The Grenadine Islands, a Gem of a Cruising Ground in the Southern Caribbean

Between St. Vincent and Grenada lie the Grenadine Islands, a host of smaller islands, some with hills of a thousand feet, others no more than a reef-enclosed sand cay, sprouting a few palms.  Drier than the large islands, they all have perfect white beaches, crystal clear waters, and colorful reefs.

The Grenadine Islands offer lots of contrasts: St. Vincent and Grenada are large, mountainous rainforests that grow nutmeg, mace, vanilla bean, cocoa….(a trip to the local market is a must), while the Grenadine Islands themselves are small sandy atolls in turquoise blue water – stunning!  Bequia, Mustique, PSV (Petit St. Vincent), and Palm Island are the most swank, private-type islands, taken over by developers who saw a good thing and have done well to make them safe, beautiful, fun and well lived on by foreigners and locals alike, who have opened shops and restaurants, watersports facilities, and all manner of interestings things for people to do and see there, including visits to a turtle hatchery on Bequia.  Islands like Canouan, Union Island, Mayreau, and Carriacou are occupied by locals, who make their living by boat building, whale harpooning, seafaring, and fishing.  Other islands are completely uninhabited like the Tobago Cays, which are the highlight; you should plan to spend at least two nights there.

The Grenadine Islands lie almost across the eastern tradewinds, which makes for easy passages north or south.  The best itinerary for sailing yachts is to start in St. Vincent and end down wind in Grenada, while power yachts can begin and end in Grenada.

From Canouan to Carriacou the Grenadine Islands huddle together, each one just a short trip from the next, including  the Tobago Cays, Mayreau, Union Islnad, Palm Island, PSV (Petit St. Vincent) and Petit Martinique….

When the water is clear in the Grenadines, the diving is wonderful.  Currents can be strong; many dives have to be done as drift dives.  This means you are under the water and are pushed with the current and come up a mile from where you started.

Each island has lots of great dive sites. One call and the dive boat comes to you and picks you up from your boat.  This is true in the Tobago Cays, Mayreau, Union Island, Bequia, all the islands…. The Mayreau Gardens on the island of Mayreau is a drift dive, offering all kinds of corals in many different colors and shapes.  It’s considered a highlight!  Huge sea fans, luminous light, massive schools of brown and blue chromies, snapper, jack, angel fish, and trumpet fish assail the senses.  Horseshoe Reef on the Tobago Cays is another wonderful dive, where the reef drops off into deep blue water.  All the islands offer all manner of spectacular dives.

All the islands have lots of bars, restaurants, boutiques, markets, watersports, resorts, museums….

Sightseeing  in St. Vincent:

  • Hike up cloud-piercing, 3,800 ft. Mt. Soufriere, which has an impressive cone with huge smoking volcanic dome in the middle.
  • Boat trip to the Falls of Baleine
  • Montreal Gardens in Mesopotamia Valley – not well maintained which adds to charm – paths meander through dense vegetation beside a river and broad views, a great place to get away from it all….
  • Tour the Botanical Gardens and Fort Charlotte, the oldest botanical garden in the Western Hemisphere; it’s here that Captain Bligh brought the breadfruit tree from the Bounty.  There’s a display of his original tree….
  • While it’s nice to go straight from the plane to the yacht to save time to layover in Grenada at the end of your cruise, if you do need a place to stay in St. Vincent the night before your cruise, we recommend Beachcombers Inn in Young Island Cut, located just outside of Kingston, near St. Vincent’s new International airport.  Beachcombers is located on the beach at Young Island Cut and is where your yacht will pick you up the next day at noon.  Young Island Cut has yacht services, live music and restaurants, health spa, Friday night band and BBQ….  We also recommend Young Island Resort with water taxi to the mainland…. Young Island Cut is lined with restaurants and is a good place to bar hop and eat out.  “The French” is the premier place to eat.  St. Vincent used to be owned by the French, hence the French influence and names….

Your first day will be spent sailing the nine miles to Bequia, where a sandy path meanders from shop to shop along Admiralty Bay’s waterfront.  Port Elizabeth is the name of the town.  Bars and restaurants include the Mariner’s Inn, Coco’s place, described as the friendliest pub in the Grenadines, located on a hill with panoramic views.  Admiralty Bay has stunning colored water.

Bequia restaurants:

  • Whalerbone Inn on the waterfront
  • Le Petit Jardin – French cuisine
  • Frangipani – famous BBQ and Jump up on Thursday nights
  • Handy Andy rentals of motorcycles and mountain bikes
  • Mac’s Pizzeria
  • Kingfisher Café
  • The Harpoon Saloon
  • Sunny Caribbee Plantation House
  • Schooners bar

The next day you might visit Mustique, a private island that welcomes yachtsmen….  Basil’s Bar is located on the beach, famous for its jazz festival…  The Cotton House is an elegant restaurant – Mick Jagger lives here…

Mayreau is a one road, two car island, rimmed with pristine beaches, spectacular views, a friendly island, worth exploring on foot.  Visit both the village and the windward beaches….  Salt Whistle Bay is a sweeping half moon bay where Salt Whistle Bay Club hidden in trees offers a unique dining experience and top quality fare.  Saline Bay gets visited by cruise ships….

Palm Island is a very small round island about a mile across that was settled in the 1960s by the Caldwell family, who planted all the coconut trees and palm trees on all the Caribbean islands that have now spawned an entire forest of coconut trees on all the islands.  (Coconut trees are not indigenous to the Caribbean.)  Palm Island Resort is a private property on Palm Island, but step ashore at Casuarina Beach, which is absolutely gorgeous!  Sandy Feet Boutique is open to cruising yachtsmen, and Sunset Bar is a friendly and casual atmosphere open to the public.  Jog “Highway 90”, a mile and a half long road….  Walk to the windward side of the island, where you can explore up to five beaches….  Great snorkeling is found throughout the Grenadine Islands, as on Palm Island.

Canouan – spectacular views, exquisite water colors, hiking trails, a few hundred inhabitants, part of St Vincent, two major hotels, lots of places to anchor – Tamarine Bay Resort with two restaurants: Pirate Cove Bar and La Palapa….  golf courses, high end private house development on the north side, nature reserve, hiking trails.  Lots of places to dive and great snorkeling.  Each and every Grenadine Islannd is entirely safe.

Union Island – mountainous island by comparison…. Clifton harbor is the main town; brilliant colors, center of yachting in southern Grenadines, airport from St. Vincent, NIGHT LIFE!!!!  Sydney’s Bar and Restaurant…  Other anchorages on Union Island are Frigate Bay and Chatham Bay.

PSV and Petit Martinique – Heretofore, all the islands you have visited so far belongs to St. Vincent.  PSV stands for Petit St. Vincent and also belongs to St. Vincent – Petit Martinique is the first of the Grenada Grenadines, along with Carriacou and Grenada, so clearing customs and immigration while cruising these islands is easy and non-cumbersome…..  PSV is quiet, exclusive, offers a resort where guests get pampered in stone cottages.  A private island, it has lots of gorgeous anchorage. Nothing else is ashore beyond this resort, but there are lots of pretty beaches, great snorkeling, and yachtsmen are warmly welcomed.  Petit Martinique is small and enchanting – the inhabitants live by boat building, seafaring and fishing.  The Palm Beach Restaurant is a good place to go.

Carriacou – Tyrrell Bay is the most peaceful bay in the whole of the Caribbean!  Hear the bleating of the sheep and the heron as you sit on deck and watch the sun set.

Grenada is a spectacularly beautiful island with lush green mountains, crystal waterfalls, golden beaches, fragrant spice trees that give the island its epithet “Isle of Spice” or the Spice Island.  It’s chief export is nutmeg and mace.  It’s the worlds third largest producer of nutmeg and mace.  February and March sees the hills ablaze with bright orange flowering trees.  Grenada’s interior is picturesque (and a lot safer than St. Vincent).  A swim under the hot and cold volcanic waterfalls leaves you refreshed.

Sightseeing in Grenada:

  • The public market in St. Georges, the capital
  • Annandale Waterfall
  • Concord Falls
  • Seven Falls
  • Grand Etang crator lake with hiking trails – feed the wild monkeys there (they’re not indigenous but brought in by a yacht four hundred years ago.)
  • Literally hundreds of restaurants, all great!!  Mamma’s is famous!  Local cuisine.
  • The cocoa plantations, where you learn how to make chocolate.
  • Grand Anse Beach is a two mile beach with resort after resort and is where we recommend you stay after your cruise.  A trip to Grenada is not complete without a taxi to its interior to see the waterfalls, plantations, gorges, rivers, and all its highlights.  We recommend staying two nights in Grenada following your cruise.  The airport is in St. Georges, along with all the best anchorages for yachts, and Grand Anse Beach, where the resorts are.

Your crew has been based in the Grenadine Islands for a number of years.  They know the cruising ground well.  They know where to go, what to do ashore.  They offer choices of activities for you to do each day, and they will arrange them for you.

 

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