of the major British Windward Islands, sleepy St. Vincent
is just beginning to awaken to tourism. Sailors and
the yachting set have long known of St. Vincent and
the Grenadines, and until recently it was a well-kept
Situated about one hundred miles west of Barbados, and
nestled between St Lucia to the north and Grenada to
the south, the string of islands known collectively
as St Vincent and the Grenadines may be physically close
together, but vary enormously in character, terrain
The overall economy of the St. Vincent & The Grenadines
revolves around agriculture, with bananas and coconut
palms the major cash crops. Tourism is a growing business
(especially on St. Vincent), but on the outer islands,
smaller crowds, isolated beaches and quiet days are
The main centre of activity is St Vincent , the
largest and northernmost of the islands. As well as
exploring St Vincent's two distinct coastlines - the
rugged windward side and the gentle leeward side - and
lush, interior hiking trails, don't miss the opportunity
to spend time on the tiny isle of Bequia (Bek-way),
just a short ferry ride away, a yachters' haven that
also boasts shimmering beaches and a fascinating seafaring
history. The less developed and less populated islands
of Canouan, Mayreau and Union are
all easily reachable by ferry and offer a taste of the
unspoiled Caribbean, while Mustique , an island
hideaway of the rich and famous, makes for an affordable
day trip of swimming and snorkelling, though don't expect
to find a cheap place to stay.
The uninhabited national park of the Tobago Cays , a
cluster of islets which form the eastern point of a
triangle between Union Island and Mayreau, are surrounded
by coral reefs and unbelievably aquamarine waters and
make an excellent excursion from nearby islands.
Vincents main airport is the E. T. Joshua Airport
in Arnos Vale, a short distance from Kingstown. This
airport services international flights as well as
flights to and from the Grenadines and other Caribbean
major gateways to St. Vincent & The Grenadines from
North America and Europe are Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad,
St. Lucia, Martinique and Puerto Rico, with connecting
flights to Bequia, Canouan, Mustique and Union Island.
main US cities with direct access are New York, Atlanta,
Miami & Charlotte
airline operators with direct and indirect services
to and from St. Vincent:
Bequia, Mustique and Union Island all have airports
with daily scheduled service and charter flights to
and from St. Vincent by SVG
Airways and Trans
Canouan has a jetport that is serviced by SVG
Barbados/St. Vincent: 35 mins.
Grenada/St. Vincent: 30 mins.
London/Barbados: 8 hrs. 20 mins.
Martinique/St. Vincent: 40 mins.
Miami/Barbados: 3.5 hrs.
New York/Barbados: 5 hours.
New York/St. Lucia: 5 hrs.
Puerto Rico/St. Vincent: 2 hrs.
St. Lucia/St. Vincent: 30 mins.
Toronto/Barbados: 6.5 hrs.
Trinidad/St. Vincent: 1 hr.
to St. Vincent & The Grenadines must be in possession
of a valid passport and a return or onward ticket. Visas
are required from nationals of The Dominican Republic,
Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The People's Republic of China,
Iraq, Iran and Nigeria.
Departure Tax of EC$40 (US$15) per person must be paid
by all visitors who have been in the country for 24
hours or more.
visitors, with the exception of Caricom residents, are
normally granted a four week stay by Immigration. To
further extend this duration, visitors need to seek
approval from the Immigration Department, along with
payment of an extension fee of EC$25 per person.
The government sets the rates for fares, but taxis are
unmetered and you should always check the fare before
setting off. Fares are raised for journeys late at night
or early in the morning. The average fare from Indian
Bay into Kingstown is approximately EC$25 and EC$15-20
will get you to the E. T. Joshua Airport from your Indian
Bay or Villa hotel. Tipping is suggested at 10% of the
fare. You can also hire taxis to take you to the islandís
major attractions. Expect to spend EC$40 to EC$50 per
hour for a car holding two to four passengers.
Driving in St. Vincent is on the left. While initially
driving on the narrow, twisting roads is a bit of an
adventure, you will quickly begin to enjoy the challenge
and start driving like a "Vincy". There are
limited road signs, but locals are usually quite happy
to point you in the right direction. Remember to sound
your horn as you make the sharp curves and turns. Avis
(784-456-4389) has an office at the airport and the
majority of local companies will be happy to pick you
up at your hotel or at the airport. Most agencies, such
as Rent and Drive (784-457-5601 and Davidís Auto Clinic
(784-456-4026) offer similar rates and terms.
A temporary driving licence, costing EC$50, must be
purchased at the police station on Bay Street, or the
Licensing Authority on Halifax Street, with the presentation
of a valid overseas driverís licence. If you have an
International Driving Permit you must get it stamped
at the central police station.
Flamboyantly painted buses travel the principal roads
of St. Vincent, linking the major towns and villages.
The central departure point is the bus terminal at the
New Kingstown Fish Market. Fares range from EC$1 to
EC$6 (US$0.40 to US$2.20). Minibuses, which stop on
demand rather than at bus stops, run frequently between
Kingstown and the popular hotel areas of Indian Bay
The number of vans starting in Kingstown and running
to Owia or Fancy in the north is limited. The best way
is to take the early bus to Georgetown and try to catch
one of the two vans running between Georgetown and Fancy
(EC$10). To get to Richmond in the northwest take a
bus to Barrouallie and seek onward transport from there.
A day trip to Mesopotamia (Mespo) by bus (EC$2.50) is
definitely a worthwhile experience.
Inter Island Ferry
Money and Banking
The official currency of St Vincent and the Grenadines
is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) , although the
US dollar is also widely accepted, as are major credit
cards, at hotels and restaurants, and by car rental
agencies and dive and tour companies. The EC$ is divided
into 100 cents. Bills come in denominations of 5, 10,
20, 50 and 100 EC dollars; coins in 1, 2, 5, 10 and
25 cents. At the time of writing, the rate of exchange
was roughly EC$2.70 to US$1.
There are plenty of banks on St Vincent, including Barclays
Bank and Scotiabank on Halifax Street in Kingstown,
both of which have ATMs. E.T. Joshua Airport has an
exchange bureau which is open 8am-noon and 3-5pm on
weekdays. There are also two banks on Bequia and a branch
of the National Commercial Bank on Union Island; all
have ATMs. Banking hours are generally Monday to Thursday
9am-3pm and Friday 9am-5pm; however, some banks close
The capital city of Kingstown is located in the southwestern
part of the island, hugging a mile-wide swath of land
on Kingstown Bay backed up by a ring of green hills
and ridges. Nicknamed the "City of Arches",
Kingstown is full of old world charm, with Cobblestone
sidewalks, old brick buildings and like many Caribbean
capitals, much of the color and bustle of the island
can be found in the market square at the corner of Bay
and Bedford Streets.
The city consists ot twelve small blocks that are easy
to walk and perfect for browsing. Shops and stores range
from simple to sophisticated, selling local crafts,
books, cameras, binoculars, watches, crystal and bone
china, gold and silver jewellery, Sea Island cotton
and batik. Port Elizabeth is the commercial center on
Bequia and boasts a good selection of stores and shops.
St. Vincent boasts an eclectic range of dining options
from beachside grills and take-away pizzas to simple,
casual fare and more elaborate fine gourmet cuisine.
Hotel restaurants are generally open to non-resident
guests and further increase your choices. Along the
Villa and Indian Bay strip is a delightful variety of
local and international restaurants. Moorings around
the Young Island Cut make many of these restaurants
easily accessible to yachtsmen. For those seeking a
slightly more adventurous lunch or dinner experience
take the picturesque drive out to Pebbles in Mount Pleasant
or take a boat ride over to Petit Byahaut or Young Island.
Dining in Bequia is more relaxed and informal but there
are plenty of choices from small intimate restauants
to the more sophisticated.
While St. Vincent may not boast a raucous nightlife
scene, there are a few spots that offer evening entertainment.
A number of hotels feature live weekly entertainment
with local steel bands or string bands usually on Fridays
and Saturdays. You would be wise to check with the venue
before hand for up to date information. The Attic and
Emotions are two well known, lively nightclubs in Kingstown
and Iguana and Marcomay located in Villa. On Bequia,
the waterfront in Port Elizabeth has a good selection
of bars and many hotels offer lively "jump ups"
Casual resort wear is the general rule for both men
and women during the day. Out of respect for local customs,
swimwear should not be worn on the street, or in shops
There are six public hospitals, including Kingstown
General Hospital, and Maryfield Hospital, Lowmans and
Bequia Casualty Hospital, Port Elizabeth, and three
privately owned hospitals. Community care is provided
by 38 outpatient clinics located throughout the country.
Each clinic serves about 3,000 people and is easily
accessible. Health centers are well staffed and provide
a wide range of services, including midwifery, family
planning, immunization and emergency care. St. Vincent
has a mental health center and a home for the elderly.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a reliable supply
of electricity. Electricity is generally 220/240 volt,
50 cycle, except for Petit St. Vincent which has 110
volt, 60 cycle. Most hotels have 110 volt shaver outlets.
The standard electrical plug has 3 rectangular pins
so remember to pack an adapter.
Average temperatures range from 75 87 degrees F. Driest
season is January to April. Rainy season is June to
October. Average rainfall 80" per year on the coast.
150" per year in the interior.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has an abundant supply
of potable water as the level of rainfall is high.
Taxes & Tipping
Hotels and restaurants will automatically add a 7 percent
government tax and 10 percent service charge to your
bill. Tipping is at your discretion, but not expected.
St Vincent and the Grenadines has a state of the art
fibre optic digital telephone system. Internet, Boatphone,
Cellular service, telex, telegraph and facsimile access
are also available. The international area code is 1-784
followed by the local seven-digit number. Phonecards
are available through outlets islandwide as are Phonecard
booths. International Direct Dialing (IDD) service is
available to most destinations in the world and International
calls can be made using your credit card (MasterCard,
Visa, Discover, AT & T and Bell are accepted) by
dialing the operator.
The main post office is on Halifax Street in Kingstown
(Mon-Fri 8.30am-3pm, Sat 8.30-11.30am). There are also
branches in smaller communities on St Vincent, as well
as on the other islands.
Kingstown has a couple of internet cafés , and
others can be found on Bequia and Union Island.
All beaches on St. Vincent are public, and many of the
best border hotels, where you can order drinks or lunch.
Most of the resorts are in the south, where the beaches
have golden-yellow sand. The only real white-sand beach
on St. Vincent is Young Island, which is private. Many
of the beaches in the north have sands of a lava-ash
color. The safest swimming is on the leeward beaches;
the surf on the windward or eastern beaches is often
rough and can be quite dangerous.
Nightlife is not what most visitors come to St. Vincent
and the Grenadines for. Most nightlife centers on the
hotels, where activities usually include barbecues and
dancing to steel bands. In season, at least one hotel
seems to have something planned every night.
Restaurants arenot in short supply throughout the islands.
From beachside grills and take-out pizzas to simple,
casual fare and more elaborate fine gourmet cuisine.
Hotel restaurants are usually open to non-guests and
further increase your choices. Along the Villa and Indian
Bay strip is a delightful choice of local and international
restaurants. Moorings around the Young Island Cut make
many of these restaurants easily accessible to yachtsmen.
For those seeking a slightly more adventurous lunch
or dinner experience take the picturesque drive out
to Pebbles in Mount Pleasant or take a boat ride over
to Petit Byahaut or Young Island.
St. Vincent isn't a shop-a-holic destination, but while
you're here, you might pick up some of the Sea Island
cotton fabrics and clothing that are local specialties.
Vincentian artisans also make pottery, jewelry, and
Since Kingstown consists of about 12 small blocks, you
can walk, browse, and see about everything in a single
morning. Try to be in town for the colorful, noisy Friday-morning
market. You might not purchase anything, but you'll
enjoy the riot of color.
While hours of business vary from store to store, they
generally open from 8 am until noon, and 1 pm to 4 pm
on weekdays and half day on Saturdays.
For the real explorer, La Soufrière, is an intriguing
adventure. As you travel the island, you can't miss
its cloud-capped splendor. The most recent eruption
was in 1979, when it spewed ashes, lava, and hot mud
that covered the vegetation on its slopes. Belching
rocks and black curling smoke filled the blue Caribbean
sky. About 17,000 people were evacuated from a 16km
(10-mile) ring around the volcano.
La Soufrière is in the sparsely settled northern
part of the island, away from most of St. Vincent's
tourism and commercial centers. Should it erupt again,
volcanologists don't consider it a danger to visitors
lodged at beachside hotels along the leeward coast.
At the rim of the crater, you can enjoy one of the most
panoramic views in the Caribbean as you see the steam
rising from the crater.
If you don't want to face Soufrière, the best
hikes are the Vermont Nature Trails. These marked trails
(get a map at the tourist office) take you through a
rainforest and pass long-ago plantations reclaimed by
nature. If it's your lucky day, you might even see the
rare St. Vincent parrot with its flamboyant plumage.
Good hiking shoes and mosquito repellent are a must.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines are one of the great
sailing centers of the Caribbean and can be enjoyed
by old salts and novices alike. Bare boat charters are
available as well as fully crewed. Rentals are available
for a half-day, a full day, overnight, or even longer.
St. Vincent & Bequia offer incredible sheer vertical
walls, crevices, and extensive shallow reefs, many virtually
unexplored and accessible by boat within 10 minutes
from resorts. Diving in the Southern Grenadines and
Tobago Cays boasts impressive dense shallow coral gardens
and a profusion of fish life.
Most of St. Vincent's 30 or so dive sites are sprinkled
along its leeward shore, where you might spot seahorses
and frogfish. The best area for snorkeling and scuba
diving is the Villa/Young Island section on the southern
end of the island.
You can angle for yellowtail snapper, grouper, marlin,
tuna, and wahoo on deep-sea excursions. Costs (for four
people) range from $400 for a half-day to $700 for a
full day. Prices usually include bait and tackle, instruction
for novices, and refreshments. Ask about licensing and
Soufriere, St. Vincent
Reaching the top of this 4,000-foot active volcano requires
a four-hour hike through the rainforest.
Botanic Gardens, Kingstown
The oldest botanical garden in the Western Hemisphere
features flowers and plants from throughout the world.
Barrouallie, St. Vincent
A small historic whaling village that once thrived in
the 19th century.
Falls of Baleine, St. Vincent
These picturesque 60-foot falls, primarily reached only
by boat, form a pool below that makes for luxurious
St. Mary's Cathedral of the Assumption, Kingstown
This historic Catholic church, known for its Romanesque
architecture, was built in the early nineteenth century.
St. George's Cathedral, Kingstown
This historic Georgian-style church has colorful stained-glass
Kingstown Methodist Church, Kingstown
This Kingstown landmark was built by the Methodists
around an old Catholic church purchased in 1790.
Vermont Nature Trail, St. Vincent
Visitors to this scenic nature trail have the opportunity
to see parrots as well as a variety of flowers and plants.
National Museum, St. Vincent
Located inside of the Botanical Gardens, this museum
features a number of ancient artifacts left by St. Vincent's
Table Rock, St. Vincent
A quiet area amidst the wilderness near the Vermont
Nature Trail that offers a secluded spot for picnics.
Wallilabou, St. Vincent
This small historic village sits next to a gorgeous
Queens Drive, St. Vincent
A scenic drive to the east of Kingstown.
Montreal Gardens, St. Vincent
Although smaller than the Botanical Gardens in Kingstown,
these gardens still feature many species of exotic plants.
Fort Duvernette, St. Vincent
Built around 1800 on a tiny island next to Young Island,
this fort once protected a chief port of St. Vincent.
Mesopotamia Valley, St. Vincent
Buried in between two mountains, this valley offers
Market Square, Kingstown
This market area is extremely crowded on weekends as
locals cart in fresh foods to sell.
Fort Charlotte, Kingstown
Built in 1806 by the English to protect the harbor from
French invasion, this fort sits high above the bay of
Buccament Forest Nature Trail, Kingstown
Emmontal Reef, St. Vincent
This reef is named for a brand of Swiss Cheese because
of the color of the yellow Finger Corals that cover
New Guinea Reef, St. Vincent
This dive site, located along the southwest coast of
St. Vincent, is full of corals and sponges.
Anchor Reef, St. Vincent
This reef, which quickly drops below 100 feet, is home
to barracudas, lobsters, rays and more.
Bat Cave, St. Vincent
Snorkelers can see hundreds of bats that make their
home on the roof of this narrow cave.
Pinnacle Rock, St. Vincent
This dive site, which sometimes receives tough currents,
gets its name because of its cone-shaped rock which
comes within 12 feet of the surface.
Turtle Bay, St. Vincent
Seahorses and other unusual sealife is often seen in
this bay, which drops to a depth of about 60 feet.
Callie's Secret, St. Vincent
A recently discovered spot where muck divers will find
an abundance of interesting creatures buried in the
Harbor South South, St. Vincent
Unusual sealife is regularly seen at this dive site.
The Wrecks, St. Vincent
A group of three wrecks located at one site in Kingstown
Harbour includes the Semistrand, a cargo freighter,
and an ancient wreck stirred up back during Hurricane