See the Caribbean for Less in Bequia

1. Where to Stay

The Firefly Bequia stands on a working 30-acre fruit plantation.Photo: Courtesy of Firefly Bequia

Save money by cooking in your suite’s kitchen at the tucked-away Sugarapple Inn (from $110), located a few minutes’ walk away from a white-sand beach on the island’s southeast coast. To stock up on food and liquor, head to Doris Fresh Foods (784-458-3625) a specialty grocery in the main hub of Port Elizabeth.

Sleep on Port Elizabeth’s waterfront at the West Indian–style Frangipani Hotel, where you can choose a bargain-priced room in an old sea captain’s house with a shared bathroom (from $75), or trade up to a hillside suite (from $285) for a balcony and views over Admiralty Bay. At cocktail hour, drop by the bar, popular with yachters, to order the signature Frangi Fever cocktail ($4) made with rum, orange juice, ginger ale, and cinnamon.

Splurge on a rustic but elegant room at the Firefly Bequia (from $395), a luxury hotel that stands on a working 30-acre fruit plantation on the island’s more remote northeast end. The property’s four rooms and two-bedroom cottage (from $795) come with Italian linens, outdoor showers, ocean-view balconies, and no televisions. Unwind with a game of tennis or a swim in the pool, followed by afternoon tea with homemade bread and jam made with ingredients grown on the plantation.

2. Where to Eat

L'Auberge des Grenadines offers harborfront tables and West Indian–influenced seafood dishes.Photo: Courtesy of Horizon Yacht Charters

Venture up the hillside above Port Elizabeth for Caribbean specialties at Tantie Pearl’s Restaurant, where diners swill rum-heavy Painkillers ($5.50) and enjoy sunset views as reggae plays in the background. Stick with regional classics like creamy callaloo soup ($5.20) and fish creole ($20).

Reserve a table in advance at L’Auberge des Grenadines, where the French-helmed kitchen turns out locally sourced seafood dishes with West Indian influences at tables overlooking a harbor. Start with yellowfin tuna tartare ($13) before moving on to lobster plucked from the restaurant’s pool (market price; a large one is about $32) and a refreshing basil–passion fruit mojito ($2.60).

Grab a table for dinner at Fernando’s Hideaway (784-458-3758), hidden away on a steep hillside above Lower Bay, where chef Fernando Morgan serves up fish he catches himself daily. The menu changes frequently, but if you’re there on Saturday, branch out and try “Nando’s” goat water soup ($4.40) and desserts like applesauce spice cake and coconut-butterscotch brownies ($3 each).

3. What to Do

Friendship Bay is home to the calmest waters on the island.Photo: Simonsimages (via Flickr)

Explore Bequia’s stunning beaches by renting a “moke” – a mini soft-top vehicle – from Bequia Jeep Rentals ($40 per day). Spend the morning at Lower Bay, the island’s longest beach, then catch a water taxi ($5.50) over to Princess Margaret Beach, where the princess swam while on her honeymoon. If empty strips of sand are what you’re after, drive to the more remote east-facing beaches. At Industry Bay, you’ll see few beach-mates, even in the high season, though you might face stronger breezes. For the island’s calmest water, go to Friendship Bay, where waves rarely get higher than a foot.

Stop by the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, where you can talk to Orton “Brother” King about his efforts to restore hawksbill turtle populations in the southern Caribbean. Then get a feel for the island’s whaling culture, which dates back to the mid-nineteenth century and is still (legally) active, by visiting the one-room Bequia Whaling and Maritime Museum (La Pompe ; 784-458-3322), filled with whale bones, baleen, and old harpoons.

Stroll the Belmont Walkway on the waterfront of Admiralty Bay, where you can check out a handful of model boat studios and galleries. Pick up a shopping bag made of old rice sacks at the Rasta Market to carry home your loot. To catch up on the latest island gossip, stop by the almond trees — you can’t miss them — a gathering spot known to islanders as the “Houses of Parliament” for all the chatter that happens there.

4. Insider’s Tip

The one-hour ferry ride from Kingstown to Bequia is the least expensive way to get there.Photo: Tony Davis

The main reason Bequia has remained free of mega-resorts is that it’s small and relatively hard to get to in one day. If time permits, the best option (and usually the cheapest) is to get to Bequia via neighboring St. Vincent. Book a flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico, spend a night there, then fly LIAT to St. Vincent. From St. Vincent’s capital, Kingstown, it’s a one-hour ferry ride to Bequia.

5. Oddball Day

The Tobago Cays are five pristine islands where you can snorkel with sea turtles.Photo: Courtesy of the Friendship Rose Caribbean Schooner

Spend a day away from Bequia and set sail for the Tobago Cays on the Friendship Rose, a restored schooner that was built on the island and once served as its main ferry. The day trip starts at 7 a.m. and isn’t for those with wobbly sea legs, but the cays — five tiny, uninhabited, palm-studded islands — are worth the hour-long trip. On the outbound sail, catch a glimpse of the Moonhole complex, a development of houses built from rocks, driftwood, and whalebone into a rocky headland in the sixties. (The property is off-limits to nonresidents.) After the morning sail, snorkel around the cays (snorkeling equipment provided) and swim with the sea turtles who flock there. Then, replenish with an onboard lunch of Creole chicken, plantains, and coconut cake. Afterward, find a spot on the beach or take a nap in a hammock under the sails. On the ride back, enjoy a few bottles of Hairoun lager, the national beer of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The trip gets you back to Port Elizabeth at 5:30 p.m., in time for the famous lobster pizza ($42 for a large) at Mac’s Pizzeria (784-458-3474).

6. Links

The Bequia Tourism Association provides refreshingly straightforward information on the island’s goings-on.

Learn more about Bequia’s inland hiking options from Ramblers Hiking Tours.

If you’re a diver, check out Bequia Dive Adventures to plan an underwater escape.

Arrange a day sail to Mustique or get picked up in St. Vincent with Nicola IV Yacht Charters.

If you’re interested in an extended stay, find lodging options at Grenadine Villas.

See the Caribbean for Less in Bequia