Discovering Bequia – After crossing the Atlantic Ocean and then hanging out in St Lucia for a month hubby and I started to get itchy feet. We enjoyed St Lucia’s lovely Rodney Bay Marina, both on the jetty and when using a mooring ball. Furthermore, we anchored in the popular Marigot Bay and a few other places near the town of Soufriere and the famous volcanic Pitons.
Here’s the video I created about Discovering Bequia. Below the video, you’ll get all the juicy details that I couldn’t include in the movie. So, please don’t just watch the video. And to view a more modern video of our travels to and around Bequia, visit: Bequia St Vincent Sailing & Sightseeing
And now let me continue with my article. Read to the bottom to discover what rating I gave Bequia – is it a 10 out of 10 or not?
The time had come, however, to leave our first Caribbean destination and start exploring the surrounding area
While looking at a map my husband, Simon, and I discussed various game plans – the main question was, ‘should we go south to St Vincent and the Grenadines or north to Martinique?’
(Below is a map I grabbed from paradise-islands.org showing where St Lucia is in relation to the Grenadines and Martinique).
You’d think that we would have spent weeks considering our options but when we decided to make a move, we opened the map, had a ten-minute discussion, and then started preparing the boat for departure.
During our stay in St Lucia, however, we received reports from a variety of other sailors about what’s good and what isn’t. Feedback on Martinique was very positive yet many boaters said to give St Vincent a miss due to high crime. Surely over the course of our meanderings around St Lucia, our thoughts were being formed about our next destination.
I always find it funny how we never truly know where we’re going until we actually start sailing somewhere.
After a very rocky seven hours, Britican headed into the wind, I dropped the mainsail and Simon motored us into Admiralty Bay just outside the capital town of Port Elizabeth on the island of Bequia.
Sailors and contacts on my Sailing Britican FaceBook page espoused amazing reports about the small island – I heard that the area was unspoiled, full of tropical delights and home to very kind locals.
Once we anchored in the bay I looked around and thought that Bequia looked like any other island.
I wondered where all the positive reports were coming from. Sure, there were the typical colored houses on the tropically green hillside painted blue, pink, orange, and green. And the beach looked like it had lovely sand embraced with a backdrop of tall palm trees. But there were two large unsightly cargo ships parked in the bay, loads of sailboats and big ugly barge doing the rounds with, ‘Water, Laundry and Diesel’ written on the side.
Many people make the mistake that it’s us boaters that have the best view in town, but that’s not always the case.
It wasn’t until the following day when hubby took the crew and I to shore that I started to realize just how amazing Bequia really is. When we first took our dingy to one of the many dingy pontoons, and I took a few steps onto land, I noticed a very colorful, inviting, and relaxed backdrop.
The main strip is filled with natural beauty including the light sandy beach, a variety of colorful trees, bushes, and shrubs. And the restaurants, bars, and shops are not only colorful but each one has a distinct character.
The Chameleon Café, situated in the busiest area of the harbor, has a seating area that’s hidden behind lovely big palms. Crewmember Eve and I enjoyed ‘one of the best smoothies on the island’ (Eve’s words) and a glass of wine (guess who had the wine?).
The Gingerbread Hotel has an amazing façade on the building and an open grassy outdoor seating area that’s shaded by palm trees. The lower area provides sandwiches, cakes, and coffee. Over the course of a week, we sampled almost every cake. I loved the carrot cake and the gingerbread was excellent. Next to the coffee shop is a homemade ice-cream parlor – there’s no need to describe how amazing that place is.
And the upper area, within the Gingerbread Hotel itself, is a lovely restaurant with a great view of the green grounds and harbor.
For our ‘Date Night,’ hubby and I took the dingy into Port Elizabeth dropping crewmember Eve off so she could get some alone time. Back on the boat, our guests Andrew and Michelle watched our daughter for us.
Simon and I like to enjoy a couple of drinks first, so we sat at Whaleboners, a restaurant that has whales ribs upon the entrance and whale spine bones for the bar seats. With the town being so small, we watched Eve walk past us on a few occasions while she decided where to get dinner.
When Simon and I finally decided to eat we settled at the Gingerbread Hotel and wouldn’t you know who was there – it was Eve!
We tell everyone that she crashed our date night but in reality, we fizzled her solo evening.
As Eve ate dessert, Simon enjoyed a homemade chicken kiev and I had my first taste of Caribbean Lobster. All our meals were very enjoyable.
We also sampled great food from Mac’s Pizzeria and the Fig Tree serving authentic local cuisine. I was very impressed with Fig Tree – if you have children this restaurant must not be missed.
The back wall is lined with children’s books!
My daughter, Sienna, and I spent ages reading through a variety of books. I was delighted to find a book that my grandmother read to me when I was I child. I’m sure that it was my father’s book that was read to him when he was a little boy. Until seeing the book, the time spent reading with my grandmother was a lost memory!
The Fig Tree appeared to offer games, books, and a reading club for children. When walking along the waterfront, the restaurant can be found at the end of the walkway heading south from the town. When we enjoyed the roti’s (local Caribbean dish) the owner introduced herself to us and thanked us for passing all the other inviting restaurants. With just one small conversation you could feel the authenticity and kindness radiate from the owner.
Aside from restaurants, there are two dive shops, a few minimarkets, one bank (with two ATM’s), a bookshop, an art museum, a church, and many street vendors selling carvings, jewelry, fruit and a variety of other hand-made offerings.
There’s one grocery store that is well worth a visit – Doris’s. Located behind the customs house, you’ll find a brown cottage that houses all sorts of Northern American and British delights. Whether you want curry paste, Hersey chocolate chips, or granola this is the place to stop. Furthermore, you can get cold cuts, fresh milk, and frozen meat.
There’s also an excellent covered fruit and vegetable market that is fantastic. The vendors allow you to try all sorts of local fruits before you buy them. I was blown away by the flavor and consistency of soursop. Make sure to try one when you hit the Caribbean – the fruit simply can’t be compared to any other!
There are a scattering of beauty spa offerings.
Eve and I looked at a few of the ‘day spas’ located along the main strip but none of them took our fancy. Most looked like hairdresser type offerings that also gave massages and did pedicures.
We, however, managed to find a day spa called Serenity Day Spa in the Tradewinds Marina on the north side of the bay. It’s a blue building that has a dock with around four to five boats.
With only one practitioner, the lovely Dorcel, we had to wait our turn but the wait was well worth it! Both Eve and I signed up for a two-hour package including an hour-long massage, a ½ hour facial, and a pedicure for $70 USD. Our other guest, Michelle, went for a body scrub, facial and eyelash, and brow tinting.
The massage room is set up in such a high standard. You’d think you were in a 5 Star hotel, but it’s just a room in the marina!
The treatments received at Serenity Day Spa were the best I’ve experienced in years (and I often go to spa’s in London and New York). Furthermore, the value for money is the best I’ve ever come across. To book a spa treatment you can email Dorcel at Serentiy_dayspa@yahoo.com or call/text 1-784-532-2559. We received the Serenity Day Spa brochure from a local boat asking if we wanted our laundry done and I’m so happy we did.
And what about swimming and snorkeling?
Coming from the Mediterranean, where the water is often murky and lacking in fish, we’ve been blown away with the Caribbean waters. The sandy sea bottom creates pools of beautiful turquoise water and then it leads to intricate coral reef housing the most exquisitely colorful fish that I’ve ever seen.
While snorkeling in Bequia with my five-year-old daughter all I could hear is a muffled ‘Mom, mom, mom…look at that!’ Her pleas of excitement burst out of the snorkel with an enthusiasm that’s intoxicating. Every time we went for a snorkel here excitement grew.
In Admiralty Bay the options for snorkeling over the reef are many. And even while wearing a mask around the boat at our anchorage we had plenty to look at. Just around the boat, we’ve spotted turtles, sea snakes, dogfish, barracuda, and a blowfish.
Rumor has it that there are many stingrays in the area too!
On a couple of occasions while we were discovering Bequia we took the dingy over to the beach, enjoyed the silky sand and fantastically clear waters. None of the beaches ever appeared to be busy, there are no watersport activities and the bars and restaurants are limited.
Aside from the bay hosting lovely waters, the swell was minuscule.
For the most part, the wind continuously blew us away from the land from the northeast to east. On a couple of occasions the wind died completely and there was barely a movement on the sea. Every once and a while there’d be a slight swell giving the boat a side-to-side motion but it was barely noticeable. By far, Admiralty Bay has been one of the most protected, sheltered and comfortable bays we’ve anchored in during our sailing history.
How about the community in the bay?
After spending two years in the Mediterranean cruising around we usually bumped into friends often. My fear of crossing to the Caribbean was that we wouldn’t know anyone. To my surprise, we knew at least five other boats throughout our entire stay while anchored in Admiralty Bay with a couple of them being close friends.
At one point there were four other ‘Kid Boats,’ all anchored in a line.
We’d call each other on the VHF and the children would move from one boat to another or we’d arrange to meet on the beach. One night all the kid boat families planned to meet up at Jacks, a lovely restaurant on the beach, so the adults could enjoy a few drinks and dinner while the children enjoyed playing in the sand.
Feeling like you’re a part of a community even though you’re in a foreign territory is such a massive benefit that often gets overlooked by non-cruisers. Wherever we go we have friends – perhaps we haven’t met them yet, but when we do there’s an instant kinship and connection.
For us, our first adventure away from St Lucia over to the island of Bequia was absolutely perfect.
It was relaxing, comfortable and we were able to share our experiences with old and new boating friends.
Bequia is quiet, calm, and relaxing.
There are very few boat vendors and even fewer beach beggars. Unlike St Lucia where you’re bombarded every hour to buy something from a local boat or asked to purchase a coconut, palm weaved hat, glass turtle, or bracelet, Bequia is quiet. In fact, not once did we encounter any noise pollution – no sirens, alarms, or even loud ferries.
In the course of a week, we witnessed only a few larger commercial boat anchor and many of them only stayed for a few hours. Never did the town feel jam-packed and all the restaurants seemed to have plenty of tables available.
Exploring the rest of the Island is well worth the time and money.
For a small fee, the taxi drivers are happy to help you discover Bequia by road and take you for a scenic tour of the island. The east side is unspoiled – there is a beautiful coast with the sea and islands in the distance. Very few homes are noticeable and the few resort offerings look more like bed and breakfast sized accommodation that blend into the natural surroundings rather than tower above the land.
While touring around, we took our daughter and some of the other boat children to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. It was great to hear the owner’s story of making amends for his past. Instead of relying on that to you, I’ll let you hear it from the horse’s mouth when you visit Bequia.
The sanctuary is very small but the background is interesting and of course, it’s always great to see turtles up close!
Another island day trip that we took was a ride out to the Firefly Plantation. Upon arrival, we were kindly greeted and asked to take a seat while we waited for a guide to arrive.
We didn’t book anything with the plantation – we simply arrived and hoped we’d get a tour
And boy, what a tour we got. There were three adults and three children and we made our way around the plantation grounds eating a variety of different fruits and nuts. It was great to enjoy some almonds, then drink some coconut water straight from the coconut, followed by some strange apples and some really sour berries! (I uploaded a gallery of photo’s from Firefly Plantation below).
Our guide must have shown us over 15 different trees bearing fruit
We also tested out raw sugarcane and had a demonstration on how to extract sugar water.
After our tour, the adults enjoyed a lovely refreshing alcoholic beverage and the children threw back a Shirley Temple. We then dropped down to the lower area and all had a swim in the pool. The children had a blast and we adults got to relax after walking the grounds.
We finished our stay with a $35 USD three-course meal of black bean soup, curry of our choice (fish, chicken, beef, goat, or vegetable) and ice cream and crumble. The Firefly plantation was extremely accommodating with the children – essentially they threw a bespoke meal together for all of them.
Unfortunately, however, the final bill at the end of the day was eye-watering.
For a few things, we thought the price was in Eastern Caribbean Dollar but it was really in USD. That aside, it was a lovely experience.
By the time our feet started getting itchy again, we had spent a full week discovering Bequia.
It was the perfect retreat for a post-Atlantic crossing and the comedown after the Christmas/New Year season.
One thing to note, however, which seemed very strange, is that there are no ferries from St Vincent & the Grenadines (Bequia being a part of the Grenadines) to St Lucia. All the ferries in and around the Grenadines stay within the Grenadines or go to Barbados. From a guest perspective, if you pick up friends/family in St Lucia and want them to find there way back they’ll have to pick up the bill for a costly airline ticket or private plane.
Overall, my rating for Bequia was a solid 8 out of 10. I really enjoyed our visit to the lovely island.
And just a few tips about discovering Bequia…
- Admiralty Bay does have mooring buoys and I was told they’re around 50 EC/night (Around £10 or $15USD). A friend, however, suggested that you need to take your time to find a good mooring buoy. Apparently some are suitable for smaller boats but not for larger ones. We always dive down to check out our anchor and when possible we also dive down to make a visual check on any mooring buoys we pick up.
- We anchored in the bay in front of Jacks restaurant in the sand. We were the furthest out of land and felt our anchorage was very solid. Although it took a while to dingy into town we were away from the masses of boats closer in. Furthermore, the ferries didn’t come anywhere near us.
- There’s a laundry service in the bay – a boat will come out and collect your wears and return them the next day. You can also get ice, Diesel and a taxi service.
- Most of the restaurants will take reservations on Channel 68 (we never booked – there were always many tables at every restaurant – we stayed in Bequia in January).
- If you have plans to sail south to St Vincent & The Grenadines food gets expensive and very limited, both at restaurants and grocery stores. Stock up in Bequia or better yet, stock up in St Lucia or Martinique before heading south. Also, stock up with cash. There are limited ATM’s in the Grenadines – you can’t get money on every island and many shops don’t take credit cards. If you’re planning on stopping in Mustique you’ll need some cash!
- The ATM in Bequia worked intermittently for us and there was a limit of 980 EC/day. Some days we could get cash and other days we couldn’t so don’t wait until the last minute to try and get cash.
- There’s a Chandlery in Bequia but it’s very limited – they didn’t even have dingy repair kits!
- During the high season, there’s a possibility that a professional photographer will be taking pictures of you and your boat as you enter the bay. When we noticed we were being photographed we ignored the guy thinking the price of the photos would be high. To our surprise, when we say the photos were amazing and the price was reasonable. We ended buying a hard copy picture and all the photo’s taken! Looking back I wish that we smiled for the camera.
Would you like to add more about Bequia? If yes, leave a comment below. Note: you’ll get an error when you leave a comment but it will be submitted. Once I see it I’ll publish it 🙂
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