Untouched, sleepy and with a small-town charm, Bequia is one of the more off the beaten track islands in the already remote Grenadine Islands. Often referred to as ‘the Caribbean as it once was’, it makes an idyllic cruising spot for superyacht-goers seeking out seclusion.
Pronounced ‘beck-way’, the seven by two-mile island is located nine miles south of St Vincent and, with a friendly population of under 5,000, life goes on as it always has, at a snail’s pace. On such a small island a whole cast of faces become familiar, and each brightens up when reciting stories of this little gem in the Caribbean.
The sense of tranquillity and tradition that prevails in Bequia is widely down to its inaccessibility. Domestic services from Barbados and St Lucia to the island can be infrequent and often unreliable, but this leaves those travelling by superyacht free to escape the crowds and savour an authentic taste of the region.
At the top of everyone’s list of things to see in Bequia are the secluded beaches. But, even at peak times of the year, you’ll only ever have to share these coastal beauty spots with a handful of other people.
On the west side of the island, find Princess Margaret Beach, named after the British princess who stopped here for a dip in the 1950s. Caribbean blue waters calmly lap the shore, which is backed by a palm tree forest and a string of driftwood-clad bars.
Friendship bay, on the southern face of Bequia, boasts postcard-perfect waters and soft hospitable sand, providing a dramatic viewpoint overlooking Petit Nevis and the Isle of Quartre. And, on the other side of the island, don’t miss Lower Bay, a somewhat livelier seafront with bustling restaurants and bars adorning the promenade.
Even at peak times of the year, you’ll only ever have to share these coastal beauty spots with a handful of other people
Bequia has a proud history of yacht building and the deep-set Admiralty Bay is one of the Caribbean’s most protected, as well as most scenic, natural harbours. Steep, verdant hillsides slope into glistening waters where scores of sailing yachts gather.
Nestled deep in the bay is Port Elizabeth, the island’s main hub of activity where you will often find street parties inviting you in with the sound of dancehall music and the smell of barbecue delicacies. Stroll through the market, a series of open-air stalls selling fresh produce, or try out the local drinking and dining scene, with the best bars and restaurants lining the waterfront path known as Belmont Walkway.
Bequia certainly excels in the art of doing nothing but relaxation can be combined with some easy-going exploration
Snorkelling Bequia’s reef is another way to spend a lazy afternoon but, while in the region, divers and beach lovers alike do not what to miss out on a visit to the coral-hugged Tobago Cays.
Around 30 nautical miles from Bequia, the protected cluster of five uninhabited islands surround a scenic lagoon. Divers and snorkelers can explore the exquisite coral reef, swimming alongside scores of green sea turtles. Round off a trip here by relaxing on one of the whiter-than-white sand beaches.
Local taverns tucked within the agriculture provide fish dishes out of the early morning's fresh catch, served under the vibrant skies of Bequia's sunset and highlighted by intimate candlelight.
Among the brightly coloured restaurants lining Belmont Walkway in Port Elizabeth are L’Auberge des Grenadines, which serves a delicious fusion of French and West Indian cuisines, and Frangipani, where diners can feast on a la carte dishes in a romantic, open-air setting.
De Reef in Lower Bay transforms from a daytime beach bar into an evening restaurant offering favourites such as curried conch and lobster salad, and light, healthy and locally-sourced food reflects the eco-conscious ethos of Sugar Reef Café in Industry Bay.
Bequia’s main draw is arguably its slow-paced way of life. The island certainly excels in the art of doing nothing but relaxation can be combined with some easy-going exploration.
A steep mountain range runs down the centre of the island and travellers can take a taxi to Mount Peggy, Bequia’s highest peak, and join the locals for a sunset picnic. Keen hikers can even make their own way from here through jungle-strewn paths to Lower Bay.
A museum in La Pompe, a hamlet on the east coast of the island, which features exhibits on the island’s boat building and whaling history, is also worth a visit.