We docked up at St Vincent, the largest island in the Grenadines.
I stood on my balcony, listening to the gentle crashing of waves against the rocky shore.
In front of me was a beautiful expanse of ocean, turning from a deep navy to a brilliant cyan as it got close to the shore. Where the ocean met land there was a great cliff-face coated with twining trees and vibrant green foliage. There was something about this view that made me shiver with excitement.
I had visited the Grenadines before. For my 10th birthday we had taken a small propeller plane from the island of Barbados to the island of Mustique, one of the larger islands in the Grenadines, covering 1,400 acres. Mustique is a private island with roughly 500 inhabitants.
From Mustique we boarded a catamaran which sailed through the tranquil waters of the Grenadines, passing numerous islands and stopping at several. A particularly memorable island was a small sand-bar, no more than a few metres in length which was empty except for a white umbrella protruding from the centre.
I remember swimming through shallow waters to small uninhabited islands. Waves lapped at trees whose roots were dipping into the ocean and the wet sand beneath them was so thick that my feet sank several centimetres.
I felt like the first person to ever reach these charming islands.
However, during my time in the Grenadines I hadn’t laid eyes on the largest island in the throng – St Vincent.
Sitting on my balcony, I looked at the roughed cliffs that scoured the coastlines, jagged rocks at their feet. Turquoise waves lapped at the fallen rocks and I couldn’t help but feel the urge to explore.
The view out my balcony
St Vincent is a volcanic island, located just south of St Lucia. It is comprised of partially submerged volcanic mountains. The country's highest peak is an active volcano called La Soufrière. It has a history of erupting violently with the last eruption being on Good Friday in 1979.
The island’s beaches were black sand beaches as a result of the volcanic nature of the island. It is the only island in the Grenadines with black sand beaches.
However, I had heard that a new 5 star resort called Buccament Bay Resort had imported white sand to change the black sand beach outside of the resort to a white one. I found this terribly sand. The black sand is iconic and has its own beauty. I always think nature should be left alone.
We had an excursion booked today called Pirates of the Caribbean Tour where a catamaran would take us to some spots along the coast which acted like film sets of segments of the film Pirates of the Caribbean.
We made our way down the jetty housing our cruise ship and approached the thick of the port. We were docked up in Kingstown, St Vincent’s capital.
I just can't get enough pictures of our boat
There were just a handful of boats bobbing peacefully in the port including our gleaming white catamaran. I boarded the vessel with excitement, saying goodbye to dry land once again. I really was becoming used to life on the waves.
We made our way to the west of Kingstown, hugging the roughed coastline. The catamaran bounded seamlessly through the waves and I listened as they crashed against its bow and gurgled underneath the vessel.
Like yesterday, the day was rather overcast. Dark clouds loomed ominously overhead, looking as though they’d leak a torrential downpour at any moment.
As the sky stood boldly behind towering peaks flanked by vivacious forests, I couldn’t help but feel that the weather only added to the wild ambience.
At once I couldn’t get over how beautiful St Vincent was. The island was incredibly lush and rural. Colourful houses were dotted throughout the vast forests of the island, sparse and lonely, whilst sharp peaks rose up from the heart. The jagged coastline revealed some beautiful headlands, dressed with tangled trees with craggy cliff-faces. We were frequented with tall broken rocks, standing proudly in the ocean's shallows. There were also several caves, some which were used for filming for Pirates of the Caribbean.
We passed several bays, void of any inhabitancy. I spied a broken ship sprawled in the heart rocky cove, its white paint flaking and ugly brown rust gradually taking over.
If you look closely, you can see a shipwreck in the bay
There were beautiful beaches lined with small, colourful houses. Sailing boats and small fishing vessels were pulled up peacefully in the dark sand.
It was only a matter of time before we passed Buccament Bay Resort, its glistening white sand beach luminous and out of place. As if caught in a spotlight, the sun broke through the clouds and shone on the stretch of white sand whilst the dense jungle behind remained shrouded in darkness, a foreboding layer of mist concealing overlooking peaks.
This cave starred in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
The imported white sand beach
The further north we got, the more wild the coast became. Houses became less frequent, replaced instead by remote beaches fringed by rows of palms and thick forests. Numerous peaks jutted out from behind.
We journeyed as far north as Wallilabou Bay, a small anchorage which became a set for the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. Remnants of the set were still visible as we bobbed gently in the bay, taking in the calm waves lapping against the sandy shores and the vast forest that flanked the anchorage.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this little bay was a spectacular rock arch, located at the very north entrance to the secluded bay.
Our catamaran turned around, heading back down the coastline. But our journey was far from over.
We approached a quiet bay. Other than a catamaran floating a few metres offshore, there was no sign of human habitancy. A thin strip of black sand bordered the gentle ocean, fading out to a tumble of rocks and cliff-faces as it reached the edges. Beyond the beach was raw jungle.
As much as I strained to see through the trees or look atop the jutting mountains in the background, there were no sign of any houses. If you just saw this beach, you would think the island was completely uninhabited.
Our vessel slowly began to dock up, swaying from side to side as the waves gently nudged it from behind.
We placed oversized fluorescent yellow life-jackets over our heads and leapt into the cold black water. I tasted salt and bobbed effortlessly through the water towards the tantalising shores.
Before long, my feet touched soft sand and I walked out of the surf and up the beach towards the dense forest behind which was teeming with life. I listened to the undisturbed chorus of birdsong and the shrill squealing of insects. The shells of numerous coconuts littered the floor in front of the forest, fragments of greenery poking out from the sand here and there until finally the sand was replaced with a carpet of shrubbery.
The beach from a distance
Dense jungle behind the beach
We were in the area of Mount Wynne, home to the oldest coconut plantation on the island. Mount Wynne beach consists of two beaches, separated by a small headland. We were on the more southern beach which was also more wild and untouched. It was another filming location in Pirates of the Caribbean. Gazing at the beautiful stretch of black sand, I could easily see why they chose this natural paradise.
I allowed my feet to sink into the soft black sand. The sand was completely black with the odd sprinkle of white sand that had been carried from a faraway beach. I smiled as I gazed at it. It was a real novelty not to be on a regular-coloured beach.
Black sand beaches are black in colour due to being composed of volcanic minerals and lava fragments. They are found in volcanic areas.
Whilst I could have gazed at the secluded beach for hours, the ocean was calling me. Members of our group were already taking to the water, splashing ungracefully on the surface as their life-jackets held them up awkwardly.
I waded into the water, feeling the cool waves lap at my stomach. Then I leapt forward, trying but failing to get under the waves, held back by my forceful life-jacket. I frowned. I was a good swimmer. I didn’t need one of these buoyancy aids. But those were the conditions of snorkelling today.
The water looked black from the surface - likely due to a combination of black sand on the seabed and the dark clouds looming above our heads. When I popped my head under the water, the floor was alive with fish, swimming elegantly around corral.
The reef was fairly far below my feet, far more vibrant and alive than the one we had seen in Tortola. I noted the numerous different species of corral – some looked like brains, others looked like leaves. It was a fantastic, heaving ecosystem.
Shafts of sunlight would occasionally peep through the thick cloud-cover, sending a beam of light down to the bottom of the ocean and momentarily illuminating the magical world.
Does what it says on the tin!
We all re-boarded the catamaran and passed more of St Vincent’s magnificent sights.
We gazed at caves of varying sizes, some no more than a crevice whilst others opened like a yawning mouth. We studied rock-formations, some stacks of towering but isolated cliff and others a mountain of loose stones.
Our guide brought out a bottle of colourless liquid. On the side it was labelled ‘very strong rum’. Sunset rum is a rum from St Vincent. As the tagline suggests, it’s strong with 84.5% alcohol volume.
We passed a small harbour and our guide pointed towards a cream-coloured vessel. It was the base of a long ship, traditional in style but lacking tall, proud sails. Near the hull I could just about read the name of the boat – Black Pearl. Of course! This was the famous Black Pearl ship from Pirates of the Caribbean. Although sitting behind a concrete wall with no sails, it didn’t quite look as impressive as it did in the movies. Still, it was interesting to see, nonetheless.
Before long, we were approaching Kingstown bay and our majestic white cruise ship came into view. I felt a tug in my chest. We would be boarding the Silver Spirit for our final time. I gazed fondly at the tall ship which I had come to see as my home. It had been an incredible, unforgettable week. But I didn’t want it to end.
The actual boat used as the 'Black Pearl'
We disembarked from the catamaran and had a small wander through Kingstown before heading to our home for the night. For the final night. I heaved a sigh.
I had been so sceptical of cruises, believing they were all heaving ships filled with shopping malls and water parks. But what I’d found instead was a peaceful hotel on water where the staff treated you like friends and the food was heavenly. The cabins were luxurious and the view outside our window was ever-changing, keeping me on my toes at all times. There was no doubt about it – I was going to miss this place.
The sun began to set behind St Vincent’s looming peaks when the Silver Spirit tooted its goodbye to the island. The small tug boat accompanied us as we drew away from the port, looking like a silhouette as the sky turned blood-red and a shadow fell upon the land.
For the last time. I thought with a pang. I’ll never forget this experience.