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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 St Vincent & Gren. St Vincent & Gren.

Country Information & Lifestyle

 Land of the Blessed

Land of the Blessed

Just the name St Vincent and the Grenadines evokes an emotive response with visions of exotic, idyllic island life. Imagine an island chain buried deep within the Caribbean Sea, uncluttered by tourist exploitation; white sand beaches on deserted islands, sky-blue water gently lapping the shore and barely a soul around.

St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands are in the Windward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles and were originally settled by Amerindian adventurers travelling northwards along the Lesser Antillean island chain from the continent of South America. They named the island 'Hairoun', meaning 'Land of the Blessed'.

Though St. Vincent & the Grenadines were sighted during the voyages of Columbus in the late 15th century, Europeans did not attempt to occupy the islands until the early 1700s. Instead, in 1635, a Dutch ship sank off St. Vincent and its cargo of West African slaves liberated themselves and ran ashore. Together with escaped slaves from neighbouring islands, they merged with the island's Amerindian inhabitants and a new ethnic group, known as Black Caribs or Garifuna, was born.

St. Vincent has a rugged mountain terrain, lush forests and a variety of uncluttered beaches, while the Grenadines provide a wealth of quiet bays, glorious beaches, and some of the best dive sites and sailing waters in the world.

From St. Vincent's lush tropical rain forest full of Eco-adventures, to the idyllic beaches, coral reefs and turquoise lagoons of The Grenadines, SVG is a tropical paradise for yachting, scuba diving, enjoying nature, and relaxing in luxurious hideaways. Thirty-two islands dot the seascape, all vying to one-up each other in terms of tranquillity.

Discover an enchanting Caribbean island that is brimming with exciting adventures, captivating land and water activities, outstanding natural beauty and very friendly and welcoming people. St Vincent is the largest in the group and full of wonderful surprises.

The capital Kingstown is a lively town with rough cobblestone streets, arched stone doorways and covered walkways, and conjures up a forgotten era of colonial rule. Kingstown heaves and swells with a pulsing local community that bustles through its narrow streets and alleyways. There is more tourist infrastructure a few miles down the road from Kingstown in the towns of Villa and Indian Bay this is where you will find the majority of the resorts on the island.

The beaches are sadly on the average side and the frenetic pace of Kingstown tends to put off those in search of the quiet life. The lush green, rain forested interior has some pleasant hiking options. Vast banana plantations and other agricultural pursuits form the mainstay of farming in the region.

There are also opportunities to get an insight into traditional Vincy life as the towns and villages are unspoiled by tourism unlike the resorts around the island that, for the most part, do their best to insulate guests from the realities of life on St Vincent, preferring to bathe them in rum punch and lull them to sleep with incessant steel-pan serenades.

Full of wonderful surprises for nature lovers, scuba divers and hikers, all who will love St Vincent. From the comfort of a bus tour to the challenge of hiking to the top of La Soufriere volcano, there are fabulous activities for everyone to enjoy at this world class island destination. Visit tropical gardens, go bird watching, take in a cricket match or replay scenes from Pirates of The Caribbean.

Once you get off the big island and into the Grenadines, everything changes. Gone is the traffic, the hustle and the pavement. All you're left with is a smattering of tiny islands waiting to be explored.

Named the "Island of the Clouds by the Caribs", Bequia, is the northernmost and largest of St. Vincent's Grenadine islands. The island is a delightful place, neat, quite hilly and well forested with a great variety of fruit and nut trees including lots of flowering bushes.

Although the island is only 7 sq miles, the island boasts a variety of small areas to explore with lots of hidden treasure to dig up. In Bequia beaches of fine golden sand stretch out before you, the pace of life slows to a crawl and the desire to go home vanishes.

The main village, Port Elizabeth, is located along the curve of Admiralty Bay. It is charming seaside place and the island's commercial centre. Admiralty Bay offers a safe anchorage for yachts and small cruise ships. The island was once the region's most important whaling station, and there is also a strong boat-building tradition.

Striking a balance between remoteness, accessibility, development and affordability Bequia could very well be the most perfect island in the whole Grenadines chain.

What can you say about Mustique other than WOW? The island lies 7 miles southeast of Bequia, and is a privately owned and managed by the Mustique Company). Mustique has been developed into an exclusive haven for the rich and famous. The island is unbelievably beautiful with fertile valleys, steep hills, an irregular coastline richly indented with bays and coves and 12 miles of stunning, white sandy beach. Everything you would expect to find in Paradise.

Canouan is a quiet, peaceful, crescent-shaped island located 25 miles south of St. Vincent. The island has dry scrubby hills and near-deserted beaches. It extends 3.5 miles in length, but in places this anchor-shaped island is so narrow that it can be walked across in a few minutes. There are about 700 people and lots of roaming goats.

The main anchorage is in Grand Bay, where the jetty is located, while the airport is about a mile to the west. This stunningly beautiful hook-shaped island has some of the quietest, cleanest and most supremely aesthetic beaches in the entire Grenadines chain, and some of the most secluded hideaways too.

Lying west of Tobago Cays, Mayreau is most commonly visited on sailing cruises that travel through the cays and then sail in to the deep V-shaped Saltwhistle Bay. The bay is stunning with clear waters, beautiful white sands, calm waters and protected anchorage for visiting yachts.

There are no roads from the bay, however, a track leads south to the sole village and only takes five minutes. Over the ridge and down to the other side you are confronted with the sublime Saltwhistle Bay. Picture perfect and the star of countless racks of postcards, this white-sand beach defies description. The thin strip of sand leads to a point where the ocean laps on both sides, sometimes only a few feet away.

Union Island is the southernmost port of entry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, located 40 miles from St. Vincent. The island is high, rocky, and dry and is largely covered in thorny scrubs, and dotted with cacti and free roaming goats. It has two settlements, Clifton and Ashton.

Clifton is the centre of Union Island's thriving tour industry and includes a marina, airport, shops, and restaurants. Most visitors use Union Island as a jumping-off point for cruising the uninhabited Tobago Cays and other nearby islands. There are a few nice deserted and remote beaches around the island.

As the island is just across the channel from Carriacou (Grenada), most visitors to Union are on the way to someplace else. The quiet fishing village of Ashton is nice alternative to the frenetic pace of Clifton.

Palm Island is a 10-minute boat ride southeast of Union Island. It is a small whale-shaped island that is the domain of a privately owned luxury resort. The beach has long been a popular anchorage with yachters and is a stopover on many day tours between Union Island and the Tobago Cays. At the western side of the island, where boats dock, is the picture-perfect Casuarina Beach with sands composed of small bits of white shells and pink coral.

Petit St. Vincent is the southernmost and smallest of the inhabited islands that make up St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It's a beautiful privately owned 133-acre island with a single resort, fringed by white-sand beaches, coral reefs and clear waters. There are lots of trees and flowers providing a peaceful atmosphere and you can see most of the southern Grenadines from any location on the island.

Petit St. Vincent is the ultimate hideaway for those really wanting to get away from it all. This remote private island is encircled with picture perfect white sand beaches and coral gardens. The resort specialises in privacy and service with 22 separate secluded cottages tucked along its shorelines and low hillsides.

The cuisine of the islands includes, as you would expect, excellent seafood dishes. Spicy crabs and lobsters, squid and octopus along with kingfish, mahi mahi, tuna, bonito, red snapper and occasionally marlin it all depends what is in season. On the west coast of St.Vincent in the village of Barrouallie black fish (pilot whale) is a local delicacy.

For many people breadfruit is seen as the symbol of St.Vincent, tied to the nation's culture and heritage. Breadfruit forms part of the country's national dished of roasted breadfruit and fried jack fish. Look out for yams, dasheen, eddoes, bananas, plantains, christophenes, sweet potatoes and hot peppers. Chicken or meat dishes are usually accompanied by fresh local vegetables, rice and peas and specialities like curried goat or lambi(queen conch).

Arrowroot is a traditional Amerindian crop and St.Vincent is one of the few places in the world where this ancient and traditional crop is still cultivated for both domestic and overseas consumption. You can see arrowroot crops growing on the lush green hillsides of the Owia area of St.Vincent.

As for drinks, well don't leave St. Vincent & the Grenadines without having sampled at least one bottle (maybe more) of Hairoun beer, or a glass (or two) of Sunset rum. Both are produced here in St. Vincent and both taste great!

These islands have enchanted sailors for centuries, and continue to do so. Whether you have your own vessel or are happy to hitch a ride, the island-hopping opportunities are irresistible. These islands were once the realm of real pirates but now they are the stomping grounds of the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Purchasing a Property

Foreign nationals wishing to purchase property are required to obtain an Alien Land Holding License from the Government to be able to buy landed property. When entering into a real estate transaction in St.Vincent and the Grenadines, lawyer's services are very much needed.

The lawyer will provide the abstract of the title and prepare a Deed of Conveyance. The lawyer will also handle the application for the Alien Land Holding License of the buyer. The fee for this must be paid to the lawyer, while the registration cost of the Deed of Conveyance(transfer tax) must be paid directly to the Government.

A deposit of 10% is required as security to take the property off the market. After which the lawyer will also take care of the application for required permanent residency. The whole process takes about 6 to 10 weeks.

Aside from the Alien Landholding Tax which is pro-rated based on property value, the buyer must also pay a filing fee of XCD2,500. The license is also subject to a stamp duty of XCD5.00. Foreigners also pay XCD2,500 annually for holding an ALL.
Value of property License Cost
XCD100,000 and below XCD10,000
XCD100,001 XCD3 million XCD10,000 + 6% of value in excess of XCD100,000
XCD3 million and above XCD105,000 + 4% of value in excess of XCD2 million

The Alien Landholders License can only be applied for, once a deposit has been placed on a property. To apply for this licence the foreigner needs to employ a local attorney and will be required to provide the local attorney with the following:

A police certificate

A banker's reference

The attorney then makes the application for a Alien Land Holding Licence.

Upon filing this application a fee of EC$ 2,500.00 (US$936) will need to be paid to the St. Vincent Government.

The application takes about 10 to 14 weeks to be processed by government.

In most cases the application is successful and a licence is granted.

Once granted, the licence has to be officially registered and the costs for registering the licence are as follows:-

Value of Property

Does not exceed EC$ 100,000.00

Between EC$100,000 and EC$2 million

Exceeds EC$2 million

Cost of License

EC$10,000

EC$10,000 + 5% of value in excess of EC$100,000

EC$105,000 + 3% of value in excess of EC$2 million

The foreigner is then free to purchase the property and the local attorney prepare a deed of conveyance.

Fees & Taxes

Alien Landholding Licence 4.0%-10.0% paid by the buyer and the seller, payment made directly to the government.

Registering Deed of Conveyance is 10% with the costs split equally between the buyer and seller.

Legal fees are regulated by the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Bar Association. Legal fee for properties worth XCD50,000 and above is XCD1,538 plus 1.5% of amount in excess of XCS50,000.

Registration fee for the title deed is XCD40 for the first XCD15,000 of sales price plus XCD2.50 per XCD1,000 thereafter.
Stamp Duty 10% split evenly between the buyer and the seller.

Visas

All visitors to St.Vincent and The Grenadines must be in possession of a passport that is valid beyond the period of stay, proof of sufficient funds, and a return or onward ticket.

However, they are issued with immigration forms which are valid (when completed) for a period of stay of up to 6 months upon arrival in St Vincent.

A $40 EC departure tax applies for all travellers departing the country except passengers who are in transit for less than 24 hours and children under 12.

As entry requirements may change from time to time it is strongly advised that you check with the department of foreign affairs or your local consulate or embassy for the current requirements.

Obtaining Residency in St. Vincent

Many people purchasing property in St. Vincent and The Grenadines will want to know if they can enter and reside in St. Vincent and The Grenadines for as long as they wish.

The government policy is that anyone who owns a residence in St. Vincent may apply for residency and that any such application should not be unreasonably denied.

The cost for the residency is approximately EC$ 1,900.00 equal to US$709.00

Immigration visas are required from nationals from the following countries: Dominican Republic, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The People's Republic of China, Iraq, Iran and Nigeria.

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