There is a good chance you probably aren’t familiar with the Caribbean island of Bequia (pronounced bek-way). Before we booked this trip, I’ll admit I knew next to nothing about the island. Bequia is typically not a destination on a lot of people’s radars, especially since this is not a typical cruise port. Before our visit, I had a hard time finding a lot of information about the island. Now looking back, I think it is amazing that Bequia is still under the radar; Bequia truly is an authentic Caribbean destination that has escaped from major overdevelopment.
Before talking about our time in Bequia, I just want to dive into some of the background about the island. Bequia is actually part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). SVG is also home to the famous island of Mustique. Mustique though has the reputation of being exclusive due to the islands popularity with celebrities and members of the British Royal Family. Bequia on the other hand is laid-back, with tourists and expats visiting on small yachts or sailboats.
Interestingly, Bequia has a rich maritime history of boat building, fishing, and whaling. Bequia actually still allows whaling today and is one of a few spots around the globe where limited whaling is still allowed to exist from the International Whaling Commission. There is debate though on the history of whaling in Bequia. Some individuals believe whaling was started on Bequia after 1875 by settlers and was not original to the island’s indigenous population.
Our time in Bequia was spent during the Boxing Day holiday. Unfortunately, we experienced on and off rain during the day, but we didn’t let the rain dampen our experience. There is no major docking facility on Bequia for cruise ships, so all ships tender to shore. The tender ride was probably around 10-minutes long and passed many of the yachts in the harbor. We disembarked the tender at Port Elizabeth on a small dock that was well used during the day! Many of the yachts also used the small dock to tender over as well.
Outside the tender area there were taxi drivers offering island tours. We decided to pass on a tour and head out on our own. One thing we appreciated was the drivers not pressuring and badgering people. Compared to other places in the Caribbean, Bequia definitely has a laid-back vibe. Even though we passed on the tour at the time, I do wish we had taken one now and seen more of the island.
We ending up venturing down the Belmont Walkway towards Princess Margaret Beach. The walkway is literally on the water’s edge. The Belmont Walkway runs all the way along Port Elizabeth on the southern side of Admiralty Bay. Along the way we passed restaurants, cafes, bars, dive shops, small hotels, and a few little shops. Many restaurants and bars along the Belmont Walkway were open for Boxing Day, though we did encounter a few shops closed because of the holiday.
The Belmont Walkway is an easy and fantastic walk along the waterfront of Port Elizabeth. The walkway was actually restored a few years before 2016 to create safer pedestrian thoroughfare on the island. The walkway was extremely well used by locals and visitors!
At the end of the Belmont Walkway you arrive to Princess Margaret Trail (also referred to as the Belmont Coastal Trail). The trail is now an extension of the Belmont Walkway and provides locals and visitors an easier way to reach Princess Margaret Beach. The trail is a bit of a walk with stairs and hills but easily doable for most people. I would recommend a sturdier sandal, I unfortunately was wearing flip flops and this didn’t make the easiest walk.
Once you are down the trail you arrive at the Princess Point Headland and Boardwalk (or causeway depending on where you read). This will actually take you to Princess Margaret Beach. I can truly see the Boardwalk being an easy way to reach the beach. Unfortunately, the Boardwalk sustained serious damage from Hurricane Matthew in late 2016 and only part of it was open. From the damaged point, signs noted use at your own risk. We could have reached the beach through the water and rocks, but we really weren’t wearing appropriate footwear to climb over rocks. Hopefully this cool Boardwalk will be rebuilt and opened again.
As we made our way back to the beginning of the Belmont Walkway we decided to stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants. We ended up at the Bequia Plantation Hotel, which is actually right near the start of the Princess Margaret Trail. Luckily, we stopped when we did since it started to rain. All 3 of us ordered the same special, fish and chips plus a rum punch. The rum punch was surprisingly delicious! The rum didn’t overpower the punch, plus the punch wasn’t watered down (not always the case!). The fish and chips were good, but the tartar sauce was some of the best we’ve had. May sound silly to some people but the tartar sauce literally made the meal. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the fish and chips since I was using my GoPro at the time.
After lunch, we headed towards the tender and made a few side stops. I ended up in a Batik shop and purchased a unique Batik pillowcase. The store is called The Garden Boutique and is located by the waterfront (next to St. Mary’s Church). All the Batik in the shop is hand painted and made in SVG by local artisans. Besides the pillowcase, the shop also sold clothes, Batik fabrics, and accessories. A lot of the items ranged in price from $30 to $70 USD. I feel this is reasonable for the amount of work that goes into Batik, especially a higher quality item that is handmade. I personally really enjoyed the shop and finding a locally made item (plus I feel it is important to support local businesses when traveling).
I can see why Bequia has been described by some as a perfect island. To me Bequia feels like the old Caribbean, before islands became overdeveloped with resorts and tourists. This is not an island filled with big chain jewelry stores or color changing souvenirs. Truly I think this is why Bequia struck me so much and I hope to one day return!