Sonmewhat off the beaten tourist track, Nevis is the junior partner in the combined Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, which became an independent nation in 1983. Though smaller than neighboring St. Kitts (p. 64 ), Nevis is nevertheless the more appealing and upbeat of the two islands. Columbus first sighted the island in 1493, naming it Las Nieves, Spanish for snows, because its mountain reminded him of the Pyrenees. Settled by the British in 1628, Nevis became a prosperous sugar-growing island as well as the most popular spa island of the 18th century, thanks to its hot mineral springs.
The capital city, Charlestown, has a lovely mixture of port-town exuberance and small-town charm Smaller ships dock at the Charlestown Port, right in the center of town; larger vessels anchor off the coast of Pinney’s Beach. Nevis is so small and easy to negotiate on your own that excursions aren’t really necessary. top beach North of Charlestown, Pinney’s Beach is a lovely spot for swimming, snorkeling, beachcombing, or just sitting back and watching the pelicans dive-bomb into the surf.
Slice of history On Main Street, the Museum of Nevis History (www.nevisheritage.org ) occupies a rustic little two-level house where Nevis’ most famous native son, Alexander Hamilton, may have been born, in either 1755 or 1757. bonus On a hill above downtown, the small but appealing Nelson Museum (www.nevisheritage.org ) traces the history of Admiral Horatio Nelson’s Caribbean career, portrayed in ship models, paintings, and even a scrap from the Union Jack under which the admiral was standing when he was fatally shot in 1805. smell the roses South of Charlestown, the Botanical Garden of Nevis (www.botanicalgardennevis.com ) actually has several gardens a rose and vine garden, a cactus garden, a tropical fruit garden, an orchid garden, and a tropical rainforest conservatory.