Saint Vincent and the Grenadines On a BudgetSaint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island nation in the Caribbean north of Trinidad and Tobago. It includes 32 islands and cays that offer lush landscapes, impressive waterfalls, and interesting rainforest. Tourism has grown in recent years and is beginning to become an economic drive of the country, but bananas and other agricultural products are still the biggest part of the economy. This island nation remains a lower-middle income country for the region and employment rates are heavily influenced by seasonal variation in both the tourism and agricultural industries. Unemployment in general remains high.
The climate is tropical with little seasonal temperature variation, but there is a rainy season that runs between May and November. The islands are volcanic and mountainous and the highest point is Soufriere Volcano, which is found on St. Vincent. It reaches an elevation of 1,234 meters.
St. Vincent is the largest island with a population of about 116,000. This island is referred to as "the Mainland" because of its size and population. The volcanic nature of the island mean that most of the beaches have black sand. The Grenadines are smaller islands found to the south of St. Vincent.
At A Glance
- While St. Vincent quite small, it is very mountainous in nature so it can be somewhat challenging to get around. The major roads follow the coastline, so you have to circle the island to make it to the other side. There are publicly available buses, or minivans that can carry you around. They are relatively convenient and easy to take.
- E.T. Joshua Airport is the largest airport in the country and located right outside of the capital of Kingston. Most flights go to nearby islands such as St. Lucia, Barbados or Saint Kitts, but there is a new international airport under construction that is scheduled to be completed in 2015. E.T. Joshua Airport will close when the international airport opens. This country is visited by few cruise ships despite having several docks that are large enough to accommodate them. Most travelers arriving by boat come by private yacht.
- Many of the tourists who come to this country choose to stay in a resort. This significantly limits your ability to see the countryside and interact with the local people. If you're looking for a more "real" experience, consider staying at a guesthouse or apartment in Kingstown. This will let you experience some of the island's true culture and give you a taste of what Caribbean life is really like.
- As an island nation, there are many different dive sites that attract scuba divers or snorkelers. You can see a range of different marine life and beautiful coral reefs. Some species that are often seen include long snout seahorses, blue Creole wrasse and yellow stripped Frence grunts. Visibility is usually good year around.
- The Carnival, locally called Vincy's Mas, is the major festival of the year. It begins in May but festivities continue on through July. The festival is famous for its street parties such as J'Ouvert and Mardi Gras. This is a great way to experience the music, color and culture of the island. There are street parties, performances, costume parades and more.
Looking for a party hostel in Costa Rica or Cancun? Looking for a budget hostel in Mexico or Costa Rica?
Top Tourist AttractionsThe Botanical Gardens: These gardens are located on the outside edge of Kingstown and cover about 20 acres. This is the oldest Botanical Gardens in the Western Hemisphere and it has a wide range of tropical trees and shrubs. The garden has a history of working to conserve rare plant species as well as the endangered St. Vincent Parrot.
Montreal Gardens: These gardens are situated in the mountains above the Mesopotamia Valley. They have very fertile, volcanic soil and are exposed to frequent rainfall. Here you can see exotic flowers, plants and lush green foliage. The temperature is cool and damp and the setting is quite peaceful.
Wallilabou Heritage Park: This is where parts of the film, Pirates of the Caribbean were shot. It is located on the leeward west coast of St. Vincent near Wallilabou Bay. There is a restaurant nearby as well as a visitor center, gazebo, benches, parking and a pedestrian bridge.
Popular FoodsFood in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is usually made with fresh local ingredients. There is a wide variety of produce available on the island so dishes often incorporate these fresh ingredients. Fish is a staple in most dishes as well, as there is no shortage of seafood. Restaurants range in style and price, and there is generally something for everybody. If you're looking for a taste of home, there are also a handful of fast food restaurants, but local food is our recommendation.
Callaloo: This is a common dish throughout the Caribbean, but every country has its own version with unique local ingredients. In St. Vincent it is usually made with a spinach like vegetable and made into a savory pumpkin soup.
Rotis: This dish is available almost anywhere. It's usually just a snack as opposed to a full meal. It includes curried vegetables, potatoes and meat all wrapped in a flour tortilla.
Salt Fish: This is common in many St. Vincent dishes. The fish is often boiled or fried and served with breadfruit. Breadfruit is a local fruit that has a similar flavor to potatoes.