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Grenadines: What are they?

One of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets, the Grenadines are a small collection of volcanic islands located between St Vincent and Grenada. The islands that are on the north side of the Martinique Channel belong to Saint Vincent and the islands south of the channel belong to Grenada.

On the Saint Vincent chain there are around 10,000 inhabitants spread across seven islands and across the channel there are almost 11,000 people on the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. These intimate and peaceful islands are known for their undisturbed natural beauty and wild landscapes.

Tropical rainforests and white sandy beaches make the Grenadines a dream destination for those seeking an eco-adventure. Whether you need a base to enjoy some extreme water sports or just want to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean without the tourist crowds on the main islands, the Grenadines are a must-visit destination.

Here are just some of the sights and activities that you can enjoy while in the Grenadines:

The sandy beaches

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While it isn’t difficult to find a sandy beach in the Grenadines, some beaches stand out more than others due to their beauty and the suitability of the environment for water sports. One of the best beaches to visit is Chatham Bay Beach on Union Island, it is a popular anchorage spot for boaters and has a number of places that you can visit and have a chill moment like nearby bars and restaurants for refreshments.

On the southern coast of Bequia is Friendship Beach, where the waters are extremely calm and ideal for snorkelling. The beach is around a mile long and is not that well known, so if you are looking for a quiet place to spend your time and relax just hearing the sound of the ocean this is the best spot to relax, that you will be able to find here.

There is also the Rawacou Recreation Park on Saint Vincent, due to the breakwater this is a safe place for those you decide to pick the Grenadines as their family vacation stop and where your children will be able to swim without any preoccupation. You will find volcanic black sand and benches that are ideal for family picnics.

Explore the islands by boat

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There is a rich history of seafaring in the Grenadines and every vacation there should include a sailing trip to the Tobago Cays.

Only accessible by boat, these five small cays are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving. The horseshoe shape of the reef creates a blue pristine sea, and the waters are unbelievably calm.

Surrounding the cays are several shallow reefs with thriving and biodiverse plant and sea life. There are a variety of different coral species and patches of gorgonian sea fans and sponges.

It is estimated that up to 10,000 visitors explore the cays from cruise ships each year, however you can also visit via a guided boat tour from your hotel resort.

If you are confident in the waters by yourself then you can find a Grenadines Yacht charter yourself and sail out to the area from one of the main islands. There is everything from small sailboats to luxury fully staffed superyachts for hire at Borrowaboat.

Visit historical landmarks and learn about the culture

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The island of Bequia may only be seven miles long but it is steeped in boating and pirate history. Many believe the famous pirate Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard, was based there. Sir Francis Drake is rumoured to have planned his attacks on the Spanish from the island too.

Take your scuba diving gear and take a look at the underwater shipwrecks and shallow caves. There are regularly scheduled ferries from the main island of Saint Vincent as well as an airport for small planes.

Also in Bequia is the Hamilton Fort with a gun battery that overlooks Admiralty Bay and Port Elizabeth from 300 ft high. Originally constructed in the 1700s as a defence base, there are still some cannons that remain in position over the harbour.

Over in Kingstown is Fort Charlotte, built in the Napoleonic-era this fort features gun turrets that point towards the land. It was used to defend against the French invading forces in the 18th century when they attacked.

You can take guided tours of Fort Charlotte and learn more about the island’s troubled history with slave trading and forced labour. There are also stunning views of Kingstown’s port and the waterfront from the top of the hill, so be sure to bring your camera along.

Taste the delicious regional food

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Food is a huge part of the culture in the Grenadines. The volcanic soil is wonderful for growing vegetables, making callaloo soup an island staple food.

The national dish is roasted breadfruit and fried jackfish and there are 25 different types of breadfruit on the islands. Breadfruit is unlike anything you may find in western cuisine but in taste it can be compared to potato.

Madongo dumplings are another favourite in the Grenadines, it is made from the native arrowroot and combined with nutmeg and coconut. While fish dishes are also popular, there are plenty of plant-based options for vegans and vegetarians too.

The Grenadines are an underrated holiday destination in the Caribbean, where on the majority of the times they are not even considered as of the top priorities for tourists. Taking a trip to these islands is a truly memorable experience and one that you will not regret.


Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with foreignpolicyi.org from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]gmai.com