Grenadines Part 1: Bequia

We sail to the first of the Grenadine islands, Bequia, discover scuba diving, and go on a rum shop tour to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

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Bequia (pronounced Beckway) is the northernmost Grenadine island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The island is a favourite with cruisers, and we were excited to check it out, so decided to sail there in one straight shot. On April 24, 2018, we left St. Lucia at 5:45 a.m. and motor-sailed 60 km, arriving in Bequia at 5:45 p.m. So far, that day wins the record for longest distance travelled (though our gruelling 13-hour Nevis-Antigua passage wins for longest time). We unfortunately had to motor sail the whole way because soon after leaving the shelter of St. Lucia, David noticed that our yankee (head sail) was sagging at the bottom. Upon further inspection, he realized that the halyard (or the line that holds up the sail and passes through the mast) had worn through and was literally hanging by a thread. So we had to furl it up and make do with just our staysail (smaller headsail) and main sail. There is nothing more nerve-wracking than arriving in a new anchorage at night, so since we were going such a long distance, we kept the motor going to maintain our speed so we would arrive at our destination before dark.

Our first Bequia sunset, shortly after setting anchor

The first couple of days were spent trying to get our bearings. We took our staysail to a sailmaker to get a new leechline put in, and we hoisted our Aussie friend Michael, i.e. the lightest and most nimble person we knew in the bay, up the mast to fix our yankee halyard, which luckily ended up being an easy fix (phew!). Mel also came down with a case of food poisoning, so was out of commission for a few days.

We had also arrived in Bequia as mangoes were finally coming into season, so we celebrated by eating mango everything, including making mango daiquiris in our hand/drill-operated blender.

Bequia will always be special to us because it was the first place we went diving in the ocean. David had done an intro course in a freezing-cold swimming pool in Ottawa for a phys ed AQ course he did a few years back, but Mel had never been and was excited (and admittedly a little nervous) to try. So one Sunday morning we found ourselves in a cordoned-off section of water right off the beach, taking our first breaths underwater as we sank down to the sand four feet below the surface. After we had mastered basic scuba diving skills like switching regulators and clearing our masks, we were ready to do our first dive. The dive boat took us out to Devil’s Table, a gorgeous coral reef teeming with marine life. Since David had already scuba dived, he was the first in the water and waited for the rest of us newbies to get sorted out. Unfortunately, this meant that he was using more air than everyone else, and his tank ran out about halfway through the dive, so he had to return to the dive boat while we finished up the dive. The marine life on the reef was amazing, and we wish we had brought the camera, but figured that it was more important to focus on the skills we had just learned than document the experience. We saw eels, lobsters, and so many different types of fish it was mind boggling. It was a truly remarkable experience, one that we hope to re-live soon. In the meantime, check out a little video David put together! Thanks to Dive Bequia for a fabulous dive!

Mel coming up from her dive

Bequia is an absolutely gorgeous island, with tropical flowers and plants and crystal clear waters. We loved to watch the turtles surface all around us during sundowners, and we saw sting rays, box fish and snake eels while snorkelling around the boat. It’s no wonder we stayed here for two weeks.

Princess Margaret beach, where we anchored

Friendship Bay

Selfie at Hilaire Point on the windward side of the island

Overlooking Friendship Bay

Swimming off the boat

Water so clear you can see the little fish

Bequia is also an attractive stop for cruisers because of its many social offerings. There are dozens of bars and restaurants, which is pretty surprising for an island of 4,300 people. But tourism is the main economic driver for Bequia, though older traditions remain, including boatbuilding and whaling (Bequians are only allowed to take two to three whales a year, and only traditional methods can be used, meaning going out in bare-bones sailing vessels and using hand-thrown harpoons). There are social events happening on Bequia every day of the week, so there is always something to do. On May 5, or Cinco de Mayo, we decided to join in on a rum shop tour around the island. We were the only ones who showed up for the event, but that just meant that we got a custom tour. That afternoon, our hosts, Nate and Nicolle—two Americans who sold everything and moved to Bequia three years ago—took us to their favourite spots, from local joints where old-timers gathered to play dominoes to fancy rooftop terraces. We didn’t want the tour to end, so we continued the tour with dinner at Mac’s where we had delicious cinco-de-mayo fish tacos, and ended up staying out till the wee hours of the morning. The next day, Nate, Nicolle and their daughter Amira joined us for an afternoon on the boat, and we all had dinner together at Keegan’s in Lower Bay. We were so glad to meet them and have a more local experience.

The view from Jak’s, a lovely beach bar

Soursop cocktail – delicious!

The dinghy dock at Jak’s

Drink one of many on Cinco de Mayo

Mel and Nicolle next to the Rush Hour taxi (which shares a name with the first rum shop we went to)

Mel, Nate and Nicolle enjoy the view of Admiralty Bay from Papa’s rooftop terrace

Round 2

Buckets of beer

We really loved Bequia, but with our flights home booked for June, the clock was ticking and it was time to move on.

Gorgeous sunset from the boat

Where the wind takes us next: Saltwhistle Bay, Mayreau

5 thoughts on “Grenadines Part 1: Bequia

  1. Thanks for the map and the giant arrow, I would have looked for it forever otherwise!

    The water is so clear, this is crazy. It looks like you’re in the cleanest swimming pool I’ve never seen!

    Liked by 1 person

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