Caribbean beaches that aren’t crowded with hotels and condos are rare. Fortunately, the little-known island chain of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is–at least for now–laid back, conservation minded, and lightly developed.
Island: St. Vincent
Outside bustling Kingstown, this volcanic island is a scenic paradise of lush rainforests, deep bays, and dramatic waterfalls–all reasons St. Vincent was the film location for Pirates of the Caribbean.
Petit Byahaut Eco-Resort
No roads, no phones, no TVs, no walls: What does solar-powered Petit Byahaut have? A gorgeous black-sand beach, friendly folks, outdoorsy tropical atmosphere, and gourmet meals.
Swiss Family Robinson: This getaway for nature lovers has just five accommodations: roofed, open-air wooden platforms with screened bedrooms (no bugs, tree-frog lullabies) tucked into forest gardens.
Responsible tourism: Low-impact operations, solar electricity and hot water, local staff, rainwater storage, artesian well.
Fun in the sun: Sea kayak to bat caves; snorkel or dive just off the beach; hike the rainforest or La Soufriere volcano; grab binoculars to spot bananaquits, doves, sandpipers, and the endangered St. Vincent parrot. Accompany the chef to the local market for fresh produce and seafood.
Info: Pronounce it “Puh-tee Bye-ah-hah”; PetitByahaut.com
The beaches are beautiful on Bequia (“Beck-way”), the most colorful and artsy of the Grenadines with its pastel, gingerbread-trimmed buildings and model boat-making cottage industry. Don’t miss the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary run by Orton “Brother” King, an old salt who raises hawksbill hatchlings on Park Beach and releases them as three year olds when they have a better chance of surviving to full adulthood.
Hidden among the palms on a semicircle of powdery white sand, Saltwhistle Bay Club is a charming collection of double-suite cottages and thatched structures hand-built of local “bluebitch” stone on tiny Mayreau (“My-roe”). There are no TVs, phones, or air conditioning to distract from the cool tradewinds and turquoise waters. The small-scale resort has water catchment, employs twenty locals, and supports local fishers. SaltwhistleBay.com
Island: Tobago Cays
This breathtaking, uninhabited cluster of islets is a national marine park that attracts visitors to its coral reefs and white-sand beaches. Fishing, jet skis, and dinghy anchoring aren’t allowed, yet the Tobago Cays’s fragile ecosystems have suffered from tourism and neglect. Visitors are encouraged to urge the government to protect, not develop, this area.
Island: Petit St. Vincent
If only all exclusive, pricey hotels were as sustainable as Petit St. Vincent Resort. Twenty-two secluded stone cottages (made of local bluebitch rock) with fantastic Caribbean views are scattered around this privately owned island, where the staff literally waits on you hand and foot. An organic farm provides fresh produce, and the resort recycles, composts, and collects rainwater–important because water is more precious than rum on this dry island. (800) 654-9326; PSVresort.com
For more information, check SVGtourism.com.