Mustique – chosen holiday destination of Kate and Wills – might be largely closed off from the common rabble and saved for the super-rich, but we’ve found somewhere better, right next door. It shares the same sea, sky and atmosphere and just so happens to be a whole lot more chilled than its highfalutin neighbour.
Here’s everything you need to know about Bequia…
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British film stars occasionally holiday here to escape the paparazzi in Barbados, but Bequia has been hosting legends for years. Centuries ago, it was the chosen haunt of pirate Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard) when he needed to park his galleon and stretch his legs. Admiralty Bay on the Caribbean Sea side of the island is the best naturally protected bay in the area. Henry Morgan (of rum fame) also took advantage of this natty natural port.
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You don’t need to be a pirate or own your own galleon to get here. You can travel to Bequia in only an hour on a ferry from St Vincent or, if time is precious, by plane from Barbados and St Lucia.
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A little over 4000 locals live on the mountainous 7 mile island – just enough to make the place lively, but not too many to bombard the beautiful beaches. Inhabitants get around on foot, by car, or via the small Silver Dollar Buses with wild, graffiti style logos on them. Trust us, you’ll know them when you see them.
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Arguably the most beautiful beach on the island, Princess Margaret’s is named after the Queen of England’s late sister who used to sail over from Mustique just to hang out here. Right on.
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There are many different levels of accommodation available on the island, from Julie and Isola’s budget guesthouse in the heart of the small harbour, to holiday villas, to the excellent Bequia Beach Hotel located at the pleasingly titled Friendship Bay.
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The island has superb, lip-smackingly delicious cuisine. Among the very best of restaurants is The Auberge, which specialises in both lobster and surf and turf. It looks out across the yachts in Admiralty Bay where you can dine in relaxed style from its open aired deck. Robert De Niro and Anthony Bourdain even have their own chairs there. The Bequia Beach Hotel also has excellent chefs and a wide ranging menu if you’re looking for familiarity.
For local food, Fernando’s Hideaway is the number one choice, and with just twelve tables in a fairy lit wood it’s a feast for both the eyes and stomach. Tanty Pearl offers the same style of simple and delicious fare from its high vantage point overlooking the bay and you’ll want to stop off at Jack’s Bar on Princess Margaret’s for a spot of lunch. In town, the best kept secrets are the Columbus and Tweety Bird cafes , which you could easily walk right past but for all the locals heading in and out.
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The stand out attraction of interest is the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, located on the more dramatic North East side of the island. The sweeping views that extend before you as you drive up to the site are absolutely stunning as well. Think rugged Scotland, Ireland’s wild Atlantic Way or Cornwall’s windswept cliffs…but with the notable difference of very, very warm weather. And hundreds of tiny little turtles.
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Authenticity comes by the barrel load in this place. Or rather, the oil drum load, which you will likely see being used as makeshift barbecues topped with tasty meats in many of the local shed bars. Park yourself in a plastic chair and let the heavenly scented smoke, and accompanying music, wash over you.
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There’s a guy called J. Gool with a band called De Real T’ing who play a weird and wonderful mix of Caribbean string, Country and Western and a sort of bohemian Blue Grass. The whole area has a long history of guitar music, so if you’ve got a soft spot for the ukulele you might want to stick on your Hawaiian shirt and go listen.
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Sunsets, as you might expect, are something else in this area of the world and the best way to enjoy one is over a cup of tea and slice of cake or bowl of ice cream from The Gingerbread café. Spend enough time here and you’ll bump into James Mitchell, the popular former SVG Grenadines Prime Minister, who enjoys spending time here with is family.
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After you’ve explored everything above the surface you’ll probably want to see what lies below, and scuba and snorkels are the best way to go about it. So rent some gear from one of the many outlets and go in search of sunken treasure. If you do happen to discover something, just remember, this is our little secret (and we’ll only take a cut of the finder’s fee if you absolutely insist upon it).