St Vincent and the Grenadines © Tony Guyton
The tropical treasures of St Vincent and the Grenadines are found near St Lucia and Grenada, part of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, in the Caribbean Sea. This unspoiled paradise of 32 islands includes Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Petit St Vincent, Tobago Cays, Union Island and Palm Island, each with their own unique character and magnificent beaches to discover.
Thanks to its beautiful beaches and laid-back atmosphere, St Vincent and the Grenadines is an idyllic venue for that perfect island wedding or romantic honeymoon retreat. This aura of romantic seclusion is made possible by the fact that the island chain is refreshingly free of big, crowded resorts and the trappings of rampant development - by Caribbean standards, St Vincent and the Grenadines is an undiscovered gem. Most of the population live on the largest and most developed island, St Vincent, leaving a slew of the smaller islands sparsely inhabited and blessedly unspoiled.
The varied topography of the island chain enables an exciting array of adventures, from sailing and scuba diving to hiking and horse riding on the beach. There are also a few golf courses worth swinging a club at. St Vincent offers lush rainforest, making eco-retreats and jungle adventures increasingly popular.
The island nation has a French and British colonial history; Carib Indians fought off European settlement on St Vincent until the 18th century, after which it was subjected to many years of colonial rule and slavery. On 27 October 1979, it finally became the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence. Since then this lovely island nation has survived largely on its natural bounty, with agriculture the backbone of the country's economy, and tourism attracting a steady stream of foreign admirers.
The main tourist centres in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Kingstown (St Vincent) and Port Elizabeth (Bequia), provide a unique insight into the culture of the island nation. Kingstown's colourful markets and good restaurants make it a good base for hiking to La Soufriere Volcano, or exploring the filming locations from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Port Elizabeth is a sleepy seaside town with less to offer in terms of shopping and entertainment, but which provides easy access to the lovely beaches of Mustique, the historic Hamilton Fort, and the Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary.