St Vincent & The Grenadines
Where the warm breezes blow
This uniquely beautiful
archipelago of islands in the Caribbean is the place to be to enjoy stress-free
sailing for short distances in gentle trade winds. In the Windward Islands, about
90 miles west of Barbados, the Grenadines number some 32 islands and cays (pron:
'keys', it means little islands) stretching south from St. Vincent to Grenada.
Only 8 of these are populated and 5 have small Airports: St Vincent, Bequia, Mustique,
Canouan and Union. The rest are bird sanctuaries and havens for those who like
peace and quiet - mixed with the occasional 'jump-up'. If you don't know what
that is, you soon will! Fun. All the islands are volcanic, with deep
bays and inlets where clear aquamarine waters lap on fine white-sand beaches.
The uninhabited islets and rocks include the famous, breathtaking, Tobago Cays.
All have wonderful, soft, white coral sand beaches and clear water, ideal for
snorkelling, diving and, of course, are great places to drop anchor after a day's
sailing. A visit to these islands is like stepping into the past, where one's
measure of time has little to do with clocks.
The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are sailors, almost to a man. You will be in good company here.
The largest island, St. Vincent has rugged mountainous terrain, rain forest and many uninhabited beaches and inlets. Yet the island is sufficiently small (18 miles long and 11 miles wide) that you are never from civilisation with a friendly face. This most fertile of Caribbean islands, with rich volcanic soil, provides enough fruit and vegetables to make its inhabitants self-sufficient. The Soufriere volcano to the north of the island is itself a wonderful attraction for if you're feeling energetic.
From Kingstown, the capital, roads wind their way north along both the Leeward and Windward coasts. The latter is rugged, with heavy surf, rocky shores and dramatic landscapes; the Leeward coast offers spectacular scenery and most of the island's beaches. The most beautiful beaches in St. Vincent lie along the south coast, some four miles from Kingstown.
Here, amid fertile, sleepy inlets, you'll find Blue Lagoon - every bit as beautiful and romantic as it sounds - only a few minutes drive from the (less than international!) airport. Here is your gateway to the Grenadines, which meander south before you and several of which are close enough to see from the shore - the nearest, Bequia, is only 9 miles away.
Largest and closest of the Grenadines chain is Bequia (pron: bek-way). Picturesque Admiralty Bay was famous for its 17th Century pirates and the British, French and Spanish Navies all fought over it. Here are white beaches and lazy days under a tropical sun and moon - Bequia is an island for the connoisseur. Very few islands, anywhere, offer such a tranquillity and beauty for an sailor's landfall. Just 7 miles long, Bequia is a paradise complete with quiet lagoons, gorgeous reefs and long stretches of near-deserted beaches. Small and beautifully lush, with an intimate quiet side, Bequia has its own unique culture. The atmosphere is very West Indian (for which read 'laid-back') with inhabitants who enjoy a comfortable living and are usually friendly and polite.
Sunsets, which are breathtaking, usually signal the local fishermen, yachtsmen and tourists to the friendly bars. Once or twice a week there might be a "jump-up" - where locals and tourists mingle for a time of dance and festivity. The food is exceptionally good and fresh - lobster, chicken and fish steaks, tropical fruits, fried plantains, coconut and guava pudding are fresh each day.
A short distance away is Mustique, only 3 miles long by 1 1/2 miles wide and about a 1 1/2 to 2 hour sail from St. Vincent (12 miles). Some twenty five years ago, the island was completely unspoiled, then it was bought and gradually developed. Since then, some of the world's most sophisticated beachcombers of society and fame, were lured to this island gem by safe, warm waters, varied terrain and astonishing views. Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, Princess Margaret are just a few of the fortunate few who have lived there.
Canouan is 3-4 hours sailing time from St. Vincent (25 miles). A crescent-shaped island surrounded by wide shallows and coral - A scuba diver's dream. The islanders are mainly fisherman and small farmers. However, with a wealth of excellent beaches and unspoiled scenery, Canouan is attracting significant hotel development.
Mayreau has about 40 to 60 inhabitants - again mainly fishermen and small farmers. The island is privately owned and modest plans for development are projected. As with most places down here, the island is only accessible by boat and is 4-5 hours from St. Vincent (35 miles).
Union Island is about 4 1/2 hours under sail from St. Vincent (40 miles). The island is about 3 miles long and 1 mile wide. It has a dramatic profile of ridges and peaks - the highest is Mount Parnassus some 900 feet above sea level, yet the island is tiny - a little Tahiti. Because Union Island is the most southern of the island nation (St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a nation state), it's the home of the southern Grenadines headquarters.
From union Island Palm Island is just 400 yards offshore - surrounded to the north, south and east by coral reefs - so access is limited to a launch from Union Island, or your own boat, of course. Of its four beaches, Casvarina, is reputed to be one of the finest in the Grenadines.
Petit St. Vincent is, again, about 5 miles offshore Union. Only 113 acres, this island resort is privately owned and offers private cottage-type accommodation and a wide range of sporting and marine activities. It is almost surrounded by white sand beaches and has an excellent yacht anchorage. The island also sponsors yacht races over the American Thanksgiving weekend, attracting yachtsmen from all over the world.