An island hopper’s paradise, the Grenadines are 32 perfectly formed patches of paradise scattered throughout the Caribbean Sea. The chain is adored by yachters, nature lovers and the odd millionaire or two, whilst it is world-famous for knockout white-sand beaches and mirror-clear water. There’s plenty to do apart from sunbathing though, whether you flit between the Grenadine islands or base yourself on St Vincent with its lively capital Kingstown. Overall, St Vincent and The Grenadines offers up a near-endless list of reasons to visit.
Bequia may be only an hour’s ferry ride from St Vincent, but a day trip there feels like stepping back in time. Measuring just 7sqmi (18sqkm), this luscious green island offers a glimpse of the Caribbean before the upscale resorts moved in. Wander the one and only road along the waterfront in capital Port Elizabeth where conch shells are blown like horns when fresh fish is brought in, then take it easy on Spring Beach – if you’re lucky you’ll have the sand to yourself.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to top-notch diving locations in the Grenadines, but the remote Tobago Cays take some beating. A protected marine park surrounded by a barrier reef, these uninhabited islands are well worth a day trip from one of the bigger Grenadines. Explore a kaleidoscopic underwater world alive with colourful marine life and a serene population of turtles, then dry off on impossibly pretty sun-soaked beaches straight from a holiday brochure.
You don’t have to be a billionaire to tour the Grenadines – though you may well encounter a few of them on your travels. There are regular affordable ferry rides between many of the bigger islands including St Vincent, Bequia, Mustique and Canouan, but it’s also easy to charter private smaller boats once you’re on the islands for a DIY tour of the postcard-perfect Grenadines.
Pack for the picnic of your dreams by making a beeline to Kingstown’s sprawling market. Wander stalls piled high with the island’s colourful fruit and vegetables, sample local delicacies and cool off by sipping water straight from a coconut hacked in two. It’s also a great place to pick up souvenirs to remember your trip, including packets of aromatic spices to rustle up authentic Caribbean dishes at home.
No need to look skywards. In this part of the world, star-spotting means something else entirely. Jump on a ferry from Bequia and spend the day at Mustique, adored by the rich, royals and rock stars. It’s a favourite holiday spot for William and Kate, while everyone from Mick Jagger to Kate Moss are almost honorary locals. Head to the legendary Basil’s Bar in the main harbour for A-list people watching with a cold cocktail.
Channel your inner pirate on St Vincent, where Blackbeard once captured a French ship and pirates tunneled through volcanic rock to store their loot. More recently, the island has served as a location for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise; swashbuckling movie fans should head to Wallilabou Bay to explore the area used most often in the film. The Anchorage Hotel even has its own small museum filled with costumes, cast photos and props used by Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley.
As if endless icing sugar-sand beaches and rum cocktails on tap weren’t relaxing enough, the Grenadines are also a dream for dedicated spa devotees. For the ultimate escape, check into one of the many spa hotels, where you can spend a whole week drifting contentedly from massage table to beach to bed in a haze of scented oils. Try the hillside spa at Petit St Vincent, with its alfresco treatment rooms, or soak in a bathtub by the sand on Palm Island, ten minutes from Union Island.
Head north in St Vincent to marvel at the idyllic Owia Salt Pond, caused by the waves lapping over rock formations to create a natural reef. The peaceful pool is now protected from the waves by volcanic rock boulders and attracts all kinds of brightly coloured reef fish in the vivid turquoise water. Just remember it’s over an hour’s drive from Kingstown and blissfully remote, so bring a picnic and make a day of it.
Take to the water to see some of the Grenadines’ most spectacular marine life – if you’re lucky. The area is home to seven species of whales and 11 species of dolphins so chances are high you’ll spot at least one of these magnificent animals. Keep your eyes trained on the coastline on the return journey to see – and hear – the island’s famous bat cave and spy St Vincent’s mineral-rich black sand beaches.