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Real Life Stories
By: Altine Goings
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St Vincent and the Grenadines takes the biscuit in holiday top hot spots: the unique blend of natural beauty, secluded island adventures and serenity lures one to dig deeper and discover the Caribbean you?re looking for?and more

St. Vincent & the Grenadines is a haven for scuba divers, yacht enthusiasts and a perfect getaway for tranquility seekers. Explore the untouched jewels of the Caribbean and plunge into the calm of deserted white sand beaches, excellent turquoise sailing waters, spectacular scenery, and yet, there is so much more…..

Where?
St.Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) are part of the Windward Islands. Its closest neighbors are Grenada (75 miles) to the south, St. Lucia (24 miles) to the north, and Barbados (100 miles) to the east. Mainland St. Vincent is the largest of the 32 islands that comprise the nation St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which cover roughly 390 sq. km (150 sq. miles). The Grenadines themselves extend southwestward from the mainland (45 miles).

Notably among these islands, from north to south, are Young Island, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Union Island, Palm Island and Petit St.Vincent. The last two latter are operated as island resorts while the Tobago Cays, a grouping of 5 islands: Baradal, Jamesby, Petit Rameau, Petit Bateau and Petit Tabac, is a snorkeler’s paradise and remains uninhabited.

How to Get There
SVG is reached by air from North America and Europe through five major gateways – Barbados, Grenada, Martinique, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico and Trinidad – with connections to Union Island, Canouan, Mustique, and Bequia. Most major international airlines provide excellent service to the gateways. The mainland airport in SVG is E.T. Joshua Airport, there is also Canouan Jetport which is serviced by SVG Air, and the American Eagle. SVG Air, Mustique Airways, and Grenadine Airways service the airports in Bequia, Mustique, and Union Island.

Flight time to St. Vincent is approximately 35 minutes from Barbados; 30 minutes from Grenada; 45 minutes from Martinique; 20 minutes from St. Lucia; 2 hours 20 minutes from Puerto Rico.

What you wouldn’t want to miss!

  • Explore Wallilabou (a film site of Pirates of the Caribbean movie).
  • Trek the tropical rain forest at Vermont Nature Trails and experience local wild life.
  • Fly to Union Island and enjoy a catamaran tour.
  • Splash in the natural Salt Pond at Owia, Climb to La Soufriere Volcano – over 4000 ft.
  • Enjoy black sand beaches and white sand beaches.
  • Snorkel at Tobago Cays’ Horseshoe Reef.
  • Enjoy a private retreat at Petit St.Vincent.
  • Take a boat ride or a plane to Mustique for peace, privacy and beauty.
  • Visit Palm Island for luxury and serenity.
  • Hop on a ferry to Bequia - the largest Grenadine island.
  • Kayak through the Bat Cave at Buccament.
  • Escape to Mopion – “sand island”.
  • Explore fantastic marine life around St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
  • Enjoy the breathtaking view of the luscious Mesopotamia valley from the Belmont lookout.
  • Hike to Trinity Falls.
  • and many more!

Recommended
Visit Black Point Tunnel: This tunnel is about 300 feet long and links Grand Sable with Byrea Bay. The tunnel was constructed by the British with the help of slave labour in about 1815 to provide an access route for sugar exports. The estates north of Byrea were distributed to British settlers after the end of the Second Carib War in 1796 for the cultivation of sugar cane. During periods of unfavourable weather, produce could be stored in the tunnel, as well as in a few nearby caves. Today, the tunnel is a local attraction and the area is used as a recreational park. The tunnel was a masterpiece of engineering skill for its time. Discover petroglyphs (Carib rock-carvings), view remnants of the sugar plantation era on the Youroumei heritage site (at the Orange hill estate) - There are interesting excised drawings on rocks by pre-Columbian people, probably Ciboneys, but maybe later Arawaks and Caribs, located around the island. The best-known and most easily accessible are near the pretty fishing town of Layou, by a river about a quarter of a mile from the main road. Others are located at Buccament, Barrouallie and Mesopotamia.

Money
The currency of SVG is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$). Notes are issued in denominations of $100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are issued in denominations of $1, and 25, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cent. The exchange rate is tied to the US dollar at a rate of EC$2.68 = US $1.00.

Taxes
There is a 10 percent Government Tax at hotels and a VAT of 15 percent.

Airport Tax
There is a departure tax of EC $40.00.

Language
English is the official language.

Climate
Average daytime temperatures range from 24°C/75°F to 30°C/87°F. Dry season is January to April. Rainy season is July to October. Average rainfall per year is 80” on the coast, 150” inland.

Immigration
All visitors to SVG must present a valid passport, including citizens of Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. A return or onward ticket is required for all visitors. Visas are required for citizens of other nations.

Time
St. Vincent & the Grenadines are in the Atlantic Standard Time Zone, one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time and four hours behind GMT.

Bedding Down
Whether it is city life or solitude that you are after, there is a wide range of accommodation both on the island and mainland. You are really spoilt for choice from hotels, resorts, apartments, guest houses and villa rentals.

Depending on which you go for, you will still get all the mod cons and other extras including a maid service, babysitting, dive shops, gyms, jacuzzi, kayaking, spa, squash courts etc.

Check out the following websites:

www.youngisland.com www.barefootyachts.com
www.bayhill-apartments.com www.thecobblestoneinn.com
www.coconutbeachinn.com www.crystalheight.com
www.beachcombershotel.com www.canashbeachapartments.com
www.dellsapartments.com www.marinershotel.com
www.riversidesvg.com www.grenadinehouse.com
www.gingerbreadhotel.com www.sugarappleinn.com

Take a Romantic Trip to - Young Island
One of SVG’s most acclaimed resorts, Young Island is a private tropical island just 200 yards off St. Vincent’s spectacular southern shore. Luxurious cottages, all meticulously furnished, are dotted throughout lush foliage, with ocean-view terraces to maximise the views and cooling by the ceiling fans and the gentle trade winds.

Do as little or as much as your imagination allows. Gently swaying hammocks (comfortable enough for two) are conveniently located near the beach, or dive into an array of water sports or take off on a cruise on one of two 44-foot yachts.

Superb beach front restaurant and bars, plus impeccable service provided by a friendly, attentive staff complete this dream-come-true.

A culinary tour of the Grenadines
Your first stop in a whirlwind ‘munching’ trip of The Grenadine islands would be Mustique and Basil’s Bar. An invigorating swim at Macaroni Beach (Mustique is known for its beaches), evening cocktails at the Mustique Martini Club at Firefly (difficult to leave in one piece!) and a huge, freshly-caught lobster at Basil’s drizzled in more-than-a-drizzle of delightful garlic butter seemed a dream. You may spot Mck Jagger walking past, and possibly Brian Adams sitting alone sipping on a rum punch - these celebrities deserve Mustique’s peace and quiet!

Next stop: Bequia. An island known for its boat-building and fishing traditions, its friendly people and the famous Easter Regatta and Music Festival. Bequia is the favourite stop of yachters—manifested in full colour by the myriad of boats moored at Port Elizabeth in Admiralty Bay. Once there, gingerbread beckons for breakfast—you will love the sugar water served with tea! For lunch Mac’s Pizzeria & Bakeshop will be the choice although the range of stops is large. Julie’s, for instance, is well-known for its local pickings. And you must try Life in St. Vincent & the Grenadines 49 mouth-watering lime pie for dessert.

A siesta later leads to snorkeling at Lower Bay Beach. Drinks at De Reef Restaurant beckons dinner at the famous Fernando’s Hideaway. Reservations (what?) are a must. Difficult to find with only fireflies as guides, it will be well worth it. A starter of ‘goat water’ (a strong aphrodisiac according to any Caribbean cook) with local pork ribs and a delicious freshly caught snapper. Afterwards your divine feast - bed will be an added comfort.

Canouan is next. Canouan’s little village and capital Charlestown is where Joy at Pompey’s Restaurant cooks up spicy local dishes. The curry goat and fried fish served up with lentil peas and rice, sweet potato slices, pumpkin and boiled plantain – exquisite. Dinner is Gazpachio of Vine Tomatoes and Basil Sorbet Scented with Truffle Oil followed by Red Snapper Meunière with Breadfruit Puree and a Light Pineapple Foam. Lawd…you could die and go to heavenly sleep.

Morning comes and a bountiful Canouan breakfast – traditional coconut dumplings, saltfish creole, green bananas, yam, sweet potato and eddoes – mmm good! A walk to Mahault Beach (pronounced Mahoe); a swim; a football game with local kids; nibbling on watermelon to cool off in the hot sun, now off you go to Godhals Bar & Grill. Chef Rockley Whyte serves up a crab salad in two creative ways –perfect!

A diet is in order with power walks for the extra weight gained when you fly back home!

Also check out:

  • Driftwood restaurant and lounge.
  • Ratho Hill (you get a Mediterranean cuisine with Caribbean flair)
  • Basil’s Bar and Restaurant on Bay Street Kingstown, serve an international cuisine.
  • Chung Wua Restaurant & Bar also in Kingstown, your weekend fix of Chinese food.
  • Coral Room at Sunset Shores, Villa Beach, the seafood menu is totally Moorish.
  • Teach Restaurant & Bar, Cruise Ship Terminal, Kingstown, for a truly west Indian/Caribbean experience.

For more information on St Vincent and the Grenadines contact:

SVG Tourism Authority,
NIS Building,
2nd Floor ,
Upper Bay Street,
Kingstown,
St Vincent & the Grenadines.

Tel: 784-456-6222
Fax: 784-485-6020
Email:
svgta@discoversvg.com
Website:
www.discoversvg.com

Social Whirlpool
In SVG you will not lack for what do. It explodes to the bream with a variety of fun events for one to observe or partake in. Don’t fuss readers we have compiled a list of some of these for June to December 2010. Details and contacts are supplied for you to make all the arrangements from the comfort of your home before getting that all important plane ticket.

JUNE: 7th
Whit Monday,
  26th
– Till JULY 6th: Vincy Mas Celebrations
   
 
JULY: 4th-15th
Annual Fisherman’s Day Competition (Contact: Bequia Rotary Club, Tel: 784 458 3248)
  5th
Carnival Monday/ J’ouvert
  6th
Carnival Tuesday-Mardi Gras-Contact: Carnival Development Corporation Office, Tel: 784 457 2580
  29th
1st August – Canouan Carnival, (Contact: Mr. Carlos Mc Laurean – Commador – Canouan Sailing Club, Tel: 784 458 8197)
   
 
AUGUST: 1th
Emancipation month - Emancipation Day Festivities-Events to commemorate the abolition of Slavery
  1st – 31st
Breadfruit Festival-The festival takes place in different communities throughout SVG. A variety of dishes and drinks made from breadfruit are exhibited. Local cultural activities are also part of the festival.(Contact: Ministry of Culture, Tel: 784 451 2180).
   
 
SEPTEMBER:  
Dance festival month, (Contact: Ministry of Culture, Tel: 784 451 2180).
   
 
OCTOBER: 26th - 27th
Independence Cycling Competition
  27th:
Independence Day.
   
 
NOVEMBER:  
National Tourism Month Theatre Arts Festival.
   
 
DECEMBER: 16th – 24th
National Nine Mornings Festival Nine Mornings is a unique Vincentian festival which occurs nine Mornings before Christmas.Vincentians awake in the early hours of the morning and partake in a range of activities,among them sea baths, dances (or in local parlance, fetes), bicycle riding and street concerts.In the rural areas, the final morning of the festivity usually ends with a steel band “jump-up”.




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