St. Vincent and the Grenadines offers clients low-key luxury. // © 2016 St. Vincent and the Grenadines/Edson Reece Photography
Feature image (above): Bequia, the second largest island of the Grenadines, is known for its beaches and maritime history. // © 2016 St. Vincent and the Grenadines/Edson Reece Photography
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) keeps a lower profile than Caribbean powerhouse destinations such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Part of this is its emphasis on low-key luxury travel. SVG is made up of 32 islands; nine of them are inhabited. St. Vincent is by far the largest and is the site of E. T. Joshua Airport. Flights from the U.S. are available via Caribbean Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and U.S. Airways.
Colonial SVG changed hands back and forth between the French and the British. Today, English is the official language, although wherever clients go, they’ll hear snippets of Vincentian Creole.
A laid-back week in SVG could involve clients alternating days of relaxing at their chosen resort with venturing out on an island-hopping excursion.
A ferry service connects the larger islands of SVG, such as St. Vincent, Canouan, Bequia and Mustique, making it easy to island-hop during a vacation. Mustique, Palm Island and Petit St. Vincent are beautiful destinations in their own right, but might be more suitable for a luxury Caribbean getaway, instead of an island-hopping excursion.
Bequia is the second largest island of the Grenadines and makes a fine day trip. Clients can blend time on the beach with exploring the historical sites of the main town, Port Elizabeth. The ferry ride from St. Vincent takes about 60 minutes. Sites close to town include Bequia Maritime Museum, which chronicles island boat building as well as the island’s whaling history. Fort Hamilton was constructed in the 18th century, and strolling the ruins affords panoramic sea views. Popular beaches include Princess Margaret Beach, Friendship Bay Beach and Spring Bay Beach. Lower Bay Beach has prime snorkeling conditions.
The island of Canouan, about 25 miles south of St. Vincent, is a tiny treasure at just 3.5 miles long. Most day visitors come for the white-sand beaches and top snorkeling conditions afforded by a barrier reef. Beach lovers can head to South Glossy Bay, where they can also enjoy views of the southern Grenadines. The main town, where ferries dock, is Charlestown, which is a convenient place to hire a taxi. The northern half of the island is privately owned, making the island compact enough to explore by foot. Golfers will want to book tee times at the island’s Jim Fazio-designed, 18-hole championship golf course.
Kingstown, St. Vincent
The capital of St. Vincent is the town of Kingstown, which is steeped in history and features cobblestone streets and colonial buildings. The harbor town is often referred to as the “City of Arches” due to its historic churches. Standouts include two from the 19th century: the Georgian-style St. George's Anglican Cathedral and St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral, with its Gothic spires and Romanesque arches. Kingstown’s St. Vincent Botanical Gardens is considered the oldest botanical garden in the West Indies. The gardens are spread out over 20 acres and are studded with tropical flowers and trees. For great views of the surrounding islands, suggest clients visit historic Fort Charlotte, which was built in 1806 and offers beautiful vistas from atop a 660-foot ridge.
For that castaway feeling, clients can take a day trip to the Tobago Cays, a cluster of five uninhabited islands in the southern Grenadines. One of the major reasons to make the trip is to snorkel in Tobago Cays Marine Park, where swimmers are likely to catch a glimpse of sea turtles. The Tobago Cays is also a popular destination for yachties and scuba divers. Film buffs will want to head over to Petit Tabac cay, where an important scene from the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie was filmed — the scene where Captain Jack Sparrow is marooned with Elizabeth, and where she horrifies Jack when she sets his rum stash ablaze.