St Kitts is hardly overwhelmed by tourism, however, it does get a cruise ship every few days. It’s dock is capable of handling even the enormous Queen Mary. Nevis, on the other hand, is a bit too small for the biggest of the big boats and is more commonly sought out by the more modest of the cruising fleet, Windjammer, for example.
Separated from St Kitts by a mere two miles, Nevis is much smaller, rounder, and just downright quiet. Nothing is really more than 15 minutes away by car. Its green peaks draw hikers and a handful of pleasant beaches delight swimmers and snorkelers. There is only one dive shop on the whole island, located at the most modestly priced of the seashore hotels, Oualie Beach Resort. Accommodations are clean and simple, and you are never more than a stone’s throw from the water. Total laid back Caribbean sort of feel. My first night, however, was at the higher end–literally and figuratively. Montpelier Plantation Inn is arguably one of the most romantic and charming places to stay in the entire West Indies. It is also 750 feet above the sea as you climb toward Mt. Nevis. Even Princess Di chose this over the high standard Four Seasons Nevis Hotel just down the slope. Montpelier’s got all the privacy you could want, in elegantly decorated cottages with quite modern fixtures. The views are spectacular and I had the sunset from my back porch. Dinner is prefaced by cocktails with the owners and other guests. As you mingle, someone comes around to take your order. Everyone takes a seat on the outdoor terrace only when the food is ready to be served. Special meals (honeymoon perhaps?) can be served within an old sugar mill tower converted to a rather classy dining room only lit with candles.
There is no air-conditioning. If it sounds absurd–this being the Caribbean and all–it’s not. The altitude makes a noticeable difference and at night with wonderful cross breezes you are more likely to pull up that blanket folded at the foot of the bed. Crickets and frogs will lull you to sleep.
The island is a real gem of the region, the perfect place to escape from the over-commercialized. You don’t need to choose one or the other either; I flew into St Kitts and will fly out of Nevis. Put the sister islands on your list of great places to truly get away from it all.