Of all the mornings sailing into new ports on our Caribbean cruise, the approach to St Vincent was easily the most spectacular. The dramatic outline of this volcanic island was the sight that greeted me when I got out of bed – the steep, forested contours highlighted by the low morning sun and the jagged peaks disappearing into the clouds.
As we approached the port (and capital), Kingstown, the colourful buildings we’d come to expect from the Caribbean hoved into view. Photos really don’t do it justice.
What I wouldn’t give to be back there again right now!
We had a more adventurous activity lined up for that morning, and it was going to require swimwear. I am not at all the sunbathing sort, so it was nice, on the last full day of the trip, to get the chance to wear my bikini in a non-spa context!
This was the view of the ship as we disembarked.
This sign, complete with its very own tiled rooftop (!), welcomed us to St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The colour of the water right next to where the ship was docked was absolutely astonishing. I have never seen such crystal clear, beautifully blue water before. You could see the fish swimming around and even some colourful coral.
We’d be getting a much closer view of the sea that morning, because our activity for the day was to be a kayaking and snorkelling excursion. The bus was waiting for us the other side of the cruise terminal, and on our way out of Kingstown we learned some interesting facts about the island and its history. Of particular interest, our guide pointed out a church made with bricks used as ballast on the ships that came over to bring back fruit. Obviously they didn’t need the bricks for the journey back, the ship being laden with fruit, so they built things with them! Isn’t that marvellous?
Once we were out of Kingstown the bus took us on a winding coastal road with fabulous views over the bay. The bus didn’t half struggle up some of the hills!
Some way around the coast the bus pulled up here.
A fleet of kayaks awaited us on the black sand beach, and we were given a safety briefing on what to do in the event of capsizing.
I’m not at all a strong swimmer, so in spite of having a life jacket, it was with some trepidation that I took my place in the kayak ready to set sail.
Now, I don’t know whether you’ve ever been kayaking, but let me tell you: it’s damn hard work. You’ve probably seen kayakers gliding effortlessly along your local river or canal and thought that it looks a relaxed and idyllic way of exploring the waterways. In fact, it requires a great deal of upper body strength, and out on the sea – where there are fewer visual reference points to indicate how fast one is moving – it feels as though a massive amount of energy is being expended to creep inches forward at a time.
I was glad that we had a double kayak so that we could share the work!
Here’s a video. Look at how sparkly the water is!
The views looking back as we headed out into the bay were absolutely spectacular. My phone, encased by this point in a waterproof pouch, has singularly failed to do justice to how amazing the island looked.
The first major event of the trip was our arrival at this cave, the narrow opening of which could only just accommodate a single kayak. Inside was a colony of bats, and we each had to enter the cave, one kayak at a time, allowing the motion of the waves to carry us through because there wasn’t room for oars.
Inside, bats were swooping around us as our kayak bounced off the walls of the cave. There was the familiar smell of bats, already experienced in the cave in Curaçao and the fort building in Tobago. I’m not going to lie: it was a bit scary, despite the fact that I like bats! At length we emerged from the other side, the cave going right the way through the headland and expelling us into another sparkling blue bay. On the way out, an incoming wave crashed over the prow of our kayak (pretty much exactly like this!!!) and completely soaked us, but luckily didn’t dislodge us from our vessel like it did one unlucky member of our party.
I know I keep saying it, but just look at that water!
Around the next headland was another point of interest: a Pirates of the Caribbean filming location. I can’t remember which of the films was shot here, mind you.
We pressed on, battling through not insignificant ocean swell away from the shelter of the bay. After what felt like quite a while (because, I admit it, I was scared), we arrived at a secluded little beach, only accessible by boat.
This was where the snorkelling portion of the adventure was happening, but I chickened out and stayed on the beach because I don’t like my head going underwater! Lee assures me that it was fantastic because you could see the coral reef right by the shore, complete with hordes of fish. He did take my iPhone down with him, in its protective waterproof case, but unfortunately the footage didn’t come out very well!
While Lee was off snorkelling, I wandered along the beach.
Right before my eyes, the waves washed up this beautiful shell.
I tried to clean it out so that I could take it home, but unfortunately it had a horrid fishy smell, so I had to be content with photographing it!
It was the closest I’ve come to a real tropical island experience. Lee took this pic of me when he returned from beneath the waves. I would have preferred a white sand beach, but I’m not complaining!
After everyone was back from snorkelling and our guide had produced a bucket full of live sea urchins for us to gawp at, it was time to make our way back the way we came, through the big ocean swell, to the bay we’d departed from.
I was quite glad to get back on dry land, though being on the land is clearly no guarantee of safety from fearsome sea creatures like this crab, which was lurking underneath the bus when we returned. (Also, take a moment to appreciate the incredible physique of our tour guide, Olympic athlete Kevin.)
Before we returned to the ship we were treated to a couple of swigs of rum punch, made on St Vincent and with a hefty alcohol content that felt richly deserved after our exertions in the kayaks.
When we got back to Britannia, the fab music from a live band by the ship definitely added to the Caribbean vibes!
We didn’t head out to explore Kingstown, partly because we were knackered and partly because we had to pack.
More music could be heard while enjoying the views from our balcony.
That evening was our last on Britannia, and we felt a bit sad as we made our way to the Crow’s Nest for our last aperitif of the holiday. At dinner, our waiter gave us all the menus from our week on the ship as a souvenir!
I still have one more post to write about the trip, as we spent the last morning on a tour of St Lucia before heading to the airport. Final instalment coming soon!