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Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 2 March 2021 | 0 Comments

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2 March 2021

Unpretentious, unspoilt and free from the tourist hordes,
St Vincent & The Grenadines are the Caribbean’s best-kept secret.

Beautiful, castaway isles, lush, green foliage and mountain peaks characterise the 32-island nation of St Vincent and The Grenadines, where there is a blissful get-away-from-it-all vibe. Rolling agricultural pasture forms a patchwork on the landscape with small settlements with St Vincent - for now at least - experiencing limited tourist development bar one large resort. This ensures that exploring the islands brings untold rewards that are full of natural beauty, from the dark rugged slopes of a 4,000ft volcano, to powdery white sand beaches fringed by rustling palm trees and lazy catamaran trips along the mesmerising west coast. 

Gin-clear blue waters are warm and inviting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where all the hallmarks of a tropical Caribbean getaway are easily found - but without the tourist hordes. Located just south of St. Lucia, the island of St. Vincent and its neighbouring 32-island chain have long been the destination of choice for elite travellers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Mick Jagger and Bill Gates, who moor their private yachts off its secluded shorelines. The addition of airport on the main island makes travel to St. Vincent and the Grenadines more accessible yet sufficiently off the beaten path to guarantee visitors generous amounts of blissful peace. Journey to the south of St Vincent to discover the magical Grenadine islands, an exclusive destination for yachting crowd and Caribbean-fans who enjoy the romance of empty, flawless sands and lapping waves. Many of the islands are private and home to a stunning single hotel property blessed with exotic gardens filled with vibrant blooms and brightly-coloured tropical birds. Petit St Vincent, Palm Island and Young Island, are a trio of elite hideaways with Mustique - a favourite with British royals - the most exclusive, with villas and two hotels that boast privacy and luxury and a country-club atmosphere for the super-rich and famous. Palm Island was leased from the St Vincent and the Grenadines government by an American couple for one dollar on the proviso that a hotel was built to provide employment for locals. Today, as a result, the island resort is a collection of rooms and suites dotted amongst swaying palm trees. Whilst most of the island is reserved only for guests, Casuarina Beach, the largest stretch of beach, is open to day visitors. With a small marina and easygoing beach bar, this is Caribbean life at its most chilled. Petit St Vincent is deserving of its name, as the smallest in the the Grenadines chain. With just 22 individual cottages discreetly placed around the island, it’s an exclusive retreat where guests are urged to unplug, switch off and disconnect from modern life. 

For some bustle, head to friendly little Bequia to inter-mingle with colourful local life. This truly charming island, just nine miles south of St Vincent, is the largest of the Grenadine islands, yet still only measures 18 sq km (7 sq miles) and is largely undiscovered.

After browsing fish markets and fruit stalls in village capital, Port Elizabeth, enjoy a still around handsome Admiralty Bay and watch bobbing yachts on the water.Excellent beaches, some good local restaurants and laid-back bars provide truly unforgettable photo opportunities - Bequia almost certainly has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Try Friendship Beach, Princess Margaret Beach, Lower Bay and Industry Bay for jaw-dropping vistas and captivating sunsets.

For diving, consider a boat trip out to neighbouring isles. Tobago Cays, a cluster of uninhabited islands in a coral reef lagoon teeming with a rainbow of fish, offers visitorsunbeatable snorkelling together with the privilege of swimming with turtles. Storied history abounds here, steeped in pirate history, and the peaceful and secluded sugar-fine sands are truly idyllic.. 

Take the local Fast Ferry - a no-frills but efficient mode of travel - for. Thrilling journey of contrasts from Bequia to Kingstown, the capital of St Vincent and dubbed ‘The City of Arches’. Kingstown is a bustling and lively place, with cobbled streets, magnificent churches and historic buildings. The produce market on a Friday and Saturday is a colourful array of fresh fruit and vegetables, which have been brought from all over the island by the many famers and small-holding owners. Feeling energetic? For exhilarating views, why not hike the trail to the La Soufrière Volcano’s summit - a challenging, lung-busting hike. 

All over St Vincent and the Grenadines there is a strong seafaring history and no visit here is complete without a sailing trip to the five tiny uninhabited isles of Tobago Cays. Accessible only by boat, this region is a sailing and snorkellingparadise due to a spectacular horseshoe reef that creates a calm lagoon of deep blue water. Seabirds, dolphins, whales, turtles and flying fish frequent the Cays and if you charter a captained craft, he will drop anchor whenever you like in the most glorious tropical setting imaginable.

Fancy exploring inland? Climb aboard an open-backed taxi to see Bequia through the eyes of a local. Share in the legends, gossip and hearsay of the island on a bumpy exploration with the wind in your hair.  It’s easy to crisscross the island in around three hours and this rustic sightseeing safari gives visitors the inside scoop. Once you leave the bustle of Port Elizabeth behind, the lush green meadows beckon with deserted beaches beyond on a backdrop of densely wooded hillsides. Visit artists’ studios, enjoy resplendent views across turquoise waters to other islands and imbibe the fragrant scent of fabulous flora and fauna

For total seclusion, head to the shifting sandbank islets of Mopion and Punaise, in the southern Grenadines chain, which change size and shape with the tide. Pack a picnic and some snorkelling gear and savour an afternoon with Mother Nature: Mopion is furnished with a single thatched umbrella, whilst Punaise is a simple carpet of soft bare sand. 

Not to be missed  

-  Walk Union Island’s historic coastal path

-  Visit the local towns of Clifton and Ashton, fishing settlements with vibrantly painted fishing boats. 

-  Climb Old Fort Hill above Clifton town for views across  the Grenadine chain.

-  Soak up the relaxation of Bequia on stunning soft-sand beaches

-  Stroll through the public market in Kingstown, the region’s largest city

-  Relish the St Vincent Botanic Gardens, the Western Hemisphere’s oldest

-  Enjoy a swim with sea turtles at the Tobago Cays wildlife preserve

-  Sweat and slog up to the top of the 4,000 ft volcano La Soufrière for spellbinding views

-  Dive in the vibrant coral underwater gardens of the Cays