Unforgettable Things to Do in St Vincent and the Grenadines

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Things to Do in St Vincent and the Grenadine - Island hop
Island hop in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Photo credit: Lauren Salisbury

Of all the many fantastic Caribbean countries, St. Vincent and the Grenadines stands out.  After all, there’s a reason Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl filmed many of its iconic scenes here.

The singular nation is actually a chain of 32 islands, each surrounded by deep blue waters and coral reefs that seem to be the very definition of paradise. More popular as a destination for yachters than cruise ships, a visit to the islands is also a lot more private than many other destinations in the region. With easy access via air from Barbados and Grenada, this makes it a perfect place for travelers who want world-famous Caribbean views all to themselves.

I recently visited and was blown away by the variety of things to do in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Here’s a look at my collection of favorites.

Island Hop

Unless you’re on a cruise, it can be surprisingly difficult to island hop in the Caribbean as few islands are connected by ferry. The proximity and density of islands in St. Vincent and the Grenadines flip that script. Not only do ferries run between the major islands daily, many are accessible by water taxi or a private charter, offering great views both leeward and windward!

Bequia is the closest island to the international airport on St. Vincent and is often lauded as one of the best small islands in the region. Stretch out on Princess Margaret Beach or walk along the stretch of stores in Port Elizabeth to get your shopping on.

Spend a day rubbing elbows with the rich and famous on Mustique where you’ll be in company with the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Mick Jagger, both of whom own homes here. On Mayreau, Salt Whistle Bay is full of sea breezes thanks to its prime location on a windy side of the island.

The hook-shaped Canouan Island is another popular option. The beautiful beaches here – nearly all walkable from the town of Charleston – are renowned for their snorkeling scenes.

Meanwhile, Union Island serves as the gateway for some of the best sailing in the region. The town of Clifton is charming and kayaking is a great way to see the unique cliffside from afar.

Further south, Petit St. Vincent is a private island known for some of the best white sand beaches in the entire region.

Things to Do in St Vincent and the Grenadine - Tobago Cays
The Tobago Cays are home to white sand beaches and marine life. Photo credit: Lauren Salisbury

Sail Through the Tobago Cays

My hands-down favorite thing to do in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was a water taxi tour of the Tobago Cays Marine Park. One of the most sought-after sailing destinations in the Caribbean, this archipelago of five uninhabited islands are surrounded by turquoise waters and full of marine life. It’s no wonder it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Above water, each island offers beautiful beaches with very few people, thanks to the lack of hotels and resorts. One of the islands is a classic stop for an authentic Caribbean barbeque. Another offers scenery found in Pirates of the Caribbean, serving as the filming location for the island where Captain Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth are marooned with barrels of rum.

Below the water, each island is a snorkeling haven. One of the biggest delights was sightings of green turtles beneath the surface near Badal Island.

Summit a Volcano

Ocean views aren’t the only landscape in sight – the island of St. Vincent is also home to a sulfur-spitting volcano. Located on the northern end of the island, La Soufriere volcano fills the skyline. The crater can be reached via a 2.5-hour hike, reaching an elevation of more than 4,000 feet. That’s surprisingly high for a Caribbean island!

A local guide is a must as the trails aren’t clearly marked. Plus, you’ll want to trek with an expert who can point out all the fascinating flora and fauna along the way and set you up with the best views of neighboring St. Lucia.

Scuba Dive

Let’s face it – some of the best sightseeing locations in the Caribbean are found underwater! Crystal-clear waters around the islands here make it the perfect place to spot sea life. Angelfish, moray eels, barracuda, and sea turtles all dwell off the shore. The islands are also especially known for muck diving.

While most islands have a scuba shop or two, the highest concentration of options is found on St. Vincent. Dive shops will be able to arrange trips to the diverse underwater landscapes that include shipwrecks, undersea cliffs, and fields of black coral.

Things to Do in St Vincent and the Grenadine - The Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed across St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed across St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Photo credit: Lauren Salisbury

Take a Pirates of the Caribbean Tour

Hollywood meets the Caribbean in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The nation plays a starring role in all three original Pirates of the Caribbean films, with scenes featuring local spots on the big screen. After all, piracy is an actual part of the region’s history, lasting for 300 years from the 1500s to the 1800s.

A popular day trip from Kingstown, several tour operators will take visitors to the filming locations which include Fort Charlotte, a military post that dates back to 1806, and Walilabou Bay. Remember the iconic introduction to Captain Jack Sparrow where he rides to shore aboard a sinking ship? That scene was filmed here.

Hike to Scenic Waterfalls

Apart from the dominating volcano, the landscape of this island paradise also abounds with waterfalls. Well-marked trails across the island of St. Vincent lead to gorgeous waterfalls, many of which have freshwater swimming pools nearby. What a great option to cool down after stretching your legs on a hike!

Dark View Falls is the highest-rated waterfall hike in the country. Not only will adventurers be rewarded with a refreshing swim in the cascading waterfall, a guided hike from Kingston also includes a scenic drive past several fishing villages and some of the island’s best beaches.

If hiking isn’t your thing, you can still see an abundance of foliage without the physical effort at the Botanical Gardens in Kingston. Another great hiking alternative is the Montreal Gardens further inland.

Experience Local Culture at a Festival

In addition to the natural beauty, the vibrant and colorful cultures found across the Caribbean make visiting a truly special experience. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is no exception and a host of festivals take place throughout the year that are a great way to immerse yourself in a local experience.

The biggest festival of all is Vincy Mas, a yearly carnival that takes place in June/July. Kingstown explodes into a giant street party with dancers, steel drums, and plenty of culinary delights (don’t miss the breadfruit). The Easter Regatta is also a notable event, bringing hundreds of sailboats to the island of Bequia each spring.

Satisfy Your Taste Buds with Caribbean Culinary Delights

The Caribbean is one of the tastiest regions on the planet with unique spices and marinades that enchant adventurous taste buds. No visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines would be complete without experiencing at least a few local dishes. 

The top dishes to add to your foodie bucket list are: callalou soup, madongo dumplings, roasted jackfish, and breadfruit. While in the capital city of Kingstown, Vee Jay’s Restaurant and Bar is a must-visit for their wide array of SVG classics. 

Enjoy a Beach Day (Make That Days)

While it may be the most obvious choice, spending a day (or more) at one of the travel guide-recommended white sand beaches is a classic way to vacation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Lower Bay on Bequia is a great choice for swimmers and nearby many local restaurants. Macaroni Beach on the exclusive Mustique is one of the most sought-after. Buccament, an all-inclusive resort with beach access is also a must-see.

Take a day trip to Palm Island for a private island experience – the entire island enchants and it’s one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean!

Things to Do in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of the most pristine countries in the entire Caribbean. With a gleaming collection of islands to explore, there are plenty of things to do above and below the sea. For independent travelers looking to experience the Caribbean in a more authentic way than a cruise, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of the best destinations to visit. 

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