Sailing in St Vincent and the Grenadines
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Off the beaten track where sailing is concerned, St Vincent and the Grenadines is slowly developing into a boutique sailing and watersports destination, particularly in the outer islands such as Bequia and Union. Famous for the celebrity island of Mustique, the jewel in the middle of the Grenadines’ crown, is undoubtedly the Tobago Cays Marine Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty with picture perfect Robinson Crusoe islands fringed with reefs and palm trees, untouched by developers and much of the 21st century.
French influences abound and drive up the range of food and dining options in the islands. This, and line of sight navigation in sheltered waters make this area a future rival for the BVI’s as a boating destination. Navigation is tricky, with abundant reefs and few channel or danger marks, and a current of up to 2.5 knots in places; and getting here and away by plane can be difficult. But if you have some flexibility in your travel dates and are willing to go the extra mile to get here, come sailing here soon before the rest of the world discovers and develops it.
- [at_icon icon=”fa fa-star”] Rainforest hills & Tropical Scenery
- [at_icon icon=”fa fa-star”] Good hiking with waterfalls
- [at_icon icon=”fa fa-star”] Pirates of the Caribbean filmset
- [at_icon icon=”fa fa-star”] Sandy beaches
- [at_icon icon=”fa fa-star”] Colourful & lively local towns
- [at_icon icon=”fa fa-star”] Good fishing
- [at_icon icon=”fa fa-star”] Fantastic snorkelling
There is currently no international airport in St Vincent, although one is planned and the latest schedule is for opening at the end of 2015. LIAT connects you with other Caribbean islands, flying in and out of ET Joshua Airport (SVD) to the South West of ST Vincent main island. The local airline, SVG Air flies mainly inter-island within the archipelago, plus Barbados. For this reason we usually start or end our trips in this area in either Grenada or St Lucia which are more accessible. Where it’s necessary to meet the boat in St Vincent, you’re best to obtain a return flight into St Lucia. Grenada, Trinidad or Barbados and obtain connect with LIAT.
St Vincent and the Grenadines are, so far, refreshingly undeveloped. The marina facilities in the region are concentrated at the Southern End of St Vincent, however the marina entrance is over a reef which is dangerously shallow at low tides; we can expect to spend our nights at anchor under the stars.
The Grenadines have some lovely, high quality restaurants based on the resort islands, and elsewhere you can expect a typical Caribbean menu which consists of fish, chicken or pork accompanied by rice and beans, provisions and a local cabbage based salad.
There is no nightlife to speak of in the Grenadines! Expect a quiet time ashore with most places winding down between 9 and 10pm.
About Sailing in St Vincent and the Grenadines
Location & History, Topography & People
Recently formed in geological terms, the main island of St Vincent is rugged, steep, and green, green, green with rainforest covering the high mountains, and numerous waterfalls and volcano craters. Towns and villages hark back to a bygone age with gingerbread style wooden houses, local Caribbean style shops and creole shacks, and the occasional western-run restaurant/guest house to appeal to passing yachties.
The island economy is centred in agriculture and banana crops are shipped worldwide. There is also a significant drug growing economy based around the slopes of the volcano to the north. For this reason, the main island of St Vincent has traditionally been one where you take care, both aboard the yacht and ashore. That said, we have been sailing along the coast and stopping in some of the anchorages without incident, and as time passes, we find the locals who deal with the boats more and more friendly and helpful, and our most recent trip to the island was delightful.
The Grenadine islands to the South are much lower lying; many are uninhabited and the whole area is spectacularly undeveloped and unspoiled. White sand beaches, blue, blue sea and fantastic snorkelling abound.
Why sail in St Vincent and the Grenadines
The main island has an underdeveloped road system and getting around on St Vincent can be a long and winding process by local bus, taxi or hire car, and perhaps a little easier by boat, at least along the leeward coastline; but much of the real beauty of the country is to be found in the islands, most of which are only reachable by boat.
From Bequia and Mustique in the north, to Union and Petit St Vincent in the South, all of the islands boast white sand beaches, unspoiled reefs and true local Caribbean flavour. The jewel in the St Vincent crown, however, is the Tobago Cays Marine Park – a protected area of 3 small islands and several spectacular reefs; which has no air access and where a sailing boat is king! One could spend a week or two just pottering from anchorage to anchorage, soaking up the natural beauty and underwater life, and on many of our trips in this area that’s exactly what we do.
Sailing distances range from 5 to 35 miles between the islands, so a comfortable day sail from place to place, with the usual Easterly trade winds giving a nice, fast beam reach for much of the time.
Where we stop and why
The island of St Vincent hosted the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and some of the old film sites can still be seen, although they are slowly being over-run by nature. Most notably, Wallilabou anchorage has a collection of film paraphanalia housed in the old filmset buildings.
There are a couple of nice restaurants within dinghy distance, and with a Customs point, we can make our clearance into or out of the country here. The anchorage is deep and quite small, and for the reasons given is also quite popular. Stopping here for the night means setting the anchor and obtaining local help to take a stern line ashore to maintain position.
Youngs Cut anchorage is to the south of the main island and is both pretty and pretty convenient for flights into or away from St Vincent’s only “international” airport. It’s a short and entertaining bus ride into the capital of Kingstown with its bustling markets and street life, and there are lovely Botanic Gardens close by.
Once in the islands, there is no end of places to anchor away from the hustle and bustle of western life. Boat traders come by to supply locally grown fruit and vegetables, bread, ice and locally caught fish and lobsters at very reasonable prices. This can be a nice supplement to our meal plans, and they will happily lay on a beach barbecue and cook it all for us too!
Including Mustique on our itinerary is not always possible as getting there depends on the wind and tides, however this is a popular spot for people watching and it’s easy to see how this island became a royal retreat. Many celebrities still have homes here and much of the time we’re not free to wander the island at will. Taxi tours are available.
Things to see and do
On the main island of St Vincent, there are rainforest hikes, sulphur springs and waterfalls to be seen. The 250 year old Botanic Gardens in Kingstown is worth seeing, as is the charismatic capital city with its lively markets and street life.
In the islands, watersports are the order of the day. Go snorkelling from the boat, or book to go diving on wrecks or reefs, kiteboarding or windsurfing. Beach lovers will be in heaven and we may even snag our own fish for dinner.
Special Local Events
Bequia Easter Regatta – local boats
Nine Mornings Christmas Festival
Our holidays sailing in St Vincent and the Grenadines typically originate out of Grenada and sail North via Carriacou. We will normally also include a visit to the Tobago Cays . We also offer a 10 day trip heading north or South via St Vincent main island starting or finishing in St Lucia; this can be more challenging sailing depending on the weather and currents.
Our Sailing Holidays that Include St Vincent and the Grenadines