Nevis-Liming It

The sleepy, laid-back counterpart to its busier, more touristed sister island, St.Kitts , Nevis is the unvarnished, unspoiled Caribbean. It’s lovely, all right, with bejeweled coral reefs and palmfringed, white-sand beaches. Still, goats and donkeys roam the largely rural 93-sq.-km (36-sq.-mile) island, and untamed bougainvillea spills onto dirt roads and over colonial windmills. It’s no vision of manicured perfection, and for many travelers, that’s not a bad thing.
Nevis (pronounced Nee-vis) was built on sugar cane, and the 18th-century ruins of the sugar trade can be found all over
the island. Nevis, one-half of a two-island federation (the larger St. Kitts is the other half separated from Nevis by a 3.2km/2-mile channel), was under British control for 200 years until it achieved independence in 1983. The island’s capital and main port, Charlestown, is a living-history relic from colonial times, its streets lined with Georgian-style structures. The island was slowly building a reputation for gracious West Indies–style hospitality when Hurricane Omar hit the region in 2008. Damage from the hurricane closed down the island’s largest and swankiest property, the Four Seasons Nevis, and put hundreds of islanders out of work (the resort was scheduled to reopen in summer 2010). The handful of other island properties, many of them small-scale inns charmingly rejiggered from centuries-old sugar plantations, are soldiering on in a weakened world economy.
Still, quiet seclusion has its fans, and Nevis is increasingly on the radar of those rich and discerning folks who are weary of
glitzy resorts and who appreciate discreet, character-filled tropical hideaways far from the cruise ship crowds. (It’s been
called a rustic alternative to St. Barts .) Painter Brice Marden recently bought the Golden Rock Plantation Inn, an old sugar plantation that was converted into an inn in 1958.
It doesn’t hurt that Nevis is blessed with a stunningly scenic landscape that takes in velvety volcanic peaks, beautiful beaches, and lush rainforest. You can hike up 955m (3,133-ft.) Mount Nevis with biologists on fascinating nature hikes through Top to Bottom. You can stroll amid vividly hued tropical flora and tangled vines in the Botanical Gardens of Nevis. You can take a fabulous snorkel trip on the MV Rum, cruising the unspoiled reefs along the island’s leeward coast. You can head underwater for a dive trip in virgin seas with the pros at Scuba Safaris Nevis has a number of fine beaches,
including Oualie, which lies in a sheltered cove with sunset views, and Pinney’s, a 4.8km-long (3-mile) stretch of velvety
white sand and Caribbean seas. You can sail, windsurf, and fish to your heart’s content, or you can golf, hike, and play tennis—but really, put down that tennis racket and put up your feet. Nevis is about succumbing to the island’s old-fashioned West Indian charm and meditating on a grain of sand. Taking it easy is called “liming” here, and if someone back home asks you what you were doing on Nevis, the proper answer is “Liming!”