Bequia Welcome Sign
Bequia Welcome Sign

BEQUIA | ISLAND OF THE CLOUDS

Welcome to Bequia

Cruising the Caribbean? You may be lucky enough to visit Bequia, the second largest island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, next only to St. Vincent itself. Size here is only relevant to the other Grenadines considering this island is tiny: seven square miles (18 square km) long, and home to about 5000+ inhabitants. It is so strange to hear the locals refer to nearby St. Vincent as the mainland!

There is no cruise dock so all visiting ships must tender. You can arrive 8 miles (15 km) by ferry from the mainland, or there is an airport on the southern tip, the James F Mitchell Airport. But the island is not overrun with tourists. Only a couple of cruise ships may visit in a good week, and these are generally the smaller ones – no 3000 to 6000 passenger behemoths need apply! So as a visitor, your time on the island is a relaxing one, and you get to see the non-commercial side of the Caribbean.

The Beaches 

Port Elizabeth is the main town. A small jetty stretches out into the bay which is dotted about by many sailboats bobbing on their moorings. You can easily stroll along the main beachside road, and those who enjoy active pursuits can make their way to Princess Margaret Beach along the Belmont Walkway, or take a taxi. Bequia has many beautiful beaches, the best found along the western side. The Atlantic or eastern side can be quite beautiful but is windy with rough waves. If sunning, swimming, or snorkeling are not your pursuits of choice, visit some of the bars, restaurants and shops along the main street or take an excursion to see some of the highlights of the island.

Bequia Beach

Caribbean Side (Image: Adobe Stock)

Atlantic Side

Turtles and Whales 

On the other, Atlantic, side of the island towards the northern tip and close by Crescent Beach is a Turtle sanctuary where turtles are raised and released as a way to preserve this beautiful creature of the sea.  Bequia has an unusual relationship with the sea as, seemingly paradoxical, as the islanders are permitted to to catch one humpback whale per year. When a whale is spotted, the whole community pitches in, capturing and killing the whale. This is not as easy as it sounds, as tradition dictates that the hunt employs small boats and hand-thrown harpoons, and a good aim. Every part of the whale is used. While the visitor may be aghast at this fishery, Bequia has hunted whales for centuries to provide the locals with necessities of life. It is a part of their culture but today strictly regulated by the government, sensitive to the ecological concerns of the hunt. There is a Whaling Museum you can visit on the south coast not far from the airport.

Turtles at the sanctuary

Photographer’s Delight 

Bequia like most Caribbean islands is not flat with its interior boasting high hills which gave the island its nickname of  “island of the clouds”. Two good points to get above it all for sweeping photos or just to admire the view are Fort Hamilton and Mount Pleasant. Fort Hamilton offers a wonderful vista of Port Elizabeth, the beaches there, and the harbor with its many sail boats and yachts. Drive to some of the island’s heights along Friendship Bay to observe  a few of the other Grenadine islands in the distance, including Mustique where the late Princess Margaret had a home. Bequia boasts hiking trails for the ambitious who wish to walk to these locations. Despite its size, getting around the island is not easy or fast even with a vehicle, as it is a matter of up and down and around hills to get where you are going!

Bequia Goat

You might meet a goat or a cow…

View from Fort Hamilton

Eat, Drink, Relax 

Should you have the time or inclination, be sure to sample some of the local fare: fresh seafood takes center stage, with succulent lobster, savory fish, and plump shrimp gracing menus across the island. Local eateries serve up traditional Caribbean dishes like spicy jerk chicken, hearty goat curry, and flavorful roti filled with tender meats and aromatic spices. Be sure to sample the island’s tropical fruits, from sweet mangoes to tangy passion fruit – grand refreshers in a juice or cocktail on a hot day.

Whether dining in a seaside shack or a gourmet restaurant, Bequia’s food scene promises a delicious adventure for every palate.

Booking Bequia 

Bequia is not for everyone. If you are looking for an area with lots of high end shopping, amazing nightclubs, and a hectic pace, this is not the island for you. If you wish a relaxing vacation in a place with friendly locals, that is teeming with culture and unique traditions, then do consider this place. In that instance, you may find Bequia is a vacation choice you will return to year after year. Drop by on a cruise or travel over from St. Vincent for a first visit – your real travel expert can take care of the details.

This blog was written after a visit to Bequia in late 2023, and has become one of the author’s favorite islands of the Caribbean.
All images and videos, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of Compass Media.solutions.