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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
A portion of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines territory, the lush and mountainous Bequia is about 9 miles to the south of St. Vincent's western shore and the most populated and biggest island in the Grenadines. Port Elizabeth, the capital, is a small town with nice bay view bars, eateries and shops where visitors can purchase souvenirs. Sailing is the main activity here, though boatbuilding and fishing have also gained popularity off late.The scenic Admiralty Bay is known to be the most photogenic anchorages in the Caribbean region, and a much preferred anchorage for chartered yachts. It offers spectacular vistas, and plenty of snorkeling, walking, and swimming activities at the many golden sand bays.
The Admiralty Bay is filled with boats throughout the year. This is undoubtedly the best place to be at during sunset. Enjoy a vista of boats against a tangerine backdrop from one of the chic terrace bars or restaurants at one of the swanky waterfront resorts.
Hamilton Battery/Ft. Hamilton, located to the north of Port Elizabeth, above Admiralty Bay, is a nice place to savor breathtaking views of the region’s surroundings.
To the northeast of the Island, a retired fisherman looks after over 200 rare hawksbill turtles till they are back in the sea. The gentleman will be happy to take you around, and give out details about his unique turtle project.
Port Elizabeth is Bequia's capital, locally known as "The Harbour,”. It is on the northeastern end of the Admiralty Bay. The ferry from St. Vincent moors at the center of the down jetty.  Visitors can then proceed to the open-air market, where they can buy nice locally grown tropical fruits and vegetables, along with some handicrafts. A little further down, you can come across the region’s popular boat model souvenir shops. To the south of the jetty, there are several cafes, shops, eateries and hotels dotting Port Elizabeth’s charming landscape.
There are several boat building workshops in Port Elizabeth, where visitors can catch glimpses of the locals’ fine craftsmanship. Other works of arts worth taking back home include, carve wood items, crochet gifts, or fabric-design masterpieces. Most shops are located on Front Street and Belmont Walkway waterfront. Just across the jetty, at Bayshore Mall, there are cute ice cream shops, bakeries, gift and apparel stores. Other convenience facilities like grocery, bank and pharmacy are located in the vicinity. Shops are mostly open  from 8 to 5 on weekdays, and Saturday from 8 to noon.
When here, a visit to the Bequia Bookshop is a must. You will find some real good Caribbean literature copies, plus guides for avid cruisers. Other things available here include maps, souvenirs, and other handmade gifts.
Local Color sells a unique collection of handmade jewelry, beautiful wood carvings, and beach clothing. It is located just near the jetty, and is closed in the month of October.
Purchase the signature detailed hand-made boat souvenir or get a customized replica of your yacht at Mauvin's Model Boat Shop. The models are priced anywhere between a few hundred to thousands of dollars.
Where You're Docked
Ships anchor in Admiralty Bay and passengers tender to Port Elizabeth, the island's only real town.
Port Elizabeth is very small and easily walkable, with Princess Margaret Beach 30 minutes away on foot.
By Taxi: Open-backed taxis can be found in Port Elizabeth -- usually "under the almond trees" near the harbor. They're not metered, so be sure to agree on a price (and which currency you'll be using) before you leave. Most cab drivers will be happy to give you a personalized tour of the island for about $20 per hour.
Water taxis are also available from the Belmont Walkway, and can drop you off at Lower Bay or Princess Margaret for about $5.50.
By Rental Car: Several local companies offer car and 4x4 rentals, starting at about $55 a day. Try Bequia Jeep Rentals or Challenger Car Rentals. If you don't have an international driver's license, you'll need to purchase a temporary local permit (about $28) at the Revenue Office in Port Elizabeth. Note that Bequians drive on the left.
By Van: Bequia's public transportation system consists of "Dollar Vans" that shuttle folks around the island from as little as about $0.40 per ride. This is the cheapest and most informal way of getting around Bequia -- consult the Tourist Office in Port Elizabeth, or simply tell a local or van driver where you'd like to go, and he or she will help you find the van you need.
The small, colorful town of Port Elizabeth overlooks Admiralty Bay, where dozens of yachts come and go throughout the day. Go souvenir-hunting or enjoy a meal along the Belmont Walkway, a lively waterfront path with restaurants, bars and shops. At the opposite end of town is an open-air market that's worth a browse. Nearby are Sargeant Brothers Model Boat Shop and Mauvin's Model Boat Shop, both on Front Street, offering handmade model boats that reflect Bequia's seafaring past.
A great stop for families is the Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary, where kids (and adults) can see conservation in action. The founder, Orton "Brother" King, has dedicated himself to saving hawksbill turtles from extinction by collecting hatchlings and caring for them until they are three years old, at which point he releases them into the wild. Call ahead (784-458-3245) to make an appointment.
Often likened to "Flintstones" houses, the unique open-air dwellings on the peninsula of Moonhole were built by an American ex-pat named Tom Johnston, who came to Bequia with his wife in 1961 as an escape from a high-powered advertising career in the U.S. The houses at Moonhole (named after a rock arch through which the moon shines during the equinoxes) meld naturally into the craggy peninsula, made of local stone and other readily available materials, and designed around the existing geography. The houses now serve mostly as vacation homes. Call ahead for an appointment (784-458-3068) or take your ship's shore excursion.
At Spring Pottery & Studio (784-457-3757), located in a former sugar mill near Spring Bay, you can tour a working pottery and browse a gallery filled with colorful ceramics, paintings and local crafts (these make great souvenirs!).
Been There, Done That
Go scuba diving or snorkeling in Bequia's crystal-clear waters. Both Dive Bequia and Bequia Dive Adventures operate snorkeling and diving excursions out of Port Elizabeth's Belmont Walkway.
Take a cab or rental car to the Banana Patch Studio (784-458-3865) at Paget Farm to see the paintings and crafts of local artist Sam McDowell. McDowell is known for his scrimshaw, or etchings made in whale bone. His wife's shell handicrafts are also on display. Visits are by appointment only, so call ahead.
Set sail aboard the schooner Friendship Rose for a day trip to Mustique. If you've ever wanted a glimpse into the lifestyle of the rich and famous, you can get it here -- Mustique's spacious private villas, many perched atop promontories overlooking glittering seas and blinding white beaches, can cost as much as $45,000 to rent for a week. Once you arrive after the two-hour sail from Port Elizabeth, you'll have time to tour the island, go snorkeling, and eat lunch aboard the 100-ft. Friendship Rose. Note: The sea can sometimes be choppy as you sail from island to island, so you'll want to bring your remedy of choice if you're prone to motion sickness.
Things To see and Do
Obviously, the secluded beaches are at the top of everyone's list of Bequia's attractions. As you walk along the beaches, especially near Port Elizabeth, you'll see craftspeople building boats by hand, a method passed on by their ancestors. Whalers sometimes still set out from here in wooden boats with harpoons. Some beaches require a taxi ride. You might check out the uncrowded, pristine white sands at Friendship Bay, where you can rent watersports equipment or order a drink from the bar at the hotel. Industry Bay and Lower Bay are both gorgeous beaches shaded by palm trees, offering good swimming and snorkeling.
The second largest of the Grenadines, charming Bequia is a popular yachting destination with a rich whaling history. Lush hillsides dotted with bougainvillea tumble to beaches and boat-filled bays. The island is also known for being safe and friendly. Port Elizabeth on Admiralty Bay is the main commercial center on Bequia. A walkway runs along the waterfront on the south side of town passing restaurants and stores. At the south end of Port Elizabeth, a trail leads over a small rise to pretty Princess Margaret Beach. Separated from this beach by a rocky outcrop, Lower Bay is another stretch of golden sand with great snorkeling.
About 40 km south of St Vincent, the small island of Canouan is known for its beautiful white sand beaches and excellent snorkeling. A barrier reef protects the Atlantic side of the island, and an exclusive resort stretches along the island's northern third with a hotel, private villas, restaurants, and a golf course. The Moorings yacht charter company operates a base on the island for sailing trips throughout the Grenadines.
Dive Bequia, Gingerbread House, Admiralty Bay (P.O. Box 326), Bequia (tel. 784/458-3504; www.divebequia.com), specializes in diving and snorkeling on the lush reefs of Bequia, where you might spot manta rays. Scuba dives cost $70 for one dive or $106 for two dives in the same day; a 10-dive package goes for $525. A four-dive open-water certification course is $525. Snorkeling trips are $30 per person, and these prices include all the necessary equipment.
Palm Island
Palm Island is a little patch of paradise. Home to the Palm Island Resort and a sprinkling of holiday villas, this beautiful island is named for the abundant coconut palms planted by the resort's former owners. Five white sand beaches fringe the coast with excellent snorkeling just offshore in translucent turquoise water. The island has a small airport and is also only a short boat ride from Union Island.
Union Island
Capped by dramatic volcanic peaks, Union Island is the southern port of entry for St Vincent and the Grenadines and a gateway for tours to the nearby islands. The island has two main villages, Ashton and Clifton. Ashton is the launching point for hikes into the hills, while Clifton is home to most of the tourist facilities with shops, restaurants, a marina, and airport. The island's two best beaches lie on the north coast at Richmond Bay and Belmont Bay.
Boating and Sailing
The second largest of the Grenadines, charming Bequia is a popular yachting destination with a rich whaling history.Boasting of nice wind and calm sea, Bequia has features ideal sailing conditions. Everything from day sails to weekly charters to catamarans are available here for your leisure.   Lush hillsides dotted with bougainvillea tumble to beaches and boat-filled bays. The island is also known for being safe and friendly. Port Elizabeth on Admiralty Bay is the main commercial center on Bequia. A walkway runs along the waterfront on the south side of town passing restaurants and stores. At the south end of Port Elizabeth, a trail leads over a small rise to pretty Princess Margaret Beach. Separated from this beach by a rocky outcrop, Lower Bay is another stretch of golden sand with great snorkeling.
There are more than 30 dive sites in the vicinity of Bequia and neighboring islands, which are all a short boat ride away. The Bullet, though it has restricted access owing to choppy waters, is a good spot for witnessing rays, and the rare shark. Devil's Table is relatively shallower and located at the north end of Admiralty Bay. It has a nice collection of corals, and a fascinating 90 feet shipwreck.
Bequia has pristine, sparsely populated golden sand beaches. Friendship Bay Beach is a striking mile-long protected beach that can be accessed by a taxi. The beach is good for a nice grilled lunch, snorkeling, walking and leisurely swimming.
Hope Bay Beach can be reached via a taxi, and then a mile long hike. Visitors will then be awarded with beautiful silver white sand, and a sparsely populated beach that is perfect for nude bathing. There are no food facilities here, so best to carry your own eatables. The water may be a little too choppy for swimmers at times.  This beach is ideal for nudists looking for isolated and non-touristy beaches.
Industry Bay Beach is another isolated palm-fringed beach on the northeastern side of the island. It is nice for expert swimmers and snorkelers, as the currents can be a little too intimidating at times.  A nice place to go picnicking with the family, since some facilities are available at the nearby Firefly Bequia resort.
Lower Bay Beach is broad beach that is great for snorkeling and swimming. Eatables can be bought from the beachfront eateries; the popular one’s being Mango's Beach Bar and De Reef. There are some other good water sports activities here. 
Princess Margaret Beach is a wide, pristine and peaceful beach, which is located near Port Elizabeth's Belmont Walkway. Plenty of palm tree to lie under on a sultry afternoon. Don’t miss the lunch at Max's bar. This beach is good for swimmers and snorkelers.

Best Beach for a Half-Day Visit: You can walk to Princess Margaret Beach from Port Elizabeth's Belmont Walkway in about 30 minutes, or take a quick cab or water taxi ride. This serene stretch of sand is a good place to sunbathe, swim or snorkel. Bring a picnic with you or head back to the restaurants along the Belmont Walkway for lunch.
Best Beach for Families: Families can swim, kayak, snorkel or build sandcastles at Lower Bay, one of the island's broadest and loveliest beaches. There are several bars and restaurants there in case anyone needs a snack or a potty, and water sports equipment can also be rented nearby.
Best Beach for Scenery and Seclusion: If you really want to get away from it all, head to Hope Bay along the island's eastern coast. You'll need to take a cab and then hike about a mile down to the beach (don't forget that you'll have to hike back up that mile as well!). It's worth the trek for a wide stretch of white sand that you may have completely to yourself -- just remember to bring a picnic (there are no facilities) and to arrange to have your cab return for you at the end of the day.
Shore Excursions
Best Overall Tour: Take an "island highlights" tour to see some of the loveliest of Bequia's attractions, beaches and bays. The tour itineraries vary by cruise line, but often include a photo op at Hamilton Fort, a visit to the Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary and a stop in a local model boat shop or pottery studio. One and a half to three hours, depending on cruise line.
Best for Water Sports Enthusiasts: Spend a day on the water aboard the Passion, a 60-ft. catamaran. There will be at least one stop for snorkeling, and anglers can borrow one of the onboard reels to test their skills at deep-sea fishing. The less ambitious can just sit back and enjoy the sail -- along with complimentary tropical drinks. Five hours.
Best for Those Who've Seen It All: Take your ship's guided tour of Moonhole -- we bet you haven't seen anything quite like these open-air houses that seem to emerge organically from their rocky surroundings. The tour will give you some background on how the site developed and the materials that make up these unique, electricity-free homes. Two to three hours, depending on cruise line.
Eating Out
Bequia's small restaurant scene focuses mostly on West Indian cuisine with an emphasis on fresh-caught local seafood. Many of the best eateries can be found along the Belmont Walkway in Port Elizabeth.
Frangipani (Port Elizabeth, lunch 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) is one of the island's most popular hangouts, serving up excellent seafood and local favorites in a friendly waterfront bar. It's well known for its Thursday night barbecue buffets, complete with dancing to a steel band -- if you have a late port call that day, don't miss it!
Mac's Pizzeria (Port Elizabeth, 784-458-3474, from 11 a.m.) is famous for its lobster pizza, but don't worry if you're not a seafood fan -- there are 16 other types of pizza to choose from, plus sandwiches, quiches, samosas and more. You'll find Mac's near the end of the busy Belmont Walkway.
De Reef (Lower Bay, 784-458-3958, from 7 a.m.) is a laid-back beach bar overlooking Lower Bay. Lunch options, all reasonably priced, include seafood, homemade breads, sandwiches and a fabulous mutton curry. The restaurant also rents out kayaks.
Moskito Bar & Grill (Friendship Bay, 784-458-3222, from 11 a.m.) literally offers a rockin' good time -- since the bar has wooden swings instead of stools. Located right on the beach at Friendship Bay, Moskito offers up pasta, jerk chicken and seafood to be enjoyed with a lovely view of the water.
Basil's Bar (Mustique, 784-488-8350, from 8 a.m., is the place to see and be seen (and eat and drink, of course!) on the ultra-posh island of Mustique. Housed in a casual wooden building that stretches out over the water, it's a prime gathering spot for sailors, folks staying in the island's seaside villas, and even the occasional visiting celebrity. The lunch menu includes light fare like soups and sandwiches, but the pricier seafood dishes like grilled lobster and curried conch are worth the splurge.
Shopping is a bit limited and most stores cater to yacht provisions rather than touristy souvenirs, however, several model boat shops are near famous and strolls along the Belmont Walkway and open air market go past several small boutiques. Produce stalls offer fresh fruit all over town.

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