Caribbean trip was full of surprises

Hiking in the forest on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean.
Hiking in the forest on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean.
Herman and Candelaria Zapp and their children

Family on 17-year round-the-world road trip visit Portsmouth

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JAKE RICHARDS finds island-hopping is a great way to experience two sides of the Caribbean.

So much for getting away from it all.

On a week’s holiday in the Caribbean – a world-renowned paradise – I’m starting to wonder whether I’ve made a wrong turn, as I wade through an eerie, fastly-flooding rainforest.

As it turns out, this was to be a trip full of surprises.

I am in Nevis, a small, volcanic yet idyllic island. Human population, 11,000; vervet monkey population, 44,000!

Nevis Peak may have stood dormant for a long time, but is a dominant presence nonetheless.

In the muggy wilderness of the forest, streams of revitalising rain water gushing beneath my feet, I realise that I’m probably not going to finish the three new books I’ve brought along in my suitcase.

While the Caribbean may be known for sun, sand and strong rum punches, I’m quickly realising that there’s far more to the islands than the perfect picture postcard scenes I’d imagined.

Being caught in a monumental downpour certainly wasn’t something I’d expected, but the forest tour is fascinating, and a mini adventure.

As we take shelter in a cave, beautiful zebra butterflies glide by, seemingly unfazed by the torrential tropical thunder.

One of the great things about the Caribbean though, is that the rain showers don’t last for long.

Plus, I might be soaked, but knowing I’m returning to the four-star luxury of my hotel certainly takes the edge off.

Montpelier Plantation & Beach is one of just seven accommodation options on Nevis and stands out as the most endearing.

The considered approach of American owner Tim Hoffman and his young family is clear from the moment I arrive, as is the charming, family feel they have so successfully cultured.

The plantation, as you’d expect, is steeped in history. But Montpelier has rights to the biggest boast of all, as it was under its most-celebrated tree that Horatio Nelson himself married then-owner Fanny Nisbit in 1871.

Many more have since chosen to replicate this and glowing honeymooners are notable in their presence among the hotel’s tranquil acres.

With its mountain setting, 19 generous chalet-style rooms, spread over a dreamy stretch of verdant land, complete with the most welcome of breezes, this gem of a hotel is a real treat.

The food doesn’t disappoint either.

Restaurant 750 serves up five-course taster menus, featuring a selection of delicious, locally-sourced delights, including fresh fish and an impressive array of meats.

During my stay, I’m introduced to yoga on the lawn, enjoy a kayaking expedition across the Caribbean Sea to Montpelier’s beach, where a cool cocktail awaits as reward, and spend many a relaxed hour lounging by the pool.

Island-hopping is also on the agenda, as this holiday is split between two – after a few days on Nevis, I head to Antigua.

Here, I’m staying at the all-inclusive five-star Curtain Bluff. Guests are spoiled by a sun-drenched selection of facilities including four palm tree-skirted tennis courts, a luxury spa, gym, pool, two beaches and cinema room.

The spacious rooms here feel almost palatial and, stepping out onto my balcony, I see that the perfect, picture postcard image of the Caribbean does exist – and it’s right here in front of my eyes.

Heaven.

ESSENTIALS

Jake Richards was a guest of British Airways Holidays which offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the five star Curtain Bluff Resort, Antigua, from £2,679, with BA flights ex-Gatwick. Price valid for travel November 12 - December 12.

Seven nights’ B&B at the four-star Montpelier Plantation & Beach, St Kitts and Nevis, starts at £999, incl return BA flights ex-Gatwick for travel until October 31, if booked by September 30.

For BA Holidays reservations call 0844 493 0758 or visit ba.com/antigua.

KEY FACTS - NEVIS AND ANTIGUA

BEST FOR: Diversity. Challenge or chill – it’s your call.

TIME TO GO: November to April is best for guaranteed sunshine.

DON’T MISS: Island-hopping for a more varied view of the Caribbean.