St. Vincent & the Grenadines is a nation in the Lesser Antilles chain, located in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea. The island’s 150 square miles of territory consists of the main island of St. Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, a chain of smaller islands stretching south from St. Vincent to Grenada. The island is densely populated, with more than 120,000 people. The country has a French and British colonial history and is now part of the Commonwealth of Nations and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Natural disasters have impacted St. Vincent & the Grenadines throughout the 20th century, including rare eruptions of the Soufriere volcano and the impact of hurricane Lenny in 1999.
Despite the remote possibility of those events, these islands have much to offer visitors. Diving and water sports are among the most popular tourism activities. The island’s underwater reefs offer colorful snorkeling opportunities and a rich variety of sea life, including frogfish, seahorses, colorful mollusks, crustaceans and anemones, plus nurse sharks, lobsters, octopus and squid. Squadrons of eagle rays and manta rays are also visible, along with patrolling reef sharks and barracuda. You can also opt to snorkel or swim with green turtles in the Tobago Cays. Above the waves you can enjoy kayaking and kite surfing. Divers can explore the famous Bat Cave, or opt for wreck or cave diving. The island features a great variety of underwater habitats, including walls, rock formations, coral reefs, sandy slopes and beds of sea grass -- each attracting its own unique forms of life. Most dive sites are just a short boat ride away from the dive shops, whether on the main island of St. Vincent or at the dive centers located in the Grenadines at Bequia, Mustique and Union Island. Each island has a different dive experience to offer.
St. Vincent & the Grenadines is a world-class hiking destination, offering short and easy hikes as well as full-day trekking adventures. Most established hikes are along cleared forest, or mountain or coastal paths, which are generally in excellent condition. Off-the-beaten-track hiking and cross-island trekking may involve rougher trails over coastal bluffs or along rocky escarpments that can be a little more adventurous and challenging. The must-do hike is the La Soufriere volcano. The most popular route is from Rabacca on the windward coast. From there, it’s a two-hour steady uphill climb to the crater’s edge. The hiking trail passes through rainforest, thicket and cloud forest before arriving at the volcanic rock and ash-strewn rim of the crater, which features with an active lava dome located at its center. It’s also possible to go down into the crater and walk around the dome -- a rope stretches all the way down a steep trail to the crater floor.
There are also accessible walks and hikes take visitors to some of the prettiest beaches and bays in the Grenadines, where visitors can enjoy turquoise seas, powdery white sands and picture-postcard views.