The 32 islands and cays that make up St Vincent and the Grenadines offer unbeatable landscapes, palm-studded shorelines and some of the clearest, blue water you’ll ever see – perfect for some Caribbean island hopping. From the mountainous volcanic terrain of St Vincent to the shallow, sandy atolls of the Tobago Cays in the Grenadines, it’s no surprise many sailors, kite surfers, nature lovers and beach bums venture to St Vincent and the Grenadines year after year.
In this blog, we’ll explore the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, transportation options for island hopping, suggested time on each island, the best time to visit, and some of the best things to do. So let’s dive in!
The Islands in St Vincent and the Grenadines
This beautiful country consists of the mainland (St Vincent) and 32 smaller islands and cays of low banks of coral or rock (the Grenadines), which stretch southward towards Grenada.
There are both uninhabited and inhabited islands in St Vincent and the Grenadines, some of which are private. Let’s explore them below.
The Inhabited Islands
Each one is unique in its own way, the inhabited islands in St Vincent and the Grenadines are:
The Private Islands
The private islands in the Grenadines are:
- Petit St Vincent
- Palm Island
Technically, you are not allowed to visit Petit St Vincent and Palm Island unless you are a guest at the resorts. However, all of the beaches in St Vincent and the Grenadines are public. As a result, many boat trips/tours will take you here to enjoy the island’s beaches and swim in the crystal-clear water. Although, you won’t be allowed to step foot any further than the beach.
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The Uninhabited Islands
Let the untouched landscapes and shimmering waters transport you to a world that feels like a million miles away from reality. The uninhabited islands in the Grenadines are:
- Mopion (Umbrella Island)
- Isle Quatre
- Petit Nevis
- Tobago Cays
Imagine the sheer delight of strolling along untouched shores and swimming in crystal-clear waters, with no crowds to interrupt your serenity. These deserted, uninhabited islands hold the promise of a truly idyllic escape, where you can immerse yourself in nature’s untouched beauty.
4 Ways to Island Hop in St Vincent and the Grenadines
How you navigate St Vincent and the Grenadine islands depends on two main factors: your mode of transport and your budget.
By far, the best way to experience the majesty of SVG’s archipelago is by boat.
1) Charter a Boat or Go on a Catamaran Cruise
Chartering a boat or opting for a catamaran cruise presents an unparalleled opportunity to explore the region at your own pace. With numerous anchorages scattered across the islands, you can design an itinerary that aligns perfectly with your desired destinations and experiences.
There is an abundance of private boat charters, depending on the island you’re staying on. Many routes are pre-planned, but some operators are open to sailing to the islands you request.
Top Tip: If you want to charter a boat but pay less, put a post on the Facebook page of the island you’re staying on. For example, Bequia’s community page is ‘Bequia Whats On!’. Let people know you’d like to charter a boat and see if you can get a group together to split the cost.
For a more budget-friendly and practical option, consider taking a ferry. Regular ferries transport both passengers and freight between the mainland (St Vincent) and the Southern Grenadines. Check the schedules of Admiral (for Bequia only), Bequia Express, and the Jaden Sun Fast Ferry to plan your route efficiently.
3) Hop in a Water Taxi
Water taxis are another convenient and charming mode of transport to consider when navigating the islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines. These small boats, often operated by locals, offer a more personalised and flexible way to hop between neighbouring islands.
A water taxi ride presents an opportunity to embrace the true essence of the Caribbean as you cruise along the sparkling waters, feeling the gentle breeze and basking in the stunning coastal views. Often, the friendly boat operators share local insights and hidden gems, enriching your island-hopping journey.
Whether you need a quick transfer to a nearby island or wish to explore several destinations in a day, water taxis provide a versatile and scenic option. You can easily arrange the rides at the local harbours or through your accommodations, and the schedules are often flexible to accommodate your preferences.
4) By Plane
For island-hopping between St Vincent, Bequia, Canouan, Union Island, and Mustique, small passenger planes offer an alternative mode of transport. These propeller planes provide swift and convenient connections, allowing you to explore multiple islands in a relatively short time. However, keep in mind that flying to the other islands might be costly and not as readily accessible.
Breaking Down the Islands: Things To Do & Suggested Time Spent
The recommended time spent on each island varies depending on your overall trip duration and chosen mode of transport. With 32 captivating islands and cays in this marvellous country, exploring all of them might be challenging unless you have an extended stay.
To assist in planning your journey and discovering the best things to do, let’s break it down island by island:
Mainland St Vincent
The largest and most populous island, St Vincent, offers a blend of natural wonders and vibrant culture. Despite being nestled in between popular Caribbean countries like St Lucia and Barbados, St Vincent is unspoiled by mass tourism, which is all part of its charm.
Some venture to the main island for a day trip from smaller islands, like Bequia or Mustique. However, if you have time on your side, allocate a few days in St Vincent to embrace all the island has to offer. There are several hotels and self-catering accommodations in St Vincent.
While on the island, you could hike to La Soufrière volcano for breathtaking views or visit the mesmerising Dark View Falls. Or, explore Kingstown, the capital, with its colonial architecture and bustling market. We recommend immersing yourself in the local culture by chatting to locals and attending festivals like Vincy Mas, a lively carnival celebration.
Known as the “Isle of Clouds,” Bequia is the second largest island in St Vincent and the Grenadines and is growing in popularity with tourists. With a population of only 3000 people, it charms visitors with its quaint authentic Caribbean atmosphere, stunning beaches showered with palm trees and beautiful landscapes.
A day trip to Bequia from another island is an option. Or, it’s a great island to base yourself for your entire trip. There’s enough to do on the island and great amenities for a stay of a week or two. There are many private accommodations and a few hotels in Bequia. It’s also well connected to the neighbouring mainland and the chain of southern Grenadine islands, with ferries running several times a day.
Take a leisurely stroll along the Belmont Boardwalk, dotted with colourful boats and calm, lapping water, or venture to Princess Margaret Beach to relax and soak in the island vibes.
Unless you have a few (plus a few more) thousand dollars kicking around that you can spend on a one night stay in Mustique, it’ll be a day trip here at the most. Mustique is a private island in the Grenadines known as a “playground of the rich and famous”.
During your visit, you’ll witness the grandeur of some gorgeous villas and mansions. The likes of Mick Jagger, Bryan Adams and Tommy Hilfiger all have homes on the island. It’s also known for its royal appeal, with Prince William and Kate Middleton and Princess Margaret staying on the island on more than one occasion.
Geographically, Mustique is neighbouring Bequia, so a sailing trip to Mustique from Bequia is a popular day trip idea. Enjoy the privacy of idyllic beaches like Macaroni Beach or visit the infamous Basil’s Bar for lunch and cocktails, savouring the elegant atmosphere of this private island retreat.
One of the best hidden gems in the Grenadines is the small island of Canouan. This little paradise boasts lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and an irresistible touch of luxury. At the heart of Canouan lies the prestigious 5-star Mandarin Oriental hotel, offering an exquisite stay experience and amenities for paying guests. You will also find the exclusive Sandy Lane Yacht Club, where you can stop for lunch at Shenanigans.
Outside of the prestigious grounds of the Mandarin Oriental, the island still belongs to the Government. This is where you’ll find the real Canouan – the unspoiled local towns and villages.
Personally, we stayed a few nights in Canouan, hired a golf buggy and discovered the island. However, you can explore Canouan and tick off the hotspots in just one day.
The smallest inhabited island in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Mayreau, offers seclusion and tranquillity, with a population of under 300 people!
Stay for a night in Mayreau, if you can. Visit the unnamed village, wander the grounds of the oldest church in the Caribbean atop the hill and enjoy the simplicity of local life. Reach the breathtaking Salt Whistle Bay on foot and savour the picture-perfect scenery. If you’re short on time, half a day or a full day in Mayreau will still make for an incredible experience during your trip to the Grenadines.
A vibrant hub for yachting and water sports, Union Island boasts lively beaches and a thriving local community. It’s a must-visit while Caribbean island hopping in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Two to three days will give you ample time to enjoy the vibrant culture, water activities, and breathtaking views. Climb Mount Taboi for panoramic views or explore Kite Beach or Chatham Bay for a relaxing day on the tranquil shores.
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Personally, we spent a week in Union Island and loved every minute!
Palm Island & Petit St Vincent
As you can only enjoy the beach and waters of these two private islands, an hour or two is enough time here.
These two idyllic, private islands offer serene seclusion and an unparalleled escape from the ordinary.
Palm Island, a private and exclusive island resort, has powdery white beaches, swaying palm trees, and crystal-clear waters. Guests can indulge in luxurious accommodations and a myriad of water sports and activities.
Petit St. Vincent, known affectionately as “PSV,” also captivates with its unspoiled beauty and barefoot luxury. With no telephones, televisions, or Wi-Fi, PSV encourages guests to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy a digital detox. Wander along deserted beaches, unwind in charming villas, and relish in the simple pleasure of the simple life.
The Tobago Cays
Venturing beyond the inhabited islands, the uninhabited Tobago Cays Marine Park reveals a true sense of untouched wonder.
The Tobago Cays are five small islands and are a crown jewel in this pristine archipelago. Offering a surreal underwater playground, Tobago Cays has glass-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and abundant marine life, including friendly sea turtles. A visit here is absolutely one of the best things to do in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The world-famous “Horseshoe Reef” encircles four of the five islets, creating a haven of pristine, glass-clear waters throughout the cays.
Here’s some more information about each of the five Tobago Cay islands:
The only island outside of the Horseshoe Reef, Petit Tabac, is where the filming of iconic scenes between Jonny Depp and Keira Knightley in the first Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl movie took place!
You can snorkel to your heart’s content along the 2.5-mile Horseshoe Reef, with a majestic backdrop of Petit Tabac island. You’ll find vibrant coral, schools of colourful fish and underwater wildlife.
At the protected bay of Baradal within the Horseshoe Reef, you can swim with countless starfish and Hawksbill turtles. The Tobago Cays turtles are iconic and visible in shallow waters, munching on seagrass. The powdery white sand and stunning views from the hilltop add to the mesmerising experience.
Don’t miss the unforgettable experience of feeding stingrays and puffer fish at Petit Rameau, after a mouthwatering beach BBQ lunch.
Enjoy fresh tuna, lobster, spiced rice, potatoes, plantain, and more – a must-try during your visit to Tobago Cays. For the best beach BBQ, we recommend Carlos Beach BBQ.
Also, while on Petit Rameau, take a moment to admire the captivating piles of empty conch shells and see if you can spot the resident Iguanas.
Petit Bateau, the largest islet of the five, boasts a stunning white sand beach and breathtaking views on its north side.
Don’t miss the chance to capture another incredible (360) viewpoint from atop Jamesby during your Tobago Cays trip.
The Other Uninhabited Islands
In addition to Tobago Cays, the Grenadines boast a collection of other uninhabited gems, such as Happy Island, Morpion, and Petit Nevis.
Consider the location of each of the islands you want to visit, as you may be able to tick off a handful of them in just one day. For example, during our stay on Union Island, we took a water taxi and visited the Tobago Cays, Palm Island and Happy Island in one day.
Getting To the Tobago Cays
Getting to the Tobago Cays is an adventure in itself. As a protected marine park in the Grenadines, access to this pristine paradise requires careful planning.
- Boat Charter: Chartering a boat or catamaran is one of the best ways to explore the Tobago Cays and the surrounding islands. Whether you’re an experienced sailor or prefer a crewed vessel, boat charters offer flexibility and the freedom to design your own itinerary.
- Ferries: Regular ferries for both freight and passengers operate between the mainland (St. Vincent) and the Southern Grenadines, stopping at Mayreau and Union Island close to the Tobago Cays. From here, you can hop in a water taxi or boat. Check the schedules of the Jaden Sun Fast Ferry to plan your route efficiently.
- Water Taxi: Water taxis provide a convenient and efficient way to move between the islands. They are available for shorter trips, making island hopping in the Grenadines a breeze.
- Small Aircraft: For a more aerial perspective, small passenger planes connect the airports on St. Vincent, Bequia, Canouan, Union Island, and Mustique. From these islands, you will need a boat or water taxi to get to the Tobago Cays. Although this would be a unique experience, it can be more expensive.
Once at the Tobago Cays, the cost to enter the marine park is $4 US per boat. This fee helps support the conservation efforts to protect the marine life and ecosystems within the park.
Best Time to Visit St Vincent and the Grenadines for Island Hopping
The best time to visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines for island hopping is during the dry season, which typically runs from December to May. This period offers more stable weather, with minimal rainfall and lower humidity, creating ideal conditions for exploring the islands and enjoying water activities.
During the dry season, you can expect calm seas and gentle trade winds, making boat travel between the islands smoother and more pleasant. This is particularly important for those planning to charter boats or take ferries to hop between different destinations.
The shoulder months of December and April are especially popular for tourists, as the weather is still favourable, and the crowds are relatively smaller compared to the peak months of January to March.
However, it’s essential to keep in mind that the dry season is also a high tourist season, so accommodation prices may be higher, and popular attractions might be more crowded. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder months or even the off-peak season from June to November.
Get Ready for Your Caribbean Island Hopping Adventures in SVG
Caribbean Island hopping in St Vincent and the Grenadines is an unforgettable adventure, offering diverse landscapes, pristine beaches, and captivating experiences. With easy navigation between the islands, you can explore hidden gems and indulge in luxury. Swim with starfish and turtles at the Tobago Cays, admire stunning views from atop Bequia and Union Island, and escape to private paradises like Palm Island and Mustique. Embrace the magic of these tropical isles and create cherished memories on your dream island getaway.
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