Let’s Get Lost: St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Sunset over Young Island, St. Vincent

I spent a week in St. Vincent & the Grenadines with my husband in early November. Unlike most of our trips, this was about chilling out – and we did just that…It was probably the most relaxing vacation we’ve ever taken together (including our honeymoon!)

Sail on the Friendship Rose, Tobago Cays, Grenadines

We did very little, other than swim, snorkel, read and stare at the sea. A great place to clear your head. When I get stressed in the future, this is my mental escape.

Logistics: We spent the 1st two nights of our trip in the Villa area of St. Vincent. We then moved on to Bequia’s Friendship Bay for four nights and came back to St. Vincent for one night because we had early morning flights.

Both Don and I got to the island via LIAT, although we had different origination points (I came from Grenada and Don came from Barbados). We both experienced minor Leave Island Any Time issues.

My early flight from Grenada was about 40 minutes late. While I wasn’t on a timeline, the passenger next to me was very worried that he’d miss his flight to Mustique. And coming back, my flight left 15 minutes early! Would have hated to be someone who checked in late.

Don’s bags didn’t make it on his flight from Barbados. The airline called our hotel front desk when another flight came in. We had to go back to the airport to get them. Not a big deal, as we were staying two nights, but it’s the type of thing that can hold you up if you are trying to get to Bequia or another island immediately.

We arrived at Bequia through a FantaSea tour of Mustique and returned to St. Vincent via the Bequia Express ferry. The ferry costs $20 EC one way and only takes about an hour. We chiled in the air conditioned lounge and ate the roti we picked up in Port Elizabeth.

The Islands

St. Vincent. St. Vincent is not nearly as a developed for tourism as most Caribbean islands, although I expect that will change once the new international airport is opened in 2011. It’s a lush, beautfully mountainous island.

Kids in St. Vincent

Kingstown seemed a little rough around the edges and I thought some of the cab drivers were a little aggressive with their pricing. We didn’t have enough time to really explore the island, although we did take a cab to the outlook over the Mesopotamia region. If we go back, I’d love to visit the Falls of Baleine or hike the Soufriere volcano.

Boats in Port Elizabeth, Bequia, Grenadines

Bequia. We were absolutely charmed by this small island popular with those on the sailing circuit. It’s not for thrill-seekers, as there’s not a lot to do, other than hang out on the gorgeous beaches. We stayed at Friendship Bay, about a 20 minute cab drive from the Port Elizabeth. Port Elizabeth itself is charming, with a very small downtown. Many of the restaurants and hotels there are clustered on the Belmont Walkway, a waterside “street” that’s more like a pier.

The Hotels

View of Bequia from Mariners, St. Vincent

The Mariners Hotel, St. Vincent. I had to look for a while to find the right hotel. I wanted something that was on the water that had a pool, a restaurant and/or bar and a king-sized bed. Luckily, the Mariners fit the bill – and for under $100 a night.

(At $300 per night, Young Island was a little out of our budget. I did check out the rooms one day, and while they were nice, I didn’t think they were $300 nice. I also didn’t think the view from the resort was as nice as the one that we had from our cheaper digs across the water).

Mariners is in the Villa area, which is about 20 minutes outside Kingstown. It’s right across from Young Island Resort, which means it has a great view. Ask for Room 403 for a killer sunset off the balcony. There’s a very small beach near the hotel’s pier, but we opted for rum drinks by the pool instead. I also enjoyed the hotel’s “local breakfast,” which consisted of fish filets and local breads.

Sunset in Bequia

Friendship Bay Beach Resort, Bequia. I had actually made reservations at a B&B, the Sugarapple Inn. But when we arrived, after our Mustique daysail, there was no one there to meet us. We tried calling the number listed in our email confirmation, but no one answered. After waiting for an hour, we took a cab down to Friendship Bay Beach Resort, which gave us the same rate we were paying at Sugarapple ($95).

(The Sugarapple did give us our deposit back and offered to pay for us to go out to dinner, which we declined).

Bedroom at Friendship Bay Beach Resort, Bequia

Although not fancy, Friendship Bay fit us just fine. There’s no TV, minibars or phones in the room, although there is air conditioning. There’s also no pool, but there’s great swimming off the beach. For the first two nights, we were in a room in the main house, which seemed a little cramped. For the same rate, they graciously moved us to one of the rooms down by the beach for the second two nights, which was a little more spacious, with an outside porch and romantic mosquito netting on the bed.

The new Bequia Beach Hotel is also on Friendship Bay, and we walked over for breakfast one morning to check it out. It’s a newer property and workers were still building the beach bar when we were there. We were a bit surprised that the main building and restaurant were up on the hill away from the beach - they didn’t have the same views that we had. They do have a pool, however, and the rooms themselves were nice, although I’m not sure I’d pay the higher rates (a basic room is $180 in the low season, $275 in high season).

Friendship Rose, Bequia

Highlights

Daysails to Tobago Cays and Mustique. I’ve already written blog posts on these cruises (read/see photos about our trip to Tobago Cays on the Friendship Rose here; read/see photos about our trip with FantaSea to Mustique here). While we enjoyed them both, I’d say that the Friendship Rose excursion was the better experience.  There’s something special about being able to swim with sea turtles. Don’t miss it.

Guy with lobster, Port Elizabeth, Bequia

Wandering around Port Elizabeth. We spent some time wandering around town.

Model boat builder, Sargeant Brothers, Bequia

Bequia is known for its intricate model boats, which are built to order in small studios. At Sargeant Brothers, we watched some crafters put together a detailed model yacht from a photo. We didn’t buy one this time, but we were seriously tempted!

Sunset on Bequia, Grenadines

Food

With so many resorts, you can find plenty of upscale food on these islands – but we also enjoyed cheap rotis and callaloo soup.

Verandah Restaurant, Mariners. The restaurant at Mariners is not cheap. But it was very good Caribbean-influenced French food and we ended up eating here twice. Some of the highlights: escargot in garlic butter, curried conch, and cream of pumpkin soup. The restaurant is lit by candles at night and with the view of Young Island and some wine, it has a high the romantic quotient. Dinner cost about $100 for two, including wine.

Young Island, St. Vincent. The resort glittered at us across the straits every night, so we took the free water taxi across the straits for dinner on our last night. Dinner is fixed price, $75 for five courses. It’s served in a cluster of thatched buildings, which lends a castaway mood (if castaways were gourmet aficionados)  Servers start the meal by bringing out a large plank holding six loaves of bread (white, wheat, cinnamon, banana, raisin, and coconut) and continued through to flambed bananas.

Gingerbread Hotel, Bequia. The Gingerbread is one of the hotels around the Belmont Walkway that’s popular with the sailing crowd (We had a drink at the Frangipani as well). Surprisingly good fish burgers here.

Porthole Bar & Restaurant, Bequia. This is actually a grocery store that sells food. We loved their conch rotis, though, and came back twice.

Lobster pizza, Mac's Pizzeria, Bequia

Mac’s Pizzeria, Bequia. Ever had lobster pizza? Some people on the Friendship Rose told us that the pizza here was delicious, with huge chunks of lobster, so we gave it a try. We were a little underwhelmed. Sure, the pizza was full of lobster – but there was too much cheese on it to really taste the goodness. Plus it cost $40.

Moskito, Friendship Bay Beach Resort. The restaurant at our hotel was actually fairly good, although the menu was fairly limited, with just two or three entree choices daily. The bar had swing chairs and a tasty rum punch. True to the name, the bugs were out at night – and my legs were eaten up.

Meh

St. Vincent Botanical Gardens. All the guidebooks told us that we shouldn’t miss the Botanical Gardens, the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. Admission was free, but we were somewhat coerced into hiring a guide to take us around. All in all, we could have skipped it.

Anything we missed? Tell me below!

Interested in other Caribbean islands? Read about my trip to Grenada here.

Or our trip to Turks & Caicos here.

Or our trip to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica here.