Celebrate This Island’s Sweet Harvest at its Annual Summer Mango Festival
On some islands, they like to tell you how many beaches they have, or days of sunshine. On Nevis, it’s how many different varieties of mangoes they have.
The answer? Officially, nearly four dozen – and unofficially, it’s estimated nearly 200 different varieties of mangoes grow on this tiny Caribbean island.
Nevis makes up the other part of the twin-island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis. Tucked away between Antigua and the British Virgin Islands, Nevis
is off the beaten track in the Caribbean sense – which makes it a treasure for travellers looking for a secluded, charming island paradise.
Dominated by the cloud-topped Mount Nevis, whose verdant sides slope down before becoming sandy beaches at the water’s edge, Nevis is beloved by savvy travelers in the know, who call in port in Nevis on a private yacht charter or luxury, small-ship cruise, or arrive by ferry from St. Kitts a couple of miles away.
No buildings higher than a tree are permitted, so the island retains a local, island character that heavily-developed Caribbean destinations lose. Only one famous resort brand calls Nevis home, and the Four Seasons resort on Nevis is a legendary, luxury, tropical island escape (more about that below.) Many visitors to Nevis stay in villas and small inns – where mango trees fill gardens and yards.
Something very special about Nevis’ microclimate and soil has made it the ideal growing environment for mangoes where they almost grow like weeds. In addition to yards and gardens, mangoes grow in wild abundance along roadsides, and in the green rainforests up the sides of Mount Nevis. They’re there for the picking for the island’s residents as well as its famous monkey population, who climb the trees, and donkeys, who eat them off the ground.
Ripening mangoes on the trees add to the vibrant color palette of the island especially in July and again towards the end of the year. Everyone has their own favorite varieties, from Amory Polly, to Julie, to graft mangoes that can grow as big as your head, and many Nevisians eat them right from the trees.
Mangoes are such an integral part of Nevisian life that there’s even a festival during peak season in early July to celebrate them.
The Nevis Mango & Food Festival
usually takes place over the first weekend of the month. It’s one of the biggest events on the island and draws some of the region’s most talented chefs who compete over the course of the weekend to create dishes judged by celebrity chefs like UK Iron Chef Judy Joo who often appears at the festival to judge and also to teach masterclasses.
If you don’t make it to Nevis during the festival, you don’t have to worry you’ll miss the flavors of Nevis’ famous mangoes at other times of the year. If there are four dozen – or two hundred – types of mangoes on Nevis, there are at least as many ways to enjoy them served throughout the island, from cocktails made with mango puree, mango guacamole and salads and sherbet, biscotti, jellies, sauces for fish dishes… even some you can take home with you as souvenirs, like mango chutney, or jam or even mango hot sauce!
Complete your mango-themed visit to Nevis dining at the restaurant called Mango at the newly-renovated Four Seasons resort. The breezy, vivid yellow seaside restaurant is the epitome of upscale island dining.
WATCH THE VIDEO at the top to see more of the new Four Seasons resort’s renovations – plus another can’t miss culinary experience: ‘Dive and Dine’ lobster at one of the resort’s private, beach side cabanas.
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by Lynn Elmhirst
in Local Events