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  • St Vincent and the Grenadines

    St Vincent and the Grenadines travel guide

    Overview

    The tropical treasures of St Vincent and the Grenadines are found near St Lucia and Grenada, part of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, in the Caribbean Sea. This unspoiled paradise of 32 islands includes Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Petit St Vincent, Tobago Cays, Union Island and Palm Island, each with their own unique character and magnificent beaches to discover.

    Thanks to its beautiful beaches and laid-back atmosphere, St Vincent and the Grenadines is an idyllic venue for that perfect island wedding or romantic honeymoon retreat. This aura of romantic seclusion is made possible by the fact that the island chain is refreshingly free of big, crowded resorts and the trappings of rampant development - by Caribbean standards, St Vincent and the Grenadines is an undiscovered gem. Most of the population live on the largest and most developed island, St Vincent, leaving a slew of the smaller islands sparsely inhabited and blessedly unspoiled.

    The varied topography of the island chain enables an exciting array of adventures, from sailing and scuba diving to hiking and horse riding on the beach. There are also a few golf courses worth swinging a club at. St Vincent offers lush rainforest, making eco-retreats and jungle adventures increasingly popular.

    The island nation has a French and British colonial history; Carib Indians fought off European settlement on St Vincent until the 18th century, after which it was subjected to many years of colonial rule and slavery. On 27 October 1979, it finally became the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence. Since then this lovely island nation has survived largely on its natural bounty, with agriculture the backbone of the country's economy, and tourism attracting a steady stream of foreign admirers.

    The main tourist centres in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Kingstown (St Vincent) and Port Elizabeth (Bequia), provide a unique insight into the culture of the island nation. Kingstown's colourful markets and good restaurants make it a good base for hiking to La Soufriere Volcano, or exploring the filming locations from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Port Elizabeth is a sleepy seaside town with less to offer in terms of shopping and entertainment, but which provides easy access to the lovely beaches of Mustique, the historic Hamilton Fort, and the Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary.

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Like all Caribbean islands, the climate of St Vincent and the Grenadines stays hot and tropical throughout the year. The average daily temperatures of 80°F (27°C) tend to be tempered by trade winds, ensuring pleasant weather year-round. The driest time on the island is between January and April but brief, sporadic showers occur throughout the year. Hurricane season is generally from June to October (most storms pass north of the Grenadines), and July tends to have the wettest weather. The best time to visit St Vincent is between December and April, when the weather is dry, however this is the high season so the islands will be more crowded and accommodation may be more expensive. To the south, the Grenadines' weather tends to be a little drier and warmer, however the difference is marginal.

    Argyle International Airport
    Location: The airport is in Argyle, about 10 miles (16km) from Kingstown.
    Time: GMT -4.
    Getting to the city: Local buses and taxi companies are said to be on site for transfer.
    Facilities: Airport facilities are basic but are said to include shops and a restaurant, as well as taxi, bus and car rental facilities.
    Money:

    St Vincent and the Grenadines' currency is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (XCD), a regional currency shared among members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The US dollar is accepted in many hotels and some shops, and major credit cards are also widely accepted. Banking hours are generally from 8am to 3pm on Monday to Thursday, and till 5pm on Fridays. There are ATM machines available in major cities and towns.

    Language:

    English is the official language, but many of the locals speak Vincentian Creole.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 220 - 240 volts, 50Hz. Plugs with three square pins are standard.

    Entry Requirements:

    US nationals: Valid passport required. No visa necessary for visits of up to one month.

    UK nationals: Valid passport required. No visa necessary for visits of up to one month.

    CA nationals: Valid passport required. No visa necessary for visits of up to one month.

    AU nationals: Valid passport required. No visa necessary for visits of up to one month.

    ZA nationals: Valid passport required. No visa necessary for visits of up to one month.

    IR nationals: Valid passport required. No visa necessary for visits of up to one month.

    NZ nationals: Valid passport required. No visa necessary for visits of up to one month.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Immigration control will decide on the duration of stay permitted upon arrival. All visitors are required to hold an onward/return ticket, documents for their next destination and sufficient funds for the duration of their stay. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    While there are few health risks associated with travel to St Vincent and the Grenadines, a vaccination is recommended for hepatitis A and those arriving from yellow fever risk areas will need proof of yellow fever vaccination to enter the country.

    Ensure food is properly prepared and cooked, avoid un-pasteurised milk and drink only boiled, filtered, chemically disinfected or bottled water.

    There are pharmacies, hospitals and evacuation facilities available if needed but health care facilities are limited on the island chain and comprehensive travel health insurance is advised. All required medications should be taken along in their original packaging and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what they are and why they are needed.

    Local Customs:

    It is an offence for anyone to dress in camouflage clothing, even children. Certain homosexual acts are illegal in St Vincent and the Grenadines and same-sex public displays of affection may be frowned upon.

    Duty Free:

    Visitors may import 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 225g of tobacco, and 0.95 litres of alcohol duty-free. There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency, provided it is declared upon arrival.

    Useful Contacts:

    St. Vincent & The Grenadines Tourism Authority, Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines: +784 456 6222 or svgta@discoversvg.com

    St Vincent and the Grenadines Embassies:

    Consulate of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, New York, United States: +1 212 687 4490 or svgconny@aol.com

    High Commission For St Vincent & The Grenadines, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7937 6570 or SVGtourismEurope@gmail.com

    Consulate of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Toronto, Canada: +1416 398 4277 or consulategeneral@rogers.com

    Foreign Embassies in St Vincent and the Grenadines :

    United States Embassy, St. Michael, Babados (also responsible for St. Vincent and the Grenadines): +1 473 444 1173

    St Vincent and the Grenadines