We spent a day on the island of St Vincent during a Caribbean cruise in March 2016. Our cruise ship docked in the capital, Kingstown, at around 11:00am on a Saturday. We had to be back on board the ship no later than 7:00pm; giving us ample time to go exploring.
Of all the ports on the cruise, this was the one that we had least researched and planned. From the research that I had done, it was apparent that many cruise ship passengers use St Vincent merely as a gateway for visiting the more tranquil Grenadines, in particular nearby Bequia which can easily be reached by frequent ferry connections.
However, we were keen to stay on St Vincent and see what it had to offer. We wanted to see a few sights in Kingstown (the Botanical Gardens being the most famous and popular sight there) and we wanted to spend some time of a nice beach. A chance conversation with one of the cruise ship's staff the previous evening had led to the recommendation of a beach that she had visited the last time the ship was in port; Buccament Bay on the island's west coast.
So, as we disembarked the ship, that was our rough plan; visit the Botanical Gardens, stroll around Kingstown, head to the beach at Buccament Bay.
In common with most of the ports in the Caribbean, there was no shortage of locals waiting to offer their services. Minibuses, taxis and boats were on hand to whisk us away to see the sights. A popular trip was to nearby Villa Beach, with a return trip by water taxi costing $US 15 per person. We waved away the touts trying to sell us tickets as we wanted to visit the Botanical Gardens first before hitting the beach later. A water taxi to Villa Beach became our fall-back plan if getting to Buccament Bay proved too difficult or expensive.
Taxi: Kingstown port to Botanical Gardens
As I wandered ahead of the rest of our party to source a taxi for the trip to the Botanical Gardens, I was approached by a driver offering his services. He quoted me $US 12 for the short trip and then, after learning that there were four of us, changed his price to $US 5 per person ($US 20 in total).
It seemed a little steep, but we didn't have too many options. Had I been travelling alone, I'd have walked into the centre of Kingstown and up the steep hill to the Gardens. It would have been a fairly strenuous walk, but not too troubling or lengthy. However, with relatively scarce time and my mother-in-law suffering mobility issues at the time, this wasn't an option. A taxi it had to be. There didn't seem to be much scope for seeking a lower fare; I sensed an unwritten rule that this driver had won our business and that no other drivers should try to undercut him.
We agreed to the $US 20 fare and followed him to his car. As he drove us through the streets of Kingstown, he gave us a brief commentary and pointed out several significant buildings and sights; churches, government buildings, markets. The journey to the Gardens took around 10 minutes.
When we arrived at the Gardens, the driver offered to wait for us and take us wherever we wanted to go next. We enquired about going to Buccament Bay and he quoted us a fare of $US 120 for the round trip. This was far too much. We bade him farewell. Besides, we didn't know how long we would spend in the Botanical Gardens and didn't want to rush around to meet him at a set time. We'd simply find another taxi when we'd finished in the Gardens.
Taxi: Botanical Gardens to Buccament Bay (and return to Kingstown)
Finding a taxi proved no problem at all. While there were no taxis waiting at the exit of the Botanical Gardens, we'd only walked a short distance down the hill towards Kingstown when a driver pulled up and offered his services.
At first, we just asked him for a lift into the centre of Kingstown ($US 10 for the four of us), but then we asked him what it would cost to take us to Buccament Bay. He quoted us $US 30 each way - half the price that the previous driver had quoted us, and the same price as it would have cost us to take a water taxi to Villa Beach. We gladly accepted.
As we drove out of Kingstown, our driver (who I learnt from his card was called Andy Prince) pointed out sights and gave us some facts about his country. He told us that if we had been there a day earlier we could have attended the 2018 World Cup Qualifier between St Vincent & The Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago (a game which the visitors won 3-2). This led to a conversation about football in which Andy revealed that he had in fact played for the national team some years ago! It's not every day that you get a taxi ride from a former international footballer! Andy pointed out a group of visiting Trinidad & Tobago supporters standing at a bus stop.
The journey to Buccament Bay was a very scenic one, with lots of winding roads, panoramic views of the coast and several small villages with colourfully painted homes and shops dotting the green mountainsides. Andy parked up at one particular viewpoint, giving us the opportunity to take photos overlooking Kingstown and the port in which our ship was docked. He also took pleasure in pointing out the international football stadium.
As we carried on towards Buccament Bay, Andy pointed out the Campden Park industrial zone far below us and explained that this is where the brewery that produces the local Hairoun lager is located.
The quality of the roads between Kingstown and Buccament Bay was varied. None of them were too perilous by Caribbean standards, but some were still waiting to be paved.
The journey took around 25 minutes and we arrived at Buccament Bay around 2:50pm, with Andy dropping us off right beside the wooden bridge that led into the resort. We arranged for Andy to pick us up again at 4:30pm.
As we made our way from the beach back to the car park, Andy was already there waiting for us. The journey back to Kingstown took just over 20 minutes with Andy dropping us off outside the Cobblestone Inn Hotel & Restaurant at our request.
So one thing that you may find helpful is that this small airport, and it is pretty small, has free wireless. This was a life saver, as I was stuck waiting and I was able to easily contact friends to let them know I was running late.
Here is some info about the airport incase your wondering
Airport Code: SVD
Airport Name: E.T. Joshua International
Country: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
City: Saint Vincent
Address: Arnos Vale, St Vincent
Runway Length: 4800 m
Runway Elevation: 66 m
IF YOU LIKE MY POST PLEASE GIVE POSITIVE FEEDBACK, THANKS
Phone: Telephone: 784-458-4685
The only way to get to Young Isle from St Vincent is the island boat- unless you are a strong swimmer but your luggage will get wet.
The boat is always ready to deliver one to or from the island. At first arrival to Young island greetings are with a tropical drink.