The perfect desert islands do exist! The Tobago Cays, in the Grenadines, are now my happy place, where I’m going to escape in my head whenever things get too stressful.
Accessible from both Grenada and the Grenadines, these uninhabited islands – five in all – served as the lonely spit of sand where Capt. Jack Sparrow and Keira Knightley were marooned in one of The Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
It’s a fitting representation: there’s nothing on these islands other than cacti, iguanas, a palm tree or two – and gorgeous white sand beaches.
It’s what’s IN the bright turquoise water that counts here. The Tobago Cays are a marine sanctuary and coral reef, protected by St. Vincent & The Grenadines for tourism purposes.
We visited the Cays on a daylong sail with the Friendship Rose, one of the Caribbean’s last schooners ($125, including breakfast, lunch and unlimited drinks).
Our captain, Calvin Lewis, has not only steered the 96-foot ship for more than 40 years. He helped create it, at Friendship Bay on Bequia, an island with a long boat-building tradition.
It took about three hours to reach the Tobago Cays from Bequia. We spent most of the time chatting up our fellow passengers (about a dozen Brits and Americans), sunning ourselves on cushions and pillows scattered around the boat’s expansive deck and pointing out the various islands we passed by, including Canouan, Mayreau and Union.
We reached the Cays and found we were not the only ones enjoying the high seas. A flotilla of private sailboats and yachts had also dropped anchor. We took a dinghy and our snorkeling gear over to the island and spent several hours exploring the reefs.
The highlight came when Don spotted several turtles under water. They ignored us and continued their docile pattern of eating their seagrass under the water, then rising to the surface to breathe. We followed them for about 20 minutes before turning our attention to the stingrays, blue tang and angelfish that were also in the water.
Back on the Friendship Rose, we ate a great lunch and swilled our drink of choice during this vacation, rum punch. We slept most of the way back, covering ourselves with towels to avoid the unforgiving sun (yet we still ended up turning pink).
The experience capped off a week of doing absolutely nothing – and loving it. Usually, my trips include a lot of running around, but the Grenadines are all about slowing down and breathing, reconnecting and reading, sitting back and staring at the sea. I can’t wait to come back.
Want more Grenadines? Read about our Mustique daysail here.