Explore St. Vincent and the Grenadines
By Candyce H. Stapen
Island hop on St. Vincent and the Grenadines and you discover misty waterfalls on St. Vincent, sun drenched beaches on the Tobago Cays, green lawns and laid-back charm on Bequia, plus, throughout the region, reefs rich with rainbow-colored fish and coral.
For centuries sailors have headed toward St. Vincent and its sister islands, the Grenadines, a 45-mile archipelago lying between Grenada and St. Lucia. Legend has it that the buccaneers of long ago buried their booty in the lush hills and rock strewn caves; savvy yachtsmen still seek treasured sanctuary in these islands' sequestered coves.
On St. Vincent, to get to the trailhead for Trinity Falls, our jeep bumps along a dirt path edged by banana plants, grapefruit trees and patches of callaloo. An occasional cow or donkey meanders by. From this spot the hour-long, one-way hike weaves us past palm and bamboo thickets, through an overflowing creek bed, up and down "steps" formed by gnarly roots, and over slick rocks.
The reward: three glistening cascades. Because of swift current, our guide warns us just to dip our toes in the swirling water before our walk back. On another, easy outing we get to swim at the base of a 60-foot waterfall. And all we had to do was take a boat ride and walk five minutes to reach the Falls of Baleine.
Wallilabou Bay, site of scenes from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” is another must. You can see the dock from which Johnny Depp jumped into the sea as well as walk by the faux 17th century storefronts remaining from the set. While waiting for our Creole fish from the beachside restaurant made over to fit the Colonial stone arch "town," we buy a "Pirates" T-shirt from the gift shop. |
The best sites for underwater treasure in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are the reefs surrounding the five deserted islands of the Tobago Cays. Petit Bateau with its shady sands and relatively calm waters is best for beginning snorkelers and families with young children. Those more experienced with masks and fins can take on the often choppy but rewarding waters of Horseshoe Reef.
The Boulders and the Cathedral, sites rich in sponges and black coral, lure divers to Bequia, a low-key island with small town charm, and two great beaches, Princess Margaret and Lower Bay. The main harbor, Admiralty Bay, blooms with hibiscus and a handful of gingerbread trimmed shops. Best souvenir: hand-crafted models of the double-enders, the island's unique boats still used in whaling. The International Whaling Commission permits the indigenous hunters to harpoon a maximum of four whales per year.
For part of the filming of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, Johnny Depp stayed at Young Island, a 35-acre, casually elegant resort, just a 10-minute boat ride from St. Vincent. Rooms, many with sitting areas and terraces, lace the hills and the beach.