Welcome to St. Vincent
Welcome to St. Vincent. Some images stay with you in life. One of them is sailing into St. Vincent and the Grenadines to drop anchor in a small fishing village like a scene from movie. Perhaps your taste runs more to a secluded bay with turquoise seas and powder white sand beaches. Or maybe its a lagoon with the harmonious sound of tropical birds as your welcome chorus. With easy day sails between 32 islands, your desired level of activity or inactivity is always in sight, and in reach.
Whether aboard your own private yacht or charter yacht, enjoy the adventure of a lifetime in a country that often wins sailing awards for its natural anchorages, protected cays, and managed moorings make. Creative loafing, or “Liming”, as the locals prefer to call it, never had it so good in the Lesser Antilles.
The islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are located between St. Lucia (24 miles to the north), Grenada (75 miles to the south) and Barbados (109 miles to the east). A quarter of the nation lives in Kingstown, the capital city in St. Vincent, which also has the distinction of hosting La Soufriere, a 4,000-foot tall active volcano revered by hikers.
Some of the most fertile soil in the world can be found in the Mesopotamia Valley of St Vincent. That earthen bounty enabled a plantation economy based on bananas, coconuts and other cash crops. That fertile ground also yielded breadfruit, now the symbol of St. Vincent heritage. Its uniquely shaped leaf can be seen engraved into flower pots along the bay front of Kingstown windows. The breadfruit itself forms part of the country’s national dish of roasted breadfruit and fried jack fish.
The history of breadfruit in these equal parts intrigue and horror. On January 23, 1793 Captain William Bligh anchored the HMS Providence off Kingstown and completed his ambition of bringing breadfruit plants here from Tahiti. His first attempt resulted in the Mutiny on the Bounty.
After being adrift for 47 days in the Pacific, Captain Bligh returned and, it is said, one of the trees now growing in St. Vincent Botanical Gardens is a descendant of his original breadfruit plants. Breadfruits were also an economical source of food used by plantation owners during slavery. The mostly Afro-Caribbean population has transformed that mixed history into glorious revelry during the Breadfruit Festival each August.
There’s just enough resorts, active beaches, quiet beaches, historic sites, eco-tours and the magnificent botanical garden to keep couples occupied and in the mood on the big island of St. Vincent. As a bonus, you get to view the Grenadines islands from most hilltops.
If you prefer a slower pace, not an inactive one, ferry over to Bequia, the 2nd most populated island at only 4900 residents. It strikes a balance between artsy Euro-sailing, restaurants and resorts to the local flavor of Vincentian fishing merchants in Port Elizabeth, model boat shops, Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary and 18th century Fort Hamilton.
If you prefer anonymity like celebrities dodging, rent a villa on the smaller inhabited islands of Mustique, Canouan, Union Island, Mayreau, Palm Island and Petit St. Vincent … Just don’t think you can dart over to Young Island, simply because you saw it from the coast of Kingstown. Its private, only accessible by booking a room at Young Island Resort or resident invitation.
Perhaps the most loved islands by visitors are the Tobago Cays — a horseshoe-shaped reef shielding five deserted islets renowned as a sailing, coral reefs for diving and snorkeling mecca. If that’s your preferred form of Liming, this Marine Conservation Area has to be on your itinerary.
Okay, so you want more diverse dining options. Not to worry! Fresh fish dishes include mahi mahi, tuna, bonito, kingfish, snapper, flying fish and marlin, when in season. Kingstown’s Friday and Saturday market is a great place to sample local produce. Don’t leave St. Vincent without having sampling a Hairoun Beer or Sunset Rum. To the delight of many, both are produced in St. Vincent!
Today, the economy of St. Vincent is more dependent on tourism, especially eco-tourism through a rainforest to the volcano and exploring lightly inhabited islands. Yet overall, these wonderful islands feel like a “less beaten path” compared to others in the Eastern Caribbean. For how long?