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A necklace of 32 islands and cays, only nine of them inhabited, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of the most popular destinations in the world for leisure sailors. Snorkelers and divers are also drawn by the region’s many underwater attractions, especially the coral-luscious Tobago Cays.
St. Vincent, “the mainland,” is almost 18 miles long and made imposing by its seething giant, La Soufrière volcano, which last erupted in 1979. Guides lead hikes that wind through the surrounding forest for a close-up view. St. Vincent’s other natural attractions include the Falls of Baleine, spectacular cascades that are accessible only by boat, and theMesopotamia region, with rows upon rows of banana trees. Fort Charlotte, a 19th century British battlement atop a bluff in the capital of Kingstown, features an impressive interpretive display about the Carib culture. Downtown Kingstown is a bustling area, and visitors should see the Botanical Gardens, the oldest such gardens in the Caribbean (founded in 1763) featuring a breadfruit tree that was brought to the island by Capt. William Bligh after surviving the infamous mutiny aboard the Bounty.
Lying just a few miles south of St. Vincent, Bequia is a charming, sleepy port of call. Shops feature the works of model shipbuilders. Among the attractions are the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary and a number of galleries and artisans’ shops. The whaling heritage runs strong on Bequia. Islanders still bring in one or two whales a year using the traditional methods involving a sailboat and a hand-thrown harpoon, taking the whales to the nearby uninhabited island of Petit Nevis for butchering and rendering. Mustique, just a few miles away, is a hideaway for the rich and famous. Canuoan is a hub for charter sailors, and Union Island is a good place to book a day trip to the nearby Tobago Cays, justly famous for their well protected shallow waters.
For those seeking total seclusion, Palm Island and Petit St. Vincent await. Both have one resort and welcome day-trippers for cocktails or meals.