St. Vincent - Mass tourism still far away

My plan for St Vincent and the next couple of days was to rent a car and see the island. I arrived in St. Vincent in the afternoon on a small plane from Barbados. With all the green hills and cliffs, the island looked completely different than flat Barbados and I liked it. 

Despite being small the airport was a modern facility designed to accommodate large planes. There was only one immigration officer on duty for our Inter Caribbean flight with 20 passengers. I could imagine that it would be quite congested if larger planes arrived.

Although I learned throughout my visit here in St Vincent, their highest priority is not tourism.

It's nice for them to have visitors as they surely bring money, but compared to Barbados or the Bahamas, they did not sell their souls for tourism yet, yes, didn't give up all and everything just to accommodate tourists - and that is good!

How is the self-driving in St. Vincent?

Availability of rental cars didn't seem to be an issue here, unlike in Barbados. The majority of rental car companies are small and don't have websites. The best way to find them is by google maps and contact via Whatsapp. The downside is they don't have offices in the airport and the administration of papers and payment is done outside under a tree. 

So the car rental agent was already waiting for me on time, but the car was not there yet as it was still with another customer. 

Used the time to organize the driving license. To drive in St. Vincent, I needed a temporary license (an international license doesn't work here) that cost a whopping $40 no matter the number of days needed and was issued by the police at the airport.

The road to downtown

The drive to Arnos Vale, a suburb of Kingstown, was unexpectedly spectacular. I didn't expect SVG to be so hilly and green. The roads were extremely curvy and narrow, considering they were called highways.

After unloading my luggage, I drove to Kingstown Downtown to explore and find out about the ferry to Bequia. A short walk around Kingstown.

To Fort Charlotte, up in some steep hill. The roads are terrible and other drivers speed like crazy up and down the mountains.

Like in St. Kitts, the British built a fort on a hill here and equipped it with cannons. The drive to Fort Charlotte was just as spectacular as the views from there. 

At the highest point of the fort is a small blue cabin where the ship control person sits for the entry and exit of large ships. Using radio and binoculars, the pilot controls which large ships want to approach the port of SVG.

Just like the tower at the airport, the pilot in the cabin grants access or denies it.

Day 2 - Roadtrip along the west coast

I left in the early morning with the goal of seeing the west coast of SVG. The whole road was very curvy, but the view was beautiful around every corner. 

Along the coast, over mountain roads and fishing villages.

The streets require a lot of attention. Extremely steep and tight turns all along the coast. The locals drive like madmen and fly around the corners like airplanes, very often in the middle of the road.

Driving a car in SVG is not a joke, as it can be very dangerous with cliffs of several dozen meters or more. 

The drive leads through Buccament and further to Rutland Vale in the area around Peters Hope, Keartons fishing village, Troumaca a bit inland, and Coulls Hill.

The drive is very spectacular, with a view of the bays. Many locals enjoy the view of their bay even on normal working days while waiting for the bus. I wonder what exactly they are looking at.

Chateaublair is the last "larger" area on this road. 

In the end, it just ends. The road no longer continues, it's just the end of the road

This would also be the starting point for the hiking trail to the volcano. However, it was closed indefinitely at the end of 2020 due to seismic activity.

From the end of the road, there is only the same way back with some smaller side roads.

On the way back made a stop at the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film set.

This place is also a major stop for cruise ship passengers who come along with large mini buses. When I arrived, there were already three of them. More followed after they left. 

The film set consists of a kind of museum with artifacts from the film and parts of the buildings.

A large restaurant and a hotel have settled in and serve as a nostalgic point with displayed photos and thank-you letters from the film crew from back then. The whole thing has aged, the film was shot here in 2003, and the people who worked here back then are long gone.

Also, not much is left of the pier. A lot was swept away by the various hurricanes. There is almost nothing left from the set.

I found the location quite disappointing as the movie was from too long ago.

Day 3 - No Bequia Island visit

Initially, I had intended to visit Bequia Island which is just 1-hour next door to St. Vincent. But I ultimately changed my mind due to the inclement weather conditions that came in conflict with my dog bite from Dominica.

The rain and strong winds would have caused the sea to become choppy, necessitating the use of medication to combat sea sickness. However, as I was concurrently taking antibiotics to treat a dog bite, I could not take both medications simultaneously.

Therefore, I decided not to visit Bequia and so I was unable to visit another picturesque location as a result of my leg injury from the dog bite, which was quite annoying.

So, instead, I drove along the east coast.

On the south of St. Vincent is Canash Beach where all the sailing boats are parked.

In the evening at the restaurant "La Vue," there is a great view of the Grenadines of St. Vincent.

Day 4 - Driving through downtown Kingstown

I went back to Downtown Kingstown to see the Cathedral. 

By today I had given back the rental car. Afterward, I took a walk around the city before taking the local bus back to Arnos Vale. 

I had enough time to explore, as the island, especially since the south coast isn't that spread out. It's easy to walk and India Bay Beach is just around the corner from Arnos Vale.

Day 5 - Leaving for Grenada

It was a great apartment with a view of the mountains. Last coffee before leaving for the airport. The trip back to the airport from Arnos Vale was 30 minutes. Departed St. Vincent and flew to Grenada. The flight only took 20 minutes.

I enjoyed St. Vincent and especially the non-existence of hordes of tourists. Was curious about what I will face in Grenada. Will it be more like St Vincent or more like touristic countries Barbados and the Bahamas full of cruise ships?

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