Located between St Lucia, 24 miles to the north, and Grenada 75 miles to the south with Barbados 100 miles to the east the multi island nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines offers the visitor an uncommon vacation. There is no international airport as yet- one is being constructed – but via Barbados is the popular gateway that gets you here. Lush green vegetation, rugged mountain terrain and warm friendly people will greet you almost everywhere you go. Come with me as we explore some of the island’s “must see”attractions.
The Botanical Gardens
Located on 20 acres of land just outside capital Kingstown this garden founded in 1765 has the distinction of being the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. A riot of beautiful tropical plants amidst a lush green backdrop greets the visitor on entering the gates. Small wonder that this verdant site is the most popular spot for wedding photography. One of the bigger attractions of this tropical paradise is a breadfruit tree from the original plant brought to these shores by Captain Bligh. While here take a short walk to the aviary and admire the national bird of St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Vincentian parrot or Amazona Guildingi.
Hoist a sail with Captain Jack Sparrow and head to Wallilabou cove the location that served as the set of the blockbuster movie:Pirates of the Caribbean”Revenge of the Black Pearl”.If you are a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean, the sets left behind by the filmmakers are sure to make your day. The bay is excellent for mooring and provides safe anchorage for those of you who may want to overnight. If you are not a yachtie, the cove is accessible by foot if you are on a tour of the Leeward coast. A Bar and Restaurant that is open all day from 8 a.m is ready to satisfy your palate with tasty West Indian dishes.
Recently opened the lookout offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the fertile Mesopotamia valley that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. This valley known as the bread basket of of St. Vincent is a sea of banana plants, nutmeg,coconut and breadfruit trees to mention a few. Steep mountain ridges rise all around, the highest being Grand Bonhomme at a height of 3193 feet. Rivers and streams meet at Mesopotamia tumbling to the sea at Yambou.
Black Point Tunnel
Come get a feel of rich Vincentian history as we explore the historic Black Point tunnel. This 300 ft long tunnel was constructed by the British using slave labour around 1815 to serve as an access route for sugar exports. The tunnel also doubled as a store house when weather conditions hampered the transport of produce. Restored in recent times the area surrounding the tunnel is now a recreational park complete with gazebos and shower facilities. The adventurous can also explore the nearby coves.
La Soufriere volcano
In the mood for hiking? Let’s make the trek up La Soufriere the highest point on the island at 4049 ft. It is best to begin the journey early in the morning when the morning rays are not at their most furious. The volcano is accessible from either end of the island and you are guaranteed to experience steep volcanic ridges alive with bamboo and tropical trees. It is advisable to take a guide with you as you make your ascent.
Named after the wife of King George 111, construction of the fort began in 1763 after the British recaptured the island from the Caribs. The fort stands at 600 ft above sea level and provides a breathtaking view across Kingstown and the Grenadines. Unlike most forts in the Caribbean, the cannons were turned inwards to protect against attacks from the Caribs. Rooms that were once officers quarters now house paintings depicting the history of the Black Caribs.
Come sail with me to the Grenadines and explore 32 of the most beautiful islands this side of heaven. A paradise for yachtsmen, scuba divers and those who just want to escape from it all to beautiful golden beaches and tropical sunsets the Grenadines beckons. Depart Kingstown by boat or hop aboard one of the daily flights that ply the route between these enchanting islands if you don’t have sea legs. Permission is needed before you can visit the privately owned island of Mustique but with luck you may rub shoulders with one of the jet setters for whom Mustique is a home away from home.
I give you Saint Vincent and the Grenadines “The Caribbean you are looking for”…
Author Kamika Harry