A little off the beaten tourist track in the Caribbean lies the island kingdom of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Saint Vincent, by far the largest of the islands, is also home to the capital Kingstown. Only the south of the island is inhabited, while the north is characterized by mountainous wilderness and volcanic landscape. It bears its name since Christopher Columbus went ashore on St. Vincent’s Day in 1498.
The extremely even temperature is about 30 °C all year round. In July and August, however, rain falls frequently and the archipelago is not spared from hurricanes. The contrast of idyllic beaches and deserted bays with wild jungle attracts film teams again and again. Some of the Hollywood pirate films “Pirates of the Caribbean” were also shot here. The state, which is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, also includes the 32 islands of the northern Grenadines.
The sea around the mostly uninhabited islands is a popular sailing area. Visitors also like to come here for diving. In addition to the classic diving experiences such as coral reefs and marine animals, a very special experience has been created: Especially for divers, two ships were put on the ground, where also beginners can practice wreck diving. During a holiday on St. Vincent and the Grenadines you will hardly explore a single island.
Some of the most popular beaches with sand like icing sugar are located on Bequia. The capital of the small island, Port Elizabeth, is a beautiful Caribbean port village. Here you can relax while watching the sailboats coming and going in the harbour. Water rats are in good hands at Tobago Cays Marine Park. Beaches that can only be reached by water, snorkeling in turtle areas, a (real!) wreck of a British cannon ship sunk in 1918 and fantastic intact coral reefs make it possible to experience nature in a class of its own.
Those who prefer to travel by land can choose one of the many hiking trails on the islands and are rewarded with unbeatable views over the archipelago.
A bar in the water is nothing unusual in the Caribbean. Happy Island, however, consists of thousands and thousands of housings of the Great Fencing Snail. And St. Vincent and the Grenadines have even more to offer.
The VIP scene has a new address in the Caribbean: the “Pink Sands Club” on the island of Canouan, which belongs to St. Vincent & The Grenadines. “Pink Sands” is Mandarin Oriental’s first resort in the Caribbean and still in the soft opening phase.
But there are already rumours that Aman and the Soho House Group also wanted to gain a foothold here. That the luxury hotel chains are interested in the tiny island in the south of the Lesser Antilles is no coincidence. The exclusive celebrity island Mustique and the Tobago Cays Marine Park, popular with sailors, are in the vicinity of Canouan.
The mini-state with its 34 islands has been an insider tip ever since scenes of the blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean” were shot here. The state name has nothing to do with Grenadine, because the pomegranates from which this bright red syrup is made do not grow in the Caribbean, but in Asia. Nevertheless, barkeepers on the Grenadines like to use it, for example for rum punch.
The snail island
All Happy Island acts as a rum counter. Actually nothing unusual in the Caribbean – the small, circular sandy area with boat dock off the coast of Union Island is even more: a successful recycling project.
Happy Island consists of thousands and thousands of housings of the Great Fencing Snail. Their meat is popular in the Grenadines. But where to put the shells of the conch, as the locals call them?
At the beginning of the 2000s, their shells were ingeniously used: Janti Ramage, environmental officer on Union Island, had the idea of superimposing the shells in shallow coastal waters. Then some concrete, sand and palm trees on top – the new island was ready, on which the eco-activist finally opened a bar.
In the meantime Happy Island has changed owners, but strong rum punch and grilled lobster are still available here. The only condition: The guests have to come by dinghy; the pier is too short for sailing yachts.
Whales look out from the living room – that’s what the company that manages the legacy of the dropouts Tom and Gladdie Johnston promises. The couple from New York had built spectacular houses on the cliffs of Bequia since the 1960s, attracting artists with them. Some of the villas are now rentable holiday homes.
Missed the carnival in Rio? Never mind, there’s a replacement on St. Vincent – the big parades don’t start until the last weekend in June. This has been the case since 1977. At that time it was decided to move the carnival to the middle of the year.
A clever move from a tourist point of view, Vincy Mas (29 June to 10 July 2018) belongs together with the carnival celebrations in Cuba, Barbados and Anguilla to the summer spectacles of the Caribbean.
William Bligh, commander of the legendary “Bounty”, brought 630 breadfruit plants to St. Vincent in 1793. Founded in 1765, it is considered to be the oldest plant in the western hemisphere. The British colonists wanted to test at that time which plants thrived particularly well on the island.
“I saw them dancing ballet and caressing their young”. Gaston Bess, a whaler living on Bequia, came home purified from a tourist whale watching tour in 2013 – and gave up his job. The islanders are allowed to kill four humpback whales a year. The whaling commission’s license expires this year.
The Trump Course
Mount Royal on Canouan rises 240 metres, a little below the volcano crater lies hole 13. Thanks to Donald Trump – from here you have a view to Mustique and Bequia while putting. The US President was active as an investor on Canouan until 2015. Today his course belongs to Mandarin Oriental and simply trades under the name Canouan Golf.