Vaughans, St. Kitts & Nevis

Photo: Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill

What’s the first thing you need on a beach vacation? Not your flight and resort. Those were decided long ago. Not transportation either. That was probably taken care of by the place at which you’re staying. If not, it’s still part of traveling. Think after your arrival. You’ve already been through customs, checked into your hotel, and found your room. A bikini and flip-flops quickly replaced layers. Now what?

It’s time for a drink. You don’t need another glass of the flat sparkling wine that you were handed at the front desk. The minibar won’t do either. You want a real cocktail made with local alcohol and fresh fruit. Bonus points if you can order food and stare at the ocean at the same time.

On Nevis, St. Kitts’ sister island, there’s only one spot to go for this first drink. It’s Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill. The weathered shack sits on the south end of Pinney’s Beach. The three-mile stretch of white sand runs from Charlestown, the little capital filled with Georgian-style buildings, to Cades Bay, where the ferry docks. It’s just steps from the island’s most luxurious resort, though most of its guests end up here anyway. Its colorful tables and pulsing reggae music spill onto the sand. Plus the owner, a man everyone calls Sunshine, is just as famous as some of the real celebrities who stop by for one of his Killer Bees.

So two rum punches, please. The yellow-hued cocktail is made with orange and passion-fruit juices, club soda, honey, and a bit of black pepper. It also features a healthy pour of light rum, of course. Sip slowly. The cocktail may be fruity, but it’s potent. Some food will definitely help. You go back and forth between the lobster salad and the jerk chicken before ordering conch fritters and a lobster sandwich. You sip your drink, stare at the calm turquoise water, and start swaying to the music as you wait for your lunch. A huge smile fills your face. Vacation has officially begun.

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