7 reasons to explore - & relax - in St Vincent & the Grenadines
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It's impossible not to be taken by St Vincent and the Grenadines. With 32 islands, only nine of which are inhabited, some like Mayreau with a tiny population of only 250 people, they form a spectacular island chain in the aquamarine of the eastern Caribbean Sea providing many reasons to visit.
St Vincent is the largest of the islands, rising from the blue to reveal a landscape carpeted in green rainforests and more colours: St Vincentians delight in painting their homes in vibrant hues, so buildings of pastel shades to deep fuchsias, yellows and oranges hug its hillsides.
These hills continue to rise upwards until they meet the slopes of the island's fiery heart, La Soufrière volcano.
Getting to St Vincent and the Grenadines: plan your next escape to coincide with the opening of the brand new luxury all-inclusive resort, Sandals St Vincent and the Grenadines*, which is due to open in late March 2024.
St Vincent is home to the island chain's capital, Kingstown, known as the City of Arches for the hundreds of stone archways that soar above many of its buildings.
In the city, historic sights include Fort Charlotte, a former British garrison built in the early 19th century, which offers perspectives on St Vincent's complex history and views of the coast that demand to be photographed.
Next, head to St Vincent Botanic Gardens, which have been carefully planned and curated since 1765, staking their claim to being the oldest botanical gardens in the western hemisphere.
The original aim of the gardens was to create a collection of medicinal plants, which could be used to treat diseases encountered by British Navy sailors venturing to the tropics for the first time.
Today, a wide range of native flora blooms including tropical plants and fruit trees. It's home to animals including the national bird, vulnerable St Vincent parrots, with blue, green and yellow plumage which is mirrored in the colours of the nation's flag.
Hike an active volcano
There aren't many places in the world where you can wander around an active volcano. But St Vincent's Soufrière allows for that as well as a quite challenging hike, that should only be attempted with a guide.
At 1,234 metres above sea level, La Soufrière is the highest peak on St Vincent and with good visibility, affords views over to St Lucia.
Trails wind through ridges and a soaring tropical rainforest rich in life, before opening to more exposed volcanic rock near the crater. It is possible on some tours to climb into the volcano at its summit to take in its steaming lava dome.
Venture to Dark View Falls
The best travel experiences can require just a little adventure, and that is true of St Vincent's shimmering waterfalls.
You have to cross a swaying bamboo bridge over the Richmond River to get to Dark View Falls. But once there, you'll find a romantic spot with cascading waters tumbling into two pools just right for bathing.
Sail into the blue at Tobago Cays
Deserted islands, peerless white sand beaches, water so clear you barely need to dive in to view the sea life, Tobago Cays is the untouched corner of The Grenadines.
An archipelago of five tiny uninhabited islands: Petit Rameau, Petit Bateau, Baradal, Petit Tobac and Jamesby make up the Tobago Cays Marine Park, a national park and wildlife reserve.
It's only accessible by water and overnight stays are not allowed on the islands, preserving the wildlife and making it an incredible place for diving and snorkelling, including swimming amidst angel fish, seahorses, and green turtles.
There are many boat tours to the cays each day from nearby islands such as Bequia, a short flight or water taxi away from St Vincent.
Visiting Tobago Cays is without doubt one of the best experiences you can have in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Make like a Pirate of the Caribbean
Fancy a swashbuckling day of adventure? Join one of the many tours taking in locations for the adventure film series Pirates of the Caribbean. Tours visit locations including Fort Charlotte, the fishing village of Layou, Barrouallie, Wallilabou Bay and Buccama Beach.
You can even take your turn dressing up as a pirate and pose with an array of props that were used in the film.
Rock out with ancient history
Visit the Layou Petroglyph Park to discover prehistoric rock art. There are 18 art sites across St Vincent and the Grenadines and the park, just north of Buccament Bay, is home to some of the best examples of Central American petroglyphs, or rock art.
The carvings of unusual faces on a large boulder are thought to date from the Saladoid (or Arawak) period around 300 to 600 BCE. Though their meaning is unknown, they are intriguing and of great interest to archaeologists as they provide insight into the island's native dwellers.
The park is set in beautiful vegetation with picnic areas, and the Rutland River running through it has a small pool in which you can swim. Visit the park on your own or you can join a guided tour to see it in more detail.
Get into liming
If you're looking for a relaxing break in the sun, St Vincent could not be more ideal. The islanders even have a word for the great art of doing nothing - liming.
Be that alone with a good book or chilling out over drinks with friends, liming is such an intrinsic part of local culture that you'd easily be forgiven for simply flying, flopping and doing little more than soaking up the sun on St Vincent. The best beaches for liming are found on its golden southern shores.
Climate in St Vincent and the Grenadines
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