Here’s the story of my week in paradise. The people of Nevis – thank you.
After only a week on the island, I felt like one of the locals. I learnt so much about their special history, I spent time talking and running with hundreds of kids from the local schools, and I explored the running trails, mountain hikes, volcano, waterfalls and, of course, the beautiful beaches.
Don’t forget you can read all about my expedition and various trips, articles and updates here. www.nickbutter.com
You can view all the photos taken on this trip and others at https://nickbutter.myportfolio.com/work
This article is a trial run for next year, when I’ll be writing a short post for each country I visit throughout my 18-month trip covering 196 countries (although admittedly this post is a little longer than my future posts).
I begin my Running the World 196 expedition in just 50 days’ time – I will set eight world records and will run a marathon (26.2 miles) in every country on the planet.
Thanks to the Nevis Tourism Authority and Sponge Marketing, I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent the last week on the magical island of Nevis (pronounced Neevis). St Kitts and Nevis is one country, but the two islands are very different, split by just a few miles of ocean. Nevis is the place to go, though, and well worth the short boat trip from St Kitts.
First of all a big thank you to the Nevis Tourism Authority and Sponge Marketing for sending me to such a beautiful and peaceful place.
First and foremost, I’m a runner… and I was here to compete in the Nevis Triathlon, which was held just a few days ago. It was open to families, children and serious triathletes, and the atmosphere was fantastic. Although the main reason I was there was to compete and review the race, I can honestly say I’ve never been made to feel more welcome by a nation. So I’ll spend a little longer telling the story of a remarkable few days in paradise. If you’re looking for your next hot paradise holiday, this place should tick a few boxes.
Nevis is small, hidden and quirky. An island that is only 30 km in circumference, it has just four main shops for food, and eight generators powering the entire island… Locals tell me there are often power outages and higher prices on imported food, which is all relative – considering the scale of the island, prices aren’t that expensive. And the best bit, there’s no fast food on the island. To be honest, there’s nothing fast about the island. If you like to rush around, maybe this place isn’t for you. It’s slow, but slow in a really good way.
This tiny island is also fantastically resourceful. Both the schools I visited grew their own food. Vast vegetable patches are maintained, harvested and eaten by the kids. The simplicity of life here is special and thought-provoking to say the least.
I spent a day cycling around the island, just 30ish km, but with a few big hills. Needless to say I’m better on two feet than I am on two wheels. I jogged the last half with bike in hand, passing sheep, monkeys, donkeys and cows… and more sheep. The ring road, which is almost a perfect circle on a near circular island, is lined with beaches, forests and homes for the 12,000 friendly islanders. Every home I ran past was different, all single-story colourful buildings in different shapes and sizes. I always received a ‘good morning’ or a friendly wave from everyone I ran past. It’s like taking all the good bits of country living in the UK and combining them with tropical temperatures, beautiful sea views, and Caribbean plants and insects.
So what have I learnt?
The island was named Oualie (‘Land of Beautiful Waters’) by the Caribs and Dulcina (‘Sweet Island’) by the early British settlers. The name ‘Nevis’ is derived from the Spanish Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (which means ‘Our Lady of the Snows’), with the name first appearing on maps in the 16th century… although in 1498 Christopher Columbus gave the island the name San Martin (Saint Martin). However, the confusion of numerous poorly charted small islands in the Leeward Islands chain meant that this name ended up being accidentally transferred to another island, which is still known as Saint Martin today.
The majority of the approximately 12,000 citizens of Nevis are primarily of African descent. English is the official language, and the literacy rate, 98%, is one of the highest in the Western hemisphere.
Electricity was introduced into Nevis in 1954, when two generators were shipped in to provide electricity to the area around Charlestown. In this regard, Nevis fared better than Anguilla, where there were no paved roads, no electricity and no telephones until 1967, although electricity didn’t become available island-wide on Nevis until 1971.
Since 2007 an ambitious infrastructure development programme has been introduced, including the transformation of the Port of Charlestown, construction of a new deep-water harbour, resurfacing and widening the island’s main road, a new airport terminal and control tower, and a major airport expansion, which required the relocation of an entire village.
Nevis has its own Premier and government, the Nevis Island Administration. It collects its own taxes and has a separate budget, with a current account surplus. According to a statement released by the Nevis Ministry of Finance in 2005, Nevis had one of the highest growth rates in GNP and per capita income in the Caribbean at that time.
The island of Nevis is divided into five administrative subdivisions called parishes, each of which has an elected representative in the Nevis Island Assembly. The division of this almost round island into parishes was done in a circular sector pattern, so each parish is shaped like a slice of pie, reaching from the highest point of Nevis Peak down to the coastline.
The parishes have double names, such as Saint George Gingerland. The first part of the name is the name of the patron saint of the parish church, and the second part is the traditional common name of the parish. The parishes are often referred to simply by their common names, and the religious part of a parish name is sometimes written or pronounced in the possessive, such as St George’s Gingerland.
The five parishes of Nevis are:
Saint George Gingerland
Saint James Windward
Saint John Figtree
Saint Paul Charlestown
Saint Thomas Lowland
Seven volcanic centres make up Nevis: Round Hill (3.43 Ma), Cades Bay (3.22 Ma), Hurricane Hill (2.7 Ma), Saddle Hill (1.8 Ma), Butlers Mountain (1.1 Ma), Red Cliff and Nevis Peak (0.98 Ma).
Since 1911 water has been piped from a spring called the Source, located 1,800 feet up Nevis Peak, to storage tanks at Rawlins village, and since 1912, to Butlers village. Additional drinking water comes from Nelson Spring near Cotton Ground and Bath Spring. Groundwater has been extracted since the 1990s, and mixed with water from the Source.
September 1989: a considerable amount of damage from Hurricane Hugo.
September 1998: a great deal of damage from Hurricane Georges.
November 1999: Nevis was hit by Hurricane Lenny, which caused heavy damage to the island’s infrastructure on the western coast, because of the storm’s unusual track from west to east.
October 2008: Hurricane Omar brushed the edge of Nevis. Among other establishments, the Four Seasons Resort Nevis was forced to close for repairs. Hurricane Omar thus caused the loss of 600 jobs for over two years, with the resort not reopening until 15 December 2010.
August 2010: there was some damage on Nevis from Hurricane Earl.
September 2010: some damage from Hurricane Igor.
September 2017: damage from Hurricane Irma.
So I think that’s about it on the education front.
How many miles did I run?
34.1 miles. Not as many as I should perhaps. I’m still conscious of damaging my newly healed broken foot. I also swam a few miles too.
How hot was it?
Hot and humid. I’d give it a solid 7/10 for heat of about 31°C and 6/10 for humidity. Factor 50 needed, folks. If the breeze is blowing, you’re good. If not, you’re hunting for the A/C. One of the locals explained that it’s always obvious when it’s a super humid day; when the cloud that covers the tip of the 3,323m volcano isn’t there, it’s a particularly humid day. Sure enough, I had one full day with no cloud on the mountain. The puffy white splodge hung just above the tip, almost like nature’s barometer giving us some info about the day. Zero rain too, by the way.
Where was my favourite place to eat?
Very difficult question… I had such fantastic food all week. Fresh fish, huge salads, and brilliant bar snacks like baked veg. Every meal was light but filling.
But here goes…
Favourite breakfast – Montpelier Plantation & Beach hotel. This wins hands down on the breakfast front. The hotel is situated inland, up in the mountains; just around the corner are the botanical gardens, a wild donkey sanctuary and views like this at sunset. The choice is yours… continental buffet, which is as you’d imagine. I’d recommend the Eggs Benedict, one of the best I’ve had.
Lunch – has to be Sunshines. Sunshine owns the aptly named Sunshines Beach Bar. Great lobster sandwich with their infamous Killer Bee cocktail. Don’t have more than one. Enough said.
Dinner – Nisbet Plantation Beach Club. Also the location of my favourite strip of beach. Nisbet is a hotel right on the beach which serves a delicious barbecue fish masterpiece. The barbecued tuna and salmon steaks with loads of fresh veg plus a mango dressing was top notch. Shame I couldn’t keep eating.
Where I stayed
My thanks to the two great hotels I stayed at – it was good to experience two different options. I spent four nights at the Mount Nevis Hotel, on the north west of the island. Pool, huge bedroom with balcony, chairs, hammock, kitchen, living area, great A/C, bathroom and plenty of space… all in one room. Hidden in the trees and back from the ring road, this place was an ideal spot for running. I either ventured out and joined the ring road to run around the island, or I went out the back entrance and ran up into the mountains. Avoiding the many monkeys, lizards, birds, wild dogs and cows, anyone could run for miles here. You can see what it was like in this video.
I then moved to the Montpelier Plantation & Beach. Top marks for decor, food and pool – wonderful 15-yard pool with mosaic tiles. It was off season last week, approaching their winter, and so I had the hotel almost to myself. A bit further out and further west, the hotel had a simple yet indulgent spa that looked out on to the wild. The rooms were also large with huge beds – simple, and at ground level. I was in room 10, just a stone’s throw from the most peaceful spot I found on the island – a hammock between two trees away from the main hotel and overlooking the sea and mountains. This is a place I will be returning too.
What I’d recommend
Cycling – Visit Oualie Beach and see Winston. He will kit you out with a bike, helmet and show you around the island… if you ask nicely.
Jeep tour – The guys at Funky Monkey Tours are located just around the corner from the Four Seasons Resort. If you have a spare three hours and want to drive some pretty fun 4×4 jeeps, give them a go. Warz, my driver, was great. If you’re travelling on your own it’s also a really great way of meeting other people.
Hike – My favourite morning on the island was spent with Reggie. Reggie has grown up on the island and has been fortunate enough to explore almost every inch of it. We met on the west of the island and hiked for about four hours up past seven waterfalls. He taught me about numerous different animals, plants, cooking tips – loads of stuff, stuff that I still remember. Another great example of how one small, relatively untouched island has such great people. Reggie, thank you.
Dinner at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club – this is right on the beach and owned and managed by Tim. The dinner on Thursday evening was special. A windy night to be on the coast of a tiny island, but with a super luxury feel, all the 50 or so guests had a really tasty seafood barbecue. Out in the open air, hot and humid, great food – what a great place.
Stay at Montpelier Plantation & Beach – I could have stayed anywhere on Nevis, and I would have loved it. However, Montpelier was unique. It helps that this small hotel in the mountains has one of the best views of the sunset on the west coast. I lay in a hammock and watched the sunset most nights. The animals, creatures and insects were beautifully loud until the sun beached the horizon… then silence. I also made this my place to work for the last couple of nights on the island.
Something that is a big focus for me while I’m away on my trip next year is getting kids involved. If you’re an avid reader, you’ll know I’ve been banging on about this for some time now. I visited a couple of schools on the island and they didn’t disappoint. You can check out the videos here too. Thank you to the kids, teachers, and Nevis Tourism Authority for organising my school visits for me. I spoke to about 500 kids in total, spent an hour or so enjoying some little running drills, and generally getting everyone over-excited. The attitude and faces of these kids was such a great introduction to learning about international education. I even had some time to sit and chat with a few. My message to adults is to listen to kids – they have such a magical way of viewing the world.
The triathlon, marathon and swim
If you’re a swimmer, into running or a keen cyclist, this small Caribbean island has such great events, but that are little known about. And if you book a flight far enough in advance, you can get some cheap deals. In the process of planning my expedition, I have learnt that you can fly anywhere in the world for more or less than £400 return. Take a look at Nevis Naturally, and turn your love of sport into a holiday. Nevis offers three annual events: Nevis to St Kitts Cross-Channel Swim in March, 4 miles, with trophies and medals; the super-scenic Nevis Marathon that takes you around the island… plus a bit; and the Nevis Triathlon, which I took part in.
I have quite a few friends who are into their triathlons, and this is one place that I just know wouldn’t be on their radar, as it’s too far away… but actually, in my mind, this is exactly why I love it. It’s such a natural island, with such a great vibe – it’s more than worth the seven-hour flight from London. I urge all of you to give Nevis a go. I will be making Nevis an annual trip, that’s for sure, and it’s all because of the people who help make these events happen. Here’s some photos of my triathlon experience.
When you find a place that is so peaceful, so unique and then realise that they actually hold these kinds of events, it’s like a perfect match – people, views and weather that will keep you coming back for more.
I am now so excited to begin my expedition around the world, although I was somewhat spoilt on this trip. It’s going to be a rude awakening when I don’t have 5 star luxury… and I’m already absolutely exhausted…
Just a quick note to say thank you to the folk I met in this fantastic week on the island to:
Reggie – guide up the waterfall mountain
Raoul – driver for the week
Julie – liaison with Nevis Tourism Authority (NTA)
Helen – manager of Montpelier Plantation & Beach
Jane – owner of Sponge Marketing (my fave)
Tim and Tina – owners of Nisbet Plantation Beach Club
Winston – bike support
Alexis – NTA support
Greg – CEO of NTA
Bradbury family – the politest and kindest family I’ve met in a long time
Earle and Mary – a fantastically drunk and friendly couple from the US
Teachers and kids of Violet O. Jeffers Nichols Primary School
Teachers and kids of Charlestown Primary School
Please remember to continue to support my expedition, which begins next year. Please donate here. I hope to hit £250,000 for Prostate Cancer UK. You can read my story about why here.
Check out my Just Giving Page here.
Keep an eye out for my next post. It won’t be long until I am off to embark on my expedition. Help, get involved and generally share the word. Help me hit my target.
Keep an eye out for the next post. I will attempt to write shorter posts more regularly from next month. Please get in contact if you want to support.
Later this month you will see
A full review of my last 18 months preperations, interviews with sponsors, facebook live updates, thank you’s to so many people, and lots of posts in the panic to get ready for next year.
You can follow my progress through Instagram