St. Vincent & the Grenadines
Unspoiled and under-visited: that sums up both the island of St. Vincent and the nearby Grenadines
St. Vincent is an interesting, surprising place. At Kingstown, the capital and main port city, the shore is lined with 20 to 30-foot long motorized pirogues similar in design to the canoes of the ancient Arawak Indians.
Hunting for humpback whales still continues. The hunts are sanctioned by the International Whaling Commission because of its long tradition here. There is a quota of 2-3 animals per year and all whale products (oil, meat) must be consumed locally.
Because St. Vincent is not the easiest place to reach, it is changing slowly. In the meantime, its culture and its land remain largely intact.
Kingstown's streets are filled with brightly colored mini-buses that provide the island's taxi service. The taxis bear such descriptive names as "Ju Ju," "Swazo," "Float On," and "SCOTTY (beam me up!)" on their fronts.
St. Vincent's 20-acre Botanic Gardens, founded in 1765, claim to be the oldest in the Western Hemisphere (others make a similar claim).
Regardless, the botanic gardens contains a real prize, one of the original breadfruit trees brought from Tahiti by Capt. Bligh after the famous "Bounty" mutiny.
St. Vincent proudly wears its nickname, "The Breadfruit Isle."
St. Vincent offers some excellent hiking, including 4,048-foot La Soufriere, an active volcano that last erupted in 1979. The Vermont Nature Trail ventures through a lush rain forest home to the rare St. Vincent parrot. That's just a sample.
At Fort Charlotte, which sits at 600 feet overlooking Kingstown, some of the cannons were pointed to face inland. The English were more terrified of the fierce Carib Indians, who waged a bloody 7 year-war from their mountain hideouts, than foreign invaders.
In fact, it can be argued that St. Vincent is the only island whose forts were more concerned about repelling invaders from land instead of the sea.
The neighboring Grenadines are made up of more than 30 islands and cays, some uninhabited and quite small, spread out like broken chain links between St. Vincent to the north and Grenada to the south. One of these is Carriacou.
Just 9 miles from St. Vincent is Bequia (pronounced "BECK-way"), largest of the Grenadines. It and several other islands are easily reached by ferry from the wharf in Kingstown.