|Country Information & Lifestyle|
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 traveling 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 neighboring 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 tranquility.
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 specializes 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.