Sample Itinerary: The Grenadines
This sample itinerary for Bonaire to Curaco was provided by
the s/v Aurora.
SAMPLE ITINERARY : ST LUCIA TO THE
Seven Glorious Days in the "Jewels" of the
Caribbean Aboard s/v AURORA
cruise around St Vincent and the Grenadines offers a number of
intriguing start and finish options. We can connect from a regional
international gateway airport such as Barbados or Grenada to one of the
provincial airstrips at St. Vincent, Bequia, Union or Canouan. Or we
can crank up the Wow factor for scenery and sailing (and deliver an
unforgettable experience) by starting your trip in St. Lucia, which has
an international airport. Some guests opt to start their cruise by
flying into St. Vincent and boarding at Young Island Cut on the
southern coast of St. Vincent or at Bequia. The trip described below
takes advantage of the St. Lucia start.
St. Lucia start: We begin with a drive through a
After landing at Hewanorra Airport on the southern end of St Lucia, the
drive to the main yachting centre of Rodney Bay on the northwest corner
of the island is a 2 ½ hour journey through some of the lushest
rainforest in the Caribbean. The road meanders between breathtaking
(and sometimes nail biting) views down mountainous valleys and
spectacular vistas of raw Atlantic coastline. Banana plantations
straddle the road dotted with charismatic multi-colored shacks - a
The logistics of a St Lucia start often mean arriving the day before
your charter begins and spending a night ashore on St Lucia. Refreshed
from your journey, we board the fully stocked Aurora at midday the next
day. Anchored out in the bay, we enjoy a light lunch on the sparkling
deck before heading south to our first night time spot – St Lucia’s
famous Pitons, two volcanic plugs that rise vertically up out of the
sea like the backs of sleeping beasts.
The snorkeling in this marine conservation area is outstanding. Swim as
long as you like with these gorgeous sea creatures and then relax on
the aft deck with hors d’oeuvres and a cocktail – and the majestic
Pitons towering over you.
By the middle of Day 2, with just a hint of
imagination, land could be 1,000 miles away
Day 2 starts early for our 50 mile sail to Bequia. We aim to leave by
8am to get the most out of this long day - one of the reasons for
starting in St Lucia. Our anchorage under The Pitons is right at the
southern end of St Lucia, but it takes about a half hour to get out of
the shadow of the island, where gradually the easterly trade winds,
which have been blowing steadily for three thousand miles all the way
from Africa, fill in unhindered by land mass. An hour after departing,
with a steady 18-20 knots on the beam, we’re making 8 or 9 knots and
carving through 6-8 foot long-period swells. An hour later, you look
behind you to find that St Lucia has disappeared – with nothing but
wind-driven seas ahead of you. You are now, for all intents and
purposes, in the open, raw Atlantic ocean - exactly how it was for the
early explorers. Not one thing has changed since Magellan and Columbus
sailed here in search of the new world. The same wind. The same ocean
swells. The same sense of isolation. With just a hint of imagination,
land could be 1,000 miles away. You don’t get this in the BVIs!
Prepare for one of the most exhilarating sailing
experiences you’ll ever have
St Vincent’s Soufriere Volcano reaches over 3,000 feet, and is usually
shrouded in thick heavy cloud. Gradually, the huge bulk of the land
emerges from the haze as we close with the island. The next hour is
about to turn into one of the most exhilarating sailing experiences
you’ll ever have.
As we approach the northern end of St Vincent, both wind and seas are
refracted around the top of the island. This means that as we get
closer, the wind starts to shift aft of the beam, as do the swells.
They also both increase. The 18-20 knot winds and 6-8 foot seas we had
on the beam on the way across from St. Lucia build to 20-25 knots and
10 foot+, coming on our aft quarter. Now we begin hitting 11 knots.
WHOOOHOO!! IMAX 3D: Eat your heart out!
A big swell picks us up and we start to surf down the face. The whole
boat hums as this feral power locks us in its grip. Senses are
overwhelmed with the sound of rushing wind and foaming seas while a
cloud-capped volcano stands guard. Watch the speed. 12, 13 maybe 14 or
even 15 knots. The decks remain dry and the finely tuned Aurora stays
stable as she surges forward - propelled by enough natural energy to
light a city.
The swell passes us by, we drop back to 10 knots, and you ease your
grip while waiting for the next one… This is when you’re thankful to be
aboard the solidly-built Aurora. She shows her stellar pedigree in
green water. Are you brave enough to go forward and sit on the bow
seat? Our E-ticket ride - more thrilling than anything in Disneyland.
We’ll hug the coast of this jungled volcano island
Soufriere’s dramatic vertical rise out of the sea means that you can
literally sail down the coast close enough to touch it. The permanent
cloud cover blanketing the peaks at this northern end of St. Vincent
ensure a plentiful supply of rain, producing thick and verdant
vegetation. Triple canopy jungle runs rampant and it seems every single
square inch of land sustains multiple layers of growth. The further we
sail into the lee of the volcano, the more the wind and seas abate
until they finally disappear altogether, although we continue to get
hit by sporadic ‘bullets’ of wind funneled down the valleys and peaks.
Being so close to land gives you an extraordinary view of this
spectacular mountainous terrain, and an interesting example of the
tenacity of Man. All over this impenetrable mountainside, land has been
cleared so that the rich volcanic soil and perfect growing conditions
can be farmed. Perched precariously on ridges and hanging on impossibly
steep slopes are shacks and shelters for each small holding. The
terrain is so radical that no machinery could possibly be used to farm
this land. There seems no viable way of getting any produce out other
than by foot or donkey. The implications of cultivating such
inhospitable soil begs the unanswered question: “Who would…..?” Then a
tropical downpour sweeps through and bathes the jungle in a rainbow.
We are now in flat water for a couple of hours as we run down the west
coast. This coincides perfectly with lunch, which we have on the move.
We pass Wallilabou, the location for Port Royal in “Pirates of the
Caribbean.” If you have an interest, we can enter the bay and see what
Leaving St. Vincent, we switch off the engine for
another blast of beam reach sail
We come off the southern end of St. Vincent and, just like St. Lucia,
the wind fills in and we switch off the engine for another blast of a
beam reach sail for the final 10 miles across the channel to the island
of Bequia (pronounced Bekway). We round Point Peter and the bustling
little provincial town of Port Elizabeth opens up. But nobody ever
calls it that, everyone just knows this as Bequia. We drop anchor off
picturesque Princess Margaret Beach, and Whistlin’ Willy stops by in
his home made canoe to show you his hand carved jewelry. You have
officially arrived in the Grenadines.
Day 3: On to the Beverly Hills of the Caribbean
As we leave Bequia (how do you pronounce it?) we pass real close to
Moonhole, an alternative community conceived in the sixties (and when
you see it you will grasp the sixties ideology). Almost butting heads
with this eco settlement is our lunchtime stop, the former whale
rendering island of Petit Nevis. There is some great snorkeling here,
as well as a little history in the abandoned infrastructure where the
last whale was hauled ashore not so long ago. After lunch, it is just a
brisk one-hour sail across to Mustique, the Beverly Hills of the
Caribbean - where you have a very good chance of bumping into Mick
Jagger or Hugh Grant should you venture into Basil’s Bar. (Princess
Margaret tends not to appear so much these days.)
Day 4: We begin the day on a fast beam reach
We begin the day on a fast beam reach for the 18 mile run down to the
Tobago Cays, passing the windward side of Canouan where Donald Trump’s
hair gets all mussed up as he stands outside his casino perched high on
the headland. Take the helm – and feel the eager Aurora surge
responsively beneath your hands.
The Tobago Cays are a group of small uninhabited islands with pure
white beaches and translucent blue water, all protected by a
horseshoe-shaped fringing reef - rightly called the “Jewels of the
Grenadines.” Now a marine conservation area, one of the ‘must do’
snorkeling expeditions is go see the turtles gliding majestically
through the seagrass, where they may be as interested in looking at you
as you are in seeing them.
Day 5: A white sand beach and a glorious sail
through a gap in the reef
Day 5 takes us to the white sand and crescent -shaped beach of
Saltwhistle Bay for lunch. We choose the smart time to be in the very
popular Saltwhistle - lunchtime when everyone going has gone and
everyone coming has yet to arrive. Before the hoards descend, we make
our departure for Petit St. Vincent, the most southerly of the
Grenadines, where after sailing through a gap in the reef by the tiny
sand atoll of Mopion, we spend the night.
Day 6: Castaway for awhile on Mopion – before
heading out for a smooth downwind sail
Day 6 begins with a scene from castaway. We start early enough so you
can get Mopion to yourself for a little while. We promise to come and
rescue you for a smooth downwind sail to Sandy Island, which from the
windward side looks very uninviting but reveals her beauty as we round
the fringing reef. More great snorkeling here.
After lunch it is a close reach across to the western side of Union
Island and Chatham Bay, where an evening lobster BBQ on the beach is a
Day 7: We head home with a final cruise through
crystal clear waters
After breakfast on your last day, depending on which airport you have
chosen to fly out from, we may get in one last snorkel before weighing
anchor for your final sail through the crystal clear waters of the now
familiar islands that make up St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Saying farewell to our sailing friends and the pampered luxury of the
Aurora is never easy - for both guests and crew. But you'll leave with
spectacular photos, happy memories and the knowledge that the Aurora
awaits your next high seas adventure.
itineraries > The Grenadines