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Overview

The name St Vincent, and 'the Grenadines' create visions of an exotic, paradise island life. And this would be quite true. An island that is hidden deep in the Caribbean Sea that sees very little tourism; crystal clear powder white beaches on almost deserted islands, immaculate water gently lapping the shore line and virtually no-one to be seen. No less than 32 islands dot the sea, providing total seclusion. St Vincent is the largest, the capital being Kingstown. Kingstown is a lively place which takes you back to colonial times with its cobbled streets and vibrant, fast moving atmosphere.

Once you get off the big island and into the Grenadines, it all changes. The traffic, hustle and bustle disappears and you’re left with is a smattering of tiny islands waiting to be explored. In Bequia, beaches stretch out before you and the pace of life slows to a crawl. Hideaway hotels are where you can escape from the world and (almost) live like a king or you can spend time on the island of Mustique.

These islands have enchanted sailors for centuries, and continue to do so. If you are happy to hitch a ride, the island-hopping opportunities are irresistible. These islands were once the realm of real pirates but now they are the stomping grounds of the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Top Visits

Canouan (cahn-oo-ahn)

Canouan is an interesting place, pleasing on the eye and rich in history. This stunningly beautiful hook shaped island has some of the most quaint, spotless beaches in the Grenadines and some of the most secluded and beautiful hideaways.

In the mid 90's, the Raffles Resort transformed the island started on the northern tip of Canouan. Raffles now occupies nearly half the island and is the ultimate luxury island hideaway.

Canouan is authentic in every sense with deserted beaches and locals that are wonderfully warm and welcoming.

Mustique

What can you say about Mustique other than ‘Wow!’? First take an island that is ultra stunningly beautiful, amazing beaches and everything else you expect to find in paradise, and then add hotels and villas that are literally jaw dropping. Mustique is a playground for the affluent and quite simply, luxury awaits those who can afford it.

There are 70 private villas and houses on the island that will accommodate you insupreme lavishness. The beaches are unbeatable and the small 5 mile long island has everything you could wish for in a hideaway location.

Getting There

By Sea

The MV Jasper is a boat service that runs between Union Island and Carriacou, Grenada.

By Air

International passengers first fly into a neighboring island and then must change to a small plane for the final part of their journey.

St Vincent is th emain entry point.

Getting Around

By Boat

The Bequia Express and the MV Admiral ferries run between Bequia and St Vincent. Between the two companies there are numerous daily sailings on near identical boats.

By Car & Motorcycle

Rentals typically cost from US$50 a day for a car and from US$65 for a 4WD. Seventy-five free miles are commonly allowed, and a fee of EC$1 is charged for each additional mile driven. Note that collision-damage insurance is not a common concept, and if you get into an accident you’re likely to be liable for damages.

There are car-rental agencies on St Vincent and Bequia, but most of the Grenadine islands have no car rentals at all. On some islands there are no roads.

By Bus & Tram

Buses are a good way to get around St Vincent; you can catch a bus on Bequia and on Union Island, but these islands are so small that buses are usually redundant.

The buses themselves are little more than minivans that are often jammed to a capacity not seen in the outside world. You can expect to get to know at least 20 fellow commuters as you are jammed, packed and squeezed into every available space in the bus. There’s a conductor on board who handles the cash and assigns the seats. When you get to your stop, either tap on the roof or try to get the attention of the conductor over the thumping music and they’ll stop for you just about anywhere.

By Taxi

Taxis are abundant on most islands and affordable for shorter trips. Agree on a fare before departure.

By Bicycle

Bikes are hard to come by; perhaps it’s because of the hilly lanscape, crazy drivers and compact nature of the islands. On St Vincent there is at least one place to get your bike, and you can also hire bikes on Bequia.

History

St Vincent is not as remote as it appears and has actually been inhabited for some 7000 years. Originally it was sparsely populated by the hunter-gatherer Siboneys. Around 2000 years ago they were replaced by the Arawaks, who moved up from present-day Venezuela. The raiding Caribs eventually took over from the Arawaks, but held some of the islands for as little as 100 years before the arrival of the heavily armed Spanish. Fierce Carib resistance kept the Europeans out of St Vincent long after most other Caribbean islands had fallen to the colonists. This was in part because many Caribs from other islands fled to St Vincent after their home islands were conquered – it was the Caribs’ last stand. On the island, Caribs intermarried with Africans who had escaped from slavery, and the new mixed generation split along ethnic lines as Black Caribs and Yellow Caribs.

In 1783, after a century of competing claims between the British and French, the Treaty of Paris placed St Vincent under British control. Indigenous rebellions followed and British troops rounded up the ‘insurgents’ forcibly repatriating around 5000 Black Caribs to Roatán island, Honduras. With the native opposition gone, the planters capitalized on the fertile volcanic soil and achieved the success that had eluded them. However, it didn’t last long: two eruptions of La Soufrière, the abolition of slavery in 1834 and a few powerful hurricanes stood in the way of their colonial dreams. For the remainder of the British rule the economy stagnated; plantations were eventually broken up and land was redistributed to small-scale farmers.

In 1969, in association with the British, St Vincent became a self-governing state and on October 27, 1979 it was cobbled together with the Grenadines as an independent member of the Commonwealth. Tourism, for all its good and bad, has helped to reinvigorate the once flagging economy, although unemployment is still a major issue.

 

 

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