Chartering a yacht in The Grenadines and Grenada
The Grenadines (St Vincent and the Grenadines) lie between St Lucia and Granada and form the southern half of the Windward Islands. They are a host of smaller islands, some with hills and one or two just a reef-circled, sandy island with not much more than a palm tree. They tend to be drier than the larger mountainous islands with long stretches of white sand beaches, brilliant turquoise crystal clear waters and spectacular reefs. The underwater visibility is amazing and sponges, colourful tropical fish and great strands of elkhorn coral are not uncommon. Scuba diving in this region is said to be fabulous.
The Grenadines islands are a beautiful chartering area. They offer a mix of longer and shorter sailing passages through some stunning islands with beautiful deserted bays and beaches. This is a region where, still, much is hardly touched by modern resort tourism.
A two week charter at least is needed to visit the entire Windward chain, but in just one week it’s best to attempt no more than the Grenadines.
A very popular chartering itinerary is from St Vincent to Union Island:
|Day 1. Join the yacht in St Vincent, an exotic island of towering mountains including the 3,000ft Soufriere volcano, craggy peaks and dense forest – the perfect destination for hiking.
Day 2. After breakfast, set sail for Bequia. Anchor in Friendship bay where a half moon beach and reef surround you. Bequia is an island with beautiful white sand beaches is also known for handcrafted whaling boats and old sailing traditions of sailors and boats. Traditional wooden boats are still built on the beach – take a stroll around the colourful village.
Day 3. Spend the morning diving or snorkeling around Bequia’s beautiful reefs. In the afternoon sail to Petite Nevis for dinner and a relaxing evening on board. If you are feeling adventurous take a midnight swim and watch your body glow with the phosphorescence.
Day 4. After an early morning sail arrive in Mustique, a holiday haven for the rich and famous. Explore Mustique by horseback or mini-moke then cool off with a refreshing drink at Basil’s bar. In the afternoon it’s just a short sail to Canouan where one can water-ski, snorkel or kayak around the island.
Day 5. Spend the morning relaxing in Canouan a small island with some of the best beaches in the Caribbean with long ribbons of powder white sands, wide shallows and coral. The diving here is excellent with sloping reefs, giant boulders and the water is teeming with marine life. A mid afternoon sail takes one to the island of Mayreau, with its exquisite half moon Salt Whistle Bay. Take a stroll to the top of Mayreau for magnificent sunset views of the Tobago Cays.
Day 6. It’s a short tranquil morning sail to the Tobago Cays, four small islets, virtually deserted, but enormously appealing for those who love underwater exploration of magnificent underwater coral gardens. They boast the third longest barrier reef in the world. Spend the day diving, snorkelling, water skiing or kayaking around the reef-fringed collection of small cays. Perhaps in the evening the crew will prepare a beach barbecue at one of the cay’s peaceful anchorages.
Day 7. Spend the morning relaxing in the Tobago Cays and then sail to Palm Island for lunch. Mid afternoon set sail for Union Island, a mountainous island fringed by superb beaches. Mt Parnassus soars 900ft from the sea – a summit guarding entry to the southern Grenadines. Clifton Harbour, the main town is small and commercial. There are several beach front inns, all with a simple, relaxed lifestyle.
Day 8. Time for a last swim on one of the Union Island’s beaches and a final morning of relaxation before you leave the yacht and start your return journey home.
At the southern end of The Grenadines is Petit St Vincent and then not much more than a stone’s throw way is Petite Martinique part of the nation of Grenada – a charter destination all of it’s own.
Carriacou and Petite Martinique boast the most beautiful coral reefs. Carriacou – the larger of the two – is known as the ‘Land of Reefs’, with shallow clear waters: ideal for snorkelling. Occupants of both islands are independent and fiercely traditional – fishing and traditional boat building are the main occupations. Sandy Island, just off Carriacou is a perfect strip of sand decorated with a few palm trees and surrounded by reefs perfect for snorkeling and diving.
Going south pass Kick ’em Jenny – an active sub-marine volcano – and the Sisters with large nesting bird populations – there is excellent diving just off the Sisters. And then Grenada, a spectacularly beautiful island with lush green mountains, crystal waterfalls, golden beaches and fragrant spice trees that give the island it’s name …..the Spice Island. The West coast is steep-to and although there are anchorages, most yachts will sail right on down to St Georges, a grand city built on a ridge with a busy seafront and centre. Be sure to take some shore excursions.
There are several dive shops in Grenada – Padi or Naui. And a variety of good and interesting dives including a wreck, reefs with coral and sponges and drift dives. Prickly Bay or True Blue could be the anchorage for your last night and are easy distance for departing flights.