Dozing by your own pool as the monkeys gambol round you, or swimming in the azure Caribbean Sea by a deserted beach. It sounds impossible, or at least hopelessly expensive. But weve found a way to do it.
Yellow Bird is a sweet, private cottage with its own pool, just a minutes walk from the idyllic Oualie Beach on the island of Nevis (pronounced Neevis), the little sister of St Kitts. I found it by googling Private villa with pool or something along those lines. The helpful UK owner explained that, just out of season, it can be very affordable, so that was a good start.
British Airways fly to St Kitts, so you can use Avios points (which used to be Airmiles). Its surprisingly easy to collect loads of Avios, merely by shopping in a certain supermarket, buying your petrol from a particular garage or getting your gas from a certain supplier. Before you know it, and without any real effort, the price of the flight has tumbled.
Its a mid-morning flight from Heathrow, so easy to get to. Before you know it, you’ve watched a couple of films and are landing in Antigua prior to a frankly surreal belly-flop over to St Kitts, the huge jumbo simply skimming over the waves, only a couple of thousand feet above the water. From there, its a quick hop over to Nevis, either on the sedate government ferry or a wilder (and more expensive) water taxi, better than a fairground ride. Before dark, you’re quaffing your first Carib beer at the Gallipot waterfront bar.
Nevis is one of the Caribbean’s most unspoilt islands, largely untouched by tourism. There are a number of sugar plantations which have been transformed into stately restaurants and hotels. Our annual treat is to visit the Golden Rock for a glorious lobster sandwich. They also, amazingly, let you swim in their pool. By not actually sleeping there, I reckon you’ve saved yourself several hundred dollars a night. Right on the beach is the Nisbet Plantation, once home of Nevis’ most famous resident, Fanny Nisbet, wife of Captain Horatio Nelson. This is the only historic seafront inn in the Caribbean. In the capital, Charlestown, there is a small but fascinating Nelson museum, containing the largest collection of Nelson memorabilia outside England. Up in the hills is The Hermitage, the oldest wooden structure on the island, and near Newcastle lies the Cottle Church, the first church in the Caribbean where both slaves and masters could worship together. Other places of interest on Nevis include the Botanical Gardens and the Medical University of the Americas, but you’re not necessarily there for sightseeing.
Yellow Bird is an amazing place. Set on its own, up a few steps on the edge of the tropical forest, if has its own, completely private deck with a well-maintained pool and lush gardens. Here you are visited by beautiful birds, butterflies, tree frogs and green vervet monkeys. One day we counted over thirty leaping round the garden. Yet Yellow Bird isn’t in the back of beyond; there are two good restaurants within a couple of minutes’ walk and an excellent shop, Manza’s Last Stop, just down the road. They make their own fabulous fruit juices.
There’s no problem with getting further afield, either. The bus service which passes the front gate is amazing. They pass in both directions every few minutes and cost practically nothing. That means there is no need to hire a car, another substantial saving. If you want, you can rent bikes at Oualie, which is also a centre for a wide range of water sports. The very adventurous can hike to the summit of Mount Nevis (you need a guide), but there is a wide range of less strenuous hiking trails.
Needless to say, nightlife is not a feature of Nevis, but here are lots of fabulous places to eat. Our favourite is Sunshine’s, a wooden beach bar on the glorious Pinney’s Beach. Watching the sun set while chomping lobster and downing one of their lethal Killer Bee punches has to be one of life’s greatest experiences. And guess what? Its not expensive.