Canouan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Photo: canouan.com
Photo: canouan.com

So you think you’ve exhausted new destinations in the Caribbean? Not so fast. You’ve visited all the big spots: St. Martin, Aruba, and the Bahamas. You’ve been to the smaller island of two-island nations: Nevis, Tobago, and Barbuda. You might have even found a way to visit Cuba. But have you explored St. Vincent and the Grenadines? All of the Grenadines? Highly doubtful, unless you spend the winter on a sailboat.

From Barbados–another island you’ve surely explored–fly an hour southwest to the Grenadines. You’ll probably stop on Bequia or Union Island, two other islands in the archipelago, before reaching hook-shaped Canouan. Located in the middle of the Grenadines chain, Canouan measures only 3.5 miles by 1.25 miles. Mount Royal, its highest point, sits in the north surrounded by white cedar trees. A 1.5-mile barrier reef sits off the Atlantic coast, creating some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean. And postcard-worthy beaches are everywhere in between.

Most of the island’s 1,200 residents live in Charlestown, Canouan’s only village. Here you’ll find the ferry dock, pastel houses, wild dogs, free-roaming goats and chickens, and Grand Bay, the longest beach on the island.

Photo: canouan.com
Photo: canouan.com

Grand Bay, which is lined with palm and coconut trees, is also the home of the Tamarind Beach Hotel & Yacht Club. After a rum punch welcome drink, check out your ocean-view room, which has hardwood floors, rattan furniture, and louvered Brazilian walnut doors overlooking the verandah. The turquoise water is just in the distance. And fresh flowers arrive daily.

Spend the first few hours–or days–relaxing on the beach. Rent a golf cart to explore the rest of the island. Practice your swing at the Grenadines Estate Golf Club. Snorkel in Windward Bay’s calm lagoon. Dive among the colorful fish at Gibraltar Rock, a coral encrusted rock 30 feet under the water. Sail to remote Mahault Bay Beach–it’s only accessible from the water. Claim Godahl Beach as your own private oasis. Grab a table in the sand at the Thirsty Turtle when you’re ready for lunch. A game of darts will keep you occupied until your food arrives. Ride a catamaran to uninhabited Tobago Cays, stopping on tiny Mayreau along the way.

Then head back to your beach chair on Grand Bay, where you’ll spend much of your remaining daylight hours, save for a coconut and brown sugar body scrub in the Sea Grape Room. At night, eat seafood–conch salad, fusilli with conch, grilled mahi-mahi, and swordfish baked in banana leaves–at Palapa Restaurant. Dance to live music under the moonlight at the Pirate Cove Bar. And wonder what other little gems are hidden in the Caribbean.

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