Don’t be surprised if you are greeted with a warm “Hello” as you walk along village streets. With a centuries-old dependence on inter-island shipping and trading has meant that Bequians have been eagerly welcoming visitors to their shores for generations. Come and experience why Bequia is the ideal destination for your next get-away.
Bequia remains one of the most unspoiled and natural of all the Caribbean islands, with a population that numbers just under 5,000. The island was once a busy center for whaling and boat building and Bequia still retains its traditions and skills based on the sea.
The second largest island of the Grenadines, Bequia lies 9 miles / 14.5 km southwest of St Vincent. It is about 5 miles / 8 km long and 0.5 miles / 0.8 km wide. The terrain is quite different from that of St. Vincent as Bequia (meaning “island of the clouds” in ancient Arawak) boasts rolling hills instead of mountains. There is a large difference between the coastlines on either side of the island with both rocky terrain and sweeping white sand beaches.
Small, beautifully lush and on the quiet side, Bequia has its own unique culture. Sailors have long known Bequia as one of the premier sailing and cruising destinations of the Grenadines and the Eastern Caribbean. The superb anchorages, coupled with the traditional nautical lifestyle, attract yachts of every size and description from around the world. The sailing season culminates in the annual Easter Regatta.
The atmosphere is reminiscently West Indian and the inhabitants, who enjoy a comfortable standard of living, are friendly and polite. With fewer than five thousand inhabitants, it feels like home from the moment you arrive. Bequia still retains its old-world charm and small island friendliness, but with modern touches like internet cafes and ATM machines. Without needing traffic lights and no-parking signs, Bequia has managed maintained it’s intimate coastal community feeling while still offering all the conveniences of home. The beaches are typically vacant, a private coastal retreat like you would see in travel brochures. You won’t need to get up at 4 am to save a beach chair, there is no crowd to beat. Relish the privacy and friendly intimacy that Bequia can offer. By your second day on the island you won’t need to tell the taxi driver where you are staying; he will already know you!
By the end of your vacation you will create friendships that will last a lifetime. One stay here will make you come back year after year.
Where is Bequia?
Bequia is the second largest island in the Grenadines. It is part of the nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and is approximately 15 km from the nation’s capital, Kingstown. The island is very compact, measuring some 7 square miles (18 km2). The main population areas are Port Elizabeth and Paget Farm which host the Ferry Terminal and Airport respectively.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines lies to the west of Barbados between northern Saint Lucia and southern Grenada in the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, an island arc of the Caribbean Sea. The islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines include the main island of Saint Vincent (344 km2/133 sq mi) and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines (45 km2/17 sq mi), which are a chain of small islands stretching south from Saint Vincent to Grenada.
The Caribbean Islands are a region consisting of the Caribbean Sea, its islands, and the surrounding coasts. The region is located southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and North America, east of Central America, and to the north of South America. Situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, the region comprises more than 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cays. These islands, called the West Indies, generally form island arcs that delineate the eastern and northern edges of the Caribbean Sea.
Located 100 miles / 161 km west of Barbados, the lack of a major international airport has preserved this island group from tourist exploitation and major resort development. The total population is about 110,000.
The majority of the population lives in the coastal areas and main valleys of the large island of St. Vincent. English-speaking and predominantly Christian, Vincentians have a long history of traveling and working around the world but almost always return home.
The state of St. Vincent the Grenadines consists of the island of St. Vincent and a number of island dependencies in the north part of the Grenadines archipelago. Visitors are welcomed with open arms, not for their tourist dollars, but with the genuine warmth of a people who are proud of their country and heritage.
The flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines features green diamonds that represent the many lush islands, blue for the brilliant sky and gold for the warmth of the people.
The flag is sometimes called “the Gems” and you can see why as this necklace of precious islands that adorns the southern Caribbean waits to welcome you.
A collection of 32 enchanting islands and cays, the independent nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines stretches out over 60 miles in the southern Windward Island chain and is one of the last truly pristine and un-spoilt areas in the Caribbean.
Geology and Ecosystem
St. Vincent is alive with a rich ecosystem and interesting geological features such as its 250-year-old botanical gardens in the south and its 4,000 ft / 1,219.2 m. high volcano, La Soufrière, in the north.
The island of Saint Vincent is volcanic and includes little level ground. The windward side of the island is very rocky, while the leeward side has more sandy beaches and bays. The country’s highest peak is La Soufrière volcano. La Soufriere has not erupted since 1979.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines are home to stretches of coral reefs, particularly in the marine park off the islands of Tobago Cays. Coral reefs are the base of an ecosystem with a bewildering variety of species, including sea turtles and over 300 kinds of fish. The area by Tobago Cays has been declared a conservation area.
The plantlife in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is full of vibrant flowers, leaning palms, thorny cacti, lush ferns, and fruiting trees. There are, peppering the islands, a poisonous type of tree known as the machineel. Many of these trees, on more populated islands, are marked or roped off. On less inhabited islands, the trees may not be marked at all.
St. Vincent is also full of black and white sand beaches, gushing waterfalls, crystal clear water and the vibrant colours of its vegetation await you as you discover this extraordinary island. The petroglyphs on St. Vincent are engravings left on rocks in caves and open-air sites that date back thousands of years, and are normally found near rivers where ancient peoples would have settled.
A Short History Of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
St. Vincent was possibly visited by Columbus in 1498 and named by him. Carib Indians aggressively prevented European settlement on St. Vincent until the 18th century. African slaves (whether shipwrecked or escaped from St Lucia and Grenada and seeking refuge in St. Vincent) intermarried with the Caribs and became known as Black Caribs.
Beginning in 1719, French settlers cultivated coffee, tobacco, indigo, cotton and sugar on plantations worked by African slaves. In 1763, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became a British possession under the Treaty of Paris. In 1779 the territory was seized by the French, but in 1783 restored to Britain under the Treaty of Versailles. Conflict between the British and the black Caribs continued until 1796, when General Abercrombie crushed a revolt. More than 5,000 black Caribs were eventually deported to Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras.
In 1834 slavery was abolished. The resulting labor shortages on the plantations attracted Portuguese immigrants in the 1840s and east Indians in the 1860s. Conditions remained harsh for both former slaves and immigrant agricultural workers, as depressed world sugar prices kept the economy stagnant until the turn of the century.
In 1871 the group became part of the Windward Islands Colony and in 1956 a member of the Federation of the Windward Islands. In 1958 St. Vincent joined the Federation of the West Indies and in 1969 it attained full internal self government. Finally in 1979 it became an Independent Sovereign State within the Commonwealth.
From 1763 until its independence in 1979, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines passed through various stages of colonial status under the British. A representative assembly was authorised in 1776, Crown Colony government was installed in 1877, a legislative council was created in 1925, and universal adult suffrage was granted in 1951.
During the period of its control of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the British made several unsuccessful attempts to affiliate the island with other Windward Islands. This would have simplified Britain’s control over the region through a unified administration. In the 1960s, several regional islands under British control, including St. Vincent, also made an independent attempt to unify. The unification was to be called the West Indies Federation and was driven by a desire to gain freedom from British rule. The attempt collapsed in 1962.
St. Vincent was granted “associate statehood” status by Britain on October 27, 1969. This gave St. Vincent complete control over its internal affairs but was short of full independence. On October 27, 1979, following a referendum under Milton Cato, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence. Independence came on the 10th anniversary of Saint Vincent’s associate statehood status.
Natural disasters have featured in the country’s history. In 1902, La Soufrière volcano erupted, killing 2,000 people. Much farmland was damaged, and the economy deteriorated. In April 1979, La Soufrière erupted again. Although no one was killed, thousands had to be evacuated, and again there was extensive agricultural damage. In 1980 and 1987, hurricanes compromised banana and coconut plantations. 1998 and 1999 also saw very active hurricane seasons, with Hurricane Lenny in 1999 causing extensive damage to the west coast of the island.