The tiny Caribbean island of Nevis only has just the one road running around it in a full circle. I’ve completed this ring on a bicycle in around 90 minutes, whereas it takes less than an hour to drive it.
James says - a few trip notes:
Yet if Nevis was a small Balearic island, you might still be tempted to get a hire car just to enjoy the beauty of it at your own pace. The reality is that you can rent a car in many places in Spain for a month for what it’s going to cost you just to hire a car for one day in Nevis.
There are no car rental desks at the airport in Nevis, which is the other side of the island from the capital Charlestown. Here there are at least car hire services who can also offer a meet and greet service, not just at the airport, but also at the inter-island foot ferry terminal, which is right in the centre of Charlestown.
Why do you need to rent a car on Nevis?
- Generally, a hire car really isn’t recommended on Nevis. It’s not really worth the hassle, especially when there are plenty of taxis and tour guide services.
Reasons why you don’t really need to rent a car on Nevis
- Local licence – before you can actually drive on Nevis, you will need to apply through your rental agent for a temporary three-month local licence. That is going to set you back around East Caribbean $50 or US $24. That’s not really a big deal if you’re planning to stay here for a while, but it’s just another cost in a location where there are none of the major international car hire brands, and local hire is already very expensive.
- There are no car rental desks at the airport in Nevis.
- You will need to arrange car hire with a local provider, who can then arrange airport pick up.
- None of the major international franchises have operations in Nevis.
- Online quotes are not available, but expect to pay in excess of (US) $350 to rent a car here for one week.
- Moreover, there really is no need to hire a car on Nevis, where there’s never a shortage of taxis to greet every arriving flight or boat. If you are arriving here by passenger ferry from Basseterre in St Kitts, then you will find that the port is right in the centre of Charlestown, and this is where buses leave for the various different parts of the island, and again, taxis are widely available
The best way to get around Nevis is to do as the locals do, and take advantage of the friendly local buses. There might not be any published bus timetables, but as all the villages on the island tend to have only one or two side roads running through them which then lead onto the main island road. It’s easy enough to ask around and find out when the next bus might be likely. Buses operate on a pay-the-driver on exit basis, and you will rarely pay more than about US $1-$2 to go anywhere on the island (but carry local coins or small value notes for this).
Most local taxi drivers will also be happy to show you anywhere on the island, including a full day tour if you want.
Just make sure you confirm at the start whether you are being quoted in East Caribbean or US dollars, because there is a substantial difference between the two, even though both currencies are widely accepted (work on a basis of 3:1 when using US dollars, although the official rate is actually 2.7:1).
However, no commentary on transport Nevis would be complete if it only compared different options for getting around by motorised minibus or taxi (when actually most taxis are also minibuses as well).
Hiking on Nevis
The real beauty of Nevis can be found deep inside the island by taking a hike up towards Nevis Peak. This is best done with a local guide, who should also provide transport to the trailhead.
Even if you just want to walk around the island’s superb coastline, there’s plenty to see, and it’s easy enough to meander at your own pace, and then to return using local buses or taxis, or hitching if you prefer – as a tourist, you will find that small island Nevis is generally safe, although driving standards sometimes leave a lot to be desired.
Paradise Cycling on Nevis
To go one step better, head down to Ouallie beach. As if there aren’t enough options there for various different watersports, you can also hire a road or a mountain bicycle here and do a loop around the island or explore locally.
Do I need to rent a car on Nevis – for extended distance trips / travel off the island?
In a word, no!
If you are here for a very long period of time, then you will no doubt negotiate a car lease agreement locally. We’re mainly offering car rental advice for people spending more typical holiday / vacation periods of 3 – 14 nights. If you are visiting here from Europe, Nevis is nothing like other islands you might be used to visiting, such as the Canary Islands, where regular ferry services are available. You could easily do a “road trip” in the Canaries and visit the five main islands, driving in between the ferry ports, and continuing in a loop. The only other island you can visit from Nevis with a car is St Kitts. You can also very easily take a foot ferry to St Kitts, and then either continue from Basseterre using minibus services, or possibly rent a car there for the day.
Do you need a car in Nevis? This Nevis car hire advice primarily focused on the island of Nevis itself, although some visitors to the island just come as a day trip from the much larger St Kitts.
If you have already picked up a rental car in St Kitts, then you can also use the Sea Bridge service to travel between the islands – this is a vehicle service which doesn’t have any connecting buses, although it’s easy enough to continue onwards on the Nevis side without a vehicle.
When looking at car rental on Nevis alone, for us the advice would be a big resounding “no”.