Spring Bay, Bequia

Photo: Firefly Plantation Bequia
Photo: Firefly Plantation Bequia

Happy birthday, to you! This  year, instead of hinting about a present, eating a store-bought cake, and denying the first number in your age, you should give yourself a gift. A travel gift. How does a picturesque, little Caribbean island sound? Thought so.

You flew to St. Vincent and are now on a ferry to Bequia, the northernmost island in the Grenadines chain. You’re surrounded by bright, blue water. Green islands ringed with white beaches appear in the distance. The warm sun quickly dries the salty spray splashing over the side of the boat. You have a huge smile on your face, and you haven’t even reached your destination.

Ahead of you, yacht-filled Admiralty Bay starts to come into view. It’s bordered by Port Elizabeth, the small capital, with lush, green hills in the distance. The “island of the clouds,” was originally inhabited by the Arawaks. The French arrived in the 18th century. They later traded St. Vincent and the Grenadines for Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Lucia with the British. The island then became one of the largest whaling stations in the world. Fishermen, sailors, and master boat builders still call Bequia home. For the next week, you will, too.

You disembark from the ferry and make a beeline for the market on the side of the jetty to buy fresh bananas and mangoes. You walk along Front Street at the edge of the water. The Bequia Bookshop has an extensive collection of yachting maps and flora guides. St. Mary’s Anglican Church, built in the early 1800s, welcomes people to rest, chat, make friends, and, of course, pray. And Princess Margaret Beach is just beyond Belmont Walkway. Its soft sand, enclosing palms, and calm water make it one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Eventually, when you’re ready for a break, Jack’s Bar, which serves grilled fish and cold beer, is only steps away.

Photo: Firefly Plantation Bequia
Photo: Firefly Plantation Bequia

By midafternoon, you’re ready to find your hotel. The Firefly Plantation is on the quiet, northeastern side of the island. It’s within walking distance of Port Elizabeth, but it’s still far enough away to feel like a real escape. The Arawaks once grew crops and made pottery on this side of the island. Then a grand, hillside estate was built in the 18th century. It’s still a working farm today.

You’re welcomed to the Great House with a rum punch and open-air views of the mountains and the plantation on one side, and the sparkling Caribbean on the other. Stone steps lead to your room, which has a high wooden ceiling, rattan ceiling fans, and a bathroom that opens to the outside. Mahogany doors lead to the balcony and the view of the water. A sarong, beach towels, and a walkie-talkiefor room or pool serviceis waiting for you. And magenta-colored hibiscus flowers are strewn across the bed. You’ll have no problem celebrating here.

Over the next few days, you alternate between Spring Bay, Industry Bay, and the quiet pool. Picnic lunches are ready when you set out to explore. You play tennis among falling coconuts. You tour the plantation to see the orchards, the animals, and the 200-year-old sugar mill. You visit the nearby Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, where a retired fisherman helps endangered hawksbill sea turtles be released back into the wild.

In the evening, you walk back into town to eat conch curry and blackened tuna at a table under the trees at the Frangipani. Stay for Key lime pie and the purple sunset. Then walk over to the Gingerbread House for more rum punch and a jam session. You never know who might be playing with the house band. This is the best gift you’ve received in quite a long time.

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