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Pinney's Beach in Nevis. (Medioimages/Photodisc)

What to do in Nevis

Welcome to Nevis, population 10,000. Here, traffic is thin, shopping malls are scarce, and the only crowds you encounter are the hundreds of roaming goats and sheep let out of their pastures during the day. A dormant volcanic cone, Mount Nevis, offers some great climbs, and a beautiful rainforest awaits exploration. Guests have their choice of shore-side or hilltop accommodation.

To explore the rainforest, sign up for a hike with Jim Johnson's Top to Bottom. Not your typical walk in the woods, the family trek is part botanical foray, part local lore, and part pure fun. Along Jessup's Rainforest Trail, a moderate uphill trek, Jim provides participants with all sorts of esoteric information, such as the fact that the sawdust-like hump on a nearby trunk is actually an active termite nest. He also identifies and explains the origins of local flora and the mystical value ascribed to them by the Carib Indians.

Hikers should take on the Golden Rock Nature Trail, accessible from the Golden Rock Plantation Inn. As you pass huge palm trees and other lush plants, you're likely to spot the troop of African green vervet monkeys that live in the rainforest. For more rare blooms from around the world, visit the Botanical Garden of Nevis, a seven-acre soothing oasis of tropical trees and fountains. After touring, pause for lunch or cookies at Martha's Teahouse, the café situated on the wrap-around veranda.

Catch up on your marine biology and book a guided snorkel outing with Under the Sea SeaLife Education Center. Marine biologist Barbara Whitman insists that kids and adults explore her facility's tanks before going on an hour snorkel in Tamarind Bay, just outside her beachfront building. She'll show you how to discover the tiny and the cleverly camouflaged, tell a sea pearl from a stone, and spot a pencil urchin protruding from a rock.

Skim across the sea on a board or pedal down Nevis' lush hills with Winston Crooke at Windsurfing & Mountain Biking. He leads bicycle tours along dirt roads formerly used to transport sugarcane. By sea, beginners will find that his big boards with small sails make balancing easy.

Three-mile Pinney's Beach, part of which fronts the Four Seasons Resort, is the island's best beach. Another good stretch for families is Oualie (pronounced WAH-lee) Beach. The beach fronting Nisbet Plantation Beach Club is often windy, so much so that the resort doesn't typically bother erecting beach umbrellas.

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