Travel, Currency and Money saving tips for Saint Vincent and The Grenadines
While it may sound like a playground for the rich and famous, you don't need your own yacht to enjoy SVG. In fact cheap ferries make exploring this archipelago nation independently a breeze and with so many islands to choose from, there's sure to be one that perfectly meets your needs. And while it's famed for its islands and beaches, the country offers more than just a relax in a hammock. There are volcanoes to climb, refreshing waterfalls to explore and great hiking throughout.
Just the name St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) evokes visions of exotic, idyllic island life. Imagine an island chain in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, uncluttered by tourist exploitation, with white-sand beaches on deserted islands, sky-blue water gently lapping the shores and barely a soul around.
What currency to use in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?
The local currency in St Vincent and the Grenadines is the Eastern Caribbean dollar. Many places will accept US dollars as currency for payment (although only bills, not coins). To avoid confusion between the two currencies, always confirm which currency vendors are asking for, although often they will quote prices in both.
ATMs are rare St Vincent and the Grenadines. There a few located at the major banks in the capital, Kingstown, but certainly do not expect any in the Grenadines other islands. It is best to take all the cash you need with you if visiting these islands, and most of the hotels here will accept credit card payments.
How to get around in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?
Flights within SVG are a quick and inexpensive way to shuttle around the country. There are airports on all the main Grenadine islands except Mayreau. There are a number of airlines running regular services between the islands.
The main islands of SVG are well linked by boats. It’s very important to confirm schedule details in advance as they change frequently. You can also usually find a fishing boat who will get you between islands in the Grenadines. Usually this will be on a small, open fishing boat with room for, at best, four people with minimal luggage. The rides can be quite exciting and should not undertaken in rough seas. Places to stay on the islands always have reliable contacts. Costs are negotiable – for an example, you should be able to get from Mayreau to Union Island for under EC$150.
Buses are a good way to get around St Vincent. It is possible to catch one on Bequia and Union Island, but these islands are so small that you'll rarely use them. The buses themselves are usually minivans that are often jammed full. You can expect to get to know at least 20 fellow commuters as you are squeezed into every available space in the bus. There’s usually a conductor on board who handles the cash and assigns the seats. When you get to your stop, either tap on the roof or try to get the attention of the conductor over the thumping music, and the bus will stop for you just about anywhere.
Taxis are abundant on St Vincent and Bequia. Agree on a fare before departure.
St Vincent is really the only island where you may wish to drive. It has enough roads to make exploration interesting and worthwhile. However, expect to drive slowly over its very narrow and winding roads – think 20mph as a good average.
Travel tips for Saint Vincent and the Grendaines.
Though the temperature is steady, the humidity fluctuates throughout the year—the wet season runs from June through October, while the dry season goes from mid-November through April or May. That being said, St. Vincent and especially the Grenadines often avoid severe autumn hurricanes. As in the rest of the Caribbean, rates at luxury resorts are highest from December 15 to April 15. However, prices at smaller hotels, inns, and guesthouses usually remain the same year-round. Those looking to plan their visit around special events should consider the Mustique Blues Festival in January, the Bequia Easter Regatta in the spring, or Vincy Mas (St. Vincent’s carnival) in late June and July.
On St. Vincent, you’ll learn a lot about the nation’s history and people by visiting Fort Charlotte, touring the Botanic Garden, and simply walking around Kingstown. Adventurous visitors can attempt the climb up La Soufrière (the volcano that covers about a third of the island), but everyone should get out on the water and visit the dazzling Grenadines. Each island has a different appeal, but all are ringed with powder-soft, white-sand beaches and an aquamarine sea with gentle surf. Sailing on your own or a chartered sailboat is ideal, but even a ferry ride is a delightful way to spend a day. Highlights include Tobago Cays, Saltwhistle Bay Beach on Mayreau, Basil’s Beach Bar on Mustique, and Port Elizabeth on Bequia.