Long Weekend in Canouan Island
Jen Coll Berger
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Canouan is a small Caribbean island that is far too often overlooked. To come here is to find yourself in a verdant setting with white sand beaches and the towering Mount Royal (architecture that offers panoramic views of the island). I came here on a family getaway with close friends in tow. Together, we stayed in a spectacular villa for what can only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Even before our plane’s wheels touched the tarmac, we knew we were going to be in for an experience: the flight from Barbados to Canouan is spectacular. Flying over the small islands in the Caribbean Sea that make up the archipelago nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an experience in itself. From hidden gems to magnificent restaurants, there’s much to do on the island of Canouan island.
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Where to stay
Rutland Vale Villa
Spacious, furnished apartments in the hills of Rutland Vale, around a five-minute drive to the beach on Canouan island.
Canouan Estate Resort & Villas
Just a short flight from Barbados Canouan Estate Resort & Villas feature luxury beachfront and ocean view villas and larger residences with an unpretentious laid-back atmosphere you will want to return to again and again.
Mandarin Oriental, Canouan
Easy to enjoy, tough to reach, a private island that's always worth the effort.
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Day 1: Welcome to Canouan Island
Once you leave the Canouan airport and take in the island's beauty, start your visit with a check-in to the Mandarin Oriental, located on the northern end of the island. Formerly known as Pink Sands Club, the Mandarin Oriental sits on 1,200 acres known as the Grenadines Estate and offers guests access to a pristine private beachfront. The Mandarin is my personal favorite luxury hotel on the island, but I can certainly recommend other hotel options if you’d like.
Since it’s a travel day, take it easy by unpacking and heading down for breakfast or lunch at the hotel’s on-site restaurant, the Lagoon Cafe. At the Lagoon Cafe, you’ll find a superb Mediterranean-inspired menu serving seafood tapas, such as locally caught prawns and lobster. If seafood or breakfast isn’t your thing, don’t worry, the café serves classic breakfast fare too, such as eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes.
Afterward, change into your swimsuit to relax at either the beach or pool. On Canouan island, the Mandarin Oriental is nestled alongside the Godahl Beach, whose golden sand is mere steps from the hotel’s villas and pool. At the beach, you can partake in activities like kayaking and paddle-boarding, as well as snorkeling and diving excursions.
Because this is vacation and poolside cocktails are a must, slide up to the Pool Bar for Peruvian-inspired snacks (like fresh ceviche) and tropical cocktails (like a Barbados Rum Punch). For dinner, the Tides Bar + Grill serves up surf-and-turf dishes in a relaxed and romantic setting. After you’ve had your fill of conch salad and spiny lobster ravioli, head down to the Turtles Lounge and Bar for live music.
A note from Jen
In addition to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, excellent accommodations can be found at the Canouan Estates & Villas. At both hotels, there are kids and teen clubs available, as well as babysitting services.
Day 2: Swimming with sea turtles in Tobago Cays
The next morning, head for breakfast at the on-site restaurant, Asianne. This Pan-Asian restaurant serves a stellar breakfast menu, including eggs royale on a croissant, salmon cocottes, and saltfish and coconut doughboys.
Afterward, take a short ride to Tobago Cays for a snorkeling trip. Tobago is an archipelago with extensive coral reefs found in the southern Grenadines. This small cluster of uninhabited islands is home to some of the most beautiful underwater sites around. Here, you’ll get a chance to experience the majesty of swimming alongside wild sea turtles in cerulean blue waters.
As part of your excursion, enjoy lunch at the sheltered Shell Beach, where a bar and grill awaits with Caribbean fare.
Once back at the Mandarin Oriental, relax your muscles with a wellness treatment, like a full body massage or signature facial, or take a dive in the infinity pool on the terrace before heading down for dinner and cocktails over ocean views at the Lagoon Cafe.
A note from Jen
Ask your hotel concierge for help setting up your boat trip to Tobago. Before you head out for your day trip, make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat and a sweatshirt in case it gets chilly.
Day 3: Catamaran trip to the island of Mustique
On your third day, head out on a catamaran to the private island of Mustique, a celebrity favorite hideaway in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Mustique is home to dramatic hills, serene beaches, luxury villas and a slew of experiences to choose from. Whether it’s scuba diving, horseback riding down the beach or playing tennis at the world-renowned Mustique Tennis Club, a day trip to this island is sure to prove indulgent.
While here, don’t skip on grabbing a bite and a beer at the iconic Basil’s Bar. For 50 years, this beach bar has been a go-to spot for fishermen, pirates, locals and travelers to kick back and relax.
After lunch, explore Mustique island by heading down one of the many hiking trails that weave their way through lush jungles and past scenic views.
Once back at the Mandarin Oriental, take a late afternoon golf cart to tour the property, luxury Jim Fazio 18-hole golf course, and soak in the beauty of the on-site Anglican Church, dating back to the 17th-century. Consider booking the Castaway dining experience for dinner, which sets you up with a private and secluded outdoor dinner and menu.
Day 4: Panoramic views on Mount Royal
On your last day in paradise, take a 30 minute guided hike up Mount Royal for panoramic views of Canouan and the surrounding islands. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, such as turtles, hummingbirds and hermit crabs. The hike can be a bit steep, but there is a flatter spot near the summit where you can sit and relax with a view. For those traveling with children or older adults, the hike is easy enough; just make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat and a walking stick (if needed).
Afterward, take the Hobie cat (a sailboat with two pontoons that fit three to four people) to sail along the coast. There are various water sports to enjoy at the hotel, whether you want to snorkel, kayak, paddleboard or windsurf. For snorkelers, a quick stroll down the beach will treat you to hidden coves.
Head to the nearby Canouan Estate Resort & Villas for a special meal at the L'Anse Guyac Beach Club for dinner. Here, you’ll find a beautiful restaurant overlooking the secluded L'Anse Guyac beach with fresh seafood dishes.
A note from Jen
When dining at the L’Ance Guyac Beach Club, the dress code is “evening smart casual,” which includes men wearing long trousers, closed shoes and a collared shirt, so pack accordingly if you’d like to visit.
Jen Coll Berger
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