July 2, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Bequia

Photo Credit: Bing.com Images
Bequia (pronounced beck-way) is a Carib word meaning "island of the cloud” in Arawak but don't let the name deceive you: Bequia's lush hills are much lower than the peaks of St. Vincent, 10 miles to the north, so they don't catch as many showers.
The main port Admiralty Bay and the "town" Port Elizabeth are situated on the leeward coast. The bay is a large natural harbour, so there are always yachts anchored at the pretty beaches lining it.
Port Elizabeth has a charming waterfront; take a stroll from the vegetable market, follow "front street" with its many shops, boutiques and restaurants, keep going along the beach walkway, maybe stop for a drink at the Frangipani or Gingerbread. From there the walkway continues on a hilly track to Princess Margaret Beach and Lower Bay Beach.
Photo Credit: Bing.com Images
If you feel like a long walk you can head to Spring, a former plantation on the eastern coast of the island and from there further north to the turtle sanctuary at Industry.
Don't feel like walking? There are many friendly taxi drivers proud to take you on a tour of their island. This way you can, apart from the above also visit Friendship Bay (also reachable by foot of course!) in the south of the island, home of boat builders, fishermen and whalers.
A unique part of Bequia is Moonhole, the South Western peninsula , privately owned, guided tours only on by appointment.
North of Port Elizabeth are the Spring Pottery and the Turtle sanctuary. Since Mr. King started sheltering the small hatched baby turtles we have seen a marked increase in the turtle population all over the Grenadines. Donations are appreciated.
The nightlife in Bequia  is relaxed and social.  There are many bars and clubs to enjoy.
Main Events are the Bequia Easter Regatta and The Bequia Blues festival which takes place around the 20th of January in association with Basil's Bar Mustique.
Photo Credit: Bing.com Images
Photo Credit: Bing.com Images
The main sites to see are:
Admiralty Bay
This huge sheltered bay on the leeward side of Bequia is a favorite yacht anchorage. Year-round it's filled with boats; in season they're moored or transom to bowsprit. It's the perfect spot for watching the sun dip over the horizon each evening—either from your boat or from the terrace bar at one of Port Elizabeth's waterfront hotels or restaurants.
Friendship Bay Beach
This spectacular horseshoe-shaped, mile-long (1½-km-long), protected beach on Bequia's midsouthern coast can be reached by land taxi. Refreshments are available at Bequia Beach Hotel's Bagatelle grill
Hamilton Battery/Ft. Hamilton

Just north of Port Elizabeth, high above Admiralty Bay, an 18th-century fort protected the harbor from marauders. Today it's simply a place to enjoy a magnificent view.
Hope Bay beach
Getting to this remote beach facing Bequia's windward side involves a long taxi ride across the island (about $10 from Port Elizabeth) and a mile-long (1½-km-long) walk downhill on a semipaved path. Your reward is a magnificent crescent of white sand, total seclusion, and—if you like—nude bathing. Be sure to ask your taxi driver to return at a prearranged time. Bring your own lunch and drinks, as there are no facilities. Even though the surf is fairly shallow, swimming may be dangerous because of the undertow.
Industry Bay Beach
This nearly secluded beach on the northeastern (windward) side of the island is fringed with towering palms; getting here requires transportation from Port Elizabeth. The beach is good for snorkelers who are strong swimmers, as there could be a strong undertow. Bring a picnic; the nearest facilities are at Firefly Bequia resort, about a 10- to 15-minute walk.
Lower Bay Beach
This broad, palm-fringed beach on the southern shore of Admiralty Bay, south of Port Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Beach, is reachable by land or water taxi or a healthy hike from town. It's an excellent beach for swimming and snorkeling. Refreshments are available at beachfront restaurants, including Mango's Beach Bar and De Reef.
Mt Pleasant
Bequia's highest point (at an elevation of 881 feet) is a reasonable goal for a hiking trek. Alternatively, it's a pleasant drive. The reward is a stunning view of the island and the surrounding Grenadines
Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary
In the far northeast of the island, Orton "Brother" King, a retired skin-diving fisherman, tends to more than 200 endangered hawksbill turtles until they can be released back into the sea. Call ahead, and he'll be glad to show you around and tell you how his project has increased the turtle population in Bequia.
Port Elizabeth
Bequia's capital, referred to locally as "The Harbour," is on the northeastern side of Admiralty Bay. The ferry from St. Vincent docks at the jetty in the center of the tiny town, which is only a few blocks long and a couple of blocks deep. Walk north along Front Street (which faces the water) to the open-air market, where you can buy local fruits and vegetables and some handicrafts; farther along, you can find some of Bequia's famous model-boat shops. Walking south from the jetty, Belmont Walkway meanders along the bayfront past shops, caf├ęs, restaurants, bars, and small hotels.
Princess Margaret Beach
Quiet and wide, with a natural stone arch at one end, the beach is not far from Port Elizabeth's Belmont Walkway; but you still need a water- or land-taxi ride to get here. When you tire of the water, snoozing under the palm and sea grape trees is always an option. Plan to have lunch at Max's Bar.

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