Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a country comprising 33 islands. While the main location of Saint Vincent gets the most attention from a tourism perspective, the 32 smaller islands offer a perfect opportunity for sailing holidays away from the land-based attractions.
Located in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, the Grenadines are ideal for extended trips and for those who want to see a little bit of everything. If that sounds like your type of holiday, here is a guide to the best sailing route around these islands.
Table of Contents
1. Setting up Base Camp
Many previous sailors confirm that the best anchorage can be found at Petit Saint Vincent. This is a private island but arrangements can be made in advance directly or via your operator.
Clifton is the busiest location and this is also the best equipped in terms of shops where visitors can stock up on supplies. Alternatively, Ashton Harbour is much quieter for those seeking a little more peace and tranquility.
Petit Saint Vincent has its share of unspoilt beaches and diving but it’s largely used by sailors as a base for exploring further afield.
2. Setting Sail
The island of Mustique is a preferred second destination for many. Made famous in the 1970s as a hideaway for Princess Margaret, who owned property here, it’s since become far more accessible to regular travelers.
Snorkeling is available right across the Grenadines but Mustique is widely considered to be the best for diving and for nature discovery in general. Here, you can set down and head inland to enjoy nature trails either on foot or on horseback.
There is some excellent nightlife, most notably at the infamous Basil’s bar but Mustique is widely known as one of the better places to take the family. With water sports galore, beach picnics, and drive-in cinemas via golf buggy, it’s perfect for those with accompanying children.
3. Heading South
From Mustique, the closest island to the south is Canouan and this is our logical next destination. It’s tiny by comparison at 7.6 square kilometers and is the most tranquil location on our route thus far.
Canouan has a barrier reef on its Atlantic coast and is another great spot for snorkeling and other water activities.
For more sedate pastimes, the island has two white sandy beaches to the south where the Glossy and Friendship bays await. Wildlife is to the fore here too and, while there are no guarantees, it’s possible to spot the odd passing pilot, humpback, or sperm whale.
The name ‘Canouan’ means turtle which is another clue as to how much nature plays a part. There is, however, lots to explore inland with fine restaurants, shopping, and a fascinating maritime museum.
4. Small and Beautiful
Mayreau is the smallest inhabited island in the Grenadines and it’s often a suggested location for those seeking peace and tranquility. It is only accessible by sea so it’s just as well we’re in a rented vessel from borrowaboat as we explore more of this spectacular location.
While peace and quiet can be found in some of the less populated bays, there’s a lot to see here which doesn’t always get mentioned. Walking trails take visitors to the best places including the Roman Catholic Church and the hilltop village which provides spectacular views across the Tobago keys.
5. Rounding Off
The itinerary to date still leaves us with more than 25 islands to see. If you’re spending the entirety of your retirement here, this leaves ample opportunity for taking them all in but most travelers will have more urgent time restrictions.
One further recommendation takes in some of the most dramatic scenery of the region. Union Island is just a short sail from Mayreau but the two locations offer a distinct contrast.
Union Island is much livelier and it’s one of the best destinations for nightlife in the Grenadines. There are tons of entertainment including bars and restaurants while extensive shopping facilities can help visitors to restock before they head out onto the seas once again.
All of this is undertaken in a setting where a stunning volcanic landscape provides the backdrop.
Other recommendations include Bequia where the fishing industry remains alive and well. For local architecture and a sense of what the region would have looked like centuries ago, this is a perfect final resting point.
6. Before you go
The focus here has been on the Grenadines which can often get overlooked in favor of the significantly larger Saint Vincent. However, while you’re here, it would be wise to sail around some of Saint Vincent’s most notable landmarks.
There’s the mighty and ominous La Soufriere Volcano: A stunning natural phenomenon which stands at 4,000 feet and remains active. Sadly, it erupted to devastating effect in April 2021 so it is best viewed from a distance.
A dramatic backdrop of black and white sandy beaches can help to lead us back home. Those who do choose to moor up in Saint Vincent should not miss the stunning blue lagoon which can serve as a lasting memory of the crystal-clear waters in this part of the Caribbean.
There really is something for every type of traveler, whether they’re looking for active holidays, peace and quiet, or some top-class sailing routes with spectacular backdrops.
Saint Vincent itself can form a base but don’t be tempted to overlook the beauty of the Grenadines as you set sail.
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