Young Island, St. Vincent
You know those pictures you see of a lush green tropical island outlined by a white-sand beach and surrounded by clear, unspoiled water? It's an isle where songbirds' voices fill the air and colorful flowers and fruits abound, and where sailboats sit at anchor in the scenic harbor beneath the hills. It's the kind of setting that makes you promise yourself you'll go there one day. The tropical garden of Young Island, off the southern end of St. Vincent, is the place you have envisioned. Roughly 1,600 miles southeast of Miami, it is an absolute jewel in the Caribbean's Windward Islands.
You and your love can choose a cottage that is ideal for a little romance, either right on the beach or low on the hillside, depending on the view you prefer from your private patio. When on the island you can swing in a shaded hammock under a thatched roof, sip cool tropical drinks at the Coconut Bar where drinks are indeed served from carved coconuts sunbathe by the pool or walk hand in hand down a perfect palm tree-lined beach. And several nights a week you can dance under the stars to the beat of a steel band.
During the rest of your topside time, you can visit the majestic waterfalls of Baleine, take in a colorful market day or visit the Caribbean's oldest botanical garden. Active, adventurous types can climb a volcano, hike in a rain forest or check out the stunning view from Fort Charlotte some 600 feet above sea level. There are plenty of nature trails to explore, and you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views from many vantage points on St. Vincent.
Underwater, St. Vincent is known as a "critter capital" of the Caribbean, with a variety and abundance of marine life that amazes most divers. You can see everything from colorful sponges and massive sea fans to spotted cleaner shrimp, fingerprint snails, flying gurnards, peacock flounders, trumpetfish, seahorses and longlure frogfish. You'll also find a variety of moray eels, octopi and squids. The dramatic seascape is an extension of the topside scenery as craggy volcanic cliffs drop from dizzying heights straight into the sea, where they quickly continue into the abyss, producing spectacular undersea vistas and walls that teem with life.
Guests dive with The Dive Center at Dive St. Vincent (www.divestvincent.com, directly in front of the Young Island Dock). The daily norm is a two-tank morning trip, but additional dives can be added by request.