St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Sisters Cave Reef
Sisters Cave reef in Isle de Ronde, Grenadines
It’s not flashy, but quiet and understated: St. Vincent and the Grenadines — 32 islands in total (with only nine inhabited) — is an eco-paradise with waterfalls, rainforests and reefs, and is highly regarded for rare critters and spectacular underwater life.
For the Macro Diver
It’s not muck diving per se because the oddities are found mostly among the sea grasses. Off St. Vincent ask for macro, and you’ll be served the sites Orca Point, Over There and Emory’s Point. Set your sights small to see bumblebee shrimp, lettuce nudibranchs, blue-streak nudibranchs, pelican crabs, flame-back cherubfish and lots of blennies. You might suspect that it gets even weirder at night, but not so; the best critter spotting is had with daylight (so you can say yes to happy hour!).
For the Wall Diver
As above, so below: The cliffs off St. Vincent’s southwest side give way to walls, which drop 150 feet beneath the surface. The Layou Wall dive is also a drift above the remains of an old fort. Anchor Reef is known for gardens of black coral, a drop-off plummeting beyond recreational depths, and high probability for spying frogfish and seahorses. On Bequia, the reefs of West Cay Wall support nurse sharks and the occasional blacktip reef shark.
For the Hiker
The climb most heralded on postcards is atop the still-active La Soufriere Volcano on St. Vincent. The trail starts on either the island’s windward or leeward side; choose the windward, and wind through banana plantations, rainforest, montane thicket and cloud forest. Those up for a challenge should check out the hot springs trek — it includes two hours of walking upstream in a river. A full-day, moderate hike is Hell’s Gate Falls; the water flow isn’t the largest, but the unusual rock formations are memorable.
For the First Mate It’s among the quieter Caribbean destinations: For boaters, this means flexibility. A fleet of various-size yachts caters to any group size — it’s hardly a one-size-fits-all affair. Those who haven’t yet learned the ropes can also hire a skipper (you don’t have to provision — or even learn what the word means). You can even go it alone: Single cabins are available for charter. The rewards of taking to the seas are endless snorkeling, secluded lagoons and uninhabited islands where you can play castaway.
For the Friend of Turtles Orton “Brother” King runs Bequia’s Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, and invites visitors to be part of the hawksbill turtle rescue process: checking nests, feeding hatchlings and monitoring health. Operating for 12 years, King estimates that he has released 2,000 three-year-old turtles into the wild. (His finds can be identified by the small hole drilled into the back of the shells.) To swim with many turtles in the wild, check out the Tobago Cays Marine Park east of the island of Mayreau. — BM