With 32 islands scattered across the southeastern Caribbean Sea, figuring how to get around St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not easy — until you use our little transportation guide here.
We’ve been to St. Vincent and the Grenadines twice now, and each time we learn more about how to get around and best access the islands, as well as their interior wonders.
Forget about renting a car. Not only is that the most dangerous, expensive and ludicrous way to explore the islands, but there are only a couple of islands with enough roads to justify having a car, and I think only one, the main island of St. Vincent, actually rents them. Of course, once you’ve seen St. Vincent’s twisty, sometimes single-lane roads, and the driving style down here, you’ll drop this option anyway.
How to get around St. Vincent and the Grenadines using public transport
Public transportation is pretty much only available on the main island of St. Vincent. They have buses … well, something like buses. We are not talking about a fleet of similarly painted large buses that pick-up and drop-off passengers at officially marked stops, have a comprehensible pricing table, and indicate their route in bold letters on the front.
Instead, think small vans, designed to seat 10 (but mostly packed with 15), in all kinds of colors (some with artful graffiti showcasing the driver’s nickname), driven by a (sometimes suicidal) pilot, who (most of the times) is also the DJ and pumps out locally produced Soca music and beats from his stereo at a volume level that will make your ears bleed.
If you don’t mind this eardrum-rupturing loud music and the jam-packed seats, hailing one of these buses down is a great and cheap way to explore the more popular parts of the island. You’ll literally “get up close” with the locals, save big bucks compared to a private taxi and get a lot of local flavor in the “mix”.
We love it, and make sure to take at least one ride on these buses every time we’re down here. We were actually disappointed this time around because our driver played the local radio station (instead of his own selection of jams) at a much too comfortably low level. A good indication to see if your bus offers the kind of noise level you are looking for is whether you can already hear it before you see it.
How to get around St. Vincent and the Grenadines in ferries
As St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an island nation, you would expect there to be countless ferries between its islands and neighboring nations; not the case. There is no ferry link to St. Lucia in the north or Grenada in the south and only a few routes connect the main islands of St. Vincent, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, and Union Island.
There are car-ferries, cargo ships and passenger-only ferries; depending on which route you take. The journeys can take up to four hours (St. Vincent to Union Island), and you’ll need some sturdy sea legs, as even the short passages can be pretty rough (we saw a girl almost get sick on a simple 50 min passage from St. Vincent to Bequia).
Be sure to check the ferry times with your local accommodation or somebody who lives there, as they are subject to change. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines tourism board provided a general overview on their Getting Around By Sea page and the Port Authority is also trying to provide a ferry schedule, but they are not 100 percent accurate so you’ll need to confirm it with a second source.
We for example only by chance learnt our ferry was cancelled by talking to the captain who was lounging on the dock the day before. Though once you know the correct departure times, make sure you are there on time — the ferries are probably the only thing here that runs on “real” time (not island time).
All that being said, ferries don’t require all the hassle of airplane travel, let you bring as much stuff and liquids as you want, give you an interesting view of the region by sea, and provide an opportunity to better connect with the local scene.
How to get around St. Vincent and the Grenadines in airplanes
Most people who visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines will fly in, as there’s no direct flight to St. Vincent yet. However, an international airport in St. Vincent is under construction and officials claim it will open soon. That being said, it has already been delayed for a number of years, so for now flights have to go through neighboring nations, like e.g., Barbados or St. Lucia.
From there, small airplanes will take you to St. Vincent, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, or Union Island operated by LIAT, SVG Air, TIA 2000, and Mustique Airways. The flights are usually just a few minutes, but cost a fortune. Like the ferries, schedules are hard to nail down. Your best bet is to contact the airline directly (only LIAT can be found on international search engines), but even that’s not fool proof.
How to get around St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a sailboat
If you have followed our blog for some time, you probably saw that we are keen sailors. Whenever we visit a place that offers sailing, we try to get on a boat. It’s fun, flexible, relaxed, and lets you explore places where nobody else can go. If you bring a couple of friends along, renting a sailboat is sometimes cheaper than on-land accommodations (especially if you catch your own fish and cook on board). Check out our post “Why sailing rocks and gets you off the beaten path” to find out all the great reasons we love sailing for.
With 32 islands and cays, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is perfect to explore by sailboat. There are countless amazing bays and beautiful, uninhabited islands like the Tobago Cays (where you can swim with sea turtles) that are only accessible by boat, and there is nothing better than sleeping on board and waking up in paradise.
If you don’t know yet how to sail, you can either charter a sailboat with a skipper, or book a trip on a tour boat.
Now that you know how to get around St. Vincent and the Grenadines, you only need to decide which islands you want to visit. For this, we created a guide to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. To already give you an idea of what awaits you: think turquoise blue lagoons, empty white and black sand beaches, active volcanoes, rare parrots, lush green rainforest and bonfires with lobster barbeques by the beach and you will have a rough idea.
Are you dreaming of paradise? It’s not a dream down here, it’s very real!