As in the rest of the Caribbean, prices and crowds drop in the Grenadines during the late summer. Rain is a constant threat in August, but that just means the island will be at its most lush. Embrace the glamorous lifestyle by island-hopping via yacht, or pick your favorite and stay awhile. Rub elbows with the style set on the resort-strewn isle of Canouan, a magnet for billionaires thanks to its yacht-filled marinas, award-winning restaurants, and dreamy villas overlooking the turquoise surf. This month, keep a lookout for events surrounding the Breadfruit Festival, which pays homage to the island’s heritage.
Just the name St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) evokes visions of exotic, idyllic island life. Imagine an island chain in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, uncluttered by tourist exploitation, with white-sand beaches on deserted islands, sky-blue water gently lapping the shores and barely a soul around.
While it may sound like a playground for the rich and famous, you don’t need your own yacht to enjoy SVG. In fact cheap ferries make exploring this archipelago nation independently a breeze and with so many islands to choose from, there’s sure to be one that perfectly meets your needs.
And while it’s famed for its islands and beaches, the country offers more than just a relax in a hammock. There are volcanoes to climb, refreshing waterfalls to explore and great hiking throughout.
Under The Volcano
St. Vincent, “the mainland,” is almost 18 miles long and made imposing by its seething giant, La Soufrière volcano, which last erupted in 1979. Thick banks of clouds typically shroud La Soufrière, making its peak a rare sight. Guides lead hikes that wind through the surrounding forest for a close-up view.
St. Vincent’s other natural attractions include the Falls of Baleine, spectacular cascades that are accessible only by boat, and the broad and verdant valleys of the Mesopotamia region, the island’s breadbasket, with rows upon rows of banana trees.
The rugged northern portion of the island is the domain of several hundred people who trace their heritage back to the fierce Carib Amerindians who once dominated the Caribbean. Fort Charlotte, a 19th-century British battlement atop a bluff in the capital of Kingstown, features an impressive interpretive display about the Carib culture.
Downtown Kingstown is a bustling area, and visitors should see the Botanical Gardens, the oldest such gardens in the Caribbean, which were founded in 1763. Its main attraction is a breadfruit tree that was brought to the island by Capt. William Bligh after he finally completed his voyage from Tahiti after surviving the infamous mutiny aboard the Bounty.
Island After Island
Young Island: Situated on this tiny island, just 200 yards off the southern shores of the mainland (St. Vincent) is the privately owned Young Island Resort. This 35 room luxury tropical island resort has been designated a national wildlife preserve. The resort is a haven for rest and relaxation but guests can take part in a range of watersports, sailing, hiking and other activities.
Bequia: Lying just a few miles south of St. Vincent. Bequia (pronounced BEK-way), the largest of the Grenadines islands has only one real town, Port Elizabeth; it’s a charming, sleepy port of call with a pedestrian footpath that stretches around most of the bay. Shops feature the works of model shipbuilders. Among the attractions are the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary and a number of galleries and artisans’ shops. The whaling heritage runs strong on Bequia. Islanders still bring in one or two whales a year using the traditional methods involving a sailboat and a hand-thrown harpoon.
Mustique: This renowned 1,400-acre private island in the Grenadines is known as a favorite hideaway for the world’s most discerning travelers. Scattered around the island are 74 extraordinary designer villas for rent, each with its own distinctive architecture and atmosphere. The Cotton House, the only hotel on the island, is an elegant West Indian-style plantation estate with 17 luxurious guest rooms, cottages and suites, 11 of which feature private plunge pools.
Canouan: Home of Grenadines Estate Golf Club; a challenging and exhilarating Jim Fazio 18 hole championship golf course with every hole overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Deemed “Best Golf Course” (Robb Report, June 2005).
Union Island with its colorful market and mountain peaks is the ideal place for provisioning your yacht. The island also is a great jump-off point for visiting the nearby Tobago Cays.
Tobago Cays: Justly famous for its protected waters is a favourite with yachters and has been identified as a national marine park. The waters of the Tobago Cays are populated with sea turtles which provide friendly swimming companions, making the experience of swimming in the Tobago Cays a magical and memorable one.
Mayreau: Just northeast of the Tobago Cays; this tiny 1.25 sq. miles island has scarcely 300 residents, but its lovely palm-lined beach, Saltwhistle Bay is dreamy and magical.
Palm Island: 135 acres of tropical paradise; this island houses the exclusive Palm Island Resort with its huge expanse of tropical white sand beach, shaded by cooling palms.
Petite St. Vincent: Home of the ultra exclusive Petit St. Vincent (PSV) Resort; the island offers the ultimate in barefoot elegance and unobtrusive attentive service.