and Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence, the future William IV of the United Kingdom. They attended balls and private parties at the hotel. Today, the building serves as the government headquarters and the hot springs are open to the public. Many of the churches on Nevis also date to this time period, as well as some of the reconstructed mills.
- Culturama, an annual cultural festival, is celebrated the first week of August as part of the Emancipation Day weekend.
- Pinney's Beach on the western (Caribbean) side of the island is the most popular and developed beach.
Nevis has exceptional food that is a blend of European, American, and hints of African. The food is fresh and further complimented by the island's lack of pollution. Nevisian food ranges from sophisticated European flavors to simple (equally delicious) Roti. Restaurants serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and usually close in between. Expect to eat dinner before nine or ten or not at all.
Food service on the island is uniformly terrible. Expect slow service with errors that will lead to slow service in correcting them. The waitstaff of various restaurants, while substandard in performance, was generally very kind and pleasant to deal with.
Some local delicacies are breadfruit, coconut jelly, goat water, fresh mangos, fresh tamarind, and roti. The adventurous will want to try pickled mangoes (tastes exactly like pickles) and stinking toes.
It is nearly impossible to get a bad meal on the island.