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Saint Vincent And The Grenadines

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island nation in the Caribbean, north of Trinidad and Tobago. It shares the southernmost Grenadines Islands with the independent island nation of Grenada.

Understand

Bananas and other agricultural products remain the staple of this lower-middle income country's economy. Although tourism and other services have been growing moderately, the government has been ineffective at introducing new industries. Unemployment remains high, and economic growth hinges upon seasonal variations in the agricultural and tourism sectors.

History

While the English were the first to lay claim to St. Vincent in 1627, the French would be the first European settlers on the island when they established their first colony at Barrouallie on the Leeward side of St. Vincent shortly before 1700. Carib Indians aggressively prevented European settlement on St. Vincent until the 18th century. African slaves, whether shipwrecked or escaped from St. Lucia or Grenada and seeking refuge in St. Vincent, intermarried with the Caribs. St. Vincent was ceded to Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1763), restored to French rule in 1779 and regained by the British under the Treaty of Versailles in 1783.

Slavery was abolished in 1834; the resulting labour shortages on the plantations attracted Portuguese immigrants in the 1840s and east Indians in the 1860s. From 1763 until independence, St. Vincent passed through various stages of colonial status under the British and it was granted associate statehood status on October 27, 1969, giving it complete control over its internal affairs. Following a referendum in 1979, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain full independence.

Natural disasters have plagued the country throughout the 20th century. In 1902, Soufrière volcano erupted, killing 2,000 people. Much farmland was damaged, and the economy deteriorated. In April 1979, La Soufriere erupted again. Although no one was killed, thousands had to be evacuated, and there was extensive agricultural damage. In 1980 and 1987, hurricanes devastated banana and coconut plantations; 1998 and 1999 also saw very active Hurricane seasons, with hurricane Lenny in 1999 causing extensive damage to the west coast of the island.

Climate

Tropical; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November).

Landscape

Volcanic, mountainous. Highest point: Soufriere volcano (St Vincent) 1,234 m

Regions

Cities

  • Barrouallie
  • Chateaubelair
  • Georgetown

Get in

By plane

The largest airport is E.T. Joshua Airport just outside of the capital of Kingstown. Most flights in and out are relatively local, mostly flying to nearby islands such as Canouan, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Saint Kitts. A new international airport is under construction and is estimated to be completed in 2015, at which time E.T. Joshua will cease operation.

By boat

The islands have many docks and bays, including two large enough to accommodate a cruise ship. Despite this, very few cruises stop in the country and the vast majority of travellers come to the country either by aeroplane or by yacht.

Get around

The island is relatively small, but the mountainous landscape makes it difficult to get around. The main highways run along the coasts and as such it is necessary to drive around the whole of the island to get from one side to the other. In terms of public transportation the island is served by a large number of privately owned vans that act as a bus service. These vans have an "H" at the beginning of their license plates, meaning they are "for hire." Cost to ride is EC$1. Many of them have graphics on the front. Driving is on the left.

By boat

Windward Islands - Windward Islands, one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all crewed charter (no bareboat available) in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Operating from 8 international offices (USA, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Caribbean, Monaco).

Talk

The main language on the islands is English. As a former British colony, British spellings are more common than American spellings.

See

  • Tobago Cays Marine Park in the Grenadines.
  • Sites where the movies The Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed.

Do

  • Carnival in early July a.k.a. Vincy Mas (much music and drinking)
  • Eat pork or chicken at a roadside barbecue on Friday or Saturday night
  • Enjoy the view from Fort Charlotte
  • Visit Montreal Gardens
  • Hike the Vermont Nature Trail
  • Visit the Botanical Gardens
  • Climb La Soufriere Volcano (not an easy climb!)
  • Swim in the Tobago Cays
  • Visit the Arawak Rock Carvings
  • Black Point Tunnel
  • Hike up to and enjoy the view from Fort Duvernette

Buy

Money

The currency of the country is the East Caribbean dollar, denoted by the symbol: "$" or "EC$" (ISO currency code: XCD), which is also used by seven other island nations in the Caribbean. The EC dollar is subdivided into 100 cents. It is pegged to the United States dollar at an exchange rate of US$1 = EC$2.70.

Coins circulate in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cents and 1 dollar. Banknotes circulate in denominations of 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars.

A helpful hint: When using US dollars, multiply the price you see by 0.4 and you will get change back. Most merchants accept both paper U.S. and all forms of EC currency. U.S. coins are not accepted, as the central bank does not accept them as currency.

Costs

Eat

Surfside Restaurant - between Calliaqua and Ratho Mill (turn at Sunsail)

Drink

In Kingstown, the water is safe to drink, but be a bit careful at some other locations. The water quality can vary depending upon the season of the year and how the water (often rain water) is collected. Bitter Lemon is a popular soda. Hairoun is a popular locally produced beer. Adventurous drinkers will want to try Black Wine.

Sleep

Many tourists arrive in the Grenadines, stay at a resort, and never get the opportunity to interact with the citizens. If you want to get a taste of the true culture, consider a guest house or apartment in Kingstown. Fort View Guest House in Edinboro is a good choice. It is within walking distance of downtown Kingstown.

Stay safe

Hurricanes are an annual risk. The La Soufriere volcano on the island of Saint Vincent is occasionally active, but a sophisticated advance warning system is in place and resulted in zero casualties in its latest eruption in 1979.

Stay healthy

The US government suggests that hepatitis A and B shots be given to anyone travelling in the Caribbean, however there are no major health risks in the country.

Respect

Connect

St. Vincent uses the North American style of calling codes, where all local numbers are seven digits. The area code for the islands is 784, which makes all international numbers for Saint Vincent in the form of 1-784-XXX-XXXX

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Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Petty crime occurs. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. There have been instances of property being stolen from anchored yachts in the Grenadines.

Road travel

Traffic drives on the left. Road conditions are generally poor. Mountain roads are narrow and steep with few guardrails or markings. Roadside assistance is not widely available. Exercise caution, particularly after dark. Drive defensively at all times.

Public transportation

Taxis and buses are relatively safe, but can be overcrowded and frequently travel at excessive speeds.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Exercise caution when swimming, due to strong currents and undertow, especially around Trinity Falls, Warriacou and Mount Wynne. Do not swim alone, after hours or outside marked areas. Avoid deserted and unpatrolled beaches after dark.

Always hire an experienced guide and ensure that the trekking company is reputable for mountain expeditions to the northern area of Saint Vincent, due to limited police presence (notably in Trinity Falls, Falls of Baleine, and Soufrière).

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in the Caribbean, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in the Caribbean. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in the Caribbean, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, malaria and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in the Caribbean, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

HIV

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, may result in large fines or imprisonment.

Laws

Law prohibits civilians from importing camouflage material. Although camouflage clothing may be worn, one should not be fully outfitted (from cap to boot) in camouflage gear.

An International Driving Permit is recommended.

If you are interested in purchasing property or making other investments, seek legal advice from appropriate professionals in Canada and in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines before making commitments. Disputes arising from such activities could be prolonged and costly to resolve.

Money

The currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD).

Climate

The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November. The National Hurricane Center provides additional information on weather conditions. Stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.