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Soft Adventure

Vacations® •

Winter 2018 • 47

46 • Vacations


Winter 2018

Boasting just one paved road, the

tiny island of Nevis, where monkeys

call and the jungle beckons, is

ready-made for off-roading.





By Tim Johnson


While off-roading in Nevis is a great way to explore inland,

this tiny island is also loaded with adventures on the water.

Sliced through and separated from St. Kitts by a strip of

aquamarine, one day I decide to dive right in.

Rolling out on The Narrows in a sturdy catamaran, wind at

our backs, our gregarious, dreadlocked guide narrates our

half-day voyage – behind us, partially shrouded in cloud, the

crown of Nevis Peak, and ahead of us, the soaring ridges of

St. Kitts.

We take mere minutes to near the shores of St. Kitts, soon

steering into a previously hidden inlet and dropping anchor.

While all appears calm on the surface, there’s a lot going on

down below – part of a marine protected area, the ocean’s

floor here includes both hard and soft coral, sponges, sea

grass, conch breeding grounds. Sea birds and three species

of sea turtles nest on the beaches.

Strapping on snorkel and fins, I make my way to the back

of the boat, dropping down into the warm, clean sea, soon

surrounded by flashing, colourful biodiversity, tropical fish

all around.





Later, I run my machine to the end of a dirt track and climb out,

taking a moment to wander around inside the handsome shell

of the Cottle Church. Built in 1824 as a place for white family

members of plantation owner John Cottle to worship together

with his slaves, it was never consecrated by the Anglican Church

as interracial worship was illegal at the time.

I finish – as all journeys in the Caribbean should – at the beach.

Heading down near the water, I spot Sunny Beach and its seaside

bar. With any luck, they’ll have a rum cocktail waiting. Parking my

Ranger, after a day of hard driving, I figure I deserve it.

With just a single, 36-kilometre strip of blacktop skirting

the shore, running through the main settlement of

Charlestown and encircling the flanks of lofty Nevis

Peak, the untamed area inside that ring seems like

a secret garden. Sitting in blue Caribbean waters and

much quieter than neighbouring St. Kitts, Nevis has its

place in history – the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton,

favourite stop for Christopher Columbus and early

home to British naval commander Horatio Nelson.

But ultimately, despite its reputation for luxury, Nevis

is a wild place.

And so I climb into an upscale ride, called a Polaris

Ranger, with chunky tires built for the undulating

countryside, but WITH a comfy seat and a little roof

overhead shielding me from the tropical rays. Leaving

the blacktop, which features “monkey crossing” signs,

and quite a few wild sheep and goats now turned loose,

left over from plantation days, I turn the wheel inland.

Climbing slowly toward the Peak, I’m soon surrounded

by sugar cane, once the island’s bumper crop and

source of wealth.

On this island with no casinos and no large cruise ships,

stops range from quirky to inspirational. Bumping

under thick canopy, sometimes steering hard, up and

down hills, I see the ruins of stone mills and cotton gins,

taking in views of neighbouring islands Antigua and the

volcanic Montserrat.