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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

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Travel Guide Caribbean Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

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Introduction

The Grenadines pick up where Grenada leaves off and stretch northwards till they hit Saint Vincent. They are a collection of 30 islands, only a dozen of which are inhabited. Most are blessed with perfect Caribbean beaches and diving waters and many of the islands also afford great windsurfing conditions.

Canouan

Canouan

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Saint Vincent is the cultural hub of the islands, where most of the population live. Kingstown, along its southwestern shore, is the country's capital, a bubbly cultural affair marked by a decidedly relaxing West Indies atmosphere. The island affords a number of great hikes, most notable of which is the journey up the La Soufriére volcano, a tall active volcano as majestic as it is volatile.

Cruises are a great way of seeing the Grenadines and Saint Vincent. Budget travellers will have to pick their islands wisely, since some are geared almost exclusively to the rich and famous.

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Brief History

The island now known as Saint Vincent was originally named "Hairouna" by the Carib Indians. Carib Indians aggressively prevented European settlement on St. Vincent until the 18th century.
Beginning in 1719, French settlers gained control of the island and began cultivating coffee, tobacco, indigo, cotton, and sugar on plantations. These plantations were worked by enslaved Africans. In 1763, France ceded control of St. Vincent to Britain. However, France re-invaded the island in 1779. The British then finally regained St. Vincent under the Treaties of Versailles (1783).
From 1763 until its independence in 1979, St. Vincent passed through various stages of colonial status under the British. A representative assembly was authorised in 1776, Crown Colony government was installed in 1877, a legislative council was created in 1925, and universal adult suffrage was granted in 1951.
In the 1960s, several regional islands under British control, including St. Vincent, also made an independent attempt to unify. The unification was to be called the West Indies Federation and was driven by a desire to gain freedom from British rule. The attempt collapsed in 1962.
On October 27, 1979, following a referendum under Milton Cato, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence.
In 2009, a referendum about a new constitution to become a republic did not make it, which even was celebrated in the country.
During its history, many natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions and hurricanes have hit the islands, the last major one being Hurricane Lenny in 1999.

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Geography

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island state in the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, an island arc of the Caribbean Sea in North America. The country consists of the main island of Saint Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, a chain of small islands stretching south from Saint Vincent to Grenada. Its total land area is 389 km² of which 344 km² is the island of Saint Vincent.
Its geography is mostly mountainous and includes very little level ground. There is also a large difference between the coastlines on each side of the island. The windward side is very rocky, while the leeward side consists of many sandy beaches and has many more bays. The island's as well as the country's highest peak is the volcanic Soufrière at 1234 metres. There are several tiny islets offshore of Saint Vincent including Young Island and the Cow And Calves Islands. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines' Grenadines also include hundreds of smaller islets. The remainder of the Grenadines to the south are administered by Grenada.

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Regions/Islands

  • Saint Vincent is the largest island and most populous island of the nation.
  • The Grenadines is an archipelago south of Saint Vincent. The Grenadines partly belong to the nation of Grenada, but the following are part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines:
  • Bequia - famous for its yachting heritage.
  • Mustique - playground of the ultra-wealthy.
  • Canouan - the Caribbean in transition.
  • Mayreau - the Caribbean as it was.
  • Tobago Cays - world-renowned yachting destination
  • Union Island - raw and authentic.

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Cities/Towns

  • Kingstown is the country's capital on Saint Vincent.
  • Barrouallie
  • Chateaubelair
  • Georgetown

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Sights and Activities

Meet celebraties

The Caribbean islands are favorite among famous people and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines might just be number one on the list. So if you want to bump into people like Mick Jagger and David Bowie, this is your chance. Sarah Jessica Parker is said to have bought some property as well here. Especially the island of Mustique has a high density regarding VIPs but staying on the island yourself will come at a cost. Still, daytrips do some of the beaches and beachbars are possible...you never know who you are going to meet.

Island Hopping

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines consist of dozens of uninhabited islands but also the main islands like Union Island, Saint Vincent and Mustique are well worth a visit. There is wide choice and you can either hop from one island to another by public ferries or take an organised tour, for example with a sailing yacht to the Tobago Cays in the south of the archipelago.

Fort Charlotte

Fort Charlotte is located on the main island of Saint Vincent and is situated on a 201 meter high ridge north of the capital Kingstown. From here, there are panoramic views of Kingstown and the Grenadines to the south. You can walk through the old officers' quarters, whose walls are lined with paintings depicting Black Carib history. The rest of this 18th-century fort mainly is off-limits and one part is even used as a women's prison.

Other sights and activities

  • Botanic Gardens - the oldest in the West Indies
  • Beaches - Indian Bay Beach on Saint Vincent, especially the ones further south in the Grenadines are worth it.
  • Vermont Nature Trail
  • La Soufriere Volcano - it is possible to go to the top, but it is not an easy afternoon walk

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Events and Festivals

  • Carnival in July

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Weather

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have a hot and humid tropical climate with average daytime temperatures between 28 and 30 degrees Celcius and average nights around 23 degrees Celcius. Most rain falls between June and October with a chance of hurricanes from August onwards. Therefore, the drier (and slightly cooler) December to April period is the best time to visit weatherwise. Unfortunately prices rise sharply during this period and the months of November and May still have good weather. So budgetwise these latter months may be a good option as well.

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Getting there

Plane

Mustique Airways and SVG Air are the two national airlines flying to and from E.T. Joshua International Airport. They both operate both scheduled and charter service to most islands in the eastern Caribbean, like Antigua, Barbados, Martinique, Grenada and Saint Lucia.

Boat

From Union Island in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines there are ferries to and from the island of Carriacou, Grenada. The M.V. Jasper travels from Union Island to Carriacou at 6AM on Mondays and Thursdays. In the other direction, it leaves Carriacou on the same day around noon. The costs is about EC$20.00, which is around 7,5 US Dollar. In addition various fishing boats leave Union Island at 7.30AM and will drop passengers in Carriacou for about the same price. Expensive watertaxis ply the same route between Carriacou and Union Island.

From October 2009, BEDY Ocean Lines, will have a ferry in operation for residents only, connecting Saint Vincent with Barbados and Saint Lucia.

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Getting around

Boat

There is an Inter Island ferry between several of the main islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Four ferries operates between the islands of Saint Vincent, Bequie, Canouan, Mayreau and Union Island. The exact schedule can be found on this page]].
Admiralty Transport (phone 784 458 3348) and Bequia Express (phone 784 458 3472) have 4 boats togethere, travelling between the island of Bequia and Kingstown on Saint Vincent. There are 7 sailings on weekdays, 5 on Saturdays and 2 on Sundays.

By Plane

Mustique Airways and SVG Air both have flights between the main island Saint Vincent and the smaller islands of the Grenadines. Mustique Airways flies between Saint Vincent and Mustique while SVG Air flies between Saint Vincent and the islands of Mustique, Canouan, Bequia, Mayreau, Petit Saint Vincent, Palm Island and Union Island. Most of them are scheduled flights, although the smaller islands like Palm Island and Petit Saint Vincent are mainly served by charter flights.

By Train

There are no options of travelling around by train.

By Car

Renting a car is good option on Saint Vincent with several international (Avis) agencies and local onces offering a raneg of cars. Options are limited on the other islands though, where taxis are a better way to get around privately. Remember that driving is on the left hand side of the road and that you need to buy a special temporary driving permit as well, which can be bought at the offices of the car rental agencies most times.

By Bus

Buses are a good way to get around the island of Saint Vincent and it is also a fun way to get around and meet the locals. Buses on Bequia are also good, but are more of the shared taxi type. On most routes you can just flag down a bus anywhere or get off anywhere you like as well. On the other islands, some shared taxis are available as well, otherwise you need to get a private taxi.

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Red Tape

A valid passport and proof of onward or return transport is required. A visa is not needed.

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Money

The currency of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar, or EC$. It has existed since 1965 and is used by 7 other states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States as well. Only the British Virgin Islands (the nineth member) doesn't use it, but uses the US$ instead. The EC$ is subdivided into 100 cents and has been pegged to the United States dollar at US$1 = EC$2.7 since 1976. The EC$ comes in coins of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cents and a coins of 1 dollar. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollar.

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Health

See also Travel Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) where that disease is widely prevalent.

It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and vaccination against hepatitis B and typhoid are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.

Dengue sometimes occurs as well. There is no vaccination, so buy mosquito repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Also wear long sleeves if possible.

Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.

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Safety

See also Travel Safety

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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Quick Facts

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines flag

Map of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

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Capital
Kingstown
Population
117,534
Government
parliamentary democracy; independent sovereign state within the Commonwealth
Religions
Christianity (Protestant, Catholic)
Languages
English, French patois
Calling Code
+1784
Nationality
Vincentian

Contributors

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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Travel Helpers

  • chris862

    After 20 years in the UK, I returned to live in St Vincent, the main island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Eastern Carribean) which includes Bequia, Canouan and Mustique. Anyone planning to visit and wants info on any aspect, or to be met by a friendly face at the airport! I'd be happy to help.

    SVG is beautiful, peaceful and unspoilt.

    Ask chris862 a question about Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • mingler

    I have visited the Grenadines for the past eight years for as long as four months at a time. I have numerous local contacts and friends and have been to virtually every corner of the main island and all the populated islands as well as some of the unpopulated ones. I snorkel, scuba, and sail. My dream is to acquire the means to make St. Vincent my retirement destination.

    Ask mingler a question about Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Accommodation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

This is version 26. Last edited at 12:52 on Aug 13, 12 by Utrecht. 22 articles link to this page.

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