The beauty of Young Island attracts celebrities and foodies. // © 2012 Young Island Resort
St. Vincent and the Grenadines are a mystery to many. But for Caribbean connoisseurs, there’s been buzz surrounding this locale, and agents are being asked to get the skinny on these off-the-grid islands.
To access the region, there are a few options — flying to Barbados and transferring to the smaller Grenadine islands via smaller airlines such as SVG Air or Liat, or flying into Puerto Rico or St. Lucia and taking a puddle jumper. Many seem to opt for the former choice, as more flights are available. However, in 2013, St. Vincent will be unveiling its new Argyle International Airport, which will eliminate multiple flights and make the region more accessible. While the added airlift may make the archipelago easier to visit, it doesn’t appear that the low-key charm of the Grenadines, of which only 9 of the 32 islands are inhabited, will be lost.
The all-inclusive Buccament Bay on St. Vincent has caused a stir on the sleepy island as it’s the first resort of its kind. Not your average one-price-pays-for-all outfitter, this deluxe property is made up of individual villas that come with private plunge pools, sitting rooms and expansive bathrooms. The resort is quite spread out, so free beach cruiser bikes are available, or guests can use the golf cart shuttles that traverse around-the-clock.
Eight restaurants offer a variety of cuisine, from Italian to Indian, with a gelato bar on hand as well. Those feeling peckish while lounging on the beach can grab barbecue ribs, shrimp and cold salads from the beach grill and sip on rum punches from the bar. When clients aren’t spending time in gastronomic heaven, they can indulge in a variety of activities from theater to sports.
Fans of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise may know that the Grenadines served as the location for several of the movies. From St. Vincent, take a tiny skiff to Young Island, where Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom stayed and mingled with guests. The tiny resort is modest in price and decor, but is rich in cuisine, especially when it comes to the mammoth assortment of bread, including coconut, banana and the wildly popular cinnamon swirl, all the better slathered with copious amounts of butter.
Mustique Island is the spot for well-heeled vacations. Its gorgeous villas are owned by the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Mick Jagger. Mustique is a stomping ground for the well-to-do, who enjoy being able to let their hair down by driving “mules” (aka golf carts) to island institutions such as Basil’s Bar, a hangout for cocktails, celeb-named cuisine and dancing after dark. But despite multimillion-dollar homes, the vibe is laidback. So clients can easily take a day trip to Basil’s or lunch at the swank Cotton House resort. But, if budget allows, have them stay on property, which is more affordable during the summer season when prices are lower.
Another Grenadine island getting a good deal of attention lately is Canouan, which is also a short flight from St. Vincent and home to just 1,000 permanent residents. It is also home to the modest Tamarind Beach Resort, revamped in 2010. Refreshingly low-key (especially with the five-star Raffles Resort Canouan as a former neighbor) and directly on the beach, the 39-room property prides itself on its cuisine — especially its authentic Italian pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven, courtesy of Tamarind’s Italian managers. Excursions are easily booked at the front desk, from a simple drive around the island to snorkeling on Twin Bay Beach. Or, as many will find when visiting these islands, the draw will be to do much of nothing at all, except watch the turquoise blue sea turn emerald green. And that can take hours, thank goodness.