CARIBBEAN: Sun, Sea and Swimming
Article: Sara Darling
Everyone who has ever visited the Caribbean will guarantee they will go back, and every patron has a favourite island, bar and story to share. As it was my first visit to the relatively undiscovered island of Nevis, I was excited to soak up all the traditions, food and sun as I could muster in my misjudged one week.
Apparently, Nevis is relatively undiscovered on the Caribbean circuit, and is where celebrities are said to come and chill out. Allegedly some of the large houses in the hills are owned by A-list sun seekers, who only come over for two weeks a year, zipping in via private jet (natch). They are not even spotted in the villages, as the swimming pools and abundance of local staff take care of everything behind the electric gates! But I wasn’t strictly there for celeb spotting (or the rum). I was there on investigative travel writing business....
My first destination was the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, which consisted of a collection of individual bungalows or duplexes, spread across a stunning grass walkway, the ‘Avenue of Palms’ which lead directly on to the vast expanse of the Atlantic coast.
With private bungalows, each named after towns on the island, each had their own character. But I fell in love with mine! With a private balcony and lounger, you could easily spend a day without leaving your porch.
And for a completely different experience, the second part of my break was spent at the equally glamorous, but in a completely different way, Four Seasons Hotel. Once again, this was set in its own tropical paradise, with private beach and impeccable rooms. The Spa, golf buggies and tennis courts might suggest the scale of the premises, but however big, the staff knew my name, and I was treated like a princess! With lots to do for families- there are three pools to choose from, not to mention the stunning spa (a 90 minute massage is highly recommended after all that hardcore sunbathing!) But there are activities on the beach and lots of evening options in the numerous restaurants-whether you were looking for romance, or dining alone.
But, being a bit of a fidget, I was happy to undertake some morning excursions around the island, so I could wear myself out for an afternoon on a lounger or hammock- and read of course! So, I slotted in the island’s most recommended excursions and went hiking to the waterfalls- highly recommended for those who like a challenge; My tip is to make sure you have sturdy boots as there are some steep inclines and lots of ducking and diving! Very worth it though when you get to soak your feet in the ice cool pools and the nature is amazing.
The Botanical Gardens are a must see for anyone who appreciates plant-life. This privately-owned venture has been a showpiece in Nevis for years, and is a perfect place to get some serious peace and quiet (although the whole island is very peaceful, this takes it to a new level!) and is the ideal spot to head to in the hills and enjoy the scenery. With tropical trees, plants and monkeys, this Eastern-inspired setting offers an encyclopaedia of nature – with palms, aloes, bromeliads and orchids emitting the most delicious of scents. Finish off your visit with some authentic Thai food in the onsite rooftop café- extremely romantic, and open for dinner on Fridays.
From magnolias to monkeys, if you need an adrenalin boost, I would recommend an off-road Monkey Tour; Consisting of a jeep ride with a local driver through the rugged heart of the island, you get to see lots of spots that you would never get to without a jeep. One of the stops was the much-photographed Lovers Beach. Alas I had no lover, but the pure white sands, crystal water and deserted cove screamed romance. The beach is public, but no sun loungers dotted the beach and there is no bar, making it the ideal place for proposals … Or at least a bit of midnight skinny dipping!
With swimming, very much on my mind (how could it not be on an island surrounded by the clearest water I have ever seen??) I was intrigued to find out that the fifteenth Nevis to St Kitts cross channel swim was taking place whilst I was there. As much as I love swimming- and Nevis is a lot more appealing than swimming in my home town of Brighton, I hadn’t put in the training for a 4km paddle across the channel. But being cursed with FOMO, I thought it would be rude not to give it a go with a snorkel.
I got introduced to the Ameo Powerbreather snorkel by Olympic swimmer Keri-Anne Payne who was on Nevis for the swim, and for her summer Swimfit course which was taking place at the Four Seasons. So, taking advantage of this, I also packed in a cheeky lesson, and got to grips with the snorkel. Being a new breed of snorkel, one where you breathe in and out of your mouth, allowing a continuous flow of oxygen, meant it is great for lengthy swims and as I was hoping, exploring the Caribbean sea-life.
So, kitted out with a borrowed pro bikini and goggles, I was raring to go. Even at 7am, the atmosphere was electric on the beach. Chatting to people from all over the world- newbies and those who had done the swim before, there was a great sense of comradery. And all due respect to the ten- year-old from America who was doing the swim snorkel free.
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