The Grenadines….this uniquely beautiful archipelago of islands in the Caribbean is the place to be to enjoy stress-free sailing for short distances in gentle trade winds. It’s equally nice to capture a spot on one of our tiny pieces of paradise and sit back and just watch the yachts as they meander from island to island.
Some decide to do both and either split their time between land accommodation and yacht or indulge themselves with both – using their private yacht as a limo enjoying on a whim each island’s special charm and possibilities.
In the Windward Islands, about 90 miles west of Barbados with air service to next-door Union Island Airport, or, via Grenada with connections to Carriacou, The Grenadines number some 32 islands and cays (pronounced ‘keys’, it means little islands) stretching south from St. Vincent to Grenada (Gren-ey-da). Only 9 of these are populated and 6 have small Airports: St Vincent, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Union, and Carriacou. The rest are bird sanctuaries and havens for those who like peace and quiet – mixed with the occasional ‘jump-up’. If you don’t know what that is, you soon will!
For access to a list of yachts that are available to cruise the Grenadines or let us know so we can customize your personal cruise.
Grenadines charters usually start from either of 4 locations. St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Canouan or Grenada. Although most yachts will also pick up in Bequia, Mustique, Union and Carriacou. St. Lucia has the best flight connections with daily commercial flights from the mainland US. However if you fly into and pick up your charter in St. Lucia, it’s a day’s sail to St. Vincent or Bequia. Or if your charter starts at noon, which is the norm, you may chose to spend the first night in one of the beautiful bays in Southern St. Lucia.
Best time to charter in the Grenadines is in the spring, summer and fall. The waters of the Grenadines are open to the Atlantic swells that can be quite daunting in winter when traveling between islands. Sailing the Grenadines in winter requires prior chartering experience.
All the islands are volcanic, with deep bays and inlets where clear aquamarine waters lap on fine white-sand beaches. The uninhabited islets and rocks include the famous, breathtaking, Tobago Cays, Mopion, Carriacou’s Sandy Island, Mabouya and White Island. All have wonderful, soft, white coral sand beaches and clear water, ideal for snorkelling, diving and, of course, are great places to drop anchor after a day’s sailing. A visit to these islands is like stepping into the past, where one’s measure of time has little to do with clocks. The people of The Grenadines are sailors, almost to a man. You will be in good company here.
A short distance away is Mustique,only 3 miles long by 1 1/2 miles wide and about a 1 1/2 to 2-hour sail from St. Vincent (12 miles). Some twenty five years ago, the island was completely unspoiled, then it was bought and gradually developed. Since then, some of the world’s most sophisticated beachcombers of society and fame, were lured to this island gem by safe, warm waters, varied terrain and astonishing views. Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, Princess Margaret are just a few of the fortunate few who live there – sometimes.
Canouan (can-ou-on) is 3-4 hours from St. Vincent (25 miles). A crescent-shaped island surrounded by wide shallows and coral – A scuba diver’s dream. The islanders are mainly fisherman and small farmers. However, with a wealth of excellent beaches and unspoiled scenery, Canouan is attracting significant hotel development. Enter the main harbor and enjoy the Tamerind Beach Hotel and then check-out the nearby swimming pool… yes, a real swimming pool, located at Carenage Bay – Beach & Golf Club… yes, a par-72 golf course. Or, visit the Canouan Beach Hotel located on the island’s southern tip on Glossy Bay.
The Moorings has a base in Canouan and you can fly directly from Miami to Barbados and on into Canouan for the bareboat cruise of your life…!! Contact us to arrange your Moorings bareboat cruise, we are official Moorings agents.
Mayreau (my-roe) has about 262 inhabitants – again mainly fishermen and small farmers. The island’s Saltwhistle Bay Resort is privately owned and offers excellent lunches and night anchors with the possibility for fine dining ashore. As with most places down here, the island is only accessible by boat and is 4-5 hours from St. Vincent (35 miles).
Union Island is about 4 1/2 hours from St. Vincent (40 miles) and less than an hour from Carriacou. The island is about 3 miles long and 1 mile wide. It has a dramatic profile of ridges and peaks – the highest is Mount Parnassus some 900 feet above sea level, yet the island is tiny – a little Tahiti… without the greenery.
During the daytime, this island is an active hub of people making connections passing thru and returning before nightfall to Grenada, St. Vincent, Martinique, St. Maarten, and Barbados. My choice is secluded Chatham Bay on the island’s southern tip far away from the bustling Clifton anchorages and the sound of small, mosquito-sized airplanes buzzing noisily overhead. No land access and without electricity makes this wide sandy bay a favorite for daytime retreats or nightime watching of the stars without any glare from lights ashore.
Petit St. Vincent is, again, about 5 miles offshore Union and just a 5-minute dinghy ride to Petite Martinique. During this ride you’ll pass over the floating dotted line separating St. Vincent from Grenada. This line has long been ignored by island residents but it requires sailors to adhere to custom/immigration and clearance paperwork and fees. Only 113 acres, this island resort locally called PSV, is privately owned and offers private cottage-type accommodation and a wide range of sporting and marine activities. It is almost surrounded by white sand beaches and has an excellent yacht anchorage, attracting yachtsmen from all over the world.
A quick dinghy ride away from Petit St. Vincent is Petite Martinique. To get there you cross the boundary between St. Vincent and Grenada but the difference between these two nearby islands make them seem ages apart. Same air, same water, same sun and same breezes.
Perhaps an hour sail south brings you to the largest island of The Grenadines, Carriacou which has rugged mountainous terrain and many uninhabited beaches and inlets. The origin of the name tracks back to the ancients and is said to translate into “Island of Many Reefs.” The island is sufficiently small (15 miles long and 5 miles wide) that you are never far from civilization with a friendly face. And what could go wrong on Carriacou?!