St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a southern Caribbean nation comprising a main island, St. Vincent, and a chain of smaller islands. With yacht-filled harbours, chic private isles and volcanic landscapes, it’s known for its major sailing destinations such as reef-lined Bequia Island off Admiralty Bay, bordered by white-sand beaches like Princess Margaret. The main island is home to the capital, Kingstown.
Although tourism and other services have been growing moderately in recent years, the economy is not well diversified. Unemployment remains high, and economic growth hinges upon seasonal variations in the agricultural and tourism sectors.
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SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES QUICK FACTS
Currency: East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Area: 389 km²
Population: 110 210 (2018)
Language: English, French patois
Religion: Anglican 47%, Methodist 28%, Roman Catholic 13%
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SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 14 March, National Heroes’ Day
- 1 August, Emancipation Day
- 27 October, Independence Day
- 26 December, Boxing Day
Also, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, and Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
FESTIVALS IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Vincy Mas Carnival - (end of Jun or early Jul) The big yearly event in St Vincent. This enormous carnival culminates in a street party in Kingstown with steel bands, dancers and drinks.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a tropical climate, with hot, humid conditions year-round. Historically, the dry season has been from December to May and the rainy season from June to November. However, there has been noticeable changes in this pattern over the past ten years- the rainy season now lasts from May to October.
The best time to visit St. Vincent & The Grenadines is May to June and November. During these shoulder months, hotels drop their rates to attract travellers. The peak season – December through April – lures European visitors with its warm and dry Caribbean temperatures. Crowds thin out and hotel prices plummet between July and October when hurricane season threatens the archipelago. No matter which month you visit, you'll find the islands' average highs hover around 30C (85F) throughout the year.
- High Season (Dec–Apr) - People fleeing the northern hemisphere winter arrive in droves and prices peak. This is the Caribbean's driest time and can be cool the northern islands.
- Shoulder (May–Jun & Nov) - The weather is good, rains are moderate throughout. Reduced visitor numbers and the best mix of affordable rates and good weather. makes this an ideal time to visit the Caribbean.
- Low Season (Jul–Oct) - Hurricane season; the odds of being caught are small, but tropical storms are like abound. During this time room prices can be half or less than in high season and you will find eastern Caribbean’s beaches good for surfing.
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES WEATHER SYNOPSIS
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a tropical climate, with hot, humid conditions year-round. Historically, the dry season has been from December to May and the rainy season from June to November. However, there has been noticeable changes in this pattern over the past ten years- the rainy season now lasts from May to October. The country is impacted by tropical cyclones and hurricanes, as well as the impacts of the El Nino Southern Oscillation. El Nino brings warmer and drier than average conditions between June and August, while La Nina brings colder and wetter conditions during this same time period.
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
HIKING & CYCLING IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
The best months for outdoor activities in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, are January to May when it's driest and least humid. From June to December the rain usually falls in brief, very heavy showers as this is the hurricane season.
BEACH OPTIONS IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines enjoys a hot, tropical climate suitable for beach going all year round. The driest and least humid months are typically from January to May, so these are best for enjoying the beaches. From June to December the rain usually falls in brief, very heavy showers as this is the hurricane season.
SURFING IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
The prime time for surfing in the Caribbean is from November to April. The most popular surf spots in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are Blue Lagoon and Shipping Bay.
KITESURF IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
The best winds for kitesurfing in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are usually from December to June, with stronger winds generally between January and March.
For more details on kite surfing in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines expand this section!
HEALTH RISKS IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
Be aware of possible health risks in
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES TRAVEL COSTS
The Caribbean is not cheap, but there are ways to get the most bang for your buck with a little forward planning and some savvy choices
Budget less than US$150 Room away from the beach: under US$100, Meal at a locally popular restaurant: US$10, Ride local buses: US$3
Midrange US$150–300 Double room in the action: US$200, Visit parks and beaches that are free, rent bikes or snorkel for US$10 per day Rental car for exploring: US$40 to US$60 a day.
Top end over US$300 - Beautiful rooms at the best resorts in high season: US$400 and over, Activities in beautiful places: US$100 and up, World-renowned meals: US$100 per person and more.
Here are some of the best ways to save money:
Travel in groups Bring your friends and other couples along with you and rent a villa.
Book far in advance For high season deals.
Book at the last minute For incredible deals as hotels dump empty rooms.
Follow the divers They demand great value near beautiful waters.
Ride buses and ferries You meet folks and may have an adventure.
Live like a local Save money while having a more authentic visit.
Travel in low season Prices can drop 40% or more.
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES TRAVEL TIPS
The best way to get around St. Vincent & The Grenadines is by taxi. Taxis are plentiful on St. Vincent and the bigger islands, and fares are reasonable for short trips. Taking a cab is probably the easiest way to get to your hotel from St. Vincent's E.T. Joshua Airport (SVD), located a few miles southeast of Kingstown.
- Renting your own set of wheels on St. Vincent, Bequia and Mustique is also an option, but it's not recommended as roads can be somewhat tough to navigate. You'll need to present a valid driver's license as well as a temporary local license, which you can pick up from at the police station on Bay Street in Kingstown or at the Revenue Office located in Port Elizabeth, Bequia. A temporary license costs EC$100 (about $40).
- Buses are another popular means of getting around St. Vincent, Bequia and Union Island; however, they tend to be overcrowded and cramped. You'll find buses provide an easy and affordable way of getting around St. Vincent but be prepared for slow speeds and crowded conditions. Buses depart from New Kingstown Fish Market along the waterfront.
- Taxis are available on more populated islands like St. Vincent, Bequia, Mustique and Union Islands, as well as some of the smaller isles. Taxis are not metered, so negotiate a price before hitting the road.
- To get to the Grenadines, head to St. Vincent's central harbour in Kingstown, where numerous ferry companies shuttle passengers between St. Vincent and the islands daily. However, service to outer islands might be less regular. Check schedules with Bequia Express, Jaden Sun and MV Admiral.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
St Vincent and the Grenadines offer the sort of adventure that defines a Caribbean trip: hopping boats between islands ringed with untouched beaches and few other visitors. Grenada might offer the best of all worlds: gorgeous beaches, a neat little capital and a lush interior brimming with fragrant bounty. With 32 remote islands and cays boasting emerald hills, postcard-worthy harbours, and boutique hotels, this Caribbean destination makes a perfect escape.
Devote a few days to exploring St. Vincent, the biggest island of the chain, before sailing to Mustique, Canouan and Bequia – some of the Grenadines' finest (and exclusive) hideaways. However, exploring this quiet, less-travelled tropical paradise requires many hours in transit (there's no direct flight from the U.S.) and a chunky wallet.
ST VINCENT is the largest island and the hub that most travellers will pass through on their visit to St Vincent & the Grenadines. Though not uninspiring, the allure of the Grenadines pulls most visitors away from St Vincent quickly as beaches are on the average side and the frenetic pace of Kingstown and its unpolished edges can be tiresome. However, the island is wonderful for exploring and the rain forested interior offers great hiking opportunities with vast banana plantations filling the gaps for a visual spectacle.
Kingstown heaves and swells with a pulsing local community that bustles through its narrow streets and alleyways. Steep hills surround the town, amplifying the sounds of car horns, street vendors and the music filtering through the crowd. Rough cobblestone streets, arched stone doorways and covered walkways conjure up a Caribbean of banana boats and colonial rule. Save your beach time for the idyllic white sands of the Grenadines, but for a quick local dip, look for the narrow strips of sand amid small coves at Villa Beach.
The windward (east) coast of St Vincent is a mix of wave-lashed shoreline, quiet bays and small towns. The black-sand beaches meld into the banana plantations and the lush vegetation grows up into the hilly interior. As you head north, you really start to get off the beaten track. The jungle gets a bit thicker, the road a bit narrower, and towering La Soufrière volcano (4048ft) begins to dominate the skyline.
Continuing on you will hit Sandy Bay, a sizable village that has the island’s largest concentration of Black Caribs. North is Owia Bay and the village of Owia, where you’ll find the Salt Pond, a group of tidal pools protected from the crashing Atlantic by a massive stone shield. This is a popular swimming hole with crystal-clear waters and a view of St Lucia to the north.
The Leeward Highway runs north of Kingstown along St Vincent’s west coast for 25 very slow miles, ending at Richmond Beach. Offering some lovely scenery, the road climbs into the mountains as it leaves Kingstown, then winds through the hillside and back down to deeply cut coastal valleys that open to coconut plantations, fishing villages and bays lined with black-sand beaches.
(more location and points of interest are available in the above map)
BEQUIA (pronounced ‘beck-way’) is the most perfect island in the whole Grenadines. Stunning beaches dotting the shoreline, accommodations to fit most budgets and a slow pace of life all help to create an environment that is unforgettable. There are fine restaurants, shops that retain their local integrity and enough golden sand and blue water to keep everybody blissful.
The appealing little town of Port Elizabeth is little more than a line of shops rimming the beach of Admiralty Bay backed by a natural amphitheatre of green hills. The harbour is often packed with yachts from the world over. Many places are accessible on foot from Port Elizabeth. Everything else is a quick trip by minibus (EC$2 to EC$5).
Wandering the island enjoying the beaches is the top way to let the days slip past. Further afield, day trips to nearby islands are popular.
You don’t have to go far for great diving on Bequia – there are some top sites just on the edge of Admiralty Bay. Trips to Tobago Cays are a highlight for many. The tiny beachside community of Lower Bay has the best beach on the island: stunningly clear waters of Admiralty Bay spread out in front like a turquoise fan from a base of golden sand. It’s never crowded; vendors rent out beach chairs and there’s a couple of cute beachfront cafes.
MUSTIQUE is an island that offers stunning beaches and everything else you expect to find in paradise, now just add to the mix accommodations that defy description or affordability. With prices that exclude all but the super-rich, this island is the exclusive playground of the uber-affluent.
CANOUAN is interesting, both historically and aesthetically. This beautiful hook-shaped island has some of the most brilliant beaches in the entire Grenadines chain, and some of the most secluded hideaways too (plus one very large resort). You’ll find lovely beaches within a short walk of the tiny main town of Charlestown and the ferry dock.
The compact palm-covered island of MAYREAU sits just west of the Tobago Cays. With only a handful of roads, no airport and a smattering of residents, Mayreau might resemble a fabled desert isle. Stop in to the east side of the island (a 20-minute walk from the ferry dock) and you find Saltwhistle Bay. A double crescent of beautiful beaches split by a narrow palm-tree-fringed isthmus, it seems to come right out of central casting for tropical ideals.
UNION ISLAND is not only the southern most outpost but serves as an important transport hub to Grenada. The small port town of Clifton has a slightly rough-edged charm and you can easily spend a day wandering its short main street and the surrounding hills. It also has decent accommodations, services and just enough nightlife.
With five small islands ringed with coral reefs, the fabled TOBAGO CAYS offer some of the Caribbean’s best diving and snorkelling - perfectly situated in a national park and only accessible via boat on a day trip from one of the Grenadines. The snorkelling is world class and sea turtles and parrot fish are just the start of myriad species you’ll see with incredible coral abound. You can get a day trip to the Cays from any place in the Grenadines. The best operators are found on Bequia and Union Island.
WHAT TO PACK FOR SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
The Caribbean islands are casual, so bring light, comfy clothes: a bathing suit, T-shirt and shorts will be your wardrobe. Add long pants or a dress for nights out.
Sun hat Buying at home ensures a better fit.
Quick-dry towel A small one, for when the whim to swim hits.
Flashlight For night-time reading, blackouts.
Resealable bags / Drybags Essential for keeping things (cameras, air tickets, passports) dry on boat trips.
Snorkelling mask with corrective lenses Suddenly, reefs are in focus!
WHAT TO EAT IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
There are some good, simple restaurants in Kingstown serving local fare. Impromptu bars rule the streets as the Saturday market wanes in the afternoon. Most hotels have good restaurants open to non-guests.
These dishes can be found across the Caribbean:
Callaloo - A creamy thick soup or stew blending a variety of vegetables (eg spinach, kale, onions, carrots, eggplant, garlic, okra) with coconut milk and sometimes crab or ham. The base can be spinach-like.
Roti - Fiery chutney sets off the curried chicken, beef, conch or vegetable fillings in these burrito-like flat-bread wraps.
Conch - Look for farm-raised versions as conch in the wild are endangered. This large pink mollusk is cooked with onion and spices in a stew, fried up as fritters, or sliced raw and served with a lime marinade.
Take time to meet the locals by doing what they do – you’ll enjoy a more affordable and authentic experience.
Eat at lunch wagons or stalls. The local fare is cheap and often incredibly good.
Drop by a local bar – often the de facto community center. Besides a drink, you’ll get all sorts of useful – or wonderfully frivolous – advice.
Look for community fish fries or barbecues in the Eastern Caribbean.
LGBTQ IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
WHERE TO STAY IN SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
On St Vincent the the majority of options are in the beachside communities of Indian Bay and Villa.