Honeymoon in Nevis, Part 1

18 June 2013

Warning: This post is very long, but I wanted to provide a good amount of detail for those thinking of traveling to Nevis! Enjoy! :)

From this Marvelous Money post, you know that John and I highly prioritize travel and new experiences when thinking about how we’ll spend our money. It probably comes as no surprise, then, that we were very excited about our honeymoon!

John is an excellent trip planner; he really enjoys digging into new places, and often serves as an informal travel agent for our friends and family. For our first trip as a married couple he took the lead as usual, but we discussed many options together. After we crossed off France and Italy (flights were too expensive combined with a bad exchange rate), he spent weeks considering possibilities in the Caribbean. In no particular order, our priorities were: unspoiled physical beauty; safety; amazing hotels; both beaches and rainforest; relaxed atmosphere but things to do; and vibrant native instead of tourist culture. St. Lucia, the US and British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico were in the running, but Nevis eventually won out. (With no small thanks to our friends Meredith and Michael, whose glowing review of the island definitely influenced our decision!)

I wasn’t immediately onboard — after all, John was suggesting a destination that neither of us could pronounce (for the record: KNEE-viss), that no one we talked to had ever heard of, and that frankly I thought sounded a bit like a skin condition. Despite this somewhat inauspicious beginning, the end result was clear: Best. Decision. Ever.

Because we took the week before our wedding off (highly recommended!!), neither of us had the vacation time to take the following week off, as well. So, we took a “minimoon” through Virginia on the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday following our wedding as we drove from Connecticut to North Carolina, then planned our big adventure for several months later. This really worked out well for us — the minimoon meant we didn’t have to jump right back into daily life, and the honeymoon gave us something to look forward to as life went back to normal.

And look forward to it we did! When April finally rolled around, the first leg of our journey was a flight to St. Kitts (we left and returned on a Saturday). It was the first time either of us had used our passports!

passports

The St. Kitts airport is pretty small; we disembarked onto the tarmac in a light drizzle. We made it through customs in about a half an hour, then found a taxi driver holding the name of our first resort, Montpelier. Hilariously, before setting off across the island, we made a quick stop in Basseterre (the main city) to drop off our taxi driver’s boss at his house (definitely less formal than the US!).

The roads in St. Kitts are terrible!! But, we made it; after about 25 minutes, we transferred to a water taxi for the five-minute hop to Nevis. Once we’d pulled up to the beach, we transferred to another (land) taxi for another 25-minute ride to Montpelier (the roads are much better on Nevis!).

On both islands, it was neat to see so much of the local environment, thanks to our taxi rides. Neither island is very built up (Nevis much less so than St. Kitts), so it’s not like you’re driving through the tourism district, since there really isn’t such a thing. It’s quite rural, and there are goats everywhere :) Happily, there are not a lot of stray dogs or cats, and no snakes, thanks to mongooses!

We arrived at Montpelier around 6pm and were given a brief tour of the property. Montpelier is in the mountains, so it has a lush, jungle-y, slightly Asian feel – lots of palms, and beautiful flowers everywhere! This massive tree is a cornerstone of the property — right at the entrance, in front of the main house (the building you can see is reception).

amazing montpelier tree

After settling into our cottage (made up of a main room and bathroom, as well as a front and back porch), we headed to the main house. The property’s custom is to hold a cocktail hour (with complimentary appetizers!) from around 7 to 7:30. After a little bit, you’re shown to your table for the night.

The-Mill-at-Montpelier

From Montpelier’s website

The first night we dined in the Mill Privee, which was certainly an experience worthy of a honeymoon! It’s an actual reclaimed sugar mill, and only had three tables set the night we dined there — sometimes I think it’s even less. The Mill serves a prix fixe menu, with an amuse bouche, a palette cleanser, and four courses. John and I agreed our favorite course was the fish – a pan-seared salmon filled with spinach, with shitake mushrooms and a cilantro foam. Sounds crazy, but it was so good!

mill-privee

From Montpelier’s website

The next morning, we woke up to this beautiful view from our back porch:

view from montpelier

We then followed this beautiful path to breakfast…

montpelier nevis resort

montpelier-plantation

…which was a continental spread served outside on the patio, including delicious housemade butter!

Our main activity for our first day in Nevis was hiking Saddle Hill. This involved walking on the road for awhile, then hiking up past fort ruins to expansive views of the entire island and surrounding ocean. We were accompanied by Ziggy, the dog of one of Montpelier’s owners, and he was a lovely companion!

nevis roads

mount nevis

nevis coastline

Round trip from Montpelier was about three miles, with no intensely steep inclines. It took us about two and a half hours.

view from saddle hill nevis

montpelier ziggy nevis

saddle hill nevis

There are wild goats everywhere on Nevis, and Ziggy couldn’t resist giving one a little chase on our way back. I love this action shot John captured!

ziggy chasing goat

Post-hike we spent a lazy afternoon by the pool and on the property, taking in the glorious surroundings and weather.

montpelier nevis pool

montpelier-flowers

montpelier nevis hammock

montpelier nevis grounds

Montpelier, though it is up the mountain a bit, has a private beach about a 20-minute drive away on the Caribbean side of the island, and that’s where we spent the next day! The hotel arranged for a complimentary taxi, and they’ll also pack a lunch for you if you wish.

montpelier-private-beach

montpelier-beach

montpelier nevis-private-beach

We explored the shore a bit, waded and snorkeled, and read in the shade. We were the only ones on the beach the whole time! Along our walk we saw literally dozens of large conch shells, and lots of diving pelicans.

Our final Montpelier adventure was venturing down the hill to the Botanical Gardens of Nevis. Like most places on the island, we encountered some goats on the way! Cuteness overload.

nevis-goats

nevis goats

I think the tickets were about $13 per person, which seemed a bit expensive to me, but we were on our honeymoon, after all :)

gardens in nevis

nevis botanical gardens

We strolled around the gardens for an hour or so, then headed back to Montpelier to catch our taxi to the second resort we stayed at, Nisbet! I leave you with a last photo of Montpelier’s majestic signature tree:

montpelier-tree-reception

Our final thoughts on Montpelier? It’s an amazing European-style getaway, very much unlike the Caribbean stereotype. It’s small, so there’s no “blending into the crowd,” but there is the chance for lots of one-on-one conversations with other guests and the property staff (who were all very welcoming and knowledgeable). The grounds and rooms are beautiful and perfectly designed for rest and relaxation in style and with sophistication.

Feel free to leave questions in the comments! Back with more from the second half of our week soon!

6 Responses to “Honeymoon in Nevis, Part 1”

  1. Wanda

    Your trip sounds wonderful! I especially love all the goats :)

  2. Em, your trip looks lovely! I read the post you wrote for Southern Weddings too, but I love that you went into more detail here. I can’t wait to hear about the second part of your adventure. From personal experience, definitely keep Puerto Rico on your list. I had a blast!

  3. The sugar mill restaurant looks amazing!

  4. Beautiful!! I think you made the right choice totally! I think when we chose Antigua, a lot of people didn’t really know where it was and that’s because it’s really not that touristy, in fact, from our resort we saw Nevis and Montserrat and on a reallllly clear day we could see St. Kitts! The beaches were almost private and I really feel that captures the essence of a honeymoon. Just you and your hubby together, bonding and sharing a very special time.