The Beauty of Bequia
After travelling up the Windward Islands from Grenada all the way to Martinique, there is a temptation to compare experiences in a binary way: This was good/This was bad, or I liked this/I didn’t like that. But since almost every place can be characterized in that way, to do so leaves readers with a vacuous feeling. As cruiser Ken Goodings on Silver Heels III has said many times in cruisers’ forums, if you base your sailing decisions on the negative things others have encountered, you will soon find yourself out of destinations to visit. Because we have found ourselves back in Bequia after three months in Ste. Anne, Martinique, it’s time to revisit the beauty of Bequia.
The splash of vivid colors on the homes of Bequia is impossible to miss. Hung on the hillsides, a pastel of turquoises, magentas, and sunny yellows pop from the vegetation. These houses are ringed with detailed facias depicting the scenes of the island: whales, fishes, boats. Floating in the middle of Admiralty Bay gives the impression of being surrounded by a masterful watercolor painting, complete with happy little clouds.
Bequia is also one of the great walking islands of the Caribbean. Most walking is primarily on the roads, but that’s not as scary as it sounds. There are so few automobiles on the island that it is possible to go long stretches without encountering a car. There are also several trails that will lead to stunning overlooks, especially on the north side of the island. Most of these walks involve serious steeps to get the heart rate up. And the beaches provide long arcs of sand to travel, with no shortage of beach bars.
Speaking of bars and water, Admiralty Bay is ringed by restaurants, bars, and shops. Most of the bars offer excellent free Wi-Fi. Along the south edge of the bay is the famous Belmont Boardwalk, where the water splashed up onto the feet, and it’s possible to see octopus feasting on sea urchins. All the way out to Princess Margaret Beach there are restaurants and bars and boutique resorts offering stunning views of the anchorage. It’s a great place to sit, have a drink, look out at your boat and say, “Damn, I live on a sailboat in the Caribbean.”
From a boater’s perspective, provisioning is very good. There are a couple of markets in Port Elizabeth, and while they may not be huge, there is usually a decent variety to choose from. Along Front Street there are many vendors offering plenty of fruits and vegetables, and while they may not be grown on Bequia, they are usually brought over on the ferry from St. Vincent Island. If you want lobster just stay on your boat and there is usually some local on a boat who will come by and sell it directly to you. Better yet, order fish or lobster at a local restaurant and enjoy the chef’s skill while saving yourself a messy galley on board.
There is a marine store with its own dock that has a decent selection of items sailors may need while in Admiralty Bay. There is another small chandlery a block back from the waterfront with a knowledgeable proprietor, and there are other vendors around to deal with larger boat issues, though there is not boatyard. Fuel is easy: Grab the jerry cans and hike a hundred meters to the only gas station and fill up with diesel and gasoline. Or motor over to the Bequia Marina for dockside fuel and water. Or call for the diesel and water barge to come out to the boat and fill up.
Bequia also has more of a Caribbean vibe to it, a relaxed style that is not totally dropped-out, but that is neither wound too tight. The people are friendly and helpful, and not too busy to stop and have a chat. At night dozens of small home-style bars open up and the locals congregate to lime and laugh.
Bequia is also the perfect place to base Grenadine explorations. Short sails bring boats to Mustique, Mayreau, and the Tobago Cays. Daysailing around the island with a stop in Friendship Bay for lunch makes for a great out-and-back experience. And it’s the perfect spot to rest before heading up or down the islands.
These are the things that make Bequia so beautiful. It’s location, its natural beauty, and its people create a cocktail sailors find irresistible. And why not? To be in Bequia is to be balanced between the best of both worlds.