My husband has been sailing the deep, blue seas of the Caribbean for the past 30 years. He and his sailing friends have been to 95% of the islands…several times. So who better to ask, “Which are the best islands in the Caribbean?” Below is the second of three posts describing the Caribbean’s best…from one who knows!
The Grenadines are a chain of 32 islands, nine of which are inhabited.
Mustique—The Sophisticate with little Retail or Restaurants
Mustique’s small, international airport is the prettiest I have ever seen: it is all bamboo! The island is dotted with some BIG, attractive rental “villas” scattered discreetly about, two really nice small hotels (the 15-room Cotton House and the Firefly, my fav with seven rooms), three tiny villages, and beaches with palm trees. No cars, just high-powered golf carts, called mules. Sooo relaxing! Click here for its history. Mustique became a jet-setter destination after Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner, purchased it in 1958, began developing it, and then–cleverly–gave a 10-acre plot of land to Princess Margaret (QE2’s sister) as a wedding present, where she built a house, called Les Jolies Eaux. Let’s look at some pic’s of it:
Soon, QE2 came to visit. After that, word got out. Since then, Mick Jagger built a house on Mustique, as did Tommy Hilfiger and David Bowie. Kate and Wills vacation here, too. A must: Basil’s Bar on the beach.
Bequai is “Part of the Grenadine Island chain, 9 miles west of Mustique and just 7 sq. miles in size. With it’s warm climate and average temperature range of 75 to 85 degrees throughout the year, Bequia is the perfect small Caribbean Island we all dream of. Friendly and welcoming people, simple unhurried lifestyle, beautiful beaches…one of the few Caribbean Islands to have retained it’s original character and old world charm. ..There is no bad time to visit being far enough south to avoid hurricanes,” per the Firefly Plantation Hotel’s website.
Bequia’s waterfront has tremendous, small interesting restaurants, e.g. Frangiapani’s and Mac’s Pizza. The island has small guest houses and hotels but the Firefly Plantation Hotel is the best (4 attractive rooms, a two-bedroom cottage, and attractive restaurant with good food; the Firefly is up in the hills).
The island’s ambience is laid back, relaxed and nice. Doris’ Fresh Food and Yacht Provisioning sells wonderful imported gourmet food (cheese, pickles, teas, coffees, wine), though expensive but understandable, as this type of food is hard to find in this part of the world. Sailors love Bequai because of its great harbor with yachting services and calm anchorage. Bequai is an excellent place to go if you want to get away from it all.
Petit St. Vincent–Tiny, beautiful, rustic-chic
Gorgeous location with a big reef off its coast. You can only reach this private island by boat, provided by Petit St. Vincent Private Island, the resort that owns the whole island. You can walk around this 115-acre island in less than an hour, if the tide is right. The rooms consist of 22 villas, dotted around the island. If you want anything, you raise a flag: flags of varying colors communicate your needs. Consistently good food here. Some nights, the hotel shows movies under the stars on the beach! Andrew Harper and National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World also like Petit St. Vincent. Petit St. Vincent is wonderful for those who want to be away from it all, as it’s quiet.
Mayreau–Caribbean the way it was 30 years ago
Mayreau has beautiful beaches, no crime, no crowds (pop. 270) and is very, very rustic. Mayreau is the Caribbean before the onslaught of tourism. But, my husband does not recommend staying here because it is not set up for tourists: no hotels, just places with 2-3 rooms; no gourmet food though fish, chicken and goat dishes abound; no public drinking water; intermittent electricity; and no airport. Be sure to go to Dennis’ Hideaway: this bar/restaurant/hotel hotel is an institution (been there a long time) on the island, good place for lunch or dinner, with basic food. You can only get Mayreau by boat: day-trip from nearby Petit St. Vincent (the hotel will arrange transportation), Canouan (the Four Seasons hotel there will arrange transport), Little Palm Island and Union Island (water taxi). You will see a totally unspoiled island!
Tobago Keys–idyllic trio of small, uninhabited islands
The Tobago Keys are surrounded by a protective reef system that is part of St. Vincent National Park. It is truly worth a visit to see the water, snorkel the reef, walk on the beautiful beaches or climb the small hills on the islands. No accommodations but a water taxi will take you there from most of the surrounding islands. It is well worth the minimal effort!