Road & Travel Magazine - Adventure Travel  Channel

Travel Channel
Adventure Travel
Advice & Tips
Airline Rules
Bed & Breakfasts
Climate Countdown
Cruises & Tours
Destination Reviews
Earth Tones
Family Travel Tips
Health Trip
Hotels & Resorts
Luxury Travel
Pet Travel
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Spa Reviews
Train Vacations
World Travel Directory

Automotive Channel
Auto Advice & Tips
Auto Buyer's Guides
Car Care Maintenance
Climate News & Views
Auto Awards Archive
Insurance & Accidents
Legends & Leaders
New Car Reviews
Planet Driven
Road Humor
Road Trips
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Teens & Tots Tips
Tire Buying Tips
Used Car Buying
Vehicle Model Guide


A Tour the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent

Johnny Depp - Pirates of Carribean

What are the odds, I wonder? I am in the company of one Jennifer Sparrow as I tour the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, where the mega Disney hit motion picture Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was filmed. The lead character was none other than Captain Jack Sparrow, a pirate rogue brilliantly portrayed by Johnny Depp.

The indefatigable Ms. Sparrow would squire me and four other writers around this Windward Islands jewel, pointing out all the reasons why it was the ideal location for Disney’s Buccaneer saga. Not many tourists know about St. Vincent or the Grenadines, a community of miniature islands with enchanting names such as Bequia (Beck-way), Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau (My-row), Tobago Cays, Palm and Union islands. They begin just 21 miles south of St. Lucia and stretch in a half-moon arc to within a crow’s nest view of Grenada.

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines four times previously, beginning in 1982 and the last time in 1998. On each occasion, it was via a Moorings yacht charter, which allowed me to linger and explore these pristine bays and coves that Disney filmmakers found so enticing and so perfect a locale for their sea epic.

The thought of pirates and treasure always fueled my imagination when I sailed these magnificent waters, and the Curse of the Black Pearl rekindled my fantasies. Disney’s “Imagineers” transformed portions of St. Vincent into a studio backlot, with elaborate sets at Wallilabou Bay and Petit Byahaut. I recall visiting Wallilabou in 1982 when there was little at this anchorage, save one or two small shacks and an obscure dusty road that led from the black sand beach to a small waterfall about a mile inland that was a great place to take a natural shower and wash off the brine of the sea. But now, Wallilabou was made to look like Port Royal, Jamaica, and the center of activity for most of the film. The set will remain permanently at Wallilabou. It was here that the rakish Captain Sparrow stepped off his sinking boat onto the wooden dock and within a few hours, he: bedeviled the British navy, rescued a drowning damsel (played by Keira Knightley) and engaged in a vigorous sword fight with Orlando Bloom before finally being imprisoned by the local commandant. This is one of Depp’s finest roles, but St. Vincent certainly contributes to the allure.

At Petit Byahaut, you won’t recognize the cave where the treasure was hidden, since it was created through the magic of set design. A natural rock formation just a hundred yards offshore was the perfect place to construct the cave entrance. Cables were strung from the rock to the adjacent hillside, which was then covered by canvas and made to look like the rest of the landscape. It’s one of the few instances that the island’s natural beauty was altered. We sampled its many attributes both from land and by sea.

From Kingstown, the capital located in the southwestern portion of the center of population, we drove along the windward coast to the massive volcano of La Soufriere, which takes up virtually the entire northern one-third of the island. It’s a hiker’s dream, but no easy task. A climb to the top for a view of the crater is easily a three-hour trek. Afterwards, we stopped at Owia Salt Pond, a natural pond enclosed by lava peaks and ridges where the pounding waves of the Atlantic crash into the barrier then gently settle into the tidewater pools. Owia is a great place to pause, swim and even have lunch.

Along the road north, there are small villages and towns that merit a stop, such as Georgetown and Richmond. Near Georgetown is the former estate of Col. Thomas Browne. Browne constructed a 350-foot long tunnel through a hill with an opening to the sea in order to facilitate the transfer of sugar from his plantation to waiting ships. The Black Point Tunnel is an eerie place and you can almost imagine the sounds of the workers as they hauled the sugar through the tunnel. It most likely wasn’t right for the movie because the Atlantic Coast of St. Vincent is much rougher than the Caribbean side.

One other town worth noting is Barroualie, a small whaling village along the leeward coast where colorful whaling boats line the beach. Locals occasionally hunt blackfish, a species of small whale that was once the basis of a thriving 19th-century industry. Fishing and agriculture are still the main industries in these islands, but tourism is on the rise.

The movie should spark a great deal of interest in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and there are well-established resorts sprinkled throughout the region to accommodate visitors. They include such notable places as Young Island Resort just 200 yards off the mainland at Kingstown, which served as the base for the cast and crew of Pirates. It can only be reached by small ferry and rumor has it that the ferry was busy transferring Depp and his entourage nightly to the Ocean Allegro restaurant and pub on the mainland. In honor of their patronage, the restaurant features a “Black Pearl Martini” that was reportedly quite popular with the cast.

While I could have spent the entire time on St. Vincent, the Grenadines have some incredible vistas to explore. There are inter-island flights to most of the Grenadines, but there’s also a ferry service and private boats that can get to the popular resorts. Of course, charter yachts such as the ones offered by Trade Winds Cruise Club, are another alternative. Fantasea Tours and Captain Yannis Catamarans have scheduled daytrips throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Princess Cruises also sails these waters.

We managed to use a combination of boats and planes to capture the essence of these prized islands. A powerboat excursion with Fantasea Tours along the western coast of St. Vincent brought us to Petit Byahaut, Wallilabou and the Falls of Baleine. To see the falls requires being put ashore at a jetty and then carefully picking one’s way over large volcanic boulders to reach the base of the falls. The reward is well worth the effort.

The famed Tobago Cays, a cluster of small, uninhabited islands protected by an outer horseshoe-shaped reef, must also be reached by boat. The turquoise water is smooth and the reefs harbor spadefish, parrotfish, starfish, eels and more. The variety is almost as diverse as the islands themselves.

Also close by Tobago Cays is Petit Tabac where the dastardly Captain Barbossa (played by Geoffrey Rush) marooned Sparrow and the demure Ms. Knightley. Nothing to see there, but there’s plenty of attractions at Bequia, a former whaling center in the Grenadines, Palm Island—which is privately owned—and Union Island.

That was no time to visit Mustique, where the rich and famous own villas and where you can sometimes hob-nob with celebrities such as Mick Jagger at Basil’s Bar on the beach. Then there is Canouan, Petit St. Vincent and Mayreau to consider. You can see the movie and catch of glimpse of each of these rare jewels, but do yourself a favor and visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They are, after all, not make believe.

If You Go:

St. Vincent & Grenadines Tours:

Rough Guides Travel:

Water Sports, Touring, Sightseeing:

C A R R I B E A N  T R A V E L   P L A N N E R