We’re Baaaaack! I can’t believe our long-awaiting annual Caribbean trip is already over! If we didn’t have some other fun summer adventures planned, I’d be even more bummed. But, let’s get down to business: all about Nevis! You guys asked, I’m answering…!
First Stop, Miami:
It’s probably worth mentioning that we stayed a few days in South Beach, FL before heading to Nevis. It was a nice way to break up the travel time and get a few extra days out of our vacation. Since we couldn’t check in on Nevis until Sunday, we did Fri-Sat in Miami. We stayed at the 1 Hotel and I was SO impressed. I heard “swanky” things about this place and was nervous to show up with 3 kids in tow but let me just tell you- first of all, it WAS swanky…and gorgeous and incredible, but also SO kid friendly! I couldn’t believe how many children were there! Here’s my tip, for a less-crowded pool experience, sit at the bottom tier pool. It’s smaller, less people, but still has a bar/food access and cabanas! Lots of restaurants and shopping in walking distance and a Whole Foods only a mile away (where we stopped for some last minute Max provisions). I give this hotel FIVE fat ol’ stars. *****
“Nevis is a hidden gem. It’s not like other islands and we like it that way. It is quiet, small, and simple.” -Nevisian local
Ok, so we travel to the Caribbean every year- it’s our absolute favorite place to vacation! We used to hit up the Caribbean islands on cruises as kids and then started staying on individual islands as we grew older & became tired of the cruise ship “hustle & bustle”. So, we’ve been to our fair share of the US & British Virgin Islands and as much as I LOVE exploring new places, I find there are a few non-negotiables I look for when traveling to the Caribbean:
1. white powdery sand
2. crystal clear, calm ocean water
3. no giant crowds (aka, the cruise ship herd that I used to be a part of! Ha!)
I mean, throw in some rum punch, a few good restaurants, friendly people, and a tourist attraction or two and I’m set!
Nevis was a new island for us…and up until the planning of this vacation I had never even HEARD of it before! [If you’re like me, let me save you the google search: it’s in the West Indies, just south of St. Kitts.] It was a beautiful island: lush & quaint. It has a volcano at its center, winding roads, a Four Seasons Resort, and lots of roaming animals (including monkeys!). I do have to say, the beach was a little underwhelming. The sand was darker, volcanic sand and the water was a bit deeper, darker, and rougher than the Caribbean water I am used to. The island was very peaceful & quiet- lots of privacy (Apparently Princess Diana & the Royal Family used to vacation there, specifically for this reason!) and overall- not a whole lot going on. But, we certainly had a great time!
We stayed at a private residence in Paradise Beach Resort, via a vacation club we are members of. The house was gorgeous; it had a private pool and was basically ON the beach.
*images via google
Paradise Beach Resort, as a whole, was great: there was a tiki hut on the beach that served breakfast & lunch and had a full bar. The staff was amazing and attentive- bringing water and fresh towels to our seats, making the girls special juice drinks all day, and changing the menu to accommodate what we wanted (enter: ME, the resident picky eater!) As I mentioned earlier, the sand was dark volcanic sand and the ocean was different from the water I’ve experienced on other Caribbean islands. But, it was still very pretty. The resort had kayaks, stand up paddle boards, floats, and sand toys all available to use and the Four Seasons resort, which we had full access to, was just a quick walk down the beach.
*images via google
Just to give you a better understanding of what the beaches looked like- here you can see a picture of Paradise Beach that has been edited verses an unedited photo (neither photo is mine). I’m not saying it isn’t beautiful- it just definitely did not look like that first picture in person. Pretty nuts what some editing does, huh? 😉
*images via google
*Note: I’m not the best food critic as I don’t eat seafood or red meat. Let’s just say my options were pretty limited & overall, my stomach was NOT a fan of the food on Nevis. I ate a lot of french fries and bread. Hah!
Bananas *image via google
Bananas– SUCH a cool location up in the mountains. The pathway was lit with tiki torches and twinkle lights and it was just so pretty! The grounds consists of a bar, a restaurant, a boutique, and a rooftop lounge. My suggestion- get there early, grab a cocktail, and head to the rooftop to watch the sunset before dinner! The food was pretty good, too. I had french onion soup and a salad for dinner. But apparently the lobster risotto was amazing. *note: don’t forget your bug spray…you’re basically in the jungle 😉
The Gin Trap *image via google
The Gin Trap– LOVED this place! The restaurant itself was very cool but the best part was the upstairs patio- filled with bright florals, turquoise couches and oversized umbrellas. It was the perfect place to watch the sunset and our waiter suggested we hang out up there and enjoy some cocktails and order our food. He came and got us when the appetizers were ready to be served and we moved downstairs to eat. I have to say- the power did go out while they were cooking our food. Like, I’m talking FULL power outage where we were sitting in a completely dark room with only candle light. It was kind of cool and added to the experience, but I believe it may have compromised the food a bit. I got cheese raviolis which are pretty hard to mess up…but, alas, they found a way. It was either the power outage or the fact that “Italian” is not the fortè of the Nevians, but those in our party who ordered seafood said it was delicious. So, there’s that.
Mangos *image via google
Mangos– This restaurant is part of the Four Seasons and it was really simple, but pretty. It’s basically a covered patio right ON the water. The view and sunset were gorgeous! The food was pretty good, too. I ordered a salad (again) but it was by far the best salad I had on trip. 😉
Four Seasons Cabana *image via google
Four Seasons Cabana– We walked down and ate here for lunch one day. It was pretty; an open air venue outdoors by the pools, overlooking the beach. I got a pizza and the “Nevisian Spirit” cocktail…which did not disappoint! Thanks IG friends for suggesting it! It sort of tasted like a passion fruit rum punch. Yummy!
Montpelier * image via google
Montpelier– Probably the coolest, most “touristy” place we went. It’s a 350 year old sugar mill located on what has been turned into an inn/resort (where Princess Di used to stay). The mill tower itself is still in tact and you can make reservations to eat inside. Warning…it’s dark…and um, warm and toasty, and pretty much in it’s original condition. Pretty cool if its just two of you & you want a very authentic experience. Otherwise, the main restaurant downstairs, “750” was by far the fanciest of all the restaurants we went to. The food was delicious and our Italian sommelier was the bomb! He even “seasoned” our wine glasses, which we haven’t seen anyone do since we were on our Honeymoon in Italy!
Private Chef in Villa
Villa Dining Space *image via google
At Paradise Beach, you have the option to hire a private chef to come cook in your home. The convenience factor, after a long day of boating or at the beach, was great. We did this two of the nights and, honestly, I don’t know…it was fine. I just don’t think Nevisian cooking agrees with me. Like, at all. The non-picky eaters in our group enjoyed it though. Overall, NOTHING like Chef Mimi from Virgin Gorda who I tried to smuggle home in my suitcase last year!
*I must note: a handful of our servers/waiters during our restaurant outings were very nice, but we found most of them to be a bit rude and short with us, which was kind of disappointing. I sort of felt like a lot of the locals were annoyed that we were there. I don’t know, maybe it was just me!
Things to do/see:
- The Hamilton Museum– We didn’t get a chance to explore it, but did you know Nevis was the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton?! His father’s horse stables are still in tact…although they’ve been converted into something else.
- Mineral baths- We didn’t go here either, but our driver for the week, “Baba” (request him if you can!) told us all about this “ancient hot spring, turned baths” and how after 7pm at night you need to wait in line because the locals flock there! I have to say, I did a quick google search and I’m kiiiiinda glad we missed it. Not sure you could pay me to get in there. (See photo #2 above)
- Botanical Garden– Another family staying at our resort went and told us it wasn’t anything much to see, so we skipped it. but if flowers are your thing, check it out!
- Montpelier– Get a tour of the grounds at the very least. Such a cool historic place…and the drive up is pretty!
- Horseback riding on the beach- This looked fun but the girls weren’t old enough so we decided to skip it- next time for sure!
- Sunshines– This a local dive beach bar near the Four Seasons that we heard about from just about every local. We didn’t go, because…children. But apparently this place is known for it’s drink called the Killer Bee. And apparently you are only allowed TWO. I guess it’s a “thing” to go have a Killer Bee at Sunshines. So if you’re kid-free, maybe go check it off your bucket list!
- Funky Monkey Tours– a tour around the island in a little ATV-like car. We had it booked, but were told by numerous people that the kids would NOT enjoy it and that it wasn’t very exciting, so we cancelled.
- Paradise Beach Lobster Bake- Our resort hosted a fun beach party/lobster bake…only they didn’t have any lobster (not that I cared, of course). They had a huge bonfire, a live band, and all the resort guests were invited. It was super festive & fun (minus the missing lobster and s’mores -which the kids were bummed about) but the girls had a blast dancing in the sand to the music, Max fell asleep in my arms, and the starry sky was unreal! Such a fun night!
- Catamaran Day– We chartered a catamaran through Leeward Island Charters and that was a fun day. They brought us snorkeling and over to St. Kitt’s for lunch. Boat Days are always our favorites! If you rent from this company, request St. Claire to be on your crew. He was AMAZING and so so good with the kids! Even taught Q the Cupid Shuffle on deck! Hahaha!
“Road Trip” (aka St. Barth’s)
Nikki Beach on St. Barth’s *image via google
We realized during our stay that we weren’t too far away from St. Barth’s so we chartered a speed boat ferry to bring us over there one day. It. Was. AMAZING!!!!!! I felt like we were in the South of France: the shopping was incredible, the food was outrageous, and the beach we went to (Nikki Beach) was insanely beautiful (THE Caribbean experience I was waiting for!) It was kind of a trek though, so I would NOT recommend making the trip from Nevis to St. Barths with just anyone. We had our concierge hook us up with the most trusted charter company on St. Kitts and Nevis (Islander Watersports Nevis) and they took us out. The boat ride was a bit bumpy for me but everyone else was fine with it. The ride there was about 1.5-2 hours and the ride home was a bit longer because we had to stop over in St. Kitts to declare customs. As a “day trip” from Nevis, I’d say it was NOT worth the amount of travel, BUT it was worth it for us because we were dying to see the island and wound up loving it so much, we already booked a trip back!!
St. Barth’s is basically my mothership…
Baby Beach Gear
- Pop-up pool tent– Of course Max didn’t sit in here ALL day long- because he’s a one year old & a complete maniac… but he did play in here for spurts of time, so it was worth it in my book.
- Snorkel Masks- The girls LOVE these and I know they’ve gotten some bad press in the news lately, but I’ve done some research and feel safe using them the way we do. The girls use them for super short periods of time and are never, ever, ever out of our reach when wearing them. I think the “scare” in the news regarding breathing in too much carbon dioxide while wearing them and the inability to pull them off quickly in an emergency really applies more to people who are wearing them on solo, extensive snorkel excursions. I think it’s also important to buy a quality mask and not cheaper knock-offs. The higher end masks have passed all the carbon dioxide and other safety tests. One of the brands we like is Tribord .
- Regular Goggles- for the girls. We love our Bling2o ones!
- Life Jackets– since we knew we’d be doing some boating, we opted for packing life jackets instead of swimmies or puddle jumpers. They are safer and more trusted life-saving devices. We love the O’Brien brand, plus they have a size small enough for Max.
- A few small water toys– Like THESE. We did not pack all sorts of pails and shovels. We figured we could buy from the resort once we arrived but it turned out the resort had a big basket of sand toys for us to use anyways!
- Hats- baseball caps for boat days and big floppy hats for beach days! We love our initial hats from Rey to Z!
- Sunscreen- see my favorite baby/kid sunscreens HERE
- Crib- A crib, highchair, and pack & play were all provided for us by the resort, so no need to pack those!
- Stroller- I covered travel strollers on THIS post, but our favorite for travel is the Pockit. We loved it so much, we upgraded to the newest version which has a bigger shade and reclines! It’s SO lightweight and folds up small enough to stow in the overhead compartment on the plane!
- Nanit Monitor- I talked A LOT about this monitor when sleep training Max and I still absolutely love it! However, ours is mounted on a tall floor stand that hovers over his crib so I was thinking of just bringing a standard baby monitor on this trip until I discovered that the Nanit now has a TRAVEL STAND! Yassss! You just unclip the Nanit from the tall floor stand and clip it right into the travel/table stand! Plus, you can obviously use this stand at home, when you aren’t traveling, if you prefer it to the overhead stand/wall mount. I love that it connects to your phone so we didn’t need to pack extra pieces (ie a camera AND monitor piece). I seriously love this camera system so much!
- Sound Machine- we always travel with ours. I use this one because it’s cheap enough to replace once it starts dying (using it every night, all night will wear these suckers out) and its small and light enough to travel with.
- Kids’ CameraKids’ Camera– My friend Liz posted this on her Instagram and I knew my girls would LOVE it! It’s an actual digital camera that you put a memory card in and can upload images to your computer…but it’s perfect for tiny fingers. My girls took so many pictures with this on our trip and I can’t wait to upload them all and see what they captured! I love seeing the world through their eyes! P.S. Don’t forget a memory card! THIS is the one we bought!
- Expendables- I’m talking about things we needed for our stay, but would be using up and not bringing back home (ie diapers, water diapers, wipes, formula, and snacks). For these items we pack (and check) a cardboard box. We load it up with any expendables and this way, when they are all used up and we are headed home, we don’t have an extra (empty) suitcase to lug home. We were able to order groceries for the house through the resort, so I just packed special snacks for Max that I didn’t know if Nevis would have: food pouches, num-num crackers, pirates booty, formula (I didn’t want to make the switch to milk before this trip since I’m a weirdo about milk and didn’t trust what the island would have!)
- Cinemood– We LOVE this little machine! The kids watched movies on it almost every night before bed. Totally took the place of the ipads that used to take over bedtime. Plus, it’s super small, making it perfect for travel!
For a more extensive list of baby beach gear, read THIS POST. And to read about things we used and didn’t use on our trip last year, CLICK HERE!
- What are the sleeping arrangements when you’re on a trip like this? Our house had four bedrooms so my immediate family had two bedrooms to use as we wanted. Ryan and I took one room and put Max’s crib in our second room. The girls wound up sleeping one with my mom and one with us. We could’ve easily put the girls in our second room and Max in the room with us, but this was what worked best for us. 🙂
- How do we get the kids used to sleeping in new places? We’ve really never had any issues with this. We bring a sound machine, allow each kid to bring a “blanket” or stuffed animal that they sleep with every night at home, and the girls loved snuggling in bed with us and with their Mimi so it was never a problem. We also used the cinemood to help overtired kiddos fall asleep quicker. I also use a “sleep spray” at home made of essential oils and I travel with a small spray bottle of that to spray on hotel beds.
- How do you keep up with all the kids daily schedules while on the go? We go into vacation knowing that schedules will most likely be thrown out the window. For the girls that mostly just applies to bedtime, since their daytime schedules are pretty flexible anyways. We went out to a lot of dinners so they definitely went to bed much later than they do at home, but hey- it’s vacation! For Max we tried our best to get in two naps a day, as close to the times he naps at home as possible (9am and 1pm). For our beach days, this was easy. We took turns bringing him up to the house and sitting by the pool/reading while he napped (oh, twist my arm!). During boat days, we just gave him his bottle and hoped for the best. Most of the time he fell asleep on one of us. “Shoulder Naps” obviously don’t last as long as “crib naps” so he was extra cranky those days and we just tried to make the best of it. We made sure to always carry extra food pouches and snacks so that we could feed him if nothing he liked was available at meal time- you know, since he’s the pickiest eater on the planet…no idea where he gets this from!
- How did you decide on Nevis/book all the details? We are members of a vacation club, which is sort of hard to explain, but just think of it like owning a time share- only you can use it all over the world. We log in to the website, look at the destinations/dates that are available and pick a place! We had never been to Nevis and heard great things, so we wanted to check it out. We book everything through the travel club- down to activities and ordering groceries. We typically have a big family meeting to discuss all the activity options that everyone wants to do, and then start planning. Ryan is actually our “travel guide”. Ever since he single-handedly planned every detail of our honeymoon, he’s been in charge! 😉
- How do you get to Nevis? We flew Dallas to Miami, Miami to St. Kitts, taxi from St. Kitt’s airport to St. Kitt’s marina, then a water taxi from St. Kitt’s marina to Nevis marina, then a taxi from Nevis marina to our house. Not gonna lie to you- it’s a looooooong day!
- How do you handle long travel days with kids? Lots of snacks, candy for bribery, ipads (that they otherwise are not allowed to have- so it’s a total novelty), lots of activities in their backpacks, card games, coloring, blankets for napping, and a wish and a prayer! Ha! Honestly we just go with it! We get them food at the airport, and bring them a change of clothes/pjs so they can travel comfy ( Plain Jane and Alice & Ames are our travel outfit go-tos for the girls.) For Max we try our best to get him good and tired- let him run around the airport, and then give him a bottle once we board and hope he crashes. I think they travel well mostly because we travel with them so often- so they kind of know the drill. If it’s in the budget to get your baby their own seat- do it! We didn’t on this trip but luckily on one leg we had an empty seat next to us and having that extra space was a game changer!
- What cameras did you bring/use? Just my iphone and my Fuji camera. It’s my FAVORITE ever! I bought it specifically for travel so that I didn’t need to bring my big old Nikon, but now I use the Fuji even when I’m at home. I’m obsessed!
- What’s your fav place to book cheap airfare? We use points sometimes (Ryan flies a lot for work) or we sometimes use Expedia. Mostly we just book on American Airlines, but we typically book pretty far out in advance or when prices are lowest.
- Where did you get all the girls outfits? Honestly this one is so hard to answer because it would take forever to tag every shop. I’d say, head to my IG feed! I typically tag all the shops every time I post a picture! 🙂
- Best travel snacks for the kids? For the house we ordered lots of fresh fruit, oj, water bottles, and “safe items” like boxed mac & cheese, goldfish, and cheerios. For our cardboard box of “expendables” we packed pouches for Max, Pirates Booty, applesauce pouches, num-num crackers, yogurt drops, and small individual bags of snacks like pretzels, graham crackers, animal crackers etc. We pack similar things for the flight- but always include apples, bananas, and try to buy a few “fresh” items once we are at the airport- like yogurt, cheese, or a fresh fruit cup to eat on the plane. Don’t forget a few lollipops and fruit snacks for when those little ears pop!
- What did you pack for yourself? I did a separate post with my fav products and beach pieces HERE!
- Where are you headed next? Hmmm…well we’ve got some fun adventures planned for this summer starting with our first ever kid-free trip to Greece in two weeks!! Eeek! But as far as the Caribbean goes…let’s just say we’ve booked our locations for the next two years! You’ll have to wait and see! Any guesses?
One of my IG followers told me: “If you’re looking for an island with lots of action, it may not be for you. If you’re looking for quiet & relaxation, Nevis is your island.” And she was absolutely right.
We ate at some great restaurants, rented jet skis, paddle boarded, chartered a catamaran, took a day trip over to St. Barth’s and had lots of relaxing beach time at Paradise Beach. We found plenty to do and overall it was a great trip!! I’m so, so glad that we went so that I can check it off the list and say we’ve been. But, will we be going back? Probably not. I feel like maybe, with Nevis: once is enough. For us, anyways.
*Traveling to Virgin Gorda? Click HERE to read all about our trip last year!
1 Hotel, South Beach Florida