Ready for takeoff? This week Frequent Flier is heading to the stunning southern Caribbean island chain of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 32 islands (only eight of which are inhabited) that offer a unique escape for every type of vacationer.
An island escape
Divers and snorkelers, yachters and nature-lovers, beach bums and water sports enthusiasts — no matter what you love, you can all find a part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to call home for a while.
For the local experience: St. Vincent
The first stop on any trip to SVG will be St. Vincent, the largest island in the chain. What we liked most about St. Vincent is that it doesn’t feel overrun with tourists — because it’s not. Most people head straight for the outlying islands, but there’s much to see and do on St. Vincent. Visit the botanical gardens, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. Founded in 1765, the 20 acres offer a colorful look at some of the tropical beauty SVG has to offer. Entrance is free, and guides will show you around, explaining the history and uses for the many trees, plants, flowers and shrubs, but it’s nice to leave a small tip (about $5) at the end. Explore the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets of the busy capital of Kingstown. Grab lunch at local favorite Ferdie’s Footsteps, where you can quench your thirst and rehydrate with a golden apple drink, a refreshing juice made from the golden apple, taste-wise a cross between an apple and a peach, and the national drink of SVG. We stayed at the Grenadine House, a small, friendly boutique hotel in Kingstown and an ideal base for exploring the area.
For the laid-back experience: Bequia
Anyone looking for a relaxing escape from everyday routine should make their way to Bequia (pronounced “beck-way”), the small, low-key island known as the jewel of the Grenadines. With only 4,900 year-round inhabitants and no large hotels or malls, the island maintains a slower pace perfect for the ultimate island getaway. Start your stay by basing yourself at chic and charming Bequia Beach Hotel, which we fell instantly in love with. Rooms are elegantly decorated, and some have private plunge pools. Grounds are well-manicured, and the smiling staff are always helpful. If you can peel yourself away from the beach, we suggest a visit to Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, where former fisherman Orton “Brother” King works to save the hawksbill turtle from extinction. There are both babies and older turtles to see, and the babies are irresistibly cute (just don’t touch). Wander around the quaint capital of Port Elizabeth to shop for souvenirs and then head back to Bequia Beach Hotel for lunch overlooking the water (make sure to try the delicious rum punch) and unwind on the beach or with a Hairoun (the local beer) in hand.
For the total escape: Palm Island Resort
Home to more than 2,000 palm trees, the aptly named Palm Island resort was recently ranked No. 4 on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of reader-ranked resorts in the Caribbean. We’re not surprised it’s a fan favorite and we met several returning guests during our ultra-relaxing stay (trust us, you won’t want to leave). Forty-three accommodations of various sizes offer a stylish way to experience the Caribbean. Book a snorkel trip to the Tobago Cays and spot a sea turtle or three (we snorkeled with one for several minutes, and it was a trip highlight), situate yourself on one of five white sand beaches, hit the pool (we couldn’t get enough of the waterfall feature), or sip a daiquiri at the inviting Royal Palm Bar, where friendly, entertaining bartenders serve drinks while regaling guests with stories, jokes and bottle-spinning tricks. The 135-acre island also boasts nature trails, which you can explore on foot or on a bicycle you can rent from reception.
For the rustic-chic experience: Young Island Resort
Just a stone’s throw from St. Vincent (so close that people have been known to swim between the two), the private island resort Young Island is the ultimate escape from everyday life. You’ll notice the pace slow down as soon as you set foot on the island, which offers cottage-style rooms with open-air showers. Enjoy your welcome drink and take in the peaceful surroundings — well, peaceful save for the resident parrot making his presence known outside the reception area. Take a morning or evening dip in the free-form pool, read in a beachfront hammock, hang out in the friendly bar with a Hairoun or enjoy the quiet stretch of sand you have (almost) to yourself. Grab a seat under a palapa by the beach for your meals and indulge in one of five types of fresh-baked bread, sliced tableside. Young Island is famous for their bread, and we now know why. Choose from white, brown, cinnamon, coconut and raisin.
Until the new Argyle airport is ready to start transporting more visitors from more places (it’s slated to open December 2014, and they needed to move three mountains to build it) the current route is usually via Barbados or Grenada. From there you’ll take a flight to your island of choice. The journey might sound complicated, but it’s not. Flights to SVG are frequent, fast and friendly. You’ll be in paradise, rum punch in hand, before you know it.
While all of the content on SheKnows reflects the honest opinion of our writers, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA) provided us with travel accommodations.
Pack your bags and join us next time when Frequent Flier heads to LA for a fun and fabulous car-free weekend.