[Every now and again I like to put in a well-written tourism blurb.]
This country consists of the main island of Saint Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, which are a chain of smaller islands stretching south from Saint Vincent Island to Grenada. Saint Vincent is densely populated (over 300 inhabitants/sq km) with its 120,000 people. Its capital is Kingstown, also its main port.
The islands of St. Vincent & the Grenadines are lovely, natural and have mostly escaped the mass tourism market as opposed to some of the other Caribbean islands but what sets it apart from everyone else is the superior service. The people of St. Vincent are naturally nice people, caring about customers and indeed appreciative of your business. Thus, this island ranks high on Insider’s Guide® “service scale”.
Of the thirty-two islands that make up this country only eight of the Grenadines are populated and four of these have small Airports: Bequia, Mustique, Canouan and Union. The other islands that make up this wondrous chain have been designated as bird sanctuaries, wildlife reserves and draw hikers and ecotourism lovers and from all over the world
With the combination of these lovely islands and the people that make it up, Insiders-Guide® has come up with ten things you must place on your itinerary when visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
THE MAIN ISLAND OF ST. VINCENT.
1. Take a boat across to Young island for lunch:
Young Island is only 180m (590ft) off the main island of St. Vincent. The entire island comprises one resort called Young Island Resort, which consists of about twenty-nine cottages set on the beaches and hillsides. To stay on this island is very expensive and the owners mainly cater for the high-end tourist, but certainly everyone can experience this tropical eco-paradise. Take a tiny launch which operates like a water-taxi from the St. Vincent dock and in three to four minutes you are there. Young island is a tropical garden paradise like you will not see anywhere else in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Just by walking on its pathways, you will feel like you have immediately grown closer to nature. Our pick is a nice lunch at the resort’s restaurant, ask for the fresh bread platter and choose a fresh cut of cinnamon, multi-grain or Caribbean sweet bread. Move on to the Caribbean Snapper fish and look to see if you can get it prepared in a Creole sauce, have a nice cool Caribbean frozen drink on the side. Young Island is indeed an unforgettable experience that can be shared by all. http://www.youngisland.com/dining.htm
2. Explore the many waterfalls of the island in a site-seeing tour
We recommend a day trip to the Falls of Baleine, located on the North Western tip of St. Vincent; it is approximately sixty feet deep and forms a series of shallow pools at the base. Visitors can only reach here by hiking or a boat trip. For first time visitors and especially if you have kids, go with the boat. The falls are located at the northern tip of St Vincent and trips can be organized through your hotel or guest house.
The falls of Baleine are a very popular attraction in St. Vincent and there are easy facilities for the mooring of boats. There is an area for you to have a light snack or your lunch and a concrete path you can take to a viewing point of the Falls. There are other Falls in St. Vincent you may consider if the picturesque is a large part of your itinerary:
Trinity Falls are a little more difficult to get access. It consists of a hike approximately forty-five minutes through the tropical rainforest.
The Fall itself is a sight to behold. A massive forty foot sheet of crystal clear water descends in three shelves into a pool. It then falls approximately another ten feet into a second pool, which is used by visitors for swimming. The return hike can be a little tough, but a good guide can take you to and from without any challenges.
Dark View Falls is up the mountain from Richmond Beach on the Leeward side of St. Vincent. This we recommend for the adventurous or the fit amongst us as although it is beautiful, the area is remote and a bit tough to negotiate.
3. Saturday Market in Kingstown
Visit the lively port and market town of Kingstown; the capital of St Vincent.
This town contains many shops and is reflective of the hustle and bustle Caribbean style. You will see people visiting the many reasonably priced shops, look for a nice arts and craft one, there are a few on the Main Street; check out the artesian items made by local talented “Vincentians”.
Kingston is also the center of commerce for all the Grenadine islands, so a little tip, if you need urgent bank business done, do it here.
Dependent on your timing in St. Vincent, visit the Saturday morning market. Here you will see stalls piled high with fresh fruit and vegetables or you will see people laying their ground provisions and other toils of their labor at your feet like a carpet of wondrous Caribbean color. The market brings everyone to town and you will get a real true taste of Caribbean and St. Vincent culture.
4. Visit Bequia for a lovely snorkeling adventure
Bequia – “Island of the clouds”
As you continue your trip you can ferry across to Bequia or take the short flight. (Insiders-Guide® TIP): If you are relatively sea-worthy, take the ferry as it is much easier on your budget and you get to take in the fresh sea-breeze, watch the birds surf the winds and get a taste of the local culture as many Vincentians take this mode of transport. Check the link below to plan your ferry trip http://www.bequia.net/ferrysvcs.htm
If you are planning your trip directly to Bequia, please also see routing information http://www.bequiatourism.com/gethere.htm
Bequia is the largest island in the Grenadine chain. It is renowned for its boat builders. One can often see the skilled builders plying working hard at this very old tradition and indeed it has become quite a tourist attraction. But you are not here to watch others work are you? Take your snorkeling around Bell’s Point or Shark Bay west as far as Spring Bay. Some dive boats take people to Lower Bight off Moonhole and others like the shore area near the buoy marking the headland at Devil’s Table entering Admiralty Bay from the Bequia Channel. There is a very wide selection and indeed you will claim your designated favorite area in no time. (Insiders-Guide® TIP): Beginners can snorkel around the point at the Eastern side of Port Elizabeth towards the end of Lower Bay
5. Do a day trip to Mustique
Mustique is a small chuck of paradise only 4.5 sq km (2 sq miles). This island is privately owned by a consortium of businesspeople so make sure and plan our trip in advance. This island has long been a hiding place for the rich and famous. There is only one major hotel (the Cotton House). http://discoversvg.com/index.php/en/mustique/what-to-do
Macaroni Beach is one of the better beaches, where the water is turquoise, the sands are pure white, and a few trees shade the picnic tables.
Also very nice is Britannia Bay, which is next to the jetty and close to one of the recommended places to eat and have a nice relaxing refreshment, Basil’s Bar http://www.basilsmustique.com/
For you adventurous ones wanting to see the many mansions of Mustique, you can tour the small island: rent a Mini-Moke, it is a small vehicle much like a golf cart. Pecky’s taxi also provides transport around Mustique +784-488-8000 or Mustique Mechanical Services can arrange a vehicle or mountain bike +784-488-8555.
6. Take a Hike!
St. Vincent and the Grenadines offer visitors some world class opportunities for lovely eco-adventures while hiking. Some of the more popular hikes include:
i) La Soufriere Volcano – This hike is a tough one and takes approximately two plus hours. However the destination and the benefits of the scenery, magnificent view and stunning landscape can help to ease the toil;
Although mentioned before under “Explore the many waterfalls of the island in a site-seeing tour” you may include the two falls below as part of your Vincentian hiking adventure:
ii) Dark View falls – This is an easy hike/walk that is fun for everyone. Discover one of St. Vincent’s most picturesque sceneries without the hassle of a tough hike. Have a bath in the cool water pools of this waterfall;
iii) Trinity falls – this fair to medium difficulty hike takes you to a serene getaway where you can bathe in the cool waters of the river or just sit on a rock, have a bite and listen to nature around you. Trinity Falls are approximately forty feet high and have a three stage fall to its final destination of a lovely cool pool;
iv) Vermont Nature Trails – Catch a glance if you can of St. Vincent’s endangered parrot (Amazona guildingii). With an estimate of just about 600 living in the wild, visitors can be part of the conservation of this beautiful bird by educating themselves. This nature park reserve was established in 1987 with a view of saving this creature. There are two main trails, the Parrot lookout trail and the River trail.
7. Canouan beaches
Take in the beautiful beaches on Canouan and this island claims some of the best in the Caribbean with long stretches of powder-white sands, wide shallows and actually is also home to one of the Caribbean’s largest coral reefs. This reef protects the Atlantic side of the island and provides a haven for bathers to swim in almost a pool-like environment.
Canouan has become somewhat upscale over the years and is now home to a world famous golf course and resort. The resort is located on Carenage Bay and Godahl Bay which are also breathtaking.
The other gorgeous beaches and bays include Windward Bay, Charlestown Bay and Friendship Bay.
This island is accessible for the more financially privileged amongst us with a good runway where many private jets land, to world classed yachting facilities as well as through commercial access. Flights can be taken from the main island of St. Vincent daily.
The main recipe of this island is simply to relax. With all the activities of water sports, pools, frolicking in the sun, snorkeling in some of the best waters in the world, you still find wonderful peace. Listen to the waves lap on the shores while you read that book; catch up on your tan (don’t forget the sunscreen) or; spend quality time with your family or other loved ones.
8. Go to Union Island
On this island one can stare in awe at Mount Parnassus as it soars over 900ft from the sea. This mountainous island has lovely beaches and is the favorite stop for visiting and frequent yachting enthusiasts.
Union Island is also famous in the Grenadines for its lobster and conch. Come taste true Caribbean flavor with these dishes. But be careful the pepper sauce is as it describes itself – hot!
Listen to steel pan (the national instrument of Trinidad & Tobago) bands playing Caribbean music which you can’t help but groove to.
If you want to get away from it all, Union Island is also the place. Enjoy quiet days of reflection, a good novel surrounded by true Caribbean beauty.
You can also relax on one of the peaceful beaches. One of the more popular and indeed beautiful beaches is Chatham Beach on the west side of the island.
But choices abound in the Caribbean and Union Island is no different. Try going to Bloody Bay or Campbell or Richmond.
9. Diving and snorkeling
St. Vincent and the Grenadines offers visitors snorkeling and scuba diving experiences no matter what their level of comfort. The underwater experience can be seen easily as the islands offer fantastic shallow reef views. For the more daring or experienced amongst us, you can dive to old sea wrecks, through caves or explore the seas to spot the tens of thousands of interesting creatures.
A favourite activity is going to the Tobago Cays and trying to spot a sea turtle. Lobsters (the spiny Caribbean kind), manta rays and small octopus are not at all uncommon in these waters rich in food and beauty.
The Tobago Cays and Mayreau Island are protected by a U-Shaped barrier reef and are the pinnicle of Scuba diving and snorkeling in the Grenadines. They are established marine parks and are home to a wide array of tropical fishes and support a very healthy eco-system that encourages these creatures to breed. The result are waters filled with young fish not fearing human forces as yet and perfect to get that underwater photo or close up view.
10. Sail St. Vincent and the Grenadines
St. Vincent and the Grenadines offer visitors phenomenal sceneries, lush forests, from black to white sand beaches and memories of a lifetime.
What better way to add to these experiences than to sail the myriad of beautiful islands and Cays.
Though there are many high priced options available, there are ways one can enjoy sailing within a budget.
Visitors can arrange day charters at reasonable prices through their hotels. Just tell the concierge your budget and they will find something for you.
One of the most popular trips to discover the beauty of these islands is to the Tobago Cays. The water is crystal clear, warm as the Caribbean sea often is and great for the avid or amateur snorkeler.
Another you may want to consider is to Bequia. As mentioned this is the largest of the Grenadine islands and a favorite for boat builders. Insiders-Guide® Tip: Many local fishermen organize trips to the islands and get you there very safely. Explore it as an option. So whether it is the expensive catamaran or the exciting pirogue, look at your options and enjoy this tropical paradise from the sea!
Labels: Grenadines, Tourism, Travel