St. Vincent & The Grenadines Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- Yes, real pirates lived here Pirates once occupied St. Vincent & The Grenadines. Today no one will pester you for loot, but if you venture to Wallilabou Bay, you can catch a glimpse of the scenic backdrop featured in The Pirates of the Caribbean.
- No, you can't sport camo Wearing camouflage attire is prohibited throughout St. Vincent & The Grenadines, as police uniforms feature a camouflage pattern.
- No, don't touch Manchineel trees These unsuspecting trees are poisonous, so resist the urge to eat one of their apple-like fruits, and stay clear of their sap (a dreaded source of excruciating blisters).
Imagine it: Thatched-roof cottages rise over turquoise waters; the sweet scent of tropical flowers and rum punch fills the air; bronzed sun-worshippers sprawl along isolated white-sands, hemmed by shimmering waves, coral reefs, and sleek yachts. The only thing luring you away from your beach towel is the intriguing network of secluded islands floating in the distance. Welcome to St. Vincent & The Grenadines.
If you don't want to spend your days sunning along one picturesque isle (St. Lucia) or savoring conch with throngs of tourists on two (St. Kitts & Nevis), then you should venture to St. Vincent & The Grenadines. With 32 remote islands and cays boasting emerald hills, postcard-worthy harbors, and boutique hotels, this Caribbean destination makes a perfect escape. Devote a few days to exploring St. Vincent, the biggest island of the chain, before sailing to Mustique, Canouan, and Bequia—some of the Grenadine's finest (and exclusive) hideaways. However, exploring this quiet, less-traveled tropical paradise requires many hours in transit (there's no direct flight from the U.S.) and a thick wallet.
How To Save Money in St. Vincent & The Grenadines
- Ask about service fees You should expect to find a 10- to 15-percent service charge added to your hotel and restaurant bills. Ask whether gratuity is included to avoid tipping more than necessary.
- Visit in fall or spring Come during May, June, or November and you'll find fewer crowds, comfortable temperatures, and reduced hotel rates. Major resorts drop their rates by up to 40 percent in the off season.
- Plan ahead If you're traveling during peak season, book several months ahead of time to save on your hotel room and airfare.
St. Vincent & The Grenadines Culture & Customs
Vincy culture doesn't fit Caribbean stereotypes. Though Vincentians are known for their easy-going nature and hospitality towards visitors, you shouldn't expect to see them lounging along the beach with tourists. They're more often found debating politics or promoting tourism through agricultural trade and fishing. Many Vincentians spend their Sundays in church, and stores and restaurants are open only for limited hours. When you're ready to exercise your credit card along shopping streets, you'll fit in by wearing casual, light clothing. That said, some restaurants and venues require semi-formal attire, so be sure to check beforehand to avoid appearing underdressed.
When dining, try authentic dishes like bul jol, (a breadfruit and saltfish medley), pumpkin soup, and conch. Feel free to drink the local drinking water on St. Vincent—it's safe. However it's best to stick to bottled water on The Grenadines. Also bear in mind the water on St. Vincent runs from the island's mountain reserves and can have a chlorinated taste.
As a parliamentary democracy rooted under British common law, St. Vincent & The Grenadines' residents speak English. But you'll likely hear a smattering of French patois (an informal dialect of French) during your stay. The East Caribbean Dollar (XCD) is St. Vincent & The Grenadines' official currency. One XCD (sometimes written as EC$) equals roughly $0.37 USD. As far as tipping goes, it is considered polite to add gratuity, but most restaurants already include a 10- to 15-percent service charge on the bill. Major U.S. credit cards are accepted at most hotels and restaurants.
You'll feel safe while exploring St. Vincent & The Grenadines, but be sure to keep your wits about you when interacting with local vendors (who have been known to scam unsuspecting tourists). You should also beware of Manchineel trees: These seemingly innocuous trees produce poisonous sap that can cause painful blisters if touched. Some Manchineel are labeled with warning signs.