We’re going to Barbados – for a wedding! The son of our old friends who live there is getting married, so we have hired an apartment – but more of that in the next blog. Cashing in on so-called BA freebies means we have to arrive a little early – so we find ourselves in Bequia spending a few chilled-out days doing some diving and getting into training for the wedding!
After a one-night stay with Heather and JP and a warm welcome
we board an 18-seater to island-hop to our final destination. We swoop over the Grenadines and the Tobago cays, boats and islets scattered like emeralds and diamonds on an azure cloth. The landing in Union Island is as scary as it was the last time – vertical descent – when we chartered a yacht there in 2012 and did the full cays trip by boat.
Our taxi is a pick-up, driven by gravelly-voiced Donavan,
and we are soon in the charming old Gingerbread Hotel, where we stayed last about 18 years ago. Despite a new block with generous-sized rooms, it retains its sea-front charm, bang in the middle of the board-walk and where the expat residents seem to gather to take coffee and discuss Trump and Brexit in despairing tones.
Over the next two days we dive in the morning, and repair to a local hostelry for roti and Hairoun, the refreshing local beer. The day we were at The Fig Tree we saw the owner’s library in action where volunteers from the community and from visiting boats teach local kids to read.
The first afternoon we sleep and on the second we wander over the point to Princess Margaret Beach, now packed with yachts of all sizes and their inhabitants. Last time we visited we were the sole bathers and only visitors to a run-down Jack’s bar, now very modern and glitzy. This time we pay to hire beach chairs!
In the evenings we have a sundowner at the Whaleboner, where the bar is a whale rib and the stools the vertebrae, rubbing shoulders with the yachties, and watch stupendous sunsets. The rum is good too! Then to dine simply off local fish and vegetables.
Before we came we were told that we would see changes in Bequia. The cruise ships that arrive every few days – not the humongous ones that visit Barbados, but more attractive three-masted schooner types – disgorge large numbers of visitors, so the inevitable stalls have set up on the ‘main street’ in Port Elizabeth (see below), and the boardwalk is heavy with the tread of those making the pilgrimage to see Princess Margaret.
Nevertheless Bequia is a charming sleepy little place, despite the richesse of yachts. People are friendly, the pace is slow, and the diving is some of the best in the Caribbean with pretty soft corals and vase sponges, and lots of shoaling fish. I was amused to see Max, our dive guide, armed with a trident, spearing the voracious and invasive lionfish which are taking over the reefs. They are good to eat too.
It is somewhere I would go back to. Next time on a sail-boat maybe.