We love the Grenadines for many reasons. Brian and I were married there in 2004, and there are so many reasons to visit this group of tropical islands in the eastern Caribbean, especially because the Grenadines are perfect for cruising.
This was our third visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. For our 10th wedding anniversary, we returned to the Grenadines and chartered a sailboat with friends. We loved sailing there then and we had a great time this July sailing the islands again.
Here’s some of the reasons I think you should visit The Grenadines, especially by boat!
With the wind
After all those months of upwind sailing, it’s such a pleasure to let the jib out and go! I am still getting used to the wind at our backs, feeling like we aren’t even moving, but going at 8 or 9 knots directly to where we want to go.
The wind and current in this part of the West Indies is generally consistent. You pretty much know what you are going to get.
Another reason the Grenadines are perfect for cruising is the proximity of the islands. They’re are all so close together that you can go from one to another in just a few hours easy sailing. We spent a few days in most of the anchorages we visited, but we visited several and the trips were easy.
Every island in the Grenadines is different, which is another reason The Grenadines is perfect for cruising! These islands offer something for everyone and you won’t get bored.
Bequia is the northernmost island after the capital, St. Vincent, and the most commercial, in a good way! Cruisers love Admiralty Bay for the convenience. Propane refills, laundry pickup and drop-off, and bread delivery are some of what’s available in the harbor.
The island of Bequia has good supermarkets, chandleries and a produce market. It also has the most resorts and hotels, and lots of choices in restaurants.
You can go to casual beach bars, fancier sit down resorts, or get a take-out roti in town. Bequia has a lot of options.
You may have heard of Mustique if you’re a Stones or Royal family fan. Take a taxi tour of this upscale island with its own airport just for private planes. If you do opt for the tour, the driver will likely point out the homes of Celine Dion, Tommy Hilfiger, Keith Richards and other rich and famous people. Mustique is also the site of one of the world’s best beaches and the well-known Basil’s Bar. We didn’t visit Mustique this time, but we did the full tour 6 years ago.
Mayreau has a few very good anchorages, including Saline Bay where we stayed, and Salt Whistle on the other side of the island. The island has one big hill in the centre, which you must climb to get from one side to the other. Mayreau has great bars and good dive sites.
As the place we got married, and the home of our friends at Erika’s Marine, we are partial to Union Island, but those aren’t the only things to like about this southern Grenadian island.
Union is a great place to learn or practice kiteboarding, with several schools providing training. It also has a lot of great places to eat and drink. The town of Clifton is a pleasure to walk through, with cute shops and friendly locals.
Union Island is home to one of the most experienced dive companies, Grenadines Dive and Glenroy Adams, who took me on one of my first dives 16 years ago.
The Grenadines own marine preserve is the Tobago Cays Marina Park. If you are in the region, this set of small uninhabited islands surrounded by a coral reef is a must visit. You don’t need your own boat to go to Tobago Cays. Tour boats visit from surrounding islands every day.
World Class Diving and Snorkeling
Speaking of diving, the conditions here are perfect. The water here is so crystal clear, reminiscent of the Bahamas. It’s better than the Bahamas (sorry) because there is much more marine life (except for the Exumas park). The reefs are healthy and so are the fish.
Diving in Bequia was excellent, where we first dove with Dive Bequia, who showed us 3 seahorses in one dive!
Seahorses are usually tiny and hard to spot, but our divemaster found them easily, and one was as big as my hand. The huge schools of fish and varieties of sea life were what hooked us on diving in this area.
We have lots of new dive buddies amongst the cruisers and we enjoyed some great dives with them in Bequia and Mayreau. We also found that diving off the dinghy isn’t so difficult, it’s getting the gear back on board that’s less easy. But we managed and had a great time doing it.
For snorkeling, Tobago Cays is the place to go. It’s a protected marine preserve, parks people collect a small fee for every night you stay, and it is worth every dollar. Turtles are everywhere! This place is what got me hooked on cruising all those years ago!
The organized tour groups drop snorkelers at a beach with a roped off swimming area, and you can go there too. The turtles and rays are everywhere. They don’t let the rope confine them. We had the best sightings when we jumped off our boat and swam around the anchorage. You can’t move without seeing turtles and rays, and the water is crystal clear, so taking photos is easy.
Parties with Cruisers
Late June is a busy time in The Grenadines, with all the cruisers like us trying to get out of the hurricane zone for insurance purposes. Cruiser get-togethers were common almost everywhere we stopped. We made it for cruiser socials, beach bonfires and even a pig roast!
Want to go to some unique bars? Some of the coolest bars in the Caribbean are in The Grenadines.
Happy Island, Clifton Harbor, Union Island
The most famous bar in the Grenadines has to be Happy Island. We remember walking and swimming to this bar in its infancy when we got married on Union Island in 2005. Founded by Janti, a local who built the island by hand with shells, rocks and coral, Happy Island has grown since our first visit, with multiple patios with picnic tables and dinghy parking all around. It’s also been featured on TV with Anthony Bourdain and on a lot of Caribbean best lists. Visit it in Clifton Harbor, Union Island via your own dinghy or a water taxi.
Bar One, Admiralty Bay, Bequia
In Bequia, there’s a floating bar in the middle of the harbor called Bar One. This bar is a step above most beach bars: this is a cocktail emporium whose drinks rank up there with bars in Toronto or New York, with better prices. The drinks are made with infused rums and fresh herbs. Yum. You can also get the traditional Grenadines Harouin lager if you prefer.
Righteous Bar, Mayreau
Once you see the reggae bar Robert Righteous, on the top of the hill on the island of Mayreau, you won’t forget it. We visited 6 years ago, and again this July. Owner Robert is very friendly, loves to talk, and will entertain you over beers or rum drinks in his fantastically decorated digs. Rastas are all over the Caribbean, not just Jamaica!
Cool bars, beautiful sites for snorkeling and diving, nice people and more. All of these are reasons The Grenadines are perfect for cruising. We’ll be back and we recommend you go too!