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With little cruise traffic and a single all-inclusive resort, St.Vincent is among the Caribbean's least visited islands -- which makes going to this small volcanic island concurrently exciting and challenging for travelers looking for offbeat destinations. Around the plus side, the possible lack of development implies that its landscape continues to be breathtakingly pristine. The area around St. Vincent is lush and verdantly forested, which makes circumnavigate the area by vehicle a bit too tough. It implies that if you are seeking boutique shopping, large-scale cultural points of interest or varied cuisine, you might want to wait for your forthcoming port call.
 
St. Vincent is definitely a nature lover’s haven. It is replete with plunging waterfalls, lush emerald rainforests and vibrant barrier reefs. The adventurous can climb towards the edge of La Soufriere, the volcano that looms within the northern finish from the island, or have fun in the waters within the Falls of Baleine, a waterfall so castaway, it can only be accessed by boat. Vacationers searching for a more laid-back eco-experience can navigate the peaceful pathways from the Montreal Gardens or drive along the lush blueberry groves and rainforests from the hilly Mesopotamia region. Mixing with natural splendor are traces of St. Vincent's diverse cultural heritage, from erstwhile 19th-century European forts to fascinating ancient petroglyphs etched into the stone by a few of the island's foremost occupants. Fort Charlotte now, on the promontory looking over Kingstown, includes a small museum where site visitors can find out more about the island's history.
 
Where You are Docked
The cruise ship terminal is just a short walk away from downtown Kingstown, the island's biggest city. Shops within the cruis eship terminal sell souvenirs, local crafts, duty-free goods, along with other bits and pieces. The bustling streets and marketplaces of downtown Kingstown are within easy walking distance from the terminal. An extended walk (thirty to forty minutes, a lot of it uphill) or perhaps a quick cab ride will take you towards the famous Botanical Garden.
 
Moving Around
Travelling to Kingstown in the cruise terminal takes no more than 5 minutes, and also the whole city is definitely navigable by walking. Taxis are available right outside the cruise terminal. Cabs aren't metered, so make sure to fix up the fare in advance. The fare to Rental property Beach is about $10. Cabs can take visitors around for about $25 - $30 each hour.Vehicle rental fees start at approximately $55 each day. Take into consideration that St. Vincentians drive around the left, and lots of rural streets are abrubtly winding and poorly maintained.
 
St. Vincent's bus product is a casual network of independently possessed vans which do ongoing loops around parts from the island. You'll recognize them by their vibrant colors and personalized, loud graphics. The vans really are a less expensive option to cabs, and make the perfect option if you are willing to handle the informality from the system and also the fearless driving from the van's motorists.
 
Don't Miss
Downtown Kingstown is vibrant and buzzing, offering a fascinating peek into the local culture but there are few attractions for tourists here. You will find a number of souvenir shops on Bay Street, but more lively shopping are available in the outside market around the waterfront, where local people haggle for everything from fruit and veggies to daily staples. The 3-story Kingstown Produce Marketplace is another shopping hotspot. In the west finish of Kingstown really are a couple of pretty places of worship.
 
Only a short cab ride (or 30-minute walk uphill) from downtown Kingstown may be the Botanical Garden, the Western Hemisphere's earliest. Founded within the 1760's, this 20-acre garden is really an idyllic retreat for site visitors and local people alike. You are able to catch a peek at the island's rare St. Vincent parrots within the tiny yet beautiful aviary, and wander among vibrant blooms and towering trees -- some over two centuries old. Admission is free of charge, though guides charge their fee. Observe that a few of the guides are very pushy, so be firm if you would rather tour the gardens by yourself.
 
For dramatic sights of Kingstown and also the ocean beyond, hail a cab to Fort Charlotte now. This 19th-century fortress, named following the wife of King George III, now houses an art gallery devoted towards the island's history, having a concentrate on the Black Caribs.
 
Enjoy a scenic drive-thru the luxurious Mesopotamia Valley, also called "Mespo" or even the Marriqua Valley. Find yourself in narrow streets and lower steep, verdant hillsides blanketed by acres of blueberry and coconut trees. Nestled deep within the valley would be the Montreal Gardens, the place to find 7.5 acres of bougainvillea, anthuriums, frangipani along with other fascinating tropical flora.
 
The Falls of Baleine, located in the far northwest corner from the island, are among St. Vincent's most isolated treasures. You are able to only achieve them by boat, so book your ship's shoreline trip. When you land in Baleine Bay, your family will enjoy a scenic hike towards the 60-foot. falls, where you can enjoy a rejuvenating swim.
 
The possible lack of development on St. Vincent implies that its underwater world is as pristine as its hillsides and forests. Indigo Dive and Dive St. Vincent offer diving and scuba diving sessions to explore the barrier reefs that fringe the area. The very best diving conditions are usually found between Layou and Kingstown on St. Vincent's leeward coast, in which the water is placid and you will find lovely barrier formations only ten or twenty yards from the shoreline.
 
Had The Experience, Done That
At the leeward coast of St. Vincent at Wallilabou Bay, you are able to go swimming or sun bathing on the shore there, or go inland for any quick dip within the Wallilabou Falls. Across the drive from Kingstown it's worth an end to determine the Carib rock designs and carvings in Buccament.
 
To obtain close up and private encounters with St. Vincent's lush landscape and different wildlife, mind north of Kingstown towards the Vermont Character Trails. These pathways take visitors on a 2-hour hike through rain forests and evergreen lush groves, where you will find ample possibilities for bird watching. Look out for that national bird, the St. Vincent parrot.
 
Hop a ferry towards the island of Bequia, where you will find golden beaches and lively waterfront shops, coffee shops, and bookstores within the small capital of Port Elizabeth. The ferry takes around an hour each way.

Kingstown
 
Though lush and tropical, the capital isn't as architecturally significant as Grenada's St. George's. There are some English-style houses, many of which look as though they belonged in Penzance or Cornwall rather than the Caribbean. This is a chief port and gateway to the Grenadines, and you can see the small boats and yachts that have dropped anchor here. On Saturday morning, the market at the south end of town is at its most active.
 
At the top of a winding road on the north side of Kingstown, Fort Charlotte was built on Johnson Point around the time of the American Revolution. The ruins aren't much -- the reason to come here is the view. The fort sits atop a steep promontory some 190m (623 ft.) above the sea. From its citadel, you'll have a sweeping view of the leeward shores to the north, Kingstown to the south, and the Grenadines beyond. On a clear day, you can even see Grenada. Three cannons used to fight off French troops are still in place and there's a series of oil murals depicting the history of black Caribs. Admission is free, and the fort is open daily 6am to 6pm.
 
The second major sight is the Botanic Gardens, on the north side of Kingstown at Montrose (tel. 784/457-1003). Founded in 1765 by Gov. George Melville, these are the oldest botanic gardens in the West Indies. You'll see 8 hectares (20 acres) of such tropical exotics as teak, almond, cinnamon, nutmeg, cannonball, and mahogany; some of the trees are more than 200 years old. One of the breadfruit trees was reputedly among those original seedlings brought to this island by Captain Bligh in 1793. There's also a large Spachea perforata (the Soufrière tree), a species believed to be unique to St. Vincent and not found in the wild since 1812. The gardens are open daily from 6am to 6pm; admission is free, but a tour guide costs $3.70.
The Leeward Highway
 
The leeward, or sheltered, west side of the island has the most dramatic scenery. North of Kingstown, you rise into lofty terrain before descending to the water again. There are views in all directions. Here you can see one of the finest petroglyphs in the Caribbean: the massive Carib Rock, with a human face carving dating from A.D. 600.
 
Continuing north, you reach Barrouallie, where there's a Carib stone altar. Even if you're not into fishing, you might want to spend some time in this village, where whalers still occasionally set out in brightly painted boats armed with harpoons. While Barrouallie may be one of the few outposts in the world where whaling is legal, Vincentians claim that it doesn't endanger an already endangered species, as so few are caught each year. If one is caught, it's an occasion for festivities.
 
The highway continues to Chateaubelair, the end of the line. Here you can swim at attractive Richmond Beach before heading back to Kingstown. In the distance, the volcano, La Soufrière, looms menacingly.
 
The adventurous set out from here to see the Falls of Baleine, 12km (7 1/2 miles) north of Richmond Beach on the northern tip of the island, accessible only by boat. Baleine is a freshwater falls that comes from a stream in the volcanic hills. If you're interested in making the trip, check with the tourist office in Kingstown for tour information.
 
Marriqua Valley
Sometimes known as the Mesopotamia Valley, the Marriqua Valley is one of the lushest cultivated valleys in the eastern Caribbean. Surrounded by mountain ridges, the drive takes you through a landscape planted with nutmeg, cocoa, coconut, breadfruit, and bananas. The road begins at the Vigie Highway, east of the airport. Surrounded by mountain ridges, it opens onto a panoramic view of Grand Bonhomme Mountain, rising 954m (3,130 ft.). At Montréal you'll come upon natural mineral springs, where you can have lunch and take a dip. Only rugged vehicles should make this trip.
 
Around Kingstown you can also enjoy the Queen's Drive, a scenic loop into the high hills to the east of the capital. From here the view is panoramic over Kingstown and its yacht-clogged harbor to the Grenadines in the distance.
 
Beaches
The black sand beach at Buccament Bay is merely twenty minutes from Kingstown, and the serene waters turn it into a good place for swimming. You will find good facilities at Buccama Around the Bay, a nice tourist favoriterestaurant.
 
Rental property Beach might not have much sand, however it does have many waterfront restaurants and shops, in addition to folks coming and going through sailboat and ferry. You are able to go scuba diving, swimming, shopping or watching people, or simply join the local people for chilling out.
 
Beaches clustered around the windward coast of St. Vincent aren't safe for swimming -- the surf is simply too strong -- however they provide a few of the island's most dramatic sights.
 
Shoreline Activities
Enjoy a scenic island bus tour featuring stops at Fort Charlotte now and Kingstown's Botanical Garden. You will have time look around the historic and cultural shows in the fort's museum before walking with the lush blooms from the botanic gardens. The drive then wends with the scenic Mesopotamia Valley.
 
Try to look for Nemo on the scuba diving trip along St. Vincent's leeward coast. The trip features a lesson before everyone's allowed to run loose one of the corals, sponges and tropical seafood. This two-hour tour enables time for you to hit the shore or go to a garden after. Teenagers might have a longer trip that mixes scuba diving with kayaking
 
Experienced walkers can tackle St. Vincent's greatest challenge: a climb towards the summit of La Soufriere. This trip includes helpful tips for get you upward through bamboo and rainforest towards the rim of the active (but dormant) volcano, the greatest point around the island.

Hiking -- Exploring St. Vincent's hot volcano, La Soufrière, is an intriguing adventure. As you travel the island, you can't miss its cloud-capped splendor. The most recent eruption was back in 1979, when it spewed ashes, lava, and hot mud that covered the vegetation on its slopes. Belching rocks and black curling smoke filled the blue Caribbean sky. About 17,000 people were evacuated from a 15km (9 1/4-mile) ring around the volcano.


At the rim of the crater, you'll be rewarded with one of the most panoramic views in the Caribbean -- that is, if the wind doesn't blow too hard and make you topple over into the crater itself! Warning: Use extreme caution. Looking inside, you can see the steam rising from the crater.

Even if you're an experienced hiker, don't attempt to explore the volcano without a guide. Wear suitable hiking clothes, and be sure that you're in the best of health before making the arduous journey. The easiest route is the 5km-long (3-mile) eastern approach from Rabacca. The more arduous trail, longer by 2km (1 1/4 miles), is the western trail from Chateaubelair. The round-trip to the crater takes about 5 hours.

St. Vincent Forestry Headquarters, in the village of Campden Park, about 5km (3 miles) from Kingstown along the west coast (tel. 784/457-8594), provides information about hiking to La Soufrière. It's open Monday to Friday from 8am to noon and 1 to 4pm. HazEco Tours (tel. 784/457-8634; www.hazecotours.com) offers guided hikes up to La Soufrière, costing $85 per person, including drinks and lunch.

If you don't want to face Soufrière, the best hikes are the Vermont Nature Trails. These marked trails (get a map at the tourist office) take you through a rainforest and pass long-ago plantations reclaimed by nature. If it's your lucky day, you might even see the rare St. Vincent parrot with its flamboyant plumage. Wear good hiking shoes and lots of mosquito repellent.

Sailing & Yachting -- St. Vincent and the Grenadines are one of the great sailing centers of the Caribbean. If you want to go bareboating, you can obtain a fully provisioned yacht. If you're a well-heeled novice, you can hire a captain and a crew. Rentals are available for a half-day, a full day, overnight, or even longer.

The longest-established yacht-chartering company in St. Vincent, Barefoot Yacht Charters, Blue Lagoon (tel. 784/456-9526; www.barefootyachts.com), is better than ever and is now granting substantial discounts for last-minute or walk-in bookings. The outfitter has a fleet of 25 yachts run by the American Sailing Association and offers charters with or without a crew. Its operation is at its own custom-built marina with docks and moorings, along with a restaurant opening onto a panoramic vista of Bequia. There's even an Internet cafe. In winter, and depending on the vessel rented, rates range from $425 to $900 per day, with off-season prices going from $255 to $540. We also recommend Nicholson Yacht Charters (tel. 305/433-5533, or 268/460-1530 from Antigua; www.nicholson-charters.com). Prices at Nicholson are roughly comparable to those at Barefoot Yacht Charters.

Snorkeling & Scuba Diving -- St. Vincent's 30 or so dive sites are sprinkled along its leeward shore, where you might spot seahorses and frogfish. The best area for snorkeling and scuba diving is the Villa/Young Island section on the southern end of the island.

Dive St. Vincent, on the Young Island Cut (tel. 784/457-4928; www.divestvincent.com), has been owned and operated by a transplanted Texan, Bill Tewes, since 1984. St. Vincent's oldest and best dive company, it now has an additional shop, Grenadines Dive, at the Sunny Grenadines Hotel on Union Island (tel. 784/458-8138; www.grenadinesdive.com). Also try Dive Canouan, at the Tamarind Beach Hotel on Canouan Island (tel. 784/528-8030; www.canouandivecenter.com). It offers dive/snorkel trips as well as sightseeing day-trips and dive instruction. Single-tank dives go for $110, or else $95 per tank if you're taking more than five dives, including all equipment and instructors and/or dive-master guides. Dive packages are also available.

Eating Out
St. Vincent is a superb spot to experience local Caribbean cuisine at its best, though you will not find chain restaurants here. Fresh-caught sea food and native-grown veggies would be the foundation of the majority of the food here. 
 
St. Vincent's only all-inclusive resort is on the private island, but it's not necessary to be considered a guest to savor the fine beach dining in the Youthful Island Resort Restaurant.  Simply take a 2-minute ferry ride from Rental property Beach. Typical lunch choices include mussels inside a whitened wine, onion and roasting garlic clove plant broth, along with a slow braised pork cutlet topped with barbecue sauce. Don't miss the new-baked bread, which is available in six different types. Bookings are suggested.
 
Situated on Rental property Beach across from Youthful Island, the Lime 'N Pub Restaurant as its title indicates is an excellent place to relax and spend time. It's open all day long, serving up casual West Indian fare like sandwiches, salads and rotis. The decor includes eco-friendly chairs and put mats, while leafy plants framework the diner.
 
Buccama Around the Bay looks out within the beach and is not even close to a few of the island's famous Carib petroglyphs. The new local sea food, from conch chowder to grilled lobster, and also the casual setting is worth sampling.
 
The Bounty Restaurant (Egmont St., Kingstown, 784-456-1776) in downtown Kingstown draws in local businesspeople looking for a delicious and speedy lunch. The reasonably listed choices include sandwiches, rotis, or hot dishes like baked seasoned seafood and fried grain with veggies. There's a little memorial offering local crafts and works of art available.
 
The Wallilabou Bay Hotel restaurant, which overlooks the bay serves not so fancy meals such as sandwiches, West Indian fare and also the periodic lobster dish -- but it is tasty and offered inside a fun, casual atmosphere
 
Shopping
St. Vincent isn't a shopping destination, but while you're here, you might pick up some of the Sea Island cotton fabrics and clothing that are local specialties. Vincentian artisans also make pottery, jewelry, and baskets.
 
Since Kingstown consists of about 12 small blocks, you can walk, browse, and see about everything in a single morning. Try to be in town for the colorful, noisy Friday morning market. You might not purchase anything, but you'll enjoy the riot of color.
 
If you're searching for regional souvenirs, head for St. Vincent Craftsmen's Centre, on Frenches Street in Kingstown (tel. 784/457-2516), a 4-minute walk from the wharf. Here islanders sell handmade items such as place or floor mats, along with straw products, local paintings, and St. Vincent dolls.
 
At Sprott Brothers, Homeworks, Bay Street (tel. 784/457-1121), you can buy clothing designed by Vincentians, along with an array of silk-screened T-shirts and even Caribbean-made furniture.
 
St. Vincent Philatelic Services, Dee's Service Building, Bay Street (tel. 784/457-1911), is the largest operating bureau in the Caribbean, and its issues are highly acclaimed by stamp collectors around the world.



 
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