12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
A haven for boaters, St. Vincent and the Grenadines flaunt some of the most gorgeous scenery in the Caribbean. This string of 36 emerald volcanic islands stretches south towards Grenada, with plenty of white-sand beaches and palm-lined bays, where mega yachts bob beside sailboats. Private islands abound here, many with posh resorts. Diving is excellent, and coral reefs fringe many of the beaches, with superb snorkeling a short splash from shore. Discerning island lovers drift to these peaceful and unpretentious islands for a dose of classic Caribbean scenery free from the cruise ship crowds found in busier ports.
At the northern end of the archipelago, the island of St. Vincent, is home to the capital of Kingstown, with cobbled streets and colonial buildings, while Union Island is the southern gateway to the Grenadines. Scattered like jewels in the surrounding seas are the green islets of Bequia, Mustique, Mayreau, Canouan, Union Island, Palm Island, and Petit St. Vincent. Divers, snorkelers, boaters, and beachcombers alike love the picture-perfect Tobago Cays, part of a marine park ringed with coral reefs.
The second largest of the Grenadines, charming Bequia (pronounced "Beck-way") 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. Stop by the Bequia Maritime Museum to learn a little about the island's history. 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.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in St Vincent and the Grenadines
2 Snorkeling and Sailing in the Tobago Cays
In the southern Grenadines, the Tobago Cays encompass five small, uninhabited islands that are now the key feature of the Tobago Cays Marine Park. Protected by reefs, the beaches offer calm clear waters for swimming and snorkeling, and the surrounding coral gardens are rich in marine life. Snorkelers and divers can spot sea turtles as well as stingrays, barracuda, and shoals of reef fish. Many boaters anchor here to frolic in the crystal clear waters and bask on the beaches.
3 Editor's Pick Petit St. Vincent
Petit St. Vincent is a tropical fantasy come true. Also known as PSV, this privately owned island is home to the boutique Petit St. Vincent Resort, one of the top all-inclusives resorts in the Caribbean, where guests are ensconced in secluded ocean-view villas sprinkled around the hillsides and bays. To preserve the island's tranquility, the villas have no phones and televisions. Instead, colored flags convey messages to the attentive staff. The resort encompasses the entire island and belongs to the portfolio of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
4 Palm Island
Palm Island is a little patch of paradise. Home to the Palm Island Resort & Spa 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.
5 Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau
Accessible only by boat, Mayreau is a tiny island of only 2.5 square kilometers with one of the Caribbean's prettiest bays, Salt Whistle Bay. The bay is a popular spot for yachts, and its palm-fringed arc of white-sand beach is lovely for sunbathing. A few local vendors sell souvenirs and snacks along the shore. The island's only road leads uphill from the beach to a small village with spectacular views of the ocean and the Tobago Cays. Most visitors arrive at the dock on Saline Bay.
6 La Soufrière Volcano Hiking Tour
One of the popular things to do on the island of St. Vincent is a guided hike to the crater of La Soufrière volcano (not to be confused with La Grande Soufrière on Guadeloupe). Rising 1,234 meters above sea level, La Soufriere is St. Vincent's highest peak. It's still active, last erupting in 1979, luckily with no fatalities.
To reach the crater, you can hike the leeward trail (around six to eight hours round-trip) or the easier and more popular windward trail (three to four hours round-trip). Along the way, you'll learn about the uniquely adapted plants and animals and see rainforest, cloud forest, and spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Once at the top, you'll also have a chance to explore the crater.
If you want to stay near the volcano, the budget-friendly Richmond Vale Diving & Hiking Center offers basic accommodation and guided hikes along the leeward trail that start right at the hotel.
Exclusive Mustique is a privately-owned island and a playground for celebrities, rock stars, and the uber-rich. With its own airport and general store, this five-kilometer-long island is home to many private villas and two luxury hotels: Firefly Mustique and The Cotton House. Coral reefs beckon just offshore, and white-sand beaches ring the island providing excellent opportunities for swimming and snorkeling. Macaroni Beach is a favorite.
8 Kingstown, St. Vincent
Kingstown is the capital and main commercial center of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with cobblestone streets, colonial buildings, and a few tourist attractions. The town is known for its churches. St. George's Anglican Cathedral, an 1820 Georgian-style structure, is adorned with stained glass windows, and the 1823 St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral features Gothic spires and Romanesque columns and arches. Another popular attraction is the St. Vincent Botanical Gardens, the oldest in the West Indies.
For beautiful views over Kingstown and the surrounding islands, head to Fort Charlotte, high on a ridge north of the city, and if you're a nature lover, you can hike the popular Vermont Nature Trail, about 14 kilometers from Kingstown, and look for the endemic Saint Vincent parrot.
9 St. Vincent Botanical Gardens
Established in 1765, the delightful St. Vincent Botanical Gardens are the oldest in the West Indies. The gardens encompass 20 acres of indigenous and exotic tropical plants and trees, such as hibiscus, cinnamon, nutmeg, mahogany, palms, and a breadfruit tree reputedly grown from a seedling brought to the island by Captain Bligh. Bird lovers can see the endemic St. Vincent parrot in a little aviary on the grounds. Location: Kingstown, St. Vincent
10 Leeward Highway Scenic Drive
Carving along cliff tops and scenic coastal stretches, Leeward Highway is a 40-kilometer road running from Kingstown to Richmond Beach, along St. Vincent's sheltered west coast. The road passes by local villages, black-sand beaches, coconut plantations, and some worthwhile tourist attractions. Along the way, Carib Rock features a carved face dating from AD 600. Many travelers also stop by Barrouallie, a small fishing village with a Carib stone altar and petroglyphs. The tradition of hunting pilot whales is still in practice here.
The route ends near the black sands of Richmond Beach, a popular swimming area. In the distance, you can see La Soufrière, an active volcano and the island's highest peak. From this stretch of coast, tours depart to the Falls of Baleine, an 18-meter waterfall on the northwestern tip of St. Vincent. Access to the falls is via boat or foot as there are no roads to this area.
About 40 kilometers 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 two exclusive resorts, The Pink Sands Club and Canouan Estate Villas & Residences, stretch along the island's northern half, overlooking a highly-acclaimed golf course.
12 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.
Other Must-See Islands near St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Also in the southeastern Caribbean, Grenada is known as "the Spice Island" for the fragrant nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices that grow in its fertile soil. Along with St. Lucia, further north, these two destinations offer an authentic Caribbean feel and lush scenery. Both are also home to some of the best luxury all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. To the east of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados boasts UNESCO-listed historic sites and pretty pink-sand beaches. To discover other dazzling stretches of coast and alluring tropical getaways, see our articles on the best beaches in the Caribbean and the Best Tropical Vacations.