TEMPLATE ERROR: Error during evaluation of grenada grenadines Grenada & St Vincent & Grenadines (Caribbean)

ISLANS HOPPING IN THE CARIBBEAN

We spent 3 weeks in October in the Caribbean. We discovered a few of the Grenadines and Grenada. 

Voilà some tips, especially on transport and accommodation.

CARRIACOU


This part is still in the pipeline.


Hillsborough


Petit Carenage
Paradise Beach

Paradise Beach

UNION ISLAND & TOBAGO CAYS

Union Island was next on our Caribbean itinerary. We took a Jaden Sun ferry from Bequia. The ferry goes to Union Island only on Mondays and Thursdays and it costs EC65 per person. The owner of the guesthouse on St Vincent pre-arranged for us accommodation on Union Island. On the other hand, you do not need to book in advance if you travel in the low season and October is certainly quiet in the Caribbean. On the main road there are two guesthouses – TJ’s Plaza Guesthouse and Lambi’s Guesthouse. Moreover, someone offered us their hotel in the countryside when we stepped off the jetty.

Clifton
Clifton

Afternoon Rain in Clifton

The TJ’s Plaza Guesthouse is big and therefore has various rooms on offer. Firstly, we saw two cheaper rooms and they did not look welcoming at all, they were very basic and the fans were small which would mean a hot night and even a hotter day. If there is no air conditioning in a room, but it has a large fan on the ceiling, it should be all right. However, it will be hard to sleep or relax in the October heat relying on a small fan. Then, we saw what the owner calls ‘Deluxe Rooms’. A double room is called single in his guesthouse, so if you are checking the prices online, take this into consideration. We took the red room for which the official price was USD58. However, we managed to settle that we would pay USD45 a night if we stayed for 3 nights and USD40 if we stayed longer than that. So, we paid for 3 nights up front. Only later we saw that the room was not even properly cleaned. There was no hot water, no kitchenette and not enough storage to put our stuff. There was a TV set but it was not connected. There is no Internet in the TJ’s Plaza Guesthouse. Locals told us to go to the Anchorage Yacht Club Bar. At the time, they had some problems with their wifi, but we managed to check our emails. We did not see any other guesthouse on Union Island, but we would not recommend TJ’s Plaza Guesthouse.

Big Sands

Richmond Bay

Ashton

Union Island has two main towns: Clifton and Ashton. On our second day we took a mini van to Ashton (EC3 for a ride). From Ashton we went to a nearby beach, and then we set on foot to Richmond Bay which is on the north coast. The walk was not too long, but rather tiring as we hit the noon heat. The Richmond Bay is very private; there was no one on the beach or its proximity. The view is very nice. We decided to go further to Big Sands beach. The problem with these two beaches is that there are many stones on the surface, which makes bathing difficult if one does not have swimming shoes. On the other hand, the Big Sands is very picturesque with a guesthouse on the small peninsula. Again, in October we were the only people in the area, I think that the hotel was also closed for the low season. From Big Sands, it is a short walk back to Clifton.


Baradol


The reason that most people go to Union Island is Tobago Cays, the jewel of the Grenadines. And it is undoubtedly worth seeing. There are several organised tours to Tobago Cays and the cost for one day trip would be around €40 per person (it includes a barbecue). However, we went to the Tobago Cays Marine Park office which is located just off the jetty. The captain took us onboard for EC160 (€40 for two people) and showed us three islands.



Arriving on Baradol
Baradol

Jamesbay

We went to the three of the five islands, Baradol, Jamesby which the smallest of the five and Petit Bateau. The sea was rough, so we could not go to Petit Tobac where the Pirates of Caribbean was actually filmed. 


Petit Bateau
Petit Bateau

On each island we had some time for ourselves. The captain also lent us snorkelling kits. On the last island, i.e. Petit Bateau, there was a barbecue organised for a group of Frenchmen. The chef gave us also a big plate of the food. We could have had it for free but we gave him some money in appreciation of his kindness and friendliness.

Tobago Cays are inhabited and are just lovely; they look like from a postcard! So far, it was the best part of our holiday.



Next on our itinerary was Carriacou. There is a boat on Mondays and Thursdays from Ashton to Hillsborough. It comes around 7.30 am. We thought it would be a ferry, but it was an ordinary boat which transports cargo and people. The captain told us that we should have done some paperwork in the Immigration office (i.e. pay departure tax) in Clifton. We were convinced that someone on the ferry would charge us the departure tax, so we did not enquire before. For a moment we thought that the captain would not take us on board. He gave us Grenada immigration papers to fill in, took our passports, and we sailed off sitting among bananas. We were worried that there would be some problems on our arrival, but we only went to the Immigration office in Hillsborough to get a stamp and off we went!

Jetty in Ashton @ 7 a.m.
Clifton






BEQUIA

The ferries from Kingstown to Port Elizabeth are pretty regular. It takes around one hour to get to Bequia. Before arriving in Bequia, we reserved an apartment for USD50 a night. However, we went to the tourist information to get an opinion on the local accommodation prices. The tourist information is on the main square, just off the jetty. Firstly, I was told that there is only one guesthouse on the whole island, Julie’s Guesthouse. As a matter of fact, I read about this Guesthouse before going to the Caribbean; many people stay there when they come to Bequia. I went there to inquire about the prices. A room is around USD 70-80. From what I could see the rooms are rather basic. I went back to the tourist information and asked the woman to call some other places. She managed to found two other hotels on the island, but the prices were even higher. I was surprised that the tourist information lady was not even trying to be helpful. I had to insist that she called some other guesthouse just to make sure that there is nothing cheaper than USD50 which we were going to pay at Franklyn’s.

In the end, we went to Franklyn’s Apartments (Tel.: 784 457 3507 you have to call for Mrs Nieva does not use an email) and I have to say that we liked our stay in this place. The landlady was already waiting for us on the street. The apartment was nice and spacious. There were big fans on the ceiling in the kitchen and in the bedroom. We managed to bring down the price to USD40 for a night. The flat has no wireless internet, but if you sit on the balcony, you will be able to connect to somebody else’s wifi. We actually spent much time on the balcony as it gets a nice breeze. The apartment is right in the centre of Port Elizabeth. Therefore, everything was within walking distance.

In the toilet :)

Franklyn App


Firstly, we went to Princess Margaret Beach. One needs to tell the bus driver where they want to go. There is a path from the main road that gets you to the beach. You will not be able to know or find it yourself for there are no sign posts. The beach is nice, the sea was not rough, and as most of time we were the only ones on the beach but for the lady selling t-shirts. The life in October is really slow, there are few tourists, and most of the time you will have the beach and the sea just for yourself. As it is low season, some places will be able to reduce the price.

Princess Margaret Beach

Princess Margaret Beach

The mini van service is rather non existent on Sundays, so we had one lazy day in the town. The town is small, not very picturesque. It has a few shops, several bars and a fruit market where you can buy tasty grapefruits and tomatoes (EC6 for a pound) and the biggest avocadoes we have ever seen. Later on, we tried to sunbath not far away from the jetty, but we quit the area rather quickly. In the afternoon we went to a local football match. All in all, there is not much to do in the town.

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth, waiting for a mini van

Port Elizabeth

On Monday we took a ferry to Union Island at 3.30 pm. So we had a free morning. In the first place, we wanted to go to the Turtle Sanctuary and then to a surrounding beach. However, there are no vans running to that part of the island. We would have had to take a taxi, but taxis are expensive in comparison to the mini vans. So, we went to the Friendship Bay instead. This time we did not tell the driver where we wanted to go, and missed it. We had to pay twice the bus fare. Again there was a path from the main road which only the locals know. The Friendship is nice, but nothing spectacular to be honest.

Friendship Bay

Friendship Bay


The same product can have different prices in two different shops on Bequia. For instance, a pack of 6 rolls costs EC1.70 in one shop, but EC3.70 in another. And make sure you buy bread in the morning, as in the afternoon there is nothing left. Actually, these small rolls (better buy them in a small shop-bakery vis-à-vis the vegetable market) are really tasty. They are a little bit sweet and can be also nice with butter and a slice of tomato. In general, we found that the prices in the Caribbean are rather high. This is probably because most foods are imported. Moreover, the shops have a poor choice of foods. We mainly ate sweet rolls, fruits and vegetables as there is not much else we wanted to buy or could buy. I will give you examples of the prices: a large bottle of water EC 4.87, one egg EC 0.71, a tuna can EC 2.70, sunflower margarine EC 3.90, a loaf of bread EC 4.20, an ice cream EC 2.09.

In general, it is a nice adventure to island-hop in the Caribbean and to spend two or three days in Bequia; the life there is so different from the European lifestyle.

View from the ferry


ST VINCENT

We arrived in St Vincent with LIAT from Grenada (via Barbados). The SVG international airport is tiny and very substandard. Before the departure we called a manager of Bay Hill Apartments in St Vincent to book one night. I found this hotel on the Internet. The manager picked us up at the airport. Back in Grenada I tried to check the exact location of the hotel. However, on the website there was no address, nothing which may have pointed out that the hotel is in the middle of nowhere. And it is in the middle of nowhere. The manager wanted to charge us US65 a night, but I emailed him back that we could not afford this price. He then came up with US45. In my opinion, it was still too much for a double room, even though it was air-conditioned. In the area there is one clearing when one can see the sea, but one can hardly call it a beach. On the spot we decided to change hotels. The manager of Bay Hill Apartments told us that there was no transport in the proximity of his hotel; however, the locals told us how to get to the main road where we caught a mini van to Kingstown.
                       
Airport in Kingstown
                                                                                             
A bus ride to Kingstown is EC1. It may be a frightening ride as the hills are steep, there are no barriers and drivers tend to drive like madmen. Nevertheless, it is a convenient and cheap way of getting around the island. In the city, we went to a KFC and asked staff where to find a cheap guesthouse. Even though they really wanted to help us, no one has come up with a guesthouse in our price range. This was surprising for us that on such a small island people do not know people who run guesthouses. I thought that we would have twenty guesthouses to choose from. They mainly pointed us to the two hotels just outside of the KFC. The Cobblestone Inn that the Lonely Planet recommends charges US60 for the cheapest room. The accountant would not consider negotiating the price given that the hotel was rather empty. The room was really small, but cute and it had air conditioning.

The city itself is not very interesting; one would say it is ugly but very busy. People are everywhere and something is happening round the clock. The whole centre seems to be constantly occupied by street vendors selling anything from bananas to underwear. We spotted a vendor selling some strange, large fruit which was actually an orange coconut. For EC2 the vendor cut it in the way that we could drink juice right from the top of the fruit. We also went to a local restaurant to have some lunch. They only had either fish, or goat. I took fish and was disappointed. It did not taste good and everything was covered by some brown sauce. My husband had goat and the meat was tasty and soft. We also found a fried banana, a sweet potato, very strange rice, green salad and pasta on our plates. We paid around EC30 for the meal and left the canteen disappointed by this first encounter with the local cuisine.

Kingstown
Kingstown

We wanted to go away from Kingstown to see more of St Vincent. The receptionist at the hotel told us that there is not much to do or much left as a matter of fact of the settings in Wallilabou where the Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. To get to other places such as La Soufrière would be difficult without hiring a taxi and a guide. Therefore, we decided to take a ferry on the next day and to go to Bequia.

Ferry Timetable

However, before taking the ferry at noon, we went to Indian Bay to have a swim. The beach at Indian Bay is not very wide, but it has a nice view. There is also a tiny strip of black sand beach which are so rare. At the beach a local man stopped to chat with us. At the time, he was just about to open his own guesthouse (droundtableinn@gmail.com) and invited us to take a look. He told us he would charge us EC60 for a night and even though the room had no air conditioning we decided to stay for one more day on St Vincent.

Round Table Inn

The room was basic, no luxury at all. There was a fan in the room, however it had rust or mould on it, so we decided against blowing it on our faces. A nice thing about the Round Table Inn was that there was a veranda and the view was really nice. There was also a breeze from the sea, so if you decide to stay at that Inn, the veranda is the place to spend your evenings. Not long after we checked in, it started to rain, and the heavy rain continued until the next morning. I think that the rain saved us as it cooled down the air. It is very hard to spend a night in a stuffy room in the Caribbean. Maybe it gets cooler in December but in October I would not recommend a room without at least a good fan.

We have to admit that the owner was very helpful. He prepared for us carambola juice, and then helped to arrange accommodation on Bequia. He also pointed us to a friend of his who has a guesthouse on the Union Island (more about that guesthouse in the part about Union Island). In the morning we took a van to Kingstown to take a ferry to Bequia. The ferry jetty is in the centre. At the entrance there is a timetable board. The ferry to Bequia costs EC20 for a one way ticket or EC35 for a return. The ferry takes one hour to Bequia and apart from weekend it operates frequently.

Indian Bay

Indian Bay

Indian Bay



I have to admit that now we regret that we left St Vincent after only two days. On the other hand, I dare to say that St Vincent does not have much to offer. There are not even many places to spend a night which is a clear indication that not many tourist venture in that part of the Caribbean. 

A strip of black sand beach

GRENADA

We flew to Grenada with Monarch Airlines; from London it is a 9-hour long flight. At the terminal entrance in Grenada there were many taxi driver trying to catch your attention. I negotiated with Frankie 30EC for a ride. However, an airport cleaner told us to take a bus which costs 10 EC per person and it got us to Grand Anse. There are many buses on the island going everywhere. So, do not worry, you will not have to rent a car or take a taxi to get around. 

We did not organise our holiday in advance, i.e. we have not booked rooms for the 21 nights we were going to spend in the Caribbean. My idea was to look for accommodation once we were there given that October is not high season. My husband however insisted that we should at least book a room for our first night in Grenada. So, I contacted Mr Glenn Duncan from the Seaview Appartments (http://www.grenadaexplorer.com/seaview/) in Grand Anse who offers one of the cheapest rooms that I could find online. We paid 104EC (40USD) for a garden view apartment. Upon our arrival we learnt that it is 104EC only if one books several nights. As we were staying in Grenada for only one night and flying to St Vincent & Grenadines to island-hop, we decided to book four more nights after our “second” arrival to Grenada which Mr Duncan accepted. We were also able to leave one piece of luggage with Mr Duncan for ten days. As for the apartment itself, it includes a bathroom, a well-quipped kitchen and an air-conditioned bedroom. Moreover, the property is just on the seaside. For our pocket it was all we needed. As it turned out, we came back to Grenada quicker than we thought we would. The island-hopping was tiring and somewhat boring as the Caribbean does not have much to offer culture-wise. Our apartment was still free. We spent there ten more nights. 

Seaview App

Seaview App


When we arrived to St Georges three days ahead of the schedule, we were thinking about spending three in the capital. There is Mitchell’s Guesthouse (it does not have a website) where the owner charges around USD50 for a room without a bathroom. There is only a fan in the room. The owner did not want to renegotiate the price, so we left. We managed to found another guesthouse close to the port, but the rooms were stinky and even more expensive. Again, the owner preferred to have no one than to have guests for a lesser price. In the end, we decided to go to the Seaview Appartment as it was cheaper and much nicer than the rooms in the city.

There is one small shop not far away from the Seaview Apartments. It looks somewhat strange to a European eye. A large bottle of water is 5EC and a ginger bun is 1,50EC. Apart from that there was not much we could buy there. There is a shopping mall in the centre of Grand Anse. This was the only shop which looked ‘civilised’. Nevertheless, the selection of products was still limited. The owner of the apartments told us that the locals get barrels with food sent from the US, especially over the Christmas period; this explains why there is not much choice in the shops.

Tropical Rain over Grand Anse Bay

Grand Anse


Our apartment was located on the Grand Anse Beach which is considered to be the nicest on the island. It is all right, it does not offer anything like the beaches on the postcards. There is another beach within a walking distance south of Grand Anse, but it is even less interesting. I have to mention here that there ants everywhere on the beaches.
Grand Anse

Grand Anse

Grand Anse

St Georges is the capital of the Grenada. The Carenage is very picturesque, but the rest of the city is ordinary; most of it has not been rebuilt yet after the two last hurricanes. There is a fruit and spice market in the proximity of the bus terminal.

Carenage

St Georges

St Georges

Market in St Georges


As for other attractions on the island, we can recommend visiting the Seven Sisters Falls. You can take a mini van from the main bus terminal in the city. I do not remember the exact price but it must be around EC5-6 per person. There is an entrance fee of EC5 per person. At the entrance there are guides waiting for tourists. They behave as if their service was comprised in the entrance fee, i.e. the guide came to us and told us that he was our guide and we’d better choose our sticks! Only at the end he told us to pay him, and he came up with a rather high price for the guiding, we told him that we were not going to pay his out of blue price, we left him a smaller fee. Nevertheless, we have to admit that the tour was interesting; he showed us many interesting plants and trees, the hike itself was refreshing regardless of the heat and the humidity.

Seven Sisters Fall

Seven Sisters Fall


We also went to Gouyave, again on a bus. The drive there is very nice as the road goes along the coast. We started with the Dougaldston Estate. There was an organised group with a guide, so we joined the group to watch the lecture on spices and plants. It was interesting, and we were lucky to go there at that time. Otherwise, it would not be very attractive for there are only two empty buildings. Then, we went to the town to see the nutmeg factory. The entrance fee is US1 for a guided tour. The tour is interesting and lasts around 15 minutes. Apart from the nutmeg factory there is nothing else to see in Gouyave.

Nutmeg Factory

Dougaldston Estate

Dougaldston Estate

Nutmeg Factory


After Seven Sisters Falls and Gouyave, we knew that the island would not have much to offer. We could have gone to Grenville, but the Caribbean cities all look pretty the same, so we decided against a two-hour journey in a stuffy van to see yet another average town. All in all, we were a little bit disappointed by the Caribbean trip. There are few nice views that we associate with the Caribbean landscape. There is filth everywhere and not much to do but sun bathing. I would recommend booking a package holiday than to organise the holidays yourself as the price would be pretty the same and the hotel surrounding and food so much nicer than what is on offer if you are on your own in the Caribbean.   

Grand Anse

Grand Anse