New Year’s Eve
Old Year’s Night, as it is called by Bequians, has become a major celebration with dozens of yachts anchored in Admiralty Bay adding to the festivities. Restaurants are usually very busy and many host special events. In the past there has been a midnight fireworks display over the harbor.
The Mustique Blues Festival & The Bequia Music Fest
In late January every year Basil Charles of the famous Basil’s Bar organizes a week of phenomenal jazz and blues on Bequia’s neighboring island of Mustique featuring Dana Gillespie and a selection of her fellow musicians from England, the United States and elsewhere.
The Mustique Blues Festival then moves to Bequia appearing at De Reef restaurant in Lower Bay on Friday, followed by a Saturday afternoon Jam at the Bequia Beach Hotel on Friendship Bay and then back at De Reef on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, rounding out a weekend of outstanding music. For more details, see the Bequia Tourism Association’s Bequia Music Fest pages.
Organized by the Bequia Sailing Club, the Easter Regatta is Bequia’s biggest yearly event and one of Bequia’s most popular and lively long weekends. Small colorful sailing boats hand built on the island, as well as yachts from all over the world, compete in several challenging races. Dates change according to the date of Easter. For more information on the regatta, see the Bequia Easter Regatta website.
Watch a video: Bequia Easter Regatta
Vincy Mas Carnival
The Carnival in St. Vincent and the Grenadines dates back before 1920 when it was held at the Botanical Gardens. Carnival started out being a display of folk dances, maypole, boisbois and calypso. In the late 1950′s and early 1960′s, the carnival was expanded into a beautiful pageant featuring historical bands that showed and described Roman Emperors, Incas, Greeks, Spaniards, Chinese and North American Indians.
Usually in late June and lasting until mid July, St Vincent’s carnival features 12 days full of fun and excitement. Calypso and steel band music fill the streets and everywhere you will see fantastic costumes and dancing. Carnival/Vincy Mas festivities include King & Queen of the bands, Junior Carnival, Miss Carnival Show, steel band & Calypso Competitions, and Street Parades. For more information and dates, check the Vincy Mas website.
A uniquely Vincentian tradition, the nine nights before Christmas are celebrated with music, singing and revels taking place up and down the island in an exuberant countdown. Shortly before Christmas, groups representing the island’s villages and communities compete in an evening carol competition attended by most of the island and its visitors.
More Nearby Activities
A perfect way to discover Bequia is on an island tour. Visit the Turtle Sanctuary, the Whaling Museum, and the Old Fort cannon station at the mouth of the harbor. See the remains of Sir Francis Drake’s office when he was stationed on Bequia. Take a look at all of the white sandy beaches and stop for lunch at an ocean side cafe. Most open backed taxi drivers will be proud to show you their island and entertain you with their stories and narrative at the same time.
Wind Surfing, Kiteboarding, & Kayaking
Bequia and the Southern Grenadines offer several protected beaches perfect for beginners to learn the basics of these exciting sports, as well as fun and challenging locations for those with experience. Admiralty Bay is a good place to start discovering an abundance of water sport activities. Friendship Bay has the ideal combination of wind and waves for windsurfing. The Tobago Cays and Mayreau are an international mecca for kite surfers. Spring House has two kayaks available for guests to use.
No trip to Bequia is complete without a sail on The Friendship Rose, a wooden schooner built in Friendship Bay. The Friendship Rose was originally commissioned in 1967 and has served the islands as a cargo boat, mail boat and ferry. Today it operates as a tourist boat based in Bequia with daily trips to the Tobago Cays as well as other southern islands. You can also charter your own powerboat for the day for outings to remote island beaches, Mustique, the leeward coast of St. Vincent to see the “Pirates” cove, or anywhere you choose.
Bequia is the sailing capital of the Grenadines and there is no better place to arrange a sailing charter than right here. Whether it’s crewed or bareboat, a day sail or a weeklong charter, economy or luxury, there is something for every taste and budget. For something different you may decide to integrate a few days aboard a charter yacht into your vacation and visit the other Grenadine islands of Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Union, Palm, Petit St Vincent or the famous Tobago Cays.
Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
Bequia diving ranks with the best in the Caribbean. There are some 35 excellent dive sites around Bequia and the nearby islands. Full PADI-certified dive shops and dive masters are available. A great place to get open water dive certified during your visit, at considerably less cost. With water temperatures averaging 80°F / 27°C, the diving is comfortable and only a lightweight wetsuit is needed. Dive shops include all the equipment that you will need. See our Useful Links page for more information.
Hiking & Walking
Perhaps the best way to really get to know Bequia and its hidden treasures is on foot. Early morning or late evening is the ideal time of day to avoid the heat. Just exploring the winding roads on Bequia can be a revelation, but there are also smaller trails and disused roads to take you deep into the heart of the island. See the Bequia Tourism Association’s Tours & Hiking page or the Hiking Bequia website.
No license is required when fishing for pleasure. Sport fishing is a popular pastime and Spanish Mackerel, Barracuda, Marlin, Tuna, Bonito and Kingfish are just some of the many varieties available, often simply with a line and lure. It is also possible to try reef fishing – hand lining and trolling are the only methods of fishing permitted to visitors and catches are restricted to only enough for your personal use. Several local tour operators can arrange deep-sea fishing trips and provide everything from the bait to the rum punch to celebrate your catch.
There are several tennis courts on Bequia where you can usually play with prior arrangement. Bring your own equipment or Spring House has a limited supply that you can use. Tennis courts can be found at the following locations:
- Frangipani Hotel, Belmont Walkway: (784) 458 3255
- Firefly Plantation Bequia, Spring: (784) 458 3414
- Astroturf Court, Lower Bay
If you know what this is then you may be surprised to learn that there are a few geocache locations on Bequia. Seek them out and leave your token, or start your own cache. For more information, check out the worldwide geocaching website The Global GPS Cache Hunt Site.
When the sun goes down, the focus turns to the many fine restaurants and bars on Bequia. Each evening of the week different restaurants hold special activities or live music. Among the most well known is the Thursday evening “Jump Up” at the Frangipani Hotel in Port Elizabeth. This beachfront BBQ and buffet featuring excellent food and a lively steel band is a local institution. Consult our Local Dining page or ask our Housekeeper for recommendations when you are ready to hit the town.
There are a number of good Bequia bands like Phoenix, Upbeat, Farine, Elite Steel Band and the local string band J.Gool & De Buccaneers, who perform at various venues around the island almost every week. Check “Bequia This Week (PDF)”, an informative weekly newsletter distributed island-wide, for up-to-date information on day and night time activities.
Arts & Crafts
Visitors to Bequia may be surprised to find such a wide variety of local arts and crafts on such a small island. There are several artists located around the island engaging in media as diverse as scrimshaw, woodcarving, model boat making, stained glass, ceramics, pottery, painting, photography, silk work, jewelry making and crochet. Many artists display their work in the boutiques of Port Elizabeth; most are more than happy to invite you into their studios to discuss their work.
The work of local and visiting artists, including names like Julie Savage Lea, L.D. Lucy and Pinky, is featured on a weekly basis. Ask about the “Meet the Artist” mornings.
If the arts are of interest to you, below you will find a few places you may enjoy visiting. For a full listing please see the Bequia Tourism Association’s Bequia Arts & Crafts page.
- Claude Victorine’s Art Studio in Lower Bay displays her handmade silk creations as well as paintings by her daughter. Claude creates superb fabrics, cushion covers and wall hangings. Closed on Fridays. Tel: 784-458-3150. Website: Click here
- The Boathouse overlooking Friendship Bay on the airport road, features model boats-that-sail, paintings, prints and island souvenirs. Tel: 457-3896.
- Jacob Scott’s workshop at Hope Beach displays hats and baskets.
- Jacob Scott at Hope Beach is another celebrated local talent who scours Bequia’s shores for coral, shells, flotsam and recyclable refuse, which he turns into surprisingly stylish jewelry and fashion accessories. Tel: 401-848-9360.
- The Arts and Crafts Cafe (part bar, part studio and part hairdressing salon) is run by Emma and PQ, a Bequia artist and sculptor. Sculptures, painted calabash and macramé jewelry are among the items on sale. Emma, a top professional hairdresser from the UK, carries out her craft in the shade of a tree at reasonable prices. Tel: 457-3948 for an appointment.
Bequia has a long tradition of boat building and for many years the local boatyards were the source of most commercial wooden vessels in the Grenadines. With the advent of larger steel ships the boatyards died out and the art of boatbuilding has shifted to the model boat building industry. Stop into Mauvin’s or Sargeant Brothers in Port Elizabeth and watch the craftsmen create these incredibly detailed works of art.
Off The Island
A short boat ride, or a 5 minute flight, to the south of Bequia will take you to Mustique. The Caribbean homes of celebrities such as Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Bryan Adams and the like are located here. This privately owned, beautifully manicured, 2 sq. miles / 4.5 sq. km island can be ideal for a day’s visit by sail or powerboat. Explore the island, take a tour, or just visit one of the beautiful beaches, with plenty of time for a drink in Basil’s bar, voted one of the 10 best beach bars in the world.
The Tobago Cays are a famous collection of five uninhabited coral islands that comprise a national maritime park, with some of the most spectacular waters in the world. Once there, one can explore the underwater treasures of Horseshoe Reef, where the movie Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed, or enjoy a relaxing nap on one of the numerous desert island beaches.
With clear, turquoise-blue waters, the area is quite simply breathtaking. The reefs here provide some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. Don’t forget to take your camera, as the scenery is absolutely lovely. Day trips can be arranged. The Friendship Rose sails to the Tobago Cays.
Canouan – Golf Course
If your vacation just isn’t complete without a round or two of golf, then take a short day trip to the Grenadines Estate Golf Club on nearby Canouan Island which features an exhilarating and challenging 18-hole, par 72 golf course, designed by Jim Fazio. The course,which stretches for 60 acres along the ocean edge, was described by Robb Report the “St. Andrews of the Caribbean”. Ask us about complete day out golf and spa packages exclusively for the guests of Spring House Bequia.
St. Vincent is just 9 miles north of Bequia. With regular ferries throughout the day, it is one of the most naturally spectacular and undeveloped of the large Caribbean islands. Full and half day trips can be made to some of the natural wonders of this island. Climb through the rainforests to the summit of a volcano, visit the oldest botanical gardens in the western world, trek through rainforest to Trinity Falls, take a boat trip to the Falls of Baliene, visit Montreal Gardens a commercial tropical flower nursery, hike though the rainforest of a protected national park or just take a drive along the stunning coast line to the largest coconut plantation in the Caribbean.
La Soufriere Volcano rises majestically to over 4,000 ft / 1,219 m. It last erupted in April 1979. A tour of La Soufriere volcano takes you along the picturesque windward coast of St. Vincent, through banana and coconut plantations to where the foot trail begins. This trail starts halfway up the mountain and is suitable for all ages with a basic level of fitness. Or, for the more energetic, climb from the beaches of the Leeward side and you can truly say that you “did the volcano”. Guides available and recommended.
Vermont Nature Trails are a series of trails leading through tropical rain forest where visitors may have a chance to see the rare and unique St. Vincent Parrot (Amazona Guildingii) and Whistling Warber. The trails offer excellent bird watching as the habitat surrounding them houses several rare species as well as an array of tropical plants and flowers. A good guide is essential for full appreciation of this spectacular natural ecosystem.
The Botanical Gardens were first established in 1765, making them the oldest botanical gardens in the Western Hemisphere. The gardens occupy 20 acres to the north of Kingstown and feature a descendent of the original breadfruit tree brought to the island by Captain Bligh in 1793. Many ancient and impressive specimens of flowering plants, palms, cycads, and tropical trees make up these gardens which were originally planted for the very practical reason of insuring visiting ships a good supply of fruits and vegetables for their voyages. Guides are available at the entrance to the gardens and a good one makes the trees and plants come alive.
Falls of Baleine are situated in the lush tropical rainforest at the northern tip of St. Vincent. Cool waters come down from the mountaintops and then cascade 59 ft (18m) to form a series of shallow pools at the base. These spectacular falls can be easily reached by boat on a Leeward coast day trip or by land excursion.
The Pirates of the Caribbean Film Site is St. Vincent and the Grenadines newest attraction. Wallilabou Bay was selected because the film directors went looking for an un-spoilt cove on a Caribbean island that did not already have hotels or even a village, a rare thing in today’s overdeveloped world. The pristine nature of St. Vincent’s leeward coast, together with the Tobago Cays, made the perfect setting for this trilogy. You will easily recognize many of the settings for the film from the wharf to the gallows to the dead men’s stone arch.
Fort Charlotte is a 200-year-old fort perched 600 feet above sea level. The ruins overlook Kingston harbor, and offer a magnificent southward panoramic view of the Grenadine islands. Forts such as Fort Charlotte remain as a remainder of the struggles of the past and there is an interesting museum and art gallery located within the old fort buildings.
Leeward Side Tours are available by sea and by land. Sea: A perfect day out for the whole family is a boat tour of the Leeward Coast. Spring House offers its own resort boat which departs from Bequia and is suitable for smaller groups. Other tour operators, such as Fantasea Tours, leave from the Kingstown area and make frequent stops at points of interest and to swim or snorkel. The sea off the leeward coast is normally quite calm and stops at the Leper’s Baths, Bat Cave, and Pirates Film site are interspersed with frequent sightings of dolphins or whales. Lunch and drinks are usually provided. Land: Haz-Eco toursoperate out of Kingstown to all the popular sites detailed above, or you can easily arrange your own program with one of the taxi drivers. Our housekeeper will be happy to assist you in arranging your outing.