Vincentians, with their British colonial history, are a fairly conservative lot, though generally informal. For men, anyway, touching your clenched fist to someone else's is a form of informal handshake. Swimsuits are not appropriate away from beach and pool areas, except at some of the beachfront bars. Topless swimming and skinny dipping are out, except for Hope Beach on Bequia Island, Macoroni Beach and parts of some of the other beaches on Mustique, and unofficially, because no one will ever see you, on the beaches at the Petit St. Vincent resort. Shorts are not appropriate for church services, which are nevertheless more rollicking - and longer - affairs than their American counterparts. Similarly, men are expected to wear collared shirts and long pants to dinner, nor should women wear pants to dinner. Also, the Vincentians are sensitive about their image, so photography should be done with discretion. Cab drivers will sometimes tell you that they have a better picture for you when they don't want you photographing something that they think makes them look poor or otherwise unimpressive.
Residents of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are a generous and courteous people with a gift for making others feel at home. A British reserve, however, is still evident, a type of gentility that is also expected of visitors. Any trace of Gallic influence is tempered by a Caribbean flavor, which can be heard in the lilt of the language and tasted in the spices that flavor the food. Service at most hotels, which are generally small, is characterized by personal attention and care. English is spoken everywhere, often with a Vincentian patois.
The one thing I loved about St Vincent was the street parties. Even though I was there well before carnival there were still lots of parties - be sure to check out Calliqua (southern part of St Vincent) which is a small village known for street parties - Friday nights they have one called Culture Jam - there is a dj and lots of rum and dancing. They often hold soca nights on sunday nights as well in May/June across St Vincent - each sunday in a different town. It pays to get to know the locals though, as much of this is word of mouth!
Villa Beach, Kingstown, Caribbean
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families
Petit St. Vincent
Good for: Solo
This is not on Union Island. It's a small 135 acre island, about a 10 minute boat ride from Union....more