Welcome To St. Vincent
A stiff 20 knot breeze lashed my face as I descended the off-ramp from the plane on a sultry summer night. It was the unabating signature tradewind welcoming me. The island nation of St. Vincent, one of the Grenadines, has long been a sailor's haven, but few have come to experience the undersea terrain. The twinkling lights glowed beyond the meandering hills, emanating from Kingstown, capital of the archipelago.
St. Vincent is a mountainous 133 square-mile island that is full of contrasts and surprises. Most visitors go directly to the southerly 32 island chain comprising the Grenadines for the tranquil tropical flavor they exude. However, St. Vincent has more to offer than spectacular scenery. Kingstown is a bustling West Indian town, not unlike its Jamaican namesake.
Catch a ride on the ubiquitous "dollar vans" packed with locals and feel the reggae pulse of this working Caribbean city. There's a vital sense of real island life here - the fully soft n' easy facade that masks the hardships of most Caribbean islands. The hard edges are sometimes apparent in a country with 60% unemployment. Times can be tough, but the people endure.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines are now part of the British Commonwealth, since gaining their independence in 1979. The population is mainly a mixture of Black, Indian and Portuguese. One legend has it that Columbus discovered St. Vincent in 1498 on his third voyage. The Arawak and Carib Indians had already arrived and intermixed. Eventually the British tried to establish St. Vincent as a colony, and after a squabble with the French, it was ceded to England in 1763.
Additional Portuguese arrived in the 1800's and now the culture is a melting pot of all these ethnic influences. The British and French influences are still most evident in the culture and architecture.
BWIA operates daily non-stop jet service from Canada, England and several cities in the US; Miami, New York, Washington DC to Barbados where you can connect on small planes to St. Vincent. The American Eagle comes from San Juan, Puerto Rico to St. Vincent direct at least once a day, sometimes twice, depending on the season. LIAT, Mustique Air and St. Vincent Air also come in daily from Barbados.
There are several points of interest that should not miss or be missed; visit the Botanical Gardens located on 20 beautifully landscaped acres and overlooked by the Governor General's home. It is the oldest botanic garden in the Western Hemisphere, started in 1765, home to several rare and indigenous St. Vincentian parrots, and there is a special breeding program underway to increase their numbers. These colorful little birds dwell no where else but the St. Vincentian rain forest, and are an endangered species. There is also a breadfruit tree in the garden, descended from one planted by Captain Bligh in 1793.
In summary, if you are looking for an island with exotic flavor, offering dramatic topography topside and unique underwater terrain, plus some interesting diversions - St. Vincent will fit the bill.
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|Bill Tewes' Dive St. Vincent
The Critter Capital of the Caribbean!
P.O. Box 864
Main Office: 784 457 4948
|PADI's oldest facility
in St. Vincent
since January 24, 1978
|Dive St. Vincent is the
only dive shop in the country
that does critters
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