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All about St. Vincent


A pretty princess and a pretty-boy movie pirate popularized St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) as never before.

Former celebrity-in-residence, the late Princess Margaret, named her only real estate Les Jolies Eaux, or The Pretty Waters. She was royally aware of the gorgeous blue-green waters of the equally gorgeous Grenadine isles.

SVG, as the islands are sometimes called, gained international acclaim as a world-class movie location after the Grenadines filming of the 2004 hit film: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. The movie features the swashbuckling adventures of Johnny Depp's pirate character, Captain Jack Hawkins. Hawkins was dead set on getting back his spooked ship, the tattered and cursed Black Pearl, operated by a (literally) skeleton crew. It was Hawkins' obsession to put some meat on the skeletons' bones, remove a terrible curse, and get back into the pirate business. Meantime, back in the Bay of Wallilabou, there was a set portraying the old-time pirate capital: Port Royal, proudly billed as "the world's wickedest city." Filming went on for almost a year and SVG islands subsequently became the most talked-about hangout.

Sightseeing opportunities include the bustling Kingston Market, and St George's Anglican Cathedral, built in the early 1800s. The cathedral boasts a stained glass window that Queen Victoria intended for St Paul's in London. Somehow, it wound up in Kingston. On the leeward (west) side of St Vincent is a botanic garden in business since 1762. Among its trees is a descendant of the breadfruit plants brought to St Vincent as a second effort by Captain William Bligh. His first effort was postponed by the mutinous crew of His Majesty's Ship Bounty (subject of another Hollywood smash hit). After viewing the neon-green, leathery leaves of South Seas-style breadfruit groves, go to the aviary for a look at the Grenadines' national bird, the St Vincent parrot. Then there is historic Fort Charlotte, rising 600 ft above the bay at the Grenadines' capital, Kingston. As for nightlife, it's almost sleepy, by Caribbean standards. Kingston, nonetheless, is the venue for live string and steel drum bands at clubs called the Attic and Emotions.

After St Vincent, the main tourist draws are the islands: Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Palm Island, Petit St Vincent, and Union Island, off the southern tip of St Vincent. Johnny Depp is reported to have found Union Island tranquillity much to his liking as a favourite hangout after long hours of shooting Pirates of the Caribbean scenes.

Petit St Vincent is a 113-acre private island ringed in white-sand beaches. Cottage guests raise a flag on a bamboo pole outside their rooms or at the beach if they want room service. Divers hightail for nearby Tobago Cays, tiny uninhabited islands surrounded by a semicircular reef. Three sites at the Cays "just to dive for" are Ends Reef, Horseshoe Reef and Petit Tabac. Palm Island is a private resort with five splendid beaches edged in towering coconut trees. You will find no dearth of beachfront cottages, luxurious plantation suites, and romantic beds veiled in mosquito netting. There might even be fresh tropical flowers sprinkled on the bed.

Meanwhile, back at Princess Margaret's former digs, the folks are about to shop for baguettes, pain au chocolat, and croissants at Sweetie Pie Bakery on Britannia Bay. Once a week or so, there is a swinging barbecue buffet and "jump up" at Basil's Bar.


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