Tuesday, September 27, 2011

St. Vincent a genuine escape to paradise

Sept 27, 2011

The Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has an authentic feel that's disappeared from other islands where slick condo developments form a wall between the beach and the real world.

There's none of that on this laidback island. No apartment towers, mega-malls, tourist-only gift shops, or fast-food franchises. Your cellphone might not work. There may not be a telephone, an air conditioner, a television or Internet in your hotel room. And there are travellers who love it.

On Young Island, luxury cottages and villas, barely visible in the greenery, dot the lush hills. You have to take a five-minute boat ride from the main island to get here. There are more places like this strewn about the 32 islands and cays that make up the Grenadines. Mustique, a hot spot for rock stars (Mick Jagger among them) and the international jet set, is one of the best-known. The natural sand is black, thanks to St. Vincent's volcanic geological roots; but since black sand isn't as pretty as white and it's much hotter on bare feet, the resorts ships in powdery white sand from Guyana.

St. Vincent is well-known among hiking enthusiasts for its wicked hills, especially around La Soufrière volcano. Snorkelling, too, is a delight thanks to the crystal clear island waters and abundant marine life.

A new international airport is scheduled to open in 2013 but until then Canadians need to fly to Barbados, then hop onto a connecting flight, to reach St. Vincent.

For more information on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, visit www. discoversvg.com

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