St Vincent and the Grenadines inspires images of tropical perfection. The Grenadines comprise 32 islands and cays but it is St Vincent that dominates, accounting for 90 per cent of the land area and total population. That said, the allure of the tranquil, smaller islets soon sees people on Caribbean holidays here quit the main island to cruise the seas, hop from island to islet and discover their own untouched beach.
St Vincent is home to the capital Kingstown, which harks back to the colonial era. The town's energies are centred on the busy dock area, whilst its cobblestone streets are full of hawkers and islanders at work. The active volcano La Soufriere has given St Vincent its black beaches; a five-hour trek to the summit leads through banana plantations, rainforest and along volcanic ridges. The view from the summit is well worth the effort.
Bequia is the largest of the Grenadine Islands. It retains its old traditions of boat building and fishing but tourists these days come to see migrating whales, relax on its fine beaches and sail its clear waters.
Numerous islets make up the Tobago Cays, which are surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped coral reef. The jewel of the Caribbean, the area is a designated wildlife reserve and can only be reached by chartered yacht; if you can make it there the diving and snorkelling are excellent.