Nature & wildlife in St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Turtles, waterfalls & volcanoes
St. Vincent is the biggest island and is known as 'the mainland'. It is a lush, mountainous, raindrop shaped landmass, 29 kilometres long and 18 kilometres wide that climbs from the sea to the peak of its active volcano at 1200 meters. Unlike the volcanic black sands on the mainland, the beaches of the islands in The Grenadines are platinum white and the seas azure blue. Inland they also have woodland coved hills, but because they do not have the abundant rainfall that falls on the highlands of St. Vincent, nature here is more Mediterranean than tropical.
Once Orton King hunted turtles... now his sanctuary is a major force for the preservation of Turtles throughout the Caribbean.
"My project involves monitoring beaches, checking nests, trying to protect mother turtles and eggs from poachers."
Orton "Brother" King, Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary
The high mountains of St. Vincent create a micro-climate that attracts more rain at altitude than on the coast. This means that the interior of the island is interlaced with streams and rivers that rush the short but steep distance to the sea. At several places, waterfalls can be reached on foot or by boat and they are a wonderful sight as well as somewhere to relax in the swirling waters of a natural plunge pool.
There are two stunning botanical gardens in St. Vincent, the National Botanical Gardens in Kingstown and Montreal Gardens high up in the mountains of Mesopotamia.
Both are packed with glorious plants, and the tropical climate means that there are always blooms for fragrant, colourful exotic specimens, both indigenous and imported.
Vermont Nature Trail
On the Leeward coast of St. Vincent, at the end of the Buccament Valley is the Vermont Nature Trail. It is a well maintained looped track that crosses a river and winds up through the rainforest.
Near the summit there is a viewing point where the national bird, the St. Vincent parrot can often be seen. It is also a haven for other bird life, with over 35 different species having been spotted in the area. There is the chance that you might also spot iguana and armadillo, while flora lovers will be spoilt by sightings of over 250 species of plants.
Crowning St Vincent is La Soufriere Volcano. There is a three mile hiking trail to the summit at 1200 meters. It can take at least two and a half hours to reach this point and the trail winds through bamboo groves, rainforest and across old lava flows.
The volcano is still active. It last erupted in 1979 and is one of the most scientifically studied volcanoes in the world. The very adventurous can arrange tours that allow them to descend from the rim down into the crater to take a mineral mud bath.
Some of the best ways to see the islands are while hiking, sailing or diving. Read more about activities.