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  • simplicity-beach-st-vincent-1 - Petit St. Vincent (PSV) on Windward Island in the Grenadines.
  • tobago-cays-grenadines - Relaxing in the lagoon at Tobago Cays Marine Park in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • simplicity-beach-st-vincent - Simplicity Beach, Mustique, St. Vincent.
  • dock-st-vincent - A dock on an overcast day on Petit St. Vincent (PSV) on Windward Island in the Grenadines.
  • St-Vincent-Grenadines-aerial - An aerial view of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • St-Vincent-Grenadines-tropical-fish - A school of tropical fish in the reef  at St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • tobago-cays-grenadines - Relaxing in the lagoon at Tobago Cays Marine Park in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • jumping-Belaine-Falls-St-Vincent-Grenadines-2 - Taking a leap through the Falls of Baleine on St. Vincent is a popular pastime.
  • St-Vincent-Grenadines-tropical-fish-2 - A tropical fish in the reef  on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Cumberland-Bay-St-Vincent-Grenadines - Cumberland Bay, bisected by a fresh-water stream and framed by lush palm trees, on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Black-Point-Tunnel-St-Vincent-Grenadines - Inside historic Black Point Tunnel near the exit to Byrea on St. Vincent.
  • simplicity-beach-st-vincent-1 - Petit St. Vincent (PSV) on Windward Island in the Grenadines.
  • St-Vincent-Grenadines-3 - A bay on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • tropical-flower-St-Vincent-Grenadines - A tropical flower on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Port-Elizabeth-St-Vincent-Grenadines - Port Elizabeth harbor on the island of Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • dock-st-vincent - A dock on an overcast day on Petit St. Vincent (PSV) on Windward Island in the Grenadines.
  • St-Vincent-Grenadines-marine-life - Porpoises romp in the bay at St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • butterfly-on-Volcano-Trail-St-Vincent-Grenadines - A butterfly on Volcano Trail on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Vincy-parrot-St-Vincent-Grenadines - A friendly Vincy parrot on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Swimming-in-Wallilabou-Falls-St-Vincent-Grenadines - Wallilabou Falls, a tourist attraction, is located about a mile north of Wallilabou Bay on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • St-Vincent-sunset - Sunset over the bay on St. Vincent.
  • St-Vincent-landscape - Rolling green hills on Saint Vincent.
  • Layou-petroglyphs-St-Vincent-Grenadines - Petroglyphs of Layou on St. Vincent reflect the heritage of Amerindian people who lived for 5,000 years in the Caribbean. The country has 18 World Heritage rock art sites found mainly in river valleys near the coast.
  • St-Vincent-Grenadines-shy-fish - A shy fish peeks out from coral in the reef at St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Owia-Salt-Pond-St-Vincent-Grenadines - The view north to Owia salt pond on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Layou-St-Vincent-Grenadines - Layou, a small harbor town on the island of Saint Vincent.
  • jumping-Belaine-Falls-St-Vincent-Grenadines - Taking a running jump at the Falls of Baleine on St. Vincent.
  • Cumberland-nature-trail-St-Vincent-Grenadines - View from Cumberland nature trail on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • tropical-flower-St-Vincent-Grenadines-2 - A tropical flower on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Ponant-LePonant-sails.jpg - Sail the Grenadines in the Caribbean on the spectacular 64-passenger luxury yacht Le Ponant.
  • SeaDream-Mayreau.jpg - Visit the island of Mayreau in the Grenadines on a SeaDream cruise.
  • grenadines-seadream.jpg - Visit the pristine Grenadines in the Caribbean on a SeaDream cruise.
  • Windstar-Cruises-Grenadines - Windstar Cruise takes you on a getaway where you can just relax, read a book and enjoy the warm sunny day by beach at the Mayreau, the smallest inhabited island of the Grenadines.
  • fern-Volcano-Trail-St-Vincent-Grenadines - A fern about to unfurl along Volcano Trail on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • St-Vincent-Grenadines-pleasure-craft - Sweet Ella gets a visitor in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Black-Point-Tunnel-St-Vincent-Grenadines-2 - Inside Black Point Tunnel on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Dark View Falls-local girl-St-Vincent-Grenadines - A local girl poses by Dark View Falls on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Starfish-on-Canouan-Island - A starfish, or sea star, found on Canouan Island, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The island nation has about 1,200 residents.
  • Volcano-Trail-St-Vincent-Grenadines - Taking a rest along Volcano Trail on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Falls-of-Belaine-St-Vincent-Grenadines - The Falls of Baleine, a popular attraction for travelers, on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • snorkeling-in-Owia Salt Pond.-St-Vincent-Grenadines - Snorkeling in Owia salt pond on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • simplicity-beach-st-vincent - Simplicity Beach, Mustique, St. Vincent.
  • Rawracou-St-Vincent-Grenadines - View of Rawracou on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • pagoda-in-Botanical-Garden-St-Vincent-Grenadines - A pagoda in the Botanic Garden on St. Vincent.
  • Dark View Falls-St-Vincent-Grenadines - Dark View Falls on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

St. Vincent & Grenadines travel guide: What to do & see

our guide

The vibe

Culturally intact Caribbean islands that aren't owned by billionaires are hard to come by, but the low-key island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is exceptionally calm, pristine exception. So get there by hook or crook — or by cruise ship, if you can — since who knows how long the tranquility will last once long-awaited, nonstop international jet service from North America and European gateways takes off.

This 68-mile-long Windward Islands archipelago of 32 islands and cays (only nine of which are inhabited) is ideal for island-hopping, stand-up paddle-boarding, and dancing in the company of suntanned celebrities like Tommy Hilfiger, Kelly Ripa and — who knows? — maybe even Mick Jagger.

Cruise ships that call on St. Vincent & Grenadines

Here are some of the cruise ships that call on St. Vincent and the Grenadines:

Top reasons to go

  • Marinelife-friendly and interactive water activities that dazzle above and below the water’s surface.
  • Easy-to-hop to cays for remote exploration a la Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner.
  • Epic real estate porn replete with glitterati spotting.

Top things to do & see 

Find a hammock on Canouan

Canouan’s rustic beaches — outfitted with comfy solo-, double- and triple-person hammocks — unleash instant decompression. The sleepy, chic isle of 1,200 has fewer oceanside bungalows than it does ex-pat Italians who now make up the majority of the populace, keeping things decidedly low density. With such constituents come palates accustomed to high standards. The rustic island imports an impressive array of Italian, French and other European gourmet goods. Burn off the patés, cheeses and foie gras by traversing Mount Royal, the island's highest point at 900 feet, to witness panoramic views of all the Grenadines plus nearby St. Lucia.

The Falls of Baleine, a popular attraction for travelers, on St. Vincent.
Kay Wilson / Courtesy of St. Vincent & Grenadines Tourism Authority The Falls of Baleine, a popular attraction for travelers, on St. Vincent.

Head to Tobago Cays

Launch from Canouan for the Tobago Cays, a mini archipelago of five uninhabited islands within the greater island chain. Skim the biodiverse Salt Whistle Bay aboard Captain Yannis catamarans for up close and personal jaunts that reach Gilligan’s Island-style empty, remote beaches. Disembark around Baradal Island to glide with the schools of sea turtles that don’t object to humans joining their underwater gangs.

Discover the mystique of Mustique

The private yet visitable (with permission by the homeowner owned company, the Mustique Company), lush and storied Mustique is a paradise of the most manicured order. Island attitude lives by a strict regimen: Detoxify by day, debauch come night. (David Bowie and Iman, Sir Paul McCartney and Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton unwind here.) Beach access off Cotton House (one of only two hotels other than private residences available by personal invitation or for rent) boasts long stretching sandbars and calm waters, ideal for stand-up paddle boarding and observing the comforting imperfections revealed by relaxed, casually dressed celebrities and royals. Firefly is the other hotel on the island.

A pagoda in the Botanic Gardens on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Kay Wilson / Courtesy of St. Vincent & Grenadines Tourism Authority A pagoda in the Botanic Gardens on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Botanic Gardens

On St. Vincent, just a half-mile north of main city, Kingstown, are the vibrant Botanic Gardens, developed in 1765 to grow spices and medicinal plants. Today, the 20-acre spread a sanctuary of fragrant flowers and towering tropical trees. For bird enthusiasts,   an aviary center houses 500 endangered parrots. (The St. Vincent parrot is the national bird.)

Spice it up

Stop by the Kingstown Market for spices, fruits and flowers if you're in town on a Friday or Saturday. Nearby is an 18th-century church. Just outside of town is the old Fort Charlotte, built in 1905 on a hill overlooking St. Vincent Bay, and epic for idyllic Instagram images

A tropical fish in the reef on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Kay Wilson / Courtesy of St. Vincent & Grenadines Tourism Authority A tropical fish in the reef on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Eco-sensitive scuba diving

Few know that St. Vincent is also the “Critter Capital of the Caribbean.” Responding in kind, Indigo Dive has created thoughtful, eco-sensitive excursion for divers of all levels  curious to explore vibrant coral reefs and attendant underwater characters. Along with those ubiquitous sea turtles, excursions bring divers face-to-face with starfish, frogfish and sea horses. Beginning divers can get under the surface on Day 1.  If he’s working that day, ask for Dale to lead your journey down under and tell him Shira sent you.

Shopping

St. Vincent is not St. Barth, but because of the cachet of guests coming to Mustique, Cotton House’s gift shop and nearby boutiques like Pink House have some lovely if overpriced merchandise to splurge on. Sometimes you just need a $80 pair of Havaianas, after all.

Family-friendly options

St. Vincent’s all-inclusive Buccament Bay Resort offers passes for day visitors. With food and drink covered and five restaurants to choose from, the focus turns to the plethora of activities available for all age groups. The resort has an all-weather soccer pitch, cricket and rugby (lest we forget that St. Vincent is a former British colony). To cool off, there are three pools and a wide beach encircling the resort. Eight-hour passes cost $150 for adults and $75 for children.

Best bets for dining

At Basil's Bar, Basil himself recommends his rum-filled sundowner punch, which pairs tastily with the spiced beef, chicken, fish and veggie samosas
  • A 10-minute taxi ride from the capital of Kingstown lands the hungry at Villa Beach. After a bite, quickly jet via water skiff to Young Island, which is entirely dominated by the Young Island Resort. Fans of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise may recognize the views, and the bungalows are where Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom worked, played and slept. (While filming, they notoriously mingled with fellow guests.) Come for lunch and forgo gluten-free dining for the impressive assortment of breads: coconut, banana and the legendary cinnamon swirl.
  • When you can still actually meet an island legend, you know the heyday of such a notorious hotspot isn't over. At Basil’s Bar, hang out with Basil, as well as the rich and famous who inevitably stop by the Mustique landmark. Less costly is its Bay Street outpost in Kingstown on St. Vincent island. At either location, the rum-filled sundowner punch pairs tastily with the spiced beef, chicken, fish and veggie samosas.
  • St. Vincent isn't known for preparing exceptional cuisine, so it is fortunate that Canouan has the Italian influence to satiate palates. When all else fails, the wood-fire oven at the Tamarind Beach Hotel always delivers yummy pizzas .

Don’t miss

The Cotton House on Mustique is one of only two places to stay unless you’re personally invited to crash in the private homes of Mick, Paul, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. The 17-suite hotel hosts a weekly cocktail party in the Great Room for the entire island, residents and guests alike. Once in, help yourself to an endless supply of champagne and canapes.

YOLO (You only live once!)

While aboard the Captain Yannis catamaran, I proposed an excursion to the skipper beyond the requisite snorkel: I wanted to engage my inner local eater and catch my prey -- hunt-to-table if you will. Armed with snorkel goggles and fins, I slipped underwater spotting white jellyfish, trumpet fish, rays and sea urchins. I braved the dirty work, catching a few prickly urchins, then squeamishly plunged a butter knife into the porcupine-like shell of one. Courageously, I scooped out the sweet, yellow, yolk-like meat, added lemon and swallowed the sucker raw. 

Best time to go

St. Vincent and the Grenadines rocks nearly perfect weather year round. As this is paradise, assume the weather stays anywhere between 75 and 85 degrees, with wet season in the summer and full hurricane season in fall.

Inside historic Black Point Tunnel near the exit to Byrea on St. Vincent.
Kay Wilson / Courtesy of St. Vincent & Grenadines Tourism Authority Inside historic Black Point Tunnel near the exit to Byrea on St. Vincent.

Fun facts

  • St. Vincent is the largest of 32 islands in the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; 9 are inhabited.
  • Gifted to Princess Margaret as a wedding present by Lord Glenconner, the 10-acre, 18-mile celebrity-rich haven known as Mustique is homey, with hilly green valleys, soft whites sands and calm, shallow, aquamarine perfection. The permanent population is 300. Real estate includes  gingerbread-style manses and villas. And, milk or cereal aside, the village grocery store knows its customers and prioritizes patés, cheeses, caviar and Moet.
  • All three part of the movie "The Pirates of the Caribbean" were shot in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Paparazzi are banned from the island, so be careful who you clandestinely try to take a snapshot of. Better still, don’t take pictures of the fellow guests.

Insider tips

  • Roads are not in the greatest condition, not well marked, incredibly dark at night, and can be narrow, winding and steep with no guard rails. 
  • There are other islands to check out! Bequia, Mayreau, Palm, and Union Islands are mostly residential but worthy of a jaunt if you have time.

When you arrive

Docking information
Cruise ships moor at the Kingstown Harbor, close to the main town on St. Vincent. Smaller ships moor along Bequia, Mayreau and other Grenadine islands.

Getting around

A friendly Vincy parrot on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Kay Wilson / Courtesy of St. Vincent & Grenadines Tourism Authority A friendly Vincy parrot on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Rent a car: Driving is on the left. Snag a temporary driver's license for $18.50 (50 East Caribbean Dollars) at the police station on Bay Street or at the Licensing Authority on Halifax Street. On Mustique people drive “mules” or golf carts and motorcycles, which can be rented. Use your horn as you round a sharp curve or make a sharp turn.

Taxis: There are no taxi stands. The government fixes all rates, so verify the fare with the driver prior to departure. A rate sheet is available from the Tourist Bureau Office in the Government Administration Building on Bay Street in Kingstown. Fares increase late at night and in the early morning.

Inter-island flights: SVG Air (tel 457-5124) flies between St Vincent and Bequia, Canouan, Mustique and Union Island. There are smaller airports on Bequia (tel 458-3948 or 458-3984), Canouan (tel 458-8049), Mustique (tel 458-8368) and Union Island (tel 458-8750 or 458-8587), as well as a private airport on Palm Island. SVG’s country code is 784.

Need to know

Documents: U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport.

Language: The official language of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is English. 

Currency: The Eastern Caribbean Dollar is the currency of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. U.S. dollars are accepted as are major credit cards.

Safety: St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a pretty safe place. As always, don’t flash large sums of money or expensive items and take precautions when traveling in remote areas or at night.

Your take

Have you been to St.Vincent and the Grenadines? I'd love to hear a story, tip or discovery. What was the highlight for you? Comment below, share photos or add a story or visual list.

See anything wrong? What did we overlook? Be a co-creator!

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Shira Levine
I am a storyteller based in Los Angeles and bred in Manhattan and Washington, DC. My career spans magazines, newspapers, non-profits and the United Nations. My global expertise extends to the travel, culinary, real estate, luxury, small business and

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Overheard

“Travelers traditionally come to scuba dive or snorkel the island chain’s reefs, and the private island resort of Petit St. Vincent just added a new dive center run by the marine conservationist Jean-Michel Cousteau.”

New York Times

“Traveling on foot from the cruise ship dock, you can spend an intriguing day exploring the traditional Caribbean port of Kingstown. For something further afield, hop on a ferry to the stunning island of Bequia, which balances remoteness, accessibility, development and affordability.”

Lonely Planet

“Mount Royal is tall enough to disguise a secret lair, and the beaches are so pretty that James Bond girls would feel right at home on them.”

Islands magazine on Canouan

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