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During my stay in St Vincent I really wanted to do a bit of island hopping to really soak up the culture and see what the Caribbean has to offer. The closest island to St Vincent, well one of any size that is actually public, is Bequia and with daily boats to the island I just had to go and explore it as a day tripper.
Bequia is located in the southern part of the Caribbean chain known as the Windward Islands. This gorgeous island is seven square miles of land and has a population of around 5,000 people. There are no international chains of retail shops, no fast food places or the typical tourist tat you find in many of the better known Caribbean islands since this island is quiet, undeveloped and gives a true insight in to what traditional Caribbean life is like, and it is a lot like St Vincent in this respect.
Getting to Bequia from St Vincent involves getting the ferry, which runs regularly on a daily basis, and the journey takes around an hour. Ferries are definitely not my choice of ways to travel as I absolutely hate the things. That said, the journey was pleasant but this is probably down to the sun, sea and stunning views throughout. There are loads of opportunities for some amazing scenery shots so it is best to have your camera to hand at all times.
As you'd expect the weather in Bequia is usually gorgeous and temperatures consistently average between 24 degrees centigrade and 32 degrees centigrade throughout the year. In the winter months, January to March, the temperatures may drop to a chilly 20 degrees centigrade at night. Despite being so close to St Vincent Bequia seemed so much hotter and we burned much quicker and I don't understand why. Maybe there is less breeze in Bequia or maybe it is because it is closer to the equator but whatever the reason it definitely is hotter and I would strongly suggest taking strong sun cream.
Unlike the black sands of St Vincent the beaches at Bequia are the golden sands that most people imagine when they think of the Caribbean. The beaches are absolutely stunning and there are loads to choose from including Princess Margaret Beach (named because she swam there on her honeymoon), Belmont walkway and Lower Bay. There are many others but, unfortunately on a day trip you don't get to sample them all. All the beaches we went on appeared very safe as the crystal blue water was like glass, there were no waves, no strong under currents and no rip tides. In addition the beach was a gradual slope, which was great.
With the white coral sands and plenty of reefs this island is great for snorkeling. There is an abundance of colourful and interesting marine life and you don't need to go far or look to hard to see it, making it ideal for families and novices, like me. For those who are more au fait with the underwater world there are loads of places to go diving further out and, according to the locals we got speaking to, the sites are no more than 15 minutes boat ride off shore.
If snorkeling and diving are not your thing, or you prefer to stray away from the beach the land activities include;
i) Moonhole, a collection of stone dwellings and although this is privately owned it is possible to get a guided tour for little cost. I admit that stones are not really my thing but it is well worth a visit.
ii) To the north of the island there is the turtle sanctuary, which has been open since 1995. I was told that it is possible to have a guided tour and told of the mission to increase the Turtle population although we did not get the opportunity to visit, which was a shame.
iii) A pottery in the old sugar mill at Spring is a place where you can see pottery being made, baked, glazed and decorated. It is also a place where local artwork is shown. Unfortunately this is another place we did not get to visit as we ran out of time.
The residents of Bequia are very friendly and cannot do enough to make you feel welcome, regardless of who you are and what you are doing on the island. Not once did I experience the hard sell to make me buy something which I found a refreshing change. If I was offered something I didn't want a simple "no thanks" was all that was needed to get a polite response and left alone.
All the people of Bequia seemed so happy and content with life, regardless of what they looked like or their job, but this seems to be the norm in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Thinkng about it though, if I lived their relaxed, un-materialistic lifestyle and resided on such a beautiful island that seems a million miles from the hustle and bustle of modern day life then I think I would probably be the same.
If you are looking to stay on Bequia there is a whole range of accommodation available, all of which are actually affordable. It is not as exclusive as Mustique and you won't need a second mortgage to spend a week or two in Bequia. The accommodation includes villas, hotels, apartments and houses. There is something to suit everyone and to suit all budgets, which is great.
If you are looking for an island where you can chill out and relax, sunbath, go swimming, snorkeling or diving, or just a wander round to soak up a bit of culture whilst topping up your tan then Bequia is a place I would recommend visiting. The golden beaches, crystal clear waters and lush foliage is simply stunning and provides some breath taking views that will stay ingrained in your mind forever.
(This review has been posted on other sites under the name of yackers1)
Second largest island in the Grenadines located near St Vincent.