I think most cruisers would agree that island hopping is one of the best parts of sailing. A new day brings a different tropical paradise of your choosing to explore and enjoy. The Grenadines, a group of tiny island south of St. Vincent, are the perfect place to do just that.
We blew past these little gems on our way to Grenada because we were on a tight schedule to be insured for hurricane season. So this time around, we gave ourselves two weeks to bounce around the sister islands of St. Vincent.
Our first stop in the Grenadines was Clifton Harbour. Being touristy in nature, Clifton was very different than most of the islands we’ve visited. It had many boutiques and fruit stalls open with locals waving hello and asking us to come see what they had to offer. The people there were very friendly and we felt very welcome.
Our anchorage was picturesque. We dropped hook in about 20 feet of water, directly infront of a giant reef. To the south was Happy Island, a man-made mass of land compromised of conch shells and cement. One evening we visited this little oasis with our friends Steve and Rhonda from SV Cloud 9. We sipped cold beers and rum punches as we sat back and watched tourists dance on the sea wall in their speedos. It was very entertaining.
Petite St. Vincent & Mopion
After spending a few days in Union, we hopped over to Petite St. Vincent, which is home to a private resort. Most of the island and it’s beaches are off limits to cruisers, but we were able to go ashore to one of the cruiser friendly beach bars.
The next day we had a nice snorkel and then dinghied over to Mopion, a tiny little spit of land. This miniature island is most known for it’s famous solitary straw umbrella. When we arrived there was one other couple there enjoying a picnic. They were staying at the resort and had been dropped off for the afternoon. They weren’t the least upset that we intruded and were kind enough to let us share the sand with them and even offered to take our picture.
Tobago Cays National Park
One of the most popular destinations in the Grenadines is Tobago Cays. The biggest draw to this place is the crystal clear water and white sand. In our opinion, it rivals the beauty of the Bahamas. We haven’t found water quite like this anywhere else in the Caribbean.
That being said, there is also an abundance of sea life, especially sea turtles. There are so many turtles, that one of the islands in particular, Baradel, has a designated ‘turtle watching area’.
You can probably imagine that since this is such a beautiful place, it is always crowded and packed with charter boats. It was a bit overwhelming and kind of a turn off to see so many yachts in the anchorages. Luckily, our experience did not suffer in the least. We forked over our 10EC per person/per day to the Park Service and packed in all the snorkeling we could manage.
To make things even better, our friends Bryan and Sarah on SV Tarka were also visiting for a few days so we spent some time snorkeling and hiking with them.
Being so close to Tobago Cays, we just had to stop at Mayreau. We eagerly motored less than two miles over to Salt Whistle Bay, which appeared to be a scenic little anchorage (according to our guide book). It boasted a lovely half moon beach, long tilted palm trees and clear water.
Unfortunately it was also a hot bed of charters, rude boat boys and rowdy vacationers who don’t know how to be considerate of other people. With that said, it was our least favorite anchorage. Unless you like dealing with ass-clowns we wouldn’t recommend it.
I looove this place. It is hands down my favorite island in the Grenadines (that we visited). It tastefully melds tourism and local culture resulting in a charming island experience. Small stalls of shell jewelry, coconut sculptures, paintings and hand crafted knick-knacks are sold along the colorful walk ways.
There are no big box stores or American chains to speak of. Mom and pop shops reign supreme and produce stands burst with fresh goodies from the island. The town is very quaint with gingerbread trim on many of it’s colorful buildings. A picturesque sea walk that wraps around the coast is dotted with pink conch shells and sea glass.
The best part is that the anchorages are lovely and filled mainly with cruisers. In other words, the opposite of Mayreau, which is paradise! There do seem to be a few charter boats that come here, but the next day they are gone. Terrific.
The beach is backed with jungle and dotted with a few little bbq shacks that sell rum punch and food. It’s usually fairly quiet with few people during the day. The sand is so soft and the water is gloriously clear whether you are in thirty feet or five.
*Sidenote: We learned that Bequia is the last whale hunting island in the Caribbean. We don’t completely understand this taboo custom and don’t have many details. We spoke to a local and he told us that they have an annual hunt and take 2-3 whales. Afterwards there is a celebration of sorts.
All in all, the Grenadines were fabulous. Even though we had one unsettling evening out of the places we visited, it doesn’t ruin how we feel about the islands as a whole. These lovely specks of land really are paradise on earth and a sailor’s dream come true!