Chances are good that you have heard of St. Lucia as a highly recommended travel destination in the Caribbean. Sail just 20 miles southwest and you’ll find yourself in the island country of St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Much less hyped. But no less beautiful.
SVG is a member of the British Commonwealth, since gaining its independence in 1979. St. Vincent is its largest island with many smaller islands of Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, Mustique, Prune (Palm) Island, Petit Saint Vincent Island, and Union Island, to name a few, that make up the Grenadines.
We flew into St. Vincent from Raleigh, NC, via Miami, FL. It was clear from a quick look out the plane window that the only flat part on the island is the landing strip, which according to our airport taxi driver, was made by flattening three hills.
Nothing is too far from each other in St. Vincent except that it is. Even though it is just 18 miles long and about 11 miles at its widest, the entire terrain is mountainous with curvy single-lane roads. Getting from one place to another takes much longer than one would expect.
We stayed at the Blue Lagoon and Marina in the Ratho Hill neighborhood. We had a direct view of the marina from the room balcony. I loved how it was always lively (in a good way). Devang and I are not boat people, but after seeing families come and go on their boats, we wouldn’t mind making some friends with a boat. ; )
The sunsets were absolutely amazing and we enjoyed them lazily with rum punch on our balcony. There was a pool, a small grocery market on the property, a beach shack just yards away, and two other restaurants on premise. Many hotels and resorts are located in Ratho Hill because it is quieter than other commercial parts of the island like Kingstown.
Walking around St. Vincent is not easy. (Here is my Instagram post about it). Not only is it hilly, but it also rains unexpectedly throughout the day. The main road has a sidewalk but speeding traffic and overgrown trees and bushes make certain areas a little hard to navigate. I wouldn’t feel comfortable pushing a stroller or walking here with our kids at the ages they are right now. It takes a little vigilance that’s all but it is quite worth it.
We walked A LOT and loved seeing the landscape up close. The brightly colored homes, the goats and chickens, the fruit trees, and so many other details that I am sure would have been missed had we always zoomed by in a car (for instance, while walking around, I didn’t see a single mailbox on any homes; later research suggested that one usually goes to the post office to retrieve their personal mail).
There is no shame in just watching sunrises and sunsets while in St. Vincent (preferably with rum punch or a Hairoun in hand). However, should you aspire to do more, there are many interesting adventures to fill your time including – a walk around the busy markets in Kingstown, a 2-minute ferry ride to Young Island for libations and a dip in the ocean, hiking the Soufrière volcano (4,048 feet) and waterfalls, a tour of the site where the movie Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed, Fort Charlotte, Rawacou Recreational Park, and ferry to Bequia and other islands.
We fit most of these activities in our time there, minus the movie site (because we are not big fans of the movie), and minus the hike to the volcano and the waterfalls (we didn’t have a full day to dedicate to this hike which is a 4-hour round-trip by car).
The food in St. Vincent is good but nothing to brag home about. Brunch buffet at French Veranda was quite good and included an open bar and a really good view. The dinner buffet at Blue Lagoon hotel is good too. Our best and cheapest meal came from Vee Jay’s in Kingstown, where the pink decor won me over even more than the food. Chill Spot came recommended as one of the best local bars to check out and we were not disappointed. Fig Tree in Bequia was spot on.
VEE JAY’S RESTAURANT, KINGSTOWN
FERRY TO YOUNG ISLAND
FERRY TO BEQUIA
Taking the public ferry to Bequia was perhaps one of our best decisions. Bequia is smaller, absolutely gorgeous, and easy to navigate around than St. Vincent. The beaches here win hands down too. When we revisit with the kids, I would imagine making Bequia our HQ. There are hiking trails that run along the ocean, lots of great restaurants, and a few fancy hotel options too.
I snuck away for a couple of hours one day to walk around the hills in St. Vincent and take pictures of the colorful houses.
COLORFUL HOMES OF ST. VINCENT
RAWACON RECREATIONAL PARK
Much to our chagrin, coffee is not part of the Vincentian culture, but somehow we survived. ha! We did find an excellent chocolatier however, called St. Vincent & the Grenadines Chocolate Co. While they don’t offer tours of their facilities yet, their chocolate is sold in pretty much all the grocery stores and shops, and is delicious. Makes for a good souvenir to bring home.
I love a good photo opp, and I feel like the entire time on St. Vincent, all I wanted to do was walk around and take pictures. Everything here is a combination of colorful, beautiful, loud, broken, unusual, and earthy. But because this is not a very big tourist destination, many times I felt like I was being intrusive with my fancy camera. So, I put it away, and in the words of John Mayer, I saw the world with both my eyes instead.
I hope you loved these pictures and I really really hope you make it out to this part of the world some day. And if you think this is beautiful, wait till I tell you about Anguilla, which made up the second half of my island hopping in the Caribbean. Until next time, a revoir!