The St. Vincent Parrot

The St. Vincent Parrot is a rare species native to the islands. You might be lucky enough to see one while enjoying the spectacular Botannical Gardens, or while enjoying a leisurely hike on the beautiful Vermont Nature Trails.

Found only in St. Vincent, the Amazona guildingii is roughly sixteen to eighteen inches long, with a white, yellow, and violet head. The neck is mostly green and the body plumage is a tawny brown-gold. The wings are variegated, and the tail is green, blue, and tipped with yellow.

Other species found here include the black hawk, the cocoa thrush, the crested hummingbird, the red-capped green tanager, green heron, and several others.

This unique creature is the national bird of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The rare parrot cannot be exported legally. The birds at the Botannical Gardens were confiscated from collectors, and are sucessfully breeding in captivity. While this rare native species’ numbers were dangerously low in the recent past, they are making a comeback. Conservation efforts and Governmental Regulation have contributed to a resurgence in their population in the wild. Another rare native bird, the Whistling Warbler can be spotted on occasion, along with many other species.

St. Vincent Attractions

One of St. Vincent’s most interesting tourist attractions rising to three thousand eight hundred and sixty four (3864) feet high, Soufriere is one of the best examples of the volcanic formation found in the Caribbean.

There are two routes: via the Windward side, which is the more popular, or by the Leeward route, which starts at Chateaubelair and is longer and less-defined. The Windward route is clearly marked and leaves the coastal road at Rabacca.

The Rabacca Dry River drains the eastern slopes of La Soufriere and Mt. Brisbane and has become filled with volcanic sand and stones. It seeps through this porous fill and disappears underground about a mile upstream. The channel of this “dry river” was filled after large eruptions with scoriae and gravel underneath which the water disappeared underground as it neared the coast.

The climb to the peak is only for the energetic and takes a full day with hikers encouraged to leave early in the morning. In the morning you drive 2 – 1/2 miles through the banana and coconut plantations to Bamboo range, where the trail begins. The ascent into the crater is about three miles with the trail leading along steep volcanic ridges, verdant with bamboo and other tropical trees.

Soufriere has erupted many times since first recorded in 1812. There were a series of some twenty-five eruptions of the volcano over a matter of days in 1979, catching everyone by suprise. Today many enjoy hiking on the site.

Nearby Rabacca Farms, located at the base of Soufriere, is one of the largest single coconut estates in the world at 3200 acres. It is also a considerable producer of bananas, citrus fruits, spices, cola nuts, and aubergines.

St. Vincent’s La Soufriere shares with Mount St. Helen in the United States the distinction of being the most studied of volcanos. The two are also the same effusive type of volcano, although La Soufriere is a little smaller than Mount St. Helen.

From the rolling deck of the boat, St Vincent had the look of a magical island.

At eight o’clock in the morning, after a rough crossing from St Lucia, I came up from below and there in front of me were sheer cliffs rising majestically out of the ocean.

As we approached, the cliffs became rich, green slopes which dropped into steep ravines and impassable canyons. And towering above us, its peak shrouded mysteriously in cloud and with slopes clad in lush’ tropical rainforest, loomed Soufriere, the island’s volcanic summit.

The occasional small wooden house peeked out from the forest; boats dotted the rocky shore. Here was an island apparently untamed by the dreary run-of-the-mill tourism that has ruined so much of the Caribbean.

I spent the rest of the week sailing down the coast of St Vincent, the largest and, in many ways, least commercialised of the 30 islands that make up the Grenadines. But Soufriere had captured my imagination and I resolved to make a special trip to climb it. The volcano, standing 4,O48ft, is no dormant giant. It last erupted on Good Friday, April 13, 1979, when several thousand people had to be evacuated. The lava streams, although overgrown with vegetation, are still visible.

A large eruption in 1902 devastated crops, claimed 2,000 lives and formed the current crater. My plan was to take the tourist route up to the rim from the east, and then follow a far less used trail all the way down to the sea at Richmond Beach on the north-west coast.

I could have stayed in one of the small hotels and guest houses clustered around Young Island at the southern tip of St Vincent, but I decided to be more adventurous and headed instead for an idyllic bay I’d spotted from the boat during my cruise. It proved an inspired decision for here, in a valley accessible only from the sea, I discovered Petit Byahaut, the ultimate tropical hideaway.

This small (seven rooms), low-key, eco-friendly resort is owned by two welcoming and accommodating Canadians, Chuck and Sharon, who toured the Caribbean for two years before settling on this site. They sent a taxi to pick me up from Kingstown the island’s capital, and I was whisked through its bustling centre past a lively market, some fine 19th Century stone ware-house buildings and the elaborate cathedral of St Mary’s.

The taxi followed a meandering road as far as a wooden landing stage at Clare Valley where a motorboat took me the final mile around the headland to Petit Byahaut. I scrambled ashore in time for lunch. My new home was a luxury straight-sided tent, pitched on a timber deck. It had mosquito nets, a large bed and cotton sheets. I had an outdoor deck with a hammock, table and chairs – and my first outdoor bathroom. I discovered, to my relief that the loo really did flush and that the rampant foliage made everything very discreet.

Solar panels on the corrugated metal roof over my ‘room’ provided hot water for the outdoor shower. It was all very novel and I soon got used to using a rock as a soap dish and a bit of driftwood as a towel rail. I asked Chuck and Sharon for help in arranging my trek up Soufriere and then, after a massive dinner of fresh fish by candlelight overlooking the perfect bay, I fell into my tent and slept from 10 until 8 o’clock next morning!

There was toasted home-made cinnamon bread and fresh fruit for breakfast. In the afternoon I joined a small group whose boats had been moored in our bay for a hike along the Vermont Nature trail where we hoped to see the rare St Vincent parrot, now only found deep in the rainforest.

Elroy was our cheerful guide and, after a 30 minute drive into the mountains, we started the walk up a well maintained trail deep into the forest with almost sheer slopes above us.

We walked for two hours, climbing around 5OOft in the steaming heat. Around us massive trees shaded giant ferns, and as we followed a river-bed I heard some loud squawking and saw the distinctive yellow bands and dark green bodies of a pair of parrots.

Elroy pointed out dozens of native trees and flowers: wild hibiscus, air plants, majestic mahoe trees. He told me that apart from bananas, the big new crop was arrowroot revived for use in the manufacture of computer paper.

At a wooden look-out platform we waited silently for 15 minutes and more parrots emerged in the late afternoon sunlight. I returned to Petit Byahaut to discover plans were not yet finalised for my trek. According to Sharon, eco-tourism is in its infancy here and even the simplest plans can take ages to organise. Everything is geared to people who want mini-walks, not adventures like me.

I was disappointed but soon mellowed after a couple of rum punches and half bottle of good red Chilean wine. It was a windy night and I awoke at 1.30, then drifted off again to be woken by Chuck telling me Sharon had a new plan for me – a visit to the spectacular trinity falls.

With Elroy again acting as my guide, I was dropped off up the coast where a taxi took us on a 90 minute drive through villages of wooden houses perched higgledy-piggledy on the hillsides and, every now and then, atop its own hill, a white-painted, middle-class home with wrought iron shutters. Children filed past, immaculate in their school uniforms.

We climbed above the bays at Cumberland and then Wallilabou, where several yachts were moored. At Richmond Plantation we stopped and Elroy and I set off on a trail to a gorge where three small waterfalls cascaded into a pool while a larger cataract emptied into another pool below.

This was Trinity falls, a giant natural Jacuzzi, the water bubbling with air and the currents swirling around. I clung to a boulder: It was like bathing in fizzy, warm mineral water -very exhilarating.

Eating our picnic on a rock, we tried to catch the baby crayfish that lurked under stones, and dozens or grey mullet about six inches long fought over my breadcrumbs and even nibbled from my fingers.

The occasional rock hurtled down the sheer sandy rock face opposite – a sign warns you not to go too close.

On the way back to Petit Byahaut our taxi driver, Robert, stopped at Mount Wynne Bay where I went for a swim. Because St Vincent is a volcanic island the beaches are mainly black sand, not the pristine white of other Grenadine islands such as Bequia or Mustique. But they are invariably deserted and the water is crystal clear. In a field nearby I saw a large rock called the Calendar Stone, covered with faint carvings, cut by Arawaks or Caribs thousands of years ago.

The following day I rose early’ to meet Clint, my guide for the trek up Soufriere. Like me, Clint was born in Fulham, but he now lives and works on St Vincent, his parents’ birthplace, running a small tour business.

We drove through the Kingstown rush hour and up the rugged Windward Coast, where the undertow on the wonderful beaches is too strong for swimming. Rocky headlands reminded me of Cornwall with palm trees. A small church clung to the top of a promontory. Rundown Georgetown was once the centre of the sugar industry. Now molasses are imported to make the local rum. We picked up another guide, Springer, who works for the local forestry expert. A fanatical twitcher, he was able to identify birds simply from their call and wrote down their names for me in a little notebook.

We turned inland and drove up through the Rabacca banana plantation. When the road ran out we left Clint’s friends to drive the car all the way back around the island to meet us.

I had stowed my lunch, home-made by Clint, in my rucksack -two giant chicken rotis, wrapped in an insulating cloth, home-made fudge and two bottles of water (very important).

We set off up a well-marked trail through tropical rainforest teeming with flowers. It was a relentless slope, and even I, Miss Fit, was soon sweating profusely. My dark glasses steamed up with the effort and my T-shirt was dripping. Just as I felt I was getting acclimatised the path became even steeper, laid with bamboo steps. Apparently there are 161 of them, but I wasn’t counting.

Gradually we rose out of the forest, the vegetation became more shrub-like and we crossed a dry stream bed to make the final ascent up a bleak eroded lava field spread with a carpet of tiny flowers, ferns and mosses, all miraculously clinging to life in this exposed place. The temperature had dropped sharply and there was a strong wind.

Gingerly we branched off the main path, striking off to the east to take us to the edge of the oldest crater. I slipped into a fissure in the rock and discovered it was like a little moist pocket – many tiny frogs and grasshoppers were living in it.

Most tourists head straight up the trail, look down into the main crater and head straight back, but our route was far more spectacular. The older crater lay to the side of the main one, like a shelf at a higher level. In it, about 200ft below, sat a lake.

Showers came and went, and clouds funnelled up and down. It is possible to make a complete circuit of the volcano but not in bad weather or high winds. We headed west around the main crater, passing a sweaty group of pot-bellied American tourists staring down into it.

Following the rim meant climbing steep slopes and then inching down again. I was extremely glad I’d brought Clint’s stick.

Inside the crater was a hot core of giant boulders with sulphurous steam rising up. Around the core was a flatter section, bright green in places where moisture was accumulating. At one point a metal stake had been concreted into the rim and ropes dropped down into the crater 300ft or so below.

They are used by seismologists regularly, monitor Soufriere’s activity. Tempting though it was, I decided not to descend – I would have needed gloves to abseil down, and I didn’t fancy the slog back up with a rucksack.

We sat and ate our lunch out of the wind and a little further on a path struck off to the north-west, following a wide bare ridge down into the forest, I could see 15 miles in all directions and both coastlines. It was an exhilarating spot, the rugged landscape certainly the equal of the Himalayas.

Our descent started slowly, slipping and sliding over tiny loose rocks, following a dusty narrow trail. Then shrubs gave way to trees and we were on a narrow ridge. The earth had been terraced and calaloo-a delicious spinach-like vegetable-was being cultivated.

On the opposite slopes I could see the marijuana plantations in cleared areas of forest.

Four Rastafarians had passed us on the way up with their crop in plastic bundles on their heads. The smell had been overpowering. The growers use a secret network of trails to take the drugs down to the coast and boats or the next person in the chain of sale.

We didn’t see anyone else for hours and the trail remained dusty and slippery, with patches of welcome shade. Then we dropped down to a narrow canyon which opened out to a boiling hot dried-up riverbed.

Finally we were on a deserted beach and a little sign saying ‘Soufriere Trail’. I walked south along it about a mile, crossed the babbling Wallibou river and into the shade of the trees on Richmond Beach, where our car was waiting. I’d done it. Hurrah!

I drank two large mugs or fruit punch and went for a solitary swim on the wide beach – the perfect end to my adventure. Back to the car for a celebratory rum punch or two and I handed Springer 25 US dollars for a St. Vincent Forestry Reserve T-shirt.

It arrived in the post a few days ago and its design, incorporating a parrot, a volcano, water, clouds and trees, will long be a colourful reminder of my blissful five days in paradise.

Kingstown 

The Capital, Kingstown, is a bright and bustling town, the center of activity for the nation. The town contains 12 small blocks with a variety of shopping locations and a busy dock area, center of commerce for the islands. The Bay Street and Middle Street shops are a must see on any trip to St. Vincent, offering a wide variety of products. The Cobblestone Inn, a popular hotel, is a beautiful old stone building with arches and ivy-covered walls, and is typical of many buildings in Kingstown.

Saturday morning market in Kingstown is shown above. It is comprised of many stalls piled high with morning fruit, brings everyone to town. All manner of fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices from around the country can be found here. The new Kingstown fish market will also tantalize you with its range of Kingfish, Snapper, and Grouper. The downtown area is full of shopping delights well worth an afternoon’s stroll down Bay and Middle streets. You can find merchants offering textiles, arts and crafts of all sorts, cameras, binoculars, Swiss watches, perfumes, crystal and bone china, gold and silver jewellery, Sea Island Cotton, Batik, etc.

Just west of Kingstown, the Botanical Gardens contain a display of trees, blossoms, and plants, including a breadfruit tree descended from the original one brought by Captain Bligh. This Botanical Gardens is the oldest in the western hemisphere, having been established in 1765 as a quarantine for medical plants bound for England’s Kew Gardens. Set among these 20 acres is the last curator’s home, which now houses the small, rather informal but remarkable National Museum.

In the center of Kingstown, the St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral is a graceful combination of several European architectures. You can see styles displaying Romanesque arches, Gothic spires and Moorish ornamentation. There are plenty of great architecture to be seen in the churches of Kingstown, as is the case with many of the Grenadine islands as well.

Also there is the Methodist Church, St. George’s Cathedral. In 1790, the Methodist Missionaries purchased an old Roman Catholic Church and the congregation of many freed slaves helped to build the Church which stands there today.

The ruins of Ft. Charlotte overlooks a 600-foot ridge just up the Leeward coast from Kingstown. Good for strategic reasons, this location offers a magnificent view of the Grenadines. Completed in 1806, this fort houses a museum featuring paintings by Lindsay Prescott depicting Black Carib history of the island. Also at the fort you will find a bakery selling bread produced by prisoners for the hospitals, prisons, and other public institutions in St. Vincent.

Just a short walk from Central Kingstown, a wide variety of native handicraft can be seen in St. Vincent’s Craftsmen Center. At the Center you can browse through items made from straw, clays, bamboo, coconut, wood, and available metals. Unique Vincentian jewellery can be found, as well as hand-made West Indian dolls. What better place to get a souveneir?

Union Island

Forty miles from St. Vincent is Union Island, a picturesque island with dramatic peaks. Mt. Parnassus soars 900 feet from the sea; a summit guarding entry to the southern Grenadines.

Union Island, a 2100-acre mountainous island and hub of the southern Grenadines, is the stopping point for yachtsmen and visitors heading to the smaller Grenadines. Union Island has it’s own airport, with regularly scheduled flights in and out of the island on Mustique Airways, SVG Air, LIAT, Air Martinique, and Inter-Island Air Services thus allowing easy and frequent connections to other international airlines in Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada. Mustique Airways & St. Vincent Airways operate Charters services.

Clifton Harbor, the main town at the harbor shown here, is small and commercial. Clifton and the other small town, Ashton, are joined by a small road with an unforgettable view over a coral shelf.

 

Union Island was a plantation owned by the Richards family, which was divided up among the inhabitants in 1911 into four and six acre plots. Now Union Island has an airport with commercial flights, and is the southern point of entry for customs clearance for yachts.

Easterval is an event held during the Easter in Union Island. The festivities always include a variety of boat races, sports and games, a calypso competition, a beauty pageant and great cultural shows, and of course great food.

Watersports are popular here. Union Island and the Southern Grenadines have some of the best beaches, anchorages, fishing and diving grounds and sailing waters in the country. Dive Anchorage on Union Island offers diving and a wide range of water sports. They also offer trips to other islands from Union Island.

There are several beachfront inns, all with a simple, relaxed atmosphere, as well as three (3) hotels: The Clifton Beach Hotel, The Sunny Grenadines, and the Anchorage Hotel. Both the Anchorage Hotel and the Sunny Grenadines offer services to yachtsmen. The Anchorage Hotel is probably the most posh of the three and has a distinctly French flavor in language and cuisine. From this island Paris is accessible in one day via Fort de France.

The Clifton Beach Hotel is an old-style hotel with most of the rooms upstairs in a large building. Down below they have a bar, snack bar, and an open restaurant built by a fish pool overlooking the harbor.

The Sunny Grenadines Hotel is set by the waterfront in a garden of palms and flowers. The rooms are comfortable and overlook the harbor. This hotel is also a charter yacht center, and day trips of all kinds can be arranged. There are two other apartments/guest houses; The Cays Apartments and the Lambi’s Guest House.

The Catholic Church sits on a hillside with a magnificent view of Frigate Island, on the southeast coast of Union Island. Church life plays an important role in the lives of Union Islanders.

The Big Drum Dance Usually performed in a festive manner, this dance is a special feature of Union Island. It is done in times of disaster as well as during joyous occasions like weddings and boat launchings. This dance is derived from a mixture of old French and African traditions.

Canouan

Small Island Between Mustique and Canouan

Twenty-five miles south of St. Vincent lies Canouan, a small crescent- shaped island surrounded by wide shallows and coral. The islanders are mainly fisherman and peasant farmers. The island claims some of the best beaches in the Caribbean and measures 3-1/2 miles by 1-1/4.

The old church on the north side of Canouan, shown to the right, had a village around it until a hurricane in 1921 swept away the village, which was rebuilt on the other side of the island.

The name Canouan comes from the old Carib “Cannouan” which means Turtle Island. Here the ship-building industry in the Grenadines was started. It’s a quiet island, unspoiled by tourism. The eastern side has one of the finest beaches around, protected by an extensive reef.

There are three (3) hotels on Canouan: The French-owned Canouan Beach Hotel, the Crystal Sands Beach Hotel, and Villa Le Bijou.

The Canouan Beach Hotel has developed the southern area of the island as an all-inclusive resort. The hotel has forty-three (43) seaview rooms, with a restaurant and bar on the south beach. Activities include sailing, snorkelling, volleyball, table tennis, and day sails to other islands.

The Crystal Sands Beach Hotel, set right on the beach in the main bay, is low-key with 10 cottage style rooms and a small bar/restaurant. The Villa Le Bijou has six (6) rooms, nightclub and a beautiful hill view. It is a charming and inexpensive guesthouse, beautifully designed with textured walls of stone and pebbles.

The Canouan Annual Yacht Races take place in august with festivities including yacht races, various sailing events and fishing competitions, cricket matches, greasy pig and donkey races, crab races, a beauty pageant, and a calypso competition. Needless to say there’s plenty of great food and drink for the spectators, and a good time is had by all.

Canouan has it’s own airport with night landing facilities. There are regularly scheduled flights from St. Vincent on Air Martinique. Mustique Air Ways and SVG Air also provide a charter service for your convenience.

Those who wish for the adventure of travel by sea can get to the island on Mondays and Thursdays aboard the MV Snapper. The boat leaves the Grenadines Wharf in Kingstown at 9:00 am and arrives in Canouan at 2:00 pm the same day. You can pass the time watching the flying fish jump beside your boat.

Mustique Island

Mustique’s history is similar to the rest of the Grenadines. The Arawaks, then the Caribs lived here. Numerous artifacts including burial pots dating way back to the seventh and eighth centuries have been found here. In 1835 the Hazell family bought the island and grew cotton and sugar, and it remained so until 1958.

This Grenadine island has long attracted the elite of the world, including British Royalty. The Honorable Colin Tennant purchased Mustique then from the Hazells, and began the process of turning the island into a hideaway for the rich and famous.

Cotton House, a sprawling 18th century plantation house, has been converted into this island’s only resort. The public rooms of the Main House are beautifully decorated with antiques and afternoon tea is served on the verandas.

Beautiful Macaroni beach on the island paradise of Mustique. Mustique island is approximately 3 by 1/2 miles in size, and is located eighteen miles south of St. Vincent. The island is hilly with a large grassy plain in the north, and is essentially composed of seven valleys, each with a white sand beach and wooded hills that rise to a height of 490 feet. A series of coral reefs surround Mustique, with many sandy beaches and coves providing safe swimming and snorkelling.

The only hotel, the Cotton House, and one small guest house on the island. The hotel is a twenty room West Indian Inn built around an eighteenth century cotton warehouse and sugar mill. It is a blend of tropical simplicity accented with such oddities as the shell fountain and the opulent cabinet amply impregnated with shells. The Cotton House is owned by Guy de la Houssaye, and was renovated by the late Oliver Messel.

There are currently fifty-two houses on Mustique. All are privately owned and/or available for rent. The styles vary from Moorish castles on hilltops to classical northern European on beachfronts. Princess Margaret, Raquel Welch and Mick Jagger are some of the famous who have homes on this island.

One of the main attractions here is the wreck of the French 20,000 ton ocean liner, the Antilles. It ran aground on a reef off the North shore of Mustique, and is the object of many local anecdotes. Many activities are offered here aside from enjoying one of the nine beaches, including horseback riding, tennis, and all manner of watersports.

And the local hot spot is a nice bar/restaurant on a jetty called Basil’s Bar. Owner Basil Charles has many activities that attract locals and visiting yachtsmen alike.

Petit St. Vincent 

Petit St. Vincent is the southernmost of the Grenadines, forty miles south of St. Vincent. This 113-acre, privately-owned resort has twenty two cottages, all constructed from “blue-bitch” stone, from a local quarry. The bungalows are strategically placed for maximum privacy, and the patios offer some incredible views.

The owner, Hazen Richardson has been involved in the development of Petit St. Vincent all along, since the resort was built in the late 1960’s. This island can easily be reached from Union Island, where charters run which will pick you up and take you across the water to this resort paradise. A wide range of sporting and marine activities are available.

White silky beaches and utterly translucent water encircle this tiny island. There are also two small cays nearby, called Pinese and Mopion. These shifting sand banks can easily be reached by Hobiecat. Mopion has a small thatch shelter on it, looking like a typical cartoon desert island. Perched atop a coral reef, its pure white sands extend all around, forming an ideal location for scuba diving.

BEQUIA

BEQUIA means Island of the Cloud from the old Carib word Becouya. Pronounced Bek-Way, this island lies nine miles south of St. Vincent and is the largest of the Grenadine Islands, measuring over seven square miles. It is an island on which life is completely oriented to the sea, little changed by time. This island was originally inhabited by the Arawaks, and later by the Carib Indians.

The spirit of the Bequia people is so congenial that visitors enjoy both building and renting houses in their favorite areas, whether in Spring, Belmont, Friendship or some other quiet corner. A tourist booth is available at the entrance to the main wharf. The people here speak English, so please ask first before taking a photograph of an individual.

Here you can watch men build their boats by hand. Boats that have been built here include double-ended sailing dinghies, fishing boats, cargo vessels and sailing yachts. Loren Dewar still keeps busy building Bequia dinghies at the boatyard. The shipwrights of Bequia have a long tradition of building wooden sailing vessels.

Today, the industry is carried on by model boat-builders who display their exquisitely crafted replicas in their workshops. The chance to pick one up as a souvenir is by itself worth a trip to Hamilton, Bequia. The Sargeant family takes custom orders for individualized yachts and production charter boats.

The children of Bequia are boat-builders as well. When they are too young to build the real boats they make boats from coconut shells and hold races.

Admiralty Bay, the island’s natural harbor, is a favorite anchoring spot for yachtsmen from all over the world. It can be reached by boat and plane and its seclusion means that it has retained its age-old tradition of boat building, whaling and fishing.

The island is encircled by gold sand beaches. It’s an excellent area for sailing, and scuba diving and snorkelling.

The island is ringed by seven miles of fringing reef where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic, teeming with life and little explored.

The quaint waterfront of Port Elizabeth is lined with bars, shops and restaurants. Good bargains can be found on souveniers in the unique craft shops. Please keep in mind that prices are fixed; attempts to barter are not considered to be in good taste. Bathing suits should never be worn in town or along the main road without adequate covering.

Taxis can be found to get around the island. Water taxis are also available, but as some are uninsured, and do not carry adequate life-saving equipment, enter these boats at your own risk. Water taxis which are accredited by the Bequia Tourist Committee have numbers on the bow.

Bequia’s population is about 6,000 and the community is made up of fishermen, sailors, master boat-builders and whalers. The ritual whaling has been done for centuries with sail boats and hand-harpoons, with the whaler taking as much risk as the whale. Catches average one a year and in no way threaten the species.

Commercial whaling was a mainstay of the economy on Bequia in the late 19th century. Whalers would go out in open double-ended boats from Bequia and Canouan. When a whale was caught, the meat, bones and teeth were distributed to the crews and sold to the islanders.

The Bequia Easter Regatta is a popular annual event that was started in 1967. This race has events for all classes of boats and is a great spectator event. It is organized by the Bequia Sailing Club. Into its fifteenth year, the regatta will be sponsored by Heineken and Pepsi.

Festivities include various boat races, a D.J. competition, backgammon tournament, swimming races and the old favorite greasy pole. Prizes are awarded, and the spirit of competition and comeradery is in the air. A popular local establishment on shore called De Reef, hosts food, drink and dancing.

There are six (6) hotels and a handful of guest houses such as Julie’s and Keegan’s on the island. Friendship Bay Hotel, located on twelve acres overlooking Friendship Bay, is the largest, with twenty-seven (27) renovated rooms. Also on Friendship Bay is the German-owned Bequia Beach Club. Plantation House’s accommodations consist of seventeen (17) cabanas and eight (8) rooms in the colonial-style main house; this is located on Admiralty Bay. Also located there is the Frangipani Hotel, shown here. It has a casual ambiance, and their Thursday night BBQ is always well attended. Spring Hotel is the most remote. It is located in a 200 year-old plantation, and has ten (10) rooms.

 

The Hawksbill Turtle project is a current intervention by man on behalf of the endangered Hawksbill Turtle population. Restoration efforts are centered here at the sanctuary shown to the left on Bequia.

One spot made famous by National Geographic is Moonhole. West of Paget Farm, on the southwestern end of Bequia, is a private development of seventeen houses designed by American Tom Johnston. The houses are built of stone, hanging off cliffs, and sometimes enveloped by them. According to villagers at Paget Farm, the space seen through Moonhole rock circle captures the sky such that it looks like a moon peeking through.