|Currency: East Caribbean Dollar (XCD)||Eco-Lodges|
|Size: 389 km²/150 mi²||Favorite Restaurants|
|Landscape: rainforest, beaches, islands, mountains|
|Activities: hiking, diving, snorkeling, wildlife watching, swimming, sailing|
St. Vincent and the Grenadines lie in the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles. The nation includes the main island of St. Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, which are a chain of small islands stretching south from St. Vincent all the way to Grenada.
Due to its volcanic history, the main island is very mountainous. The windward side is very rocky and steep, while the leeward side has more sandy beaches and bays. Recent fame came to the island when it was chosen as a backdrop for numerous scenes for the film Pirates of the Caribbean. In contrast, the Grenadines are rather flat islands, as is true of most Caribbean islands.
Before its independence, St. Vincent and the Grenadines was a British colony, although it was also occupied by the French. Similar to Dominica, there was a strong indigenous presence and resistance here until the 18th century. There are still some Island Caribs present, although most of the population is now a blend of British and African ancestry, due to the country’s history of colonialism and slavery.
TOP SPOTS IN ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Fit hikers can reach La Soufriere Volcano from either the windward or the leeward coast. The trail meanders through lush rainforest and misty cloud forest before reaching a blustery summit bathed in clouds and dew. The peak of La Soufriere, is a magical haunting place where brief glimpses through the tumultuous vapors provide stunning views of the island’s magical geography and the majestic blue-green Caribbean Sea below.
Dark View Falls is an easy to access, beautiful cascade on St. Vincent’s western coast. The falls are accessed by a small bamboo bridge and are actually three falls in a chain. The top most fall is only accessible via a rather dangerous scramble up a sheer cliff, so most people only visit the lower two falls. The lowest fall has a nice man-made pool for swimming and a shallow, natural pool. The middle fall is also not deep enough to swim, but you can relax under the tumbling cascade and get a rigorous and refreshing back massage.
The Cumberland Nature trail is a wonderful 2-hour hike through the Cumberland Valley, a mix of rainforest and “farmed” land on the island’s western shore. The farmed land is nowadays actually a forest that has been planted with exotic trees, and is almost indistinguishable from the natural jungle. There are not a lot of four-legged creatures in St. Vincent, but with a good pair of binoculars you can spot a number of interesting bird species like the endemic St. Vincent parrot, whistling warbler, short tail swift, brown trembler, lesser Antillean tanager, and Grenada fly catcher.
The Vermont Nature trail is on the western shore of the island. This hike is very similar to the Cumberland Nature Trail in flora and fauna. The beautiful, lush forest is also a really good place to catch a glimpse of the elusive St. Vincent Parrot. Some other highlights are the huge trees and roots that you can find along the way (some have huge hollows in them and let you peek through their interior up into the sky).
Hiking the Vermont Nature Trail in search of the elusive St. Vincent Parrot
Bequia is a hidden gem in the Caribbean with a very special vibe. What makes this island so special is the way in which the locals and the expats seem to get along here, and the lack of major hotel developments. Bequia has a wonderful, small main town with a beautiful promenade where people meet, make arrangements for sailing trips and let the day pass by. A great little foot path goes along the main bay and takes you to a couple of the nicest beaches in the region.
Bequia — the Caribbean Island I could call home
This small archipelago comprises five small uninhabited islands and is a favorite with sailors. Declared a marine park, the Tobago Cays has crystal clear waters, a sandy-bottom lagoon and a large horseshoe reef. Visitors can spend their time snorkeling with sea turtles, diving at the reef or relaxing on the beach. The Tobago Cays are home to iguanas and tortoises, and at night the islands come alive with beach barbecues. The Tobago Cays is one of the last unspoiled Caribbean island paradises left and well worth visiting.