Nevis is the sister island to St Kitts. We hopped on a tender to spend all day on this small, laid back destination. First stop was a quick hop into the Tourist Information office where we were given a map of the island, and pointed towards Oualie Beach for the best spot to rent bikes to ride around the island. In just a few hours, we had covered a circular tour of the entire island, stopping for lunch at the amazing Hill Top Restaurant, a gem of a find for five weary, thirsty bike riders. After dropping our bikes back off at Oulie’s, and hitching a ride back into town, we stopped by Charleston’s fruit market for some fresh papaya and bananas before getting ready for some late night partying at Sunshine’s on Pinney’s Beach. Two thumbs up for Nevis!

After boarding our Easy Cruise in Antigua, the first island on our Leeward island itinerary was Nevis, the sister island of St Kitts. Nevis is a “tender” port, meaning that the cruise ship does not pull into harbor and dock beside a pier. Instead, a tender boat pulls alongside the cruise ship, and passengers hop from one vessel to the other and get ferried into shore. There were tender tickets being issued at the reception, and we hopped on the first tender in order to maximize our time onshore.

We were immediately accosted by a super tall Rastafarian who touted his taxi services and tried to get Franny to buy one of his CDs upon arriving into Nevis. Not too keen on accepting the very first offer, we decided to see if Lonely Planet’s statement of “a paved road circles the island, and car rentals are inexpensive…rates begin at US$30” rang true. Not sure when LP updated their information, but note to anyone who is interested in renting a car on Nevis: it is not inexpensive! We were quoted an extortionate price of US$105 (to include the mandatory driver’s license, CDW, and a tiny compact car). After explaining we were more on a budget, we politely declined and headed over to the tourist information office for some advice.

The Nevis Tourism Authority is easily located just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Charlestown pier. We found the staff to be very helpful, providing us with maps, and pointers of what to see and do. After verifying that car rental rates have indeed risen exponentially, a staff member recommended that we visit Winston at Oualie Beach Resort for mountain bike rentals. So we ran over to the town plaza (Walwyn Square) and hopped into one of the local buses (a privately owned minivan) for the short ride up North to Oualie’s. While waiting for the minivan to fill up, we noticed Luke and Shannon aimlessly wandering about looking for us. So we hollered out the window, caught their attention, and zoomed up to Oualie’s together. The fare wasn’t too bad: EC$4 each.

Winston is a jovial, friendly fellow who immediately equipped us for riding around the island. He gave us mountain bikes, helmets, bike chain, and water bottles and suggested that we try to tackle a “round the island” ride. Although his ominous warning that “it’s not all flat” should have triggered that the ride would be challenging, none of us knew what we were in for as we pedaled off in the direction of the airport.

A herd of goats were being led by an ornery old goat who led them across the airport parking lot in the quest for a field of bountiful grass. It was quite a sight to see them cause traffic come to a standstill as they made their way along the road. Even when Becky rode by them, they parted to the left and right and she was surrounded by a sea of goats, as they doggedly made their way towards food.

Once we made our way to the Eastern side of the island was when the inclines started to kick in. A series of hills in the midday sun was killer, and we sought refuge near Coconut Walk Estate in a thicket of bushes. Goats grazed nearby and Robby tried to lure them over with his baby goat cry for help. Since the rest of us were trying to nap in the shade, we swore we’d kick his butt if the herd of goats decided to join us. After a breather, we decided to ride on and search for a restaurant for lunch. Our goal was to eat at Hermitage Plantation Inn, which was a bit pricey for our means, but a goal to look forward to nevertheless.

However, once we spotted the Hilltop Restaurant at the top of the hill between St John’s and St George (beyond the Fothergills and Nevisian Hermitage Village on the main ring road), it was like an oasis in the middle of a dessert. The Hilltop beckoned us, and five weary riders pedaled to the front door and were met by the wonderful Lex (Alexis). Lex was a sight for sore eyes. He ushered us to the coolest part of the restaurant, and brought out freshly squeezed sorrel and passion fruit juices while we pondered over his very reasonably priced menu (everything priced under EC$20). Franny opted for a veggie platter, while the rest of us ordered sandwiches. And water. Lots of water. Little did we realize the potent power of the sun in the Caribbean! We were all a bit dehydrated and sore from all the uphill riding. But after our siesta and reenergized by our delicious lunch, we were full of energy for the final trek back to Oualie’s. And the bill for our sumptuous lunch? Under US$30 for the five of us….one of Nevis’ best bargains! We bid adieu to Lex, who was a wonderful host and an excellent ambassador for beautiful Nevis.

But the best part of our day was yet to come. All the way from the Hilltop restaurant into Charleston was a downhill free for all, and we zoomed into town in under 10 minutes while relishing the exhilarating ride. The ride alone was worth the huffing and puffing we had done on the Eastern side of the island. Once we hit Charleston, it was pretty much a straight shot (flat) back up North to drop off the bikes. We spotted Kammi, Patricia and Uncle Bubba strolling the streets of Charleston, and agreed to link up with them on the cruise.

A quick detour to Pinney’s Beach to scope out the location of our party later on tonight revealed a laid back beach with colorful bar shacks. Chevy’s Calypsos Bar was to the left, and Sunshine’s was to the right. And folks were already partying in mid afternoon and getting their groove on. The Four Season’s infinity pool was just at the edge of the ocean, and we saw how the rich and famous enjoy their version of Nevis. With rooms starting from $900 upward, no thanks! It is a gorgeous hotel though, and seemed a bit out of place on this laid back isle.

After returning the bikes to Winston and taking strolling across Oualie Beach’s gray sand for a dip in the water, we decided to thumb a ride back into town. We met a British expat who gave us a ride as far as Cades Bay (he did warn us he wasn’t heading into town). At Cades Bay, we hopped onto a minivan and were in Charleston a few minutes later.

Getting more money out of the ATM and finding some fruit to snack on were next on our agenda. Armed with papaya and bananas, we made our way back to the pier where we waited for our tender to pick us up. The sun was slowing setting in the distance, and everyone huddled at the edge of the pier for that perfect sunset shot.

After checking back on board the cruise, we changed for a night out at Sunshine’s, where the big party was happening tonight. Instead of hopping on the EasyCruise shuttle, we had already coordinated with a local taxi driver to drop us off for $2 each (minimum of 4 people required). Since we had a large group, no problem.

On our way to the pier, poor Kammi tripped while getting off the tender, and one of her shoes fell between the planks of wood and into the harbor. But the amazing Pilipino tender crew came to the rescue. They used a long pole to fish her shoe out from the harbor and crisis averted! The party was happening when we gathered at Sunshine’s. Half the group was already munching on fish and chicken dishes, washed down with a healthy dose of Killer Bees. We soon joined them and got to know some of our fellow Easy Cruisers.

Nevis is a really fun island! We really enjoyed the hospitality of Lex at the Hilltop Restaurant. And chilling on Pinney’s beach with everyone. And in retrospect, the bike ride around the entire island…

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