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Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines Travel Guide
 
Last Updated: Jun-26-2012, Hits: 3,869, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines Travel Guide Hotels and Lodging (19)
Restaurants (29)
Bars and Nightlife (15)
Attractions (11)
Services (18)
Maps (3)
Links (3)
Caribbean Travel Forum (23)
 
Location: Caribbean
Geography: Island, Beach
Vacation Type: Relaxation
Popularity: Off-the-Beaten Path
Costs: Moderate
Attractions: Scenery, Boating, Hiking, Scuba & Snorkeling

Facts and Stats:
Population: Approximately 5,000
Land Area: 7.0 square miles
Elevation: Sea level
Country Dialing Code: 784
Languages: English, Vincentian English
Electricity: 220V
Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollar and U.S. dollar
Time Zone: GMT -5 (-4 summer)
Current Time:

Introduction:
Bequia (pronounced Bek-way) means "Island in the Clouds" in the Arawak language, and has become a popular destination for yachters offering modern facilities in Port Elizabeth. The island also has a growing population of other tourists who wish to visit a place that has enough to see and do to keep busy, but plenty of options for solitude and relaxation.

There are several beaches to check out with a number of snorkeling spots, dive shops that can arrange dive tours, charters for sailing and island hopping, and plenty of hiking and exploration to do on foot.

Geography:
Bequia lies 9 miles south of St. Vincent, and is the northernmost and the largest of the Grenadine Islands despite its meager 7 square mile footprint. The capital and main population center of Bequia is Port Elizabeth which is located on Admiralty bay on the western side of the island. The main drag runs along the waterfront and the rest of the town ascends into the surrounding hills. As you head south from "downtown", you can pick up the "Belmont Walkway" which runs along the shore past many of the areas lodging and dining spots. Further south is Princess Margaret Beach, and south of that, is Lower Bay.

The island is mostly hilly and forested with a variety of fruit and nut trees. If you head over the hills from Lower Bay in a southeast direction, you will wind up at Friendship Bay. Spring Bay and Industry Bay are to the northeast of Port Elizabeth. There are additional beaches on the east side that are more secluded, yet difficult to get to. See the attractions section of the guide for maps and more information. The highest point on Beqiua is Mt Pleasant at 866 feet.

Brief History:
It is believed that the first people to inhabit the islands were the Amerindian Ciboney people from South America who were gradually displaced by the Arawaks from Venezuela. The Arawaks survived here for 1500 years utilizing their farming and fishing skills. The Arawaks were overrun by Caribs shortly before the area was discovered by Europeans.

In 1650, the French took control of the Grenadine Islands from Carriacou in the south to Bequia in the north. In 1763, the French ceded possession of the Grenadine Islands to the British in accordance with the Treaty of Paris. In 1779, the French recaptured the islands, but returned them to the British in 1783 under the Treaty of Versailles.

During the following decades, the island's settlers and slaves primarily produced sugar, but also exported lime, indigo and other crops. After the emancipation of the slaves in 1834, the sugar and other farming industries declined, and so the remaining inhabitants turned to fishing, whaling, and boat building. In the subsequent decades, the residents used indigenous white cedar to build many whaling boats and schooners, and Bequia was the premier shipbuilding location in the Grenadines.

On October 27, 1979, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became a fully independent state within the British Commonwealth.

People & Culture:
Bequians of today are for the most part direct descendants of the African, Carib, English, and Scottish settlers and slaves. Although Bequia's golden age of shipbuilding has passed, descendants of the former boatbuilders (and others), are still building boats on the island today, using tools and techniques that have remained unchanged for generations. What has changed is the size of the boats, and now Bequia claims to be the model sailboat capital of the world.

Another holdover from Bequia's past is their whale hunting industry, and the island is one of the few places in the world where limited whaling is allowed. Bequians are allowed to catch up to 4 whales per year using traditional methods. The limit is rarely hit.

One of the biggest events in Bequia is the Easter Regatta which features a number of sailing and boating competitions. It is one of the largest regattas in the Caribbean attracting people from all over the world.

Food & Nightlife:
Bequia has a relatively large number of restaurants to choose from, however, not a lot of diversity. Most restaurants serve Caribbean cuisine, typically with a focus on seafood. There are a couple of French restaurants and pizza joints as well. Lobster season runs from September to April and is not served the rest of the year. Keep in mind that many restaurants (and other establishments) close for part, or all of the off-season, so it is important to make dinner reservations at most places no matter what time of year you visit.

The tap water on Bequia is collected rain water and is considered safe to drink. Bottled water is available.

There are several grocery stores in Port Elizabeth to stock up on food if you have self-catering accomodations or need yacht provisioning.

The nightlife on Bequia is fairly subdued, however, there are a number of beach bars and local watering holes around. Most bars and restaurants offer live music at least 1 night per week, and is typically reggae, Caribbean folk, steel drums, or blues. The drinking age in Bequia is 18 years old.

Money & Costs:
The official monetary unit of St Vincent and the Grenadines is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC). Credit cards and US dollars are accepted by most establishments. There are 2 banks, both are located in Port Elizabeth and both have ATMs. There is no limit to the amount of currency that you can bring in to the islands.

Bequia, on average, is moderately priced. Financially, it is an appealing destination as it offers a wide range of dining and lodging cost options.

Tipping is generally 10% of the bill, however, some restaurants include a service charge. There is a value added tax (VAT) of 15% in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Entry Requirements:
There are no visa requirements for travelling to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for stays shorter than 6 months. However, a visitor must have a valid Passport, a return air ticket and sufficient funds for his/her upkeep during the period of visit. Contact the SVG government for more information.

Getting There & Around:
Part of what keeps Bequia relatively unspoilt is the difficulty in getting there. Many arrive on private or chartered yachts while others get here via air or public ferries. Chartered or scheduled flights arrive at J.F. Mitchell Airport at the southern end of the island. Currently, visitors would fly into Barbados and catch a 55 minute connecting flight with SVG Air or Mustique Airways to Bequia. A less attractive option is to fly from Trinidad, Grenada, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, Barbados, or Antigua on LIAT to St Vincent. From there, you can catch a connecting flight or fast ferry service on the Jaden Sun. Much of the above may change after the new international airport opens on St Vincent in 2013.

If you arrive on the island via yacht, you will most likely use the island's reliable taxi services. You can call a taxi on VHF 68 or visit our services section for a list of providers. Rates are fixed and are listed at the Bequia Tourism Office. Most taxi services also provide tours. A less expensive option is Bequia's version of public transportation called "Dollar Vans". They cost a little more than a dollar and you may be crammed in like sardines, but they are cheaper than taxis and run regular schedules.

If you are staying for a length of time in Bequia, you should consider renting a jeep so you can easily explore the other parts of the island. Water taxis are available to take visitors to Lower Bay and Princess Margaret beaches.

If you rent a car, you will need to get a visitor driving permit which runs EC$65 at the time of this writing. To obtain the permit, you will need to visit the Revenue office in Port Elizabeth and have a valid driver's license from your country. Alternatively, if you book your rental in advance, the rental agent may be able to take care of the paperwork for you.

Weather:
Bequia's dry season (also high season) is from December through April. During this time the temperature and humidity are lower. The warmer, summer months of May to November offer occasional showers with light breezes. Bequia is far enough south to avoid most hurricane activity. Although tropical storms will occasionally approach in the peak months of August to October, most major storms either pass to the north or dissipate before they reach the Grenadines.

Below are the current conditions and weather forecast for Bequia.


The table below shows the average high and low temperatures.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 84 85 87 88 90 90 90 90 90 89 87 86
Avg Low 68 67 68 69 71 73 72 73 73 72 71 70
Precipitation 1.4" 1.6" 2.1" 2.3" 2.3" 2.4" 1.9" 2.5" 2.4" 2.3" 1.9" 1.3"

Important Contacts:
  • Emergency: 999 or 911
  • Police: (784) 458-3350
  • Local directory assistance: 118
  • International directory assistance: 119
Tips & Additional Information:
  • Watch out for Manchineel Trees which have a greyish bark, shiny green leaves and spikes of small greenish flowers. Its fruits, which are similar in appearance to an apple, are green or greenish-yellow when ripe. Touching the tree can cause blistering as can standing under the tree during rain. Ingesting the fruit can be fatal.
  • Other than the above, there are no dangerous plants or animals on Bequia. Mosquitos are less invasive as some other islands.
  • Bequia is very safe, however, theft does occur particularly in rentals away from Port Elizabeth. Leave your valuables at home and make sure you lock up.
  • Camouflage clothing is illegal in the country for civilians. Don't bring it.
  • Nude sunbathing is not allowed.
  • Cell phones in Bequia are GSM. Check with your local provider to find out if your phone will work here. You can also purchase a cheap phone in Bequia and buy minutes there.





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