The stunning turquoise waves lapping white sandy beaches in Canouan, an island in the Caribbean, are so pristine that the lack of bathers would be eerie if it wasn’t so absolutely wonderful to have the entire beach to yourself.
On Canouan, as well as the 8 other inhabited islands that comprise St. Vincent and the Grenadines (32 islands in total), you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find all of the lush splendours of a tropical paradise without any of the regular annoyances you might find at an overly commercialized resort. The reason why this beautiful oasis has remained relatively untouched for so long? Reaching the islands used to comprise of a cumbersome 2-day process, with travellers flying into neighbouring Caribbean islands and then having to reach the islands by boat.
Direct flights from Air Canada have recently changed all of that, making these islands infinitely more accessible. Weekly flights from Toronto are available year round, with a second weekly flight launching this December to serve holiday travellers. While this means that St Vincent and the Grenadines will likely become just as popular as neighbouring St. Lucia over time, right now the islands maintain an air of seclusion – like an inside secret only the supremely travel-savvy are aware of.
St Vincent and the Grenadines offer a plethora of accommodations that suit trips for work or pure relaxation. Since this winter is slated to be one of the worst we’ve had in a while, I’ve laid out some of the gems from these lush tropical islands for you to consider as you plan any escapes from the frigid cold coming over the next few months.
For the Cultural Adventurer
The main Island of St. Vincent is where you’ll land when you fly into the airport, and it’s worth spending a few days on the main island before catching a boat or plane to enjoy the neighbouring splendours. Whipping through the lush hills on narrow roads with Soca music blasting from the car speakers, the vibrant spirit of Vinci (as the locals call it) soaks through every aspect of the experience the instant you land. For accommodations, you can’t go wrong with Young Island Resort, a private island resort a short ferry ride (about 1 minute) off the mainland. 29 charming cottages, striking views, and a lovely pool will tempt you to stay, and lounge, but don’t miss out on the bustling splendours of the main island. Notable day trips not to be missed: head to Dark View Falls to climb a gardened staircase all the way up to a cascading waterfall, and to roam around some of the sets where Pirates of the Caribbean I was filmed in 2002, don’t miss Wallilabou Bay.
For the Health-Conscious Hustler
For the entrepreneurs that combine business even when they’re on “vacation” the Mandarin Oriental, Canouan cannot be topped. The resort stretches over 1200 acres of land, amongst which spans a golf course, historic church, private villas, and the hotel itself, an acropolis made almost entirely out of white marble imported from Italy and India. Mandarin Oriental’s Mindful Meetings package combines structured collaborative activities with luxurious treatments that shine a light on the world-class accommodations guests expect from a Mandarin Oriental. The Lagoon Cafe, one of the property’s many restaurants, boasts breakfast choices such as chia seed pudding with papaya compote, or an egg-white frittata with pepper coulis and a tall glass of green juice. Think ample meeting time interspersed with sessions encouraged to help your team get to know one another, such as hitting a few balls on the resorts expansive driving range or focusing inward by engaging in a guided meditation by the spa’s therapists. Canouan is accessible by a 15-minute flight (though slightly bumpy, completely safe) from the neighbouring main island of St. Vincent.
For the Digital Detoxer
Stepping onto Petit St Vincent Island is like stepping back in time – but not because the facilities are dated. On the contrary, each of Petit St. Vincent’s 22 private villas are made from hand-quarried stone and vaulted purpleheart hardwood ceilings that achieve an inviting, yet modernly luxe balance. What makes this island feel so nostalgic is the strict digital detox policy enforced. All accommodations are free from wifi and televisions, with guests communicating with staff via the signature flag-pole communication system instead. A raised yellow flag means you’re in need of transportation or room service, and red signals privacy. If you’re in search of a completely secluded experience it’s possible to spend the entirety of your time on the island without speaking to another human. Rated as National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, this resort occupies the entire island – with two restaurants, beach BBQs, and two Balinese yoga pavilions, if you’ve come for complete seclusion or would rather a bit of a social experience you’ll find what you’re looking for.
With 9 inhabited islands to experience, St. Vincent and the Grenadines truly has something for everyone to discover whether you’re after relaxation, adventure, or a mix of both.