Scattered across the Caribbean Sea like so many emeralds, St Vincent & the Grenadines is a glorious-looking archipelago. The country’s name makes it sound like an old soul band, and aptly there’s something timeless about the place. Lush mountain peaks, white sands, secluded coves, volcanic landscapes and spectacular coral reefs all go towards making this one of the region’s most diverse spots. For hikers, sailors and those who just fancy kicking back in wave-lapped sunshine for a week or two, it’s some proposition.
The country, which found Hollywood fame when it was used as a setting for the Pirates of the Caribbean films, is made up of 32 islands and cays. St Vincent itself is by far the largest, and has a laid-back capital city, Kingstown, to show for it. Colonial architecture, botanical gardens and a fish market are among the attractions. The latter hints at the dishes that dominate the archipelago’s food scene – fresh seafood, usually washed down with a cold Hairoun beer, is a speciality. Elsewhere on St Vincent there’s some fantastic walking to be had, most notably the trail that leads up to La Soufrière volcano.
The smaller islands that make up the Grenadines offer an even quieter pace of life. Among the most appealing spots are Bequia, which has good claim to that overused adage “the Caribbean as it used to be,” and Mustique, a long-established A-list bolthole that has welcomed the likes of Mick Jagger, Kate Moss and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The best way to experience the outlying islands is to hop between them by boat, and the country as a whole has near-legendary status in the yachting community. The most obvious focal point on a sailing trip is the stupendously scenic Tobago Cays, which is made up of five uninhabited islands and offers excellent potential for divers and snorkelers.