St. Vincent and the Grenadines


One of the main British Windward Islands, tourist are only just beginning to discover St. Vincent and her sisters, the Grenadines. Until recently, this chain of sleepy islands has been a well kept secret from most of the world.


Visitors choose St. Vincent for its lush beauty and The Grenadines for some of the best sailing waters in the Caribbean. Don't come for nightlife, grand cuisine, or spectacular beaches. For white-sand beaches, head to Kingstown on St. Vincent - most of the other beaches on the island are black sand - but the island still offers other attractions worth exploring.


Warm welcomes and British customs await you here, along with a distinct West Indian flair.

 

South of St. Vincent, the small chain of islands called The Grenadines extends for more than 40 miles, with romantic names such as Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, as well as Petite St. Vincent, Union and Palm Islands, and Mayreau. Some of which are so small and undeveloped, they are uninhabitable, but make wonderful outings for beachcombing and exploring.


The Grenadines collectively add up to just 30 square miles. These small specks of land offer white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and their own unique personality.


ISLANDS OF THE GRENADINES

BEQUIA:

Lying just nine miles to the south of St. Vincent, Bequia is the largest of the Grenadine islands - a compact seven square miles. Her history has been deeply entwined with the sea for generations. The age-old traditions of boat-building, fishing and whaling are still evident.

MUSTIQUE:

The island, 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide at its widest point, is hilly, with a large plain in the north and is essentially composed of seven valleys each with a white sand beach and wooded hills that rise to a height of 495 feet.

CANOUAN:

Set in the middle of the Grenadine archipelago, Canouan is an island of only 5 square miles.

MAYREAU:

Mayreau lies west of the Tobago Cays. It is the smallest (1½ square miles) of the inhabited Grenadine islands, with a population of two hundred and fifty-four people. Mayreau is accessible only by boat. The island is rimmed by magnificent sweeping white sandy beaches perfect for sailing and snorkeling.

TOBAGO CAYES:

The huge Horseshoe Reef that protects these five deserted islets, with their dazzling, palm-studded shorelines, provides some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. The brilliant powdery, white sand, the colored waters shaded in unimaginable blues and the neon marine life beneath give true meaning to the "stop-the-world-l-want-to-get-off' Caribbean fantasy.

The Cays have been declared a wildlife reserve by the government and all visitors are urged to preserve and protect this unique natural resource. No fishing, jet skis, or anchoring of dinghies allowed.

Petit Rameau features a beach on the south side of the cay, as does Barabel, which lies southeast of Petit Rameau. Petit Bateau provides visitors a shaded beach to the north and another beach on its east side. This easterly beach is the best choice for beginning snorkelers as it has calm shallow water. More experienced snorkelers will be delighted by the waters surrounding Horseshoe Reef, but may find it occasionally choppy.

The smallest and southernmost cay, Jamesby, features on its eastern side one of the best beaches of the group. Petit Tabac where Johnny Depp was marooned as Sparrow in Disney's blockbuster "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl", is the most inaccessible with a narrow entrance at the southwestern tip. This crescent shaped islet is covered in coconut trees planted by the late John Caldwell (a.k.a. Johnny Coconut), formerly of Palm Island and his efforts have been continued by Glenroy Adams of Grenadines Dive, a devoted conservationist and a good choice for scuba diving in the area.

PETIT ST. VINCENT:

Petit St. Vincent, or PSV, as it is often called, is one of the world's most enchanting hideaways. Over its varied terrain (113-acres) twenty-two private cottages are scattered some on hillsides, some set into the sides of cliffs, some right on the beach - all absolutely heavenly. For most people the appeal of PSV is what it "does not have"- no telephones or television, no air-conditioning, no casinos or cabarets. Not even room keys.

When you want nothing so much as to be alone, you simply send up the red flag on the bamboo pole outside your cottage and you are instantly furnished with that most valuable of commodities  exclusive privacy. On the other hand, hoist a yellow flag and the staff are at your service, whether it's a picnic lunch served on the beach, or a night cap in your villa.

There is plenty to keep the active people busy, and hammocks have been strategically placed all along the beaches for those who just want to unwind and relax. In the interest of guests' sought after privacy, access by non-guests is limited to the main building which houses the bar, restaurant and boutique. Dinner is by reservation only.

UNION ISLAND:

Union Island is located midway between Grenada and St. Vincent and is equidistant from Barbados, Trinidad and Martinique. Clifton Harbour is a small, busy port and the centre of the day- chartering industry.

Snorkelers will find good conditions on Lagoon Reef, which protects most of the southern coast of the island, especially around Frigate Island, just offshore from Ashton.

Sun, sea and sand lovers will enjoy Chatham Bay on the west coast (it is also a protected anchorage) and Bloody Bay, on the northwest coast, with its captivating view and long sandy beach, Big Sands is a crescent-shaped beach on the east coast and is ideal for surfing. Richmond Bay on the north coast is shallow and great for children.

What to Expect on St. Vincent and the Grenadines

 

BANKS:

  • Normal banking hours are Monday through Thursday from 8.OOam-1.OO pm, although some banks remain open until 3.OOpm. On Fridays, most banks re-open from 3.OOpm-5.OOpm.
  • ATM machines are available at various banks, check your specific island for details.
  • Traveller’s cheques and foreign currencies can be exchanged with ease.

CURRENCY:

  • The currency of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$).
  • Notes are issued in denominations of $100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2.
  • Coins are issued in denominations of $1 and 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents.
  • The exchange rate is tied to the US dollar at a rate of $2.68.
  • Major credit cards are widely accepted in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

CLIMATE:

  • The average yearly temperature is 81° F (21 C). The coolest months are between November and February.
  • During the rainy season, May through October, rain is frequent in the mountains of St. Vincent with the annual average rainfall being 150 inches inland and 80 inches on the coast.

DEPARTURE TAX:

  • A Passenger Departure Tax of EC$40.00 must be paid at the airport when departing St. Vincent and the Grenadines by air.

DRINKING WATER:

  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines has an abundant supply of potable water as the level of rainfall is high; however, bottled water is widely available.
  • DRIVING LICENSE: 
    British rules apply, so please drive on the left and be extra careful. A temporary driving license, costing EC$50, must be purchased at a police station or Licensing Authority, with the presentation of a valid overseas driver’s license. If you have an International Driving Permit you must get it stamped at the central police station.

ELECTRICITY:

  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a reliable supply of electricity.
  • Electricity is generally 220/240 volt, 50 cycle, except for Petit St. Vincent which has 110 volt, 60 cycle.
  • Most hotels have 110 volt shaver outlets.
  • The standard electrical plug has 3 rectangular pins so remember to pack an adapter.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:

  • All persons entering St Vincent & the Grenadines require valid passports, a return or onward ticket as well as sufficient funds to cover their stay for up to six months.
  • A return or onward ticket is required of all visitors.

TOURISM SEASONS:

  • The temperature hardly changes year round, however rainfall is a different matter.
  • July is the wettest month with an average of 26 days of measurable rainfall, while April, the driest month, averages just six days of rain.
  • January to May are the driest months but they're also the peak tourist season, meaning less availability in accommodations and higher prices.
  • Generally, the Grenadines tend to be drier than St Vincent.

VACCINATIONS:

  • No vaccinations or preventative medications are required for travel to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. However, we always suggest that you speak to your family physician for a personal recommendation.

WATER TEMPERATURES AND WETSUITS:

  • Water temperatures generally range between 78 – 80°F
  • Most people find wearing a 1mm – 3mm wetsuit keeps them comfortable.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines - "Top Side" Activities and Adventures

Below are just some of the activities and attractions that await you in St Vincent and the Grenadines. We will be happy to arrange any of these and more to complete your customized itinerary. Please contact us for more information.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a nation of many islands in the eastern Caribbean. The islands offer the visitor a unique vacation with plenty of variety. St. Vincent has a rugged mountain terrain, lush forests and a variety of uncluttered beaches, while the Grenadines provide a wealth of quiet bays, glorious beaches, and some of the best dive sites and sailing waters in the world.

All of the water activities that you would expect are available on these incredible islands, as well as shopping, sports, nature trails and many other pursuits. As the list is simply too long, we have provided some of the highlights that we feel are a simply “must see”. 

ECO ADVENTURES:


LA SOUFRIERE:

This is a massive active volcano that takes up the northern third of the island of St. Vincent. It rises majestically over 4000 feet (1,234 metres) and last erupted in April 1979. Its’ name comes from the french word soufre, which means sulphur. A guided tour (recommended) to La Soufriere volcano is a rigorous, uphill hike which takes you along the picturesque windward coast of the island to the crater, which can then continue down the west coast (along the Leeward side) terminating in the valley of Chateaubelair. This is an all day excursion.


MESOPOTAMIA/MARRIAQUA VALLEY:

This vast expanse of land is so luxuriant and evergreen with virtually every tropical crop growing in the rich fertile soils of St. Vincent. The Valley, viewed from a specific location on the island, offers a spectacular panoramic view of what is often referred as the “islands breadbasket” containing plots of bananas, nutmeg, cocoa, breadfruit, coconut and a multitude of root crops. The grand Bonhomme Mountain (318 ft) dominates the ridges that rises around the valley and a number of streams and rivers come together to flow over the rocks of the Yambou Gorge; in the small town of Mesopotamia (“Mespo”), before entering the sea on the east coast of the island.


MONTREAL GARDENS:

Located in the mountains above the Mesopotamia Valley, lies this estate blessed with the volcanic fertile soil and frequent rainfall. There you will find an array of exotic flowers, spices and plants interspersed with green foliage in an environment which is cool, misty and quiet. The gardens are opened to the public during the weekdays from 9 - 5 pm between the months of December and August.



THE BOTANICAL GARDENS:

The Botanical Gardens was founded in 1768 as a commercial breeding ground for plants brought from other parts of the world. It is believed to be the oldest such gardens in the Western Hemisphere. Here you will find intricate and rear species of plants, flowers and trees including a breadfruit tree from the original plant brought by Captain Bligh in 1793. There is also the national flower, The Soufriere Tree (Spachea Perforata) and the National Bird, (Amazona Guildingi).


TRINITY FALLS:

This waterfall is set in a deep volcanic canyon about two hours drive from Kingstown along the Leeward coast to Richmond. The 40-foot waterfall descends in three cascades into two circular pools, the second used for swimming. The Falls are said to be the most beautiful in St. Vincent.


VERMONT NATURE TRAIL:

This trail leads through the reserves of the tropical rain forest which is ideal for hiking and bird watching. The trail offers the opportunity to observe many species of wildlife, cultivated fields and hundreds of plant species.


HISTORICAL BUILDINGS


BLACK POINT TUNNEL:

This tunnel was constructed in 1815 by the British settlers and was considered a masterpiece of engineering skill. The tunnel is about 300 feet long and links Grand Sable with Byrea Bay.

 

FORT CHARLOTTE:

The fort was built in 1806 on Berkshire Hill 600 feet above sea level. This fortification, named after King George III’s wife, provides a magnificent view of the city of Kingstown and the Grenadines. The old barracks accommodate a museum with colourful history of the Black Caribs. The fort is also the home of the St. Vincent Signal Station which provides a 24 hour radio (VHF) monitoring system.


THE CATHEDRAL OF ASSUMPTION:

The Cathedral of the Assumption, built in 1823, is an extraordinary structure and gothic in style. It displays a unique combination of architectural styles such as Moorish, Romanesque, and Georgian. This mixture of architectural designs is attributed to various expansion and renovation works which occurred during the late 1800s and early 1940s.

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