If I had to name my favourite fruits, the list would include mango, lychee, pineapple and pomegranate.
“Well, that’s a weird way to start a blog about St Vincent & The Grenadines”, I hear you say, but keep reading, there’s always (read: usually) a method to my madness.With a population of 111,742*, the 142 sq mile territory made up of the main island and 32 smaller islands was originally called St Vincent. It wasn’t until 1979, when they gained independence from British rule, and coincidentally the year I was born, that the multi-island state was renamed St. Vincent & The Grenadines.
Some of The Grenadines (the smaller islands) are still inhabited - Bequia, Mustique, Union Island, Canouan, Petit Saint Vincent, Palm Island, Mayreau, Young Island. However many of them - Cays, Baliceaux, Battowia, Quatre, Petite Mustique, Savan and Petit Nevis - are uninhabited and privately owned.
Imagine owning your own private island!
Eruption of La Soifriere
Most islands in the Caribbean were formed by volcanoes erupting from the ocean floor. Worldwide, there are 1500 active volcanoes. In the Caribbean there are 19 that are deemed likely to erupt again. An important fact to note whilst dreaming of island ownership or dwelling.
And of course, in 2021 whilst the entire world was still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, on 9 April 2021, La Soufrière on St Vincent erupted for the first time in 40 years displacing over 20,000 people and causing significant damage to the Northern side of the island. Chuh!
The volcano belched ash 10km into the sky, and the island was left covered in thick dust.
Whilst the island still has some areas that are uninhabitable, it’s back to business as usual in terms of tourism, and visitors are being welcomed again (with some Covid restrictions still in place).
Due to the island's volcanic origin, most of St. Vincent's beaches are made up of black sand with two notable exceptions at Villa and Indian Bay, where many hotels are located.
Conversely, the Grenadines feature soft, white sand and aquamarine water.
The volcanic black sand beaches on mainland Saint Vincent are not only unique but are visually stunning!— Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (@VisitSVG) December 18, 2018
When the sun shines on black sand, it often resembles millions of tiny diamonds glistening
So, if you’re looking for something special to do in SVG, try visiting their black-sand beaches, and add swimming with the turtles in the Tobago Cays to your bucket list too.
The colourful Soufriere Tree flower is officially recognised as the National Flower of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Fun fact - only one tree exists, located in the Botanical Gardens, the others are said to have been damaged during the 1804 hurricane.
National dish and drink
The national dish of SVG is roasted breadfruit with fried jackfish, and the national drink of the islands is Golden Apple Juice.
I would have thought the National drink would be pomegranate juice. Why? Because ‘grenadine’ is the name of a sweet cordial, made in France, from, you guessed it, pomegranates. (I told you there was a method to my madness). You may have heard of it, as it’s used in many a cocktail.
I wonder if the renaming of the region was a nod towards the fact that France were the first Europeans to occupy St. Vincent?
Speaking of which, St. Vincent & The Grenadines became the last of the Winward Islands to gain their freedom from British rule on 27 October, 1979.
Although they are an independent nation, they remain a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, and earlier this year had a team of 21 athletes who competed in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
We (the UK) are fortunate to have a few celebrities who have roots in SVG, namely Olympian Shani Anderson, the late SBTV founder Jamal Edwards and his Mom, Loose Woman presenter, Brenda Edwards.
Shani Anderson was born in St. Vincent and raised in Catford, London. In 2000, Anderson competed in the Sydney Olympics in the 4 × 100 m relay and the100m.
Brenda Edwards was born in Luton and has SVG roots. She has many accolades including being a Singer, Actress, TV personality and Presenter. Brenda was a semi-finalist of The X Factor in 2005 and is currently a presenter on ITV's Loose Women and BBC One's Songs of Praise. Brenda has also performed and starred on the West End in shows including Chicago, Carmen Jones, We Will Rock You, Carousel and Hairspray.
Jamal Edwards was the founder of the online urban music platform SBTV, which helped launch the careers of artists like Skepta, Dave and Ed Sheeran. Jamal sadly passed away in February of this year at the age of 31. Jamal was an ambassador for the Prince's Trust, and in 2001 he set up Jamal Edwards Delve, a project aimed at refurbishing and reopening youth centres.
St. Vincent, like much of the Caribbean clearly boasts many talented people.
So, sunbathing or exploration? What would you choose to do in St. Vincent & The Grenadines, let me know in the comments?
Until next time,
Keep it Totes Caribbean,
Simone, Chief Designer at Totes Caribbean
Whilst you’re here, you should shop the large BLACK CARIBBEAN tote bag featuring the word 'BLACK' surrounded by the names of the Caribbean islands. This Caribbean-inspired tote bag is a visual representation of the collection of countries and communities which are reduced to a single check-box on diversity forms: Black-Caribbean
To find out more about Totes Caribbean, click the link here.
*population correct as of Friday, October 14, 2022