Trip Report to Nevis Villas
by Liz Drayton
Our days were filled with endless beaching and snorkeling, including two fun trips aboard the catamaran "Caona", with the hum of pontoons cutting through the waves, wind brushing past the sails, and the voice of Bob Marley singing “Let’s Get Together and Feel Alright.” The kids had the thrill of their lives swimming with amberjacks and pipefish and hovering over an enormous stingray in the brilliant aqua waters. When it was time to board the catamaran for the ride home, the captain blew a resounding note through a huge conch shell to summon the revelers back on board. Even with all the afternoon’s delights to savor as we hoisted our salty skins on deck, we were further entranced by the verdant backdrop of Mount Nevis, encircled by its halo of clouds, rising up into the sky. Our senses were all the more sweetened by a rum punch with freshly grated nutmeg and colorful bites of red pepper dipped in a yellow curry sauce.
Off the Beaten Path
Monday night we went to The Cliff restaurant in St. James for dinner. Lit by the lingering sunset and a row of brightly burning torches, our table was literally resting on the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea. The staff could not have been more pleasant and a warm breeze brushed against our faces the entire evening. Looking out over the spectacular view from the cliff we could see stingrays gliding and undulating across the ocean in the waters illuminated below us. Ellie contends that dinner at The Cliff was truly one of the best meals of her entire life - not just because of the perfectly grilled mahi-mahi, but the dining experience as a whole.
Tuesday morning, after a proper English breakfast tea and small plates of papaya and mango, we met with Allyson, our local representative and reviewed our plans to tour villas together. It was great to meet her in person and get to know the friendly, professional, vibrant group we work so well with. The nearly 50 villas we toured over the next several days were as varied as the architectural styles we saw across the island - ranging from swank and impressive mansions with torch-lined pools and enticing spas to simple, elegant cottages set back from the edges of secluded, sugar-white beaches.
Tuesday night we went in search of flying fish, a local specialty, and found that we had to look no further than our own villa. The families that work at the villas always seem to know the local fisherman, and if a guest requests fresh fish for dinner it is usually as simple as asking, "Which kind?” Tiny flying fish fried in local spices served with steamed rice and fresh vegetables is one of the best meals one can get on the island.
Wednesday we continued our tours of the villas and Thursday we moved into Aquarius, one of the Sandy Lane Estate villas, where we spent the remainder of our nights. While making our way up the coast Wednesday, we stopped for lunch on Mullins Beach. Blessed with a long stretch of snow-white sand and lined with shady palms, the beach is home to what looked like just about every water toy one could desire. Kayaks, jet skis, paddle boats and beach chairs were all available for rent, and concessions along the beach offered beautiful batik wraps and an assortment of T-shirts, including one with a picture of the green monkeys. After a delicious meal of grilled red snapper, washed down with thirst-quenching rum punch we headed to Holetown, site of the island's original settlement (and home to two of the island's best restaurants -- Olive's and the Mews), and on to Sandy Lane Bay, a gorgeous beach lined with shady trees. We were told that late in the summer when the swell picks up in the Atlantic, surfers ride the waves at the south end of the beach but the day we visited, the turquoise waters lapped ashore with barely a ripple. The bright blue of the ocean, along with the pinks of the sunsets and yellows and oranges of the citrus seem splashed across all aspects of island life, from the island's architecture and interiors to the brightly colored clothing of the locals.