11 Great Reasons to Visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Need to get away from it all? Here’s why St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the best sun destination you’ve never heard of.
Why Choose St. Vincent and the Grenadines?
Sometimes you just need to get away to a place where the only ice you’ll find is in your drink, and your daily commute requires nothing more than flip flops.
South of St. Lucia and west of Barbados sits the greatest escape you’ve never heard of. A chain of 32 islands—each with their own unique flavour—boasting clear skies, brilliant blue water and friendly faces. Here, you can relax the day away in a seaside hammock, or challenge yourself with outdoor activities, and, unlike so much of the Caribbean, you can do it all in relative peace and quiet, as it’s largely unspoiled by tourism.
Welcome to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
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St. Vincent Botanical Gardens
Kingstown is a picturesque capital city located at the south end of the big island of St. Vincent, not far from the airport. While you’re there, stroll through the lush St. Vincent Botanical Gardens, the second oldest such gardens in Western hemisphere. Since the mid 1700s, rare species of plants have been cultivated here, originally to provide medical herbs for the military forces stationed on the island. Be sure to meet the pretty multi-coloured St. Vincent Amazon parrots at the Nicholas Wildlife Aviary, located in the gardens. They’re considered a vulnerable species, and although rare, are hard to miss on account of their brilliant plumage. Don’t miss these other great tropical destinations for birdwatchers.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take on the rugged La Soufrière Cross Country Trail, which winds across St. Vincent for 15 kilometres. One of the highlights of the trail is the hike up the Soufrière volcano at the north end of the island, which last erupted in 1979. You’ll need a local guide for the punishing 6 kilometre trek (approximately two hours) from the Rabacca trailhead near Georgetown to the top of the volcano, but it’s well worth it for the breathtaking views of the island. Check out more of the world’s most gorgeous rock formations.
A short drive from Kingstown you’ll find Fort Charlotte, named after the wife of King George III, under whose rule the fort was completed in 1806. Built to defend against both French attacks and potential slave rebellions, the guns of the fort faced both out to sea and inwards towards the land. Although it housed as many as 600 troops at that time, the fort later saw use as a poorhouse, leper colony, prison and mental hospital. Standing an impressive 600 feet above sea level, it overlooks the capital’s harbour and provides stunning views of the surrounding area.
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If you’re a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean series then a visit to Wallilabou Anchorage—where several scenes from the films were shot—is a must. You can slip into pirate costume in the museum or simply take a stroll around the beautiful natural setting. Although most of the original sets were sadly destroyed in a storm, they’re in the process of being restored so you can follow in the (stumbling) footsteps of Jack Sparrow himself.
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Dark View Waterfalls
Not far from Wallilabou Anchorage you’ll find the Dark View Waterfalls. Stroll through the rainforest and over the bamboo bridge to the first waterfall, which has a natural pool for swimming and a viewing deck. If you’d like more of a challenge—and remembered to pack your runners—climb the rocky steps to the second waterfall above. Here are 15 more awe-inspiring natural wonders you’ve never heard of.
Young Island Resort
A five-minute boat ride south of St. Vincent will take you to Young Island, a 13-acre resort that is the stuff Caribbean dreams are made of. The 29 private cottages overlooking the sandy white beach boast thatched roofs and hammocks, and in some cases, your very own plunge pool. (Check out the world’s most amazing hotel pools.) After you’ve pinched yourself, take the trail to the other side of the island, where you can spy the 19th century Fort Duvernette across the water. There are 255 stairs to the top of the “rock fort,” and from there, you should just be able to see the canons—and marvel at how they ever got them up there.
Princess Margaret Beach
Bequia (pronounced “beck-way”) Island is home to Princess Margaret Beach—named after Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister—one of the loveliest stretches of shoreline in the Grenadines. Go for a swim and soak in the view of the yachts anchored in the bay, then grab lunch at Jack’s Beach Bar. There, you’ll find good food, friendly staff and the legendary Mama’s Hot Sauce, made in-house and an unforgettable attraction in itself. These are the best beaches in the world for seashells.
Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary
Also on Bequia is the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, a refuge for Hawksbill sea turtles. Orton “Brother” King founded the sanctuary in 1995 having spent decades admiring the creatures as a skin diver, and has since released more than 800 turtles back into the ocean. If you arrive in mid-summer, you’ll see hatchlings that are just a few weeks old. Be sure to call ahead and see if Mr. King is there: Hearing him tell the story of the founding of the sanctuary is worth the price of admission alone. Explore more destinations where you can help sea turtles.
Mandarin Oriental Canouan
If you’ve got champagne wishes and caviar dreams—and have the cash to back them up—then the Mandarin Oriental Canouan (pronounced “Canawan”) is for you. Set on five square miles of a pink sand paradise, the 1,200-acre gated resort delivers unabashed luxury. After working up a sweat hiking, biking, golfing or playing tennis, have your butler book you a massage at the treatment spa overlooking the sea. Then again, you could just soak those aching muscles in your massive bathtub with a view, watching the clouds go by from the comfort of your room. Here are more of the world’s most luxurious hotels.
Snorkel in the Reefs
Once you’ve rejuvenated, book a trip with Fantasea Tours to snorkel through a garden made of coral along the reefs of the Tobago Cays. It’s an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with fish and sea turtles. Then, relax on the beach of the picturesque Salt Whistle Bay.
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Palm Island Resort
Ever dreamed of having an entire desert island to yourself? Palm Island Resort is as close to that fantasy as you’ll find in the Caribbean—albeit with all the mod cons, of course. This 135-acre piece of paradise features a tranquil spa, two restaurants and bicycles you can borrow to explore the island. You can even watch a movie on the beach under the stars. If you want more adventure, book their sailboat, the Pink Lady, and have a private picnic on Île Morpion, a small sandbar in the middle of the Caribbean Sea that’s equipped with its own palm umbrella.
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