Bequia St.Vincent and the Grenadines
The beauty of Bequia (BECK-way), SVG, or St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is the peaceful pace and the beautiful beaches like Princess Margaret Beach and Lower Bay Beach. The island is colorfully uncommercialized, and some of the best things to do on Bequia is in Port Elizabeth and along the Belmont Walkway.
You won’t find a highrise, casino, high-end designer shop, or jewelry store chain. Instead, you can select from Caribbean artwork, brightly colored clothing, handmade jewelry, handcrafted wooden boats, and scrimshaw. Most importantly, no one peddles their wares on the beach.
In addition to shopping, you have your choice among several seaside restaurants that serve excellent food.
Unless you are visiting during the Easter Regatta or Carnival, chances are you will share the white-sand beaches with a few locals and visitors from Europe and Canada. Moreover, you can even find secluded beaches on Bequia like Hope Bay Beach.
Bequia is a throwback to how car jammed Caribbean islands once were: uncrowded, unstructured, and with a sense of innocence. Most importantly, on Bequia, we felt safe.
We mixed with the locals and learned about their culture. It appeared that many of the residents knew one another. About 5,000 people inhabit the largest island in the Grenadines that extends seven square miles.
Bequia Low Crime
Bequia is a low-crime island where locals welcome you into their bars and restaurants with a smile. Moreover, the Bequia people are polite. They answer your questions with “yes please,” or “no please,” Once again, these expressions conjure thoughts from earlier times.
If you are strolling the street and need directions, chances are a someone will approach and direct you. Even the children are happy to walk you to your destination. Since Bequia depends on tourism, they happily accept tips for their services.
Things to do on Bequia
Locals and tourists alike stroll the capital of Bequia, Port Elizabeth, shopping in the boutiques, grocery stores, the local bakery, and at the produce stands.
As you walk the streets you may hear “taxi, do you need a taxi?” You can find taxi drivers leaning against their cars under the almond tree catching up with their friends while they wait to snag their next fare.
Nearby, you can buy fresh brightly colored fruit and vegetables at the open-air market on Front Street. The local produce stand displays a melange of colorful fruit and vegetables including lime green breadfruit, yellow papayas, and bright red tomatoes.
If you are driving a rental car, this is the place to fill up your gas. You can find the Shell service station equipped with two pumps. Plus around the corner is the Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with an ATM.
Most importantly, when you rent a car on Bequia, not only do you drive on the left side of the road, but the steering wheel is located on the right. As an American, it takes an effort to get used to it, plus you are driving in a foreign country.
If you take about a ten-minute walk north-west, you will find a local bakery. You will first smell the baking bread waft through the street. Look for the bakery sign then walk up the stairs to buy the best homemade baked goods.
Another option is to place an order at The Upper Crust bakery. You can reach them by phone or place an order online. They deliver the next day on Bequia and will even bring your baked goods to the beach.
Knight’s Supermarket is the primary market on Bequia. We felt intimidated following a grocery list in a foreign country where some products are packaged differently than in the United States. However, with help from the employees, we found everything that we needed.
Though we went to Knight’s for larger orders, for a quick stop we hit Doris’ Fresh Food & Yacht Provisioning on Back Street. Without the crowds, it was less of a production, and she helped us find everything that we needed. Moreover, Doris’ offered a better wine selection than Knight’s.
The local souvenirs include hand carved and painted model boats, handmade jewelry, whalebone scrimshaw, and island clothing.
Not only do Bequians build boats, some used for whaling, but they apply their skills constructing detailed model boats. Check out Mauvin’s Model Boat Shop or Sargent Brothers Model Boat Shop for beautiful hand-made sailboats and powerboats.
Retired Doctor Patrick Chevailler runs my favorite art gallery. Not only does he sell his colorful marine artwork, but if you have an ailment, he will treat you in his medical office in the art gallery’s side room.
Chances are, you will spot him in his gallery shirtless and wearing a bathing suit. But if he tends to a patient, he dons a short-sleeve shirt as he changes his persona from artist to doctor.
Bequia Restaurants and Bars
In the restaurants, your best bet is to order the freshly-caught local seafood or the specialty. With that said, we couldn’t find a juicy grilled burger or steak that we didn’t like.
Bequia Restaurant Tips
Keep in mind; you are in the islands to relax. From an American perspective, service at most restaurants may be slow. Furthermore, it could take awhile to get your first cocktail,(OH NO!) so if you want to enjoy Bequia, go with the right attitude.
If you are visiting the open-air bars and restaurants at night, you may want to keep mosquito spray in your tote bag. If you forget, it’s likely that the restaurant will have some on hand.
Some of our favorite restaurants include the following: the Plantation Hotel, De Reef, La Plage, Jack’s Bar, Coco’s, Mac’s Pizza, Laura’s, Keegan’s, Fernando’s, and Frangipani. Though some restaurants provide faster service than others, don’t plan on it. With the right mindset, you can be pleasantly surprised when your server arrives promptly.
Laura’s, previously Tommy’s, provided the quickest service and we loved our freshly prepared seafood meals.
We returned to Mac’s Pizza a few times for the lobster pizza prepared with lump lobster.
Try La Plage for lunch. We enjoyed the quick service and our burgers.
Jack’s Bar is on Princess Margaret Beach. You can eat lunch and then wander down to the beach. Our grilled tuna sandwich was a little raw, but we loved everything else.
Keegan’s serves delicious lobster sandwiches and grilled fish sandwiches.
Fernando’s is family run and serves a different menu daily depending on what he catches that day. When you go to Fernando’s, don’t forget your mosquito spray as I did.
Bequia Tips and Tricks
Walk Belmont Walkway that stretches from Port Elizabeth to Princess Margaret Beach. It’s lined with tropical foliage and bars and restaurants on the east side and the sea laps right below your feet on the west.
Our Favorite Bequia Beaches
We love Princess Margaret and Lower Bay beaches because sea grapes and palm trees hover over the beach in places so you can usually find shade. Plus, Princess Margaret and Lower Bay beaches are uncrowded. Additionally, you can walk to bars and restaurants.
Princess Margaret’s Beach and Watersports
Princess Margaret’s Beach includes a coral reef for snorkeling. Most importantly, at Jack’s Bar, you can rent paddle boards, fishing and snorkel equipment, kayaks, windsurfers and more.
Located between Princess Margaret Beach and Port Elizabeth, Belmont Beach overlooks Admiralty Bay.
Lower Bay is quiet, clean, and family friendly. A coral reef flanks the north end offering the option to snorkel.
Friendship Beach is by the Bequia Beach Hotel and offers calm surf for swimming and snorkeling. Most noteworthy, you have access to food and drinks at the hotel.
If you want to visit a remote beach, take a hike to Hope Bay that is on the windward side. Be aware of the rough surf. Also, there are no restaurants or restrooms, so you need to bring your food and drinks.
Like Hope Bay, Industry Bay is also remote and on the windward side with challenging surf and without beach facilities.
Bequia Things to do
Boating and Sailing
We had a fun day boating to Mustique with Michael Tours. Michael Bynoe had arranged an island tour for us, and then we dined with him at a local restaurant. The best part is that we caught fish on the way home. This is Michael’s Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 784-455-1154.
We took the Octopus sailing vessel to Tobago Cays to swim with the hawksbill sea turtles. The crew provided breakfast and lunch. The only disappointment was because of the time factor; we motor-sailed both ways.
Check out Bequia Dive Adventures in Port Elizabeth. They service new and experienced divers.
Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary
Visit the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary and see the endangered Hawksbill sea turtles at different life stages. Not only does the owner Orton King hatch sea turtles but he also raises farm animals and nurtures several dogs.
Hike to Mt. Pleasant or Hope Bay. Mt. Pleasant offers sweeping views and Hope Bay ends at the ocean.
Walk or drive north from Port Elizabeth to visit Ft. Hamilton. The fort offers a vista view of the harbor and Admiralty Bay.
You can play tennis at The Gingerbread for a small fee. However, I strongly suggest that you bring your racquets from home. The racquets offered to us turned out hands black. Additionally, you can buy balls at the hardware store.
Bequia Hotel Tip
If your place doesn’t have air conditioning chances are that mosquito netting will drape over the beds. Nevertheless, don’t forget mosquito spray.
Bequia Beach Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel on Friendship Bay.
Sugar Reef is a secluded hotel located on Crescent Beach.
The Grenadines Collection represents several Bequia villas and homes for rent on the island. We leased a place from them, and they responded quickly to our concerns.
Moonhole is for nature lovers that prefer rustic ambiance.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
If Bequia doesn’t offer enough action for your taste, you can hop on the ferry to the island of St. Vincent. Another option is to take a boat or sailing trip to the other Grenadines. A few things that you can do on the Grenadines are as follows: visit the famous Macaroni Beach on Mustique, swim with the hawksbill turtles at the Tobago Cays, or play golf on Canouan.
Flights to Bequia
Getting to Bequia can be a challenge. Jet’s can’t land on Bequia’s small runway. Additionally, without runway lights, small planes must land in daylight, so plan accordingly.
Options include flying to Barbados or St. Lucia and taking a small shared or private charter to Bequia. Another option is to fly to St. Vincent and hop on the ferry.
From the United States, we flew from Miami then to St. Lucia and grabbed a flight to Bequia.
Bequia is not for Everyone
Some of our friends would not share our love for Bequia because we avoid overcrowded islands. We especially steer clear of islands that allow large cruise ships to dock because passengers flood the island.
For us, nightlife is a few cocktails and a good meal after a day of exercise and beach time.
Bequia is a developing country with poor infrastructure
On our first night after a day of travel, we drove our newly rented SUV to Port Elizabeth to dine. It was dark, and the car window was difficult to see through. As mentioned above, with the steering wheel on the right, we drove on the left side of rutted roads. Deep open drains lined some of these roads, and we worried that if we veered too far to the left, our tires would get stuck in these drains.
Three of us backseat drivers helped the navigator stay on the road when we yelled in fear! Somehow we didn’t cause him to run off the road.
After a few days, driving was better when we learned the area, but by the end of our stay, we had hired a taxi for a few night outings.
To sum up, we love Bequia because we feel safe; there’s plenty to do, the seafood is fresh, and the beaches are beautiful and uncrowded.
What are your thoughts about Bequia? Do you think that there is enough to do? Did these photos entice you to visit? Please comment below.
Susan M Toy is a local Bequia author who has written fictional books on Bequia. To get an even better feel for the island read her book Island in the Clouds. By the way, if you wonder what Bequia means, there’s your answer.