In Nevis, the Art of the Beach Bar

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Above: Chevy’s Calypso Bar (all photos by CJ)

By Alexander Britell

NEVIS — Arms and legs shake, the rum flows freely, the music pulses and, if you concentrate, you can hear the soft reminder of the ocean just a few steps away.

This is Caribbean beach bar country. And here, just off the edge of famous Pinney’s Beach, is the largest concentrated population of beach bars in the Caribbean.

Per capita, that is.

The tiny island of Nevis, with a population of around 12,000, has made the beach bar into an art form, and this corner of the sand at Pinney’s is home to a growing number of them.

Above: Lime

Pinney’s Park? Pinney’s Avenue? The bar portion of the beach might still need a catchy title like neighbouring St Kitts’ “The Strip,” but every bar here is a standout: the world-famous Sunshine’s; the upstart Double Deuce, run by British chef Mark Roberts; Lime, the area’s musical centre and Chevy’s, the brainchild of a Calypso singer.

And there’s a good-natured but competitive rivalry between all of these sandy outposts – meaning visitors will simply have to divide their days evenly between them.

Above: Sunshine’s Beach Lounge

Sunshine, a local celebrity in his own right, has made his bar and restaurant into a Nevisian institution, the kind of place where visitors need to inscribe their names on the walls for posterity.

And Sunshine’s, just like the rest of Pinneys, is somewhere tourists and residents happily mingle together.

Sunshine, one of the local celebrities on this island, has perfected another staple of the Caribbean beach bar — the secret-recipe rum drink. And Pinney’s Beach is home to at least three of them.

Above: the Killer Bee

Sunshine’s Killer Bee first came about during an island-wide cocktail competition, and today it’s Sunshine’s sine qua non — and a drink that has inspired legions of competitors.

A few metres away is Chevy’s Calypso Bar, home of the Stinger Bee cocktail, whose recipe is also a trade secret. At Double Deuce, it’s the Stinger. At Lime, it’s the “Green Flash,” named after that moment just before dusk when the sun appears to glance off the edge of the ocean.

Above: Chevy at work

What do they all have in common? Deceptive strength (just wait a few minutes), and instant relaxation — something which comes in abundance in Nevis.

“Its the ultimate Nevisian experience,” Sunshine says of his beach lounge. “It’s what people expect —it’s a beach bar, something simple, something easy, for visitors and local people to mix.”

He’s right. There’s a general atmosphere of comfort here, where everyone is either a Nevisian or, quickly, an honorary Nevisian.

Above: Double Deuce

“We have the best food, we have nice people around here, we look after people, and we happy,” says Chevy, the man with the calypso background who opened his bar here in 2005, making it through Hurricane Omar (with a rebuild) and continuing to serve Stinger Bees inches from the sand.

Above: Lime dances to the tunes of local band Jazzique on Fridays

Nevis’ government says it is planning to expand the area, with enhancements on the way to add both new vending booths and fresh coconut trees.

Above: the Stinger Bee

ON A GOOD DAY during peak cruise season (Nevis has a small cruise access point in Charlestown), Lime alone gets “hundreds of people” per day, Jeffers says. The plan is to make that number increase, and turn this part of the island into one of Nevis’ go-to destinations, day and night.

Above: Lime’s Green Flash

“This area is going to be the place to be when you’re in Nevis,” Chevy says.

For Jeffers, it’s simpler.

“It’s growing fast,” he says. “It’s like Miami!”