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Cruises to Bequia

Bequia (Photo:Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock)
Bequia (Photo:Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock)

About Bequia

Deep in the Southern Caribbean is a tiny green island, just seven miles square, once known as "Island in the Clouds." Life moves slowly here; days are long, languid, leisurely. Most visitors arrive not by cruise ship but by sailboat, anchoring alongside fishing boats in natural bays fringed by white beaches and tangled foliage. Like their ancestors, many islanders still make their living from the sea -- fishing, lobster diving, boat building and working on yachts and cargo ships -- and live in small, sustainable homes with no running water. Shops offer not duty-free goods but genuine local handicrafts, from pottery to scrimshaw (etchings made in whale bone).

Where is this idyllic hideaway? It's not some Caribbean island of decades ago, before the onslaught of mass tourism and mega-ships; this is modern-day Bequia (pronounced BECK-way), the second-largest island in the nation known as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Bequia does welcome some cruise visitors, but only from the likes of SeaDream Yacht Club, Island Windjammers, Silversea, Windstar and Star Clippers -- all lines with ships small enough to anchor alongside the yachts in Admiralty Bay and tender passengers to shore. With the construction of a small airport in 1992, the island is now more accessible to visitors than it was in the past, but it remains refreshingly unspoiled, just the way locals -- and visitors -- like it.

Bequia's "Island in the Clouds" moniker comes from its original Carib name, Becouya. The Caribs were the native tribe in control of the island when the French arrived in 1664, and they put up a fierce resistance to European colonization. But by the 1700s the French (and later the English) had gained control and set up a number of thriving sugar plantations. Today there are few remaining signs of Bequia's sugar-growing past; the trade largely died out in the mid-19th century and gave way to the marine industries that remain Bequia's main livelihood. The island was particularly prominent in the whaling industry for a time, though today's environmental regulations mean that Bequians are only allowed to harpoon two whales a year (an affair accompanied by great festivities throughout the island).

Bequian life remains inextricably tied to the sea -- from the fresh-caught fish and lobster of its restaurants to the revolving mix of sailors and cruise visitors who become welcome friends while they're here.

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56 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
St. Maarten
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Antigua, Sopers Hole ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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DAY 1: San Juan

7 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
San Juan
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St. Maarten, Iles des Saintes ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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DAY 1: Barbados

8 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
Bequia, Curacao ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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DAY 1: San Juan

7 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
San Juan
Visiting:
Grenada, Bequia ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
St. Lucia, Casablanca ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
St. Maarten
Visiting:
St. Kitts, St. Barts ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
San Juan
Visiting:
St. Thomas, St. Barts ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
St. Lucia, Casablanca ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
St. Lucia, Casablanca ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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15 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
Tortola, Antigua ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
Bequia, Iles des Saintes ...
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Cruise Line:
SeaDream Yacht Club
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9 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
Bequia, Aruba ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
St. Maarten
Visiting:
St. Kitts, St. Barts ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
New York
Visiting:
Hamilton, San Juan ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
St. Lucia, Casablanca ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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21 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
St. Lucia, Casablanca ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
St. Lucia, Casablanca ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
St. George's, Tobago Cays ...
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Cruise Line:
Star Clippers
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14 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
St. Lucia, Casablanca ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
Roseau, Little Bay ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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13 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Fort Lauderdale
Visiting:
San Juan, Bequia ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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14 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
San Juan
Visiting:
Grenada, Bequia ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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7 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
St. Lucia, Casablanca ...
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Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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16 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Manaus
Visiting:
Parintins, Santarem ...
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Cruise Line:
Silversea Cruises
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Cruise Critic Favorite

14 Night
Cruise to Bequia

Leaving:
Barbados
Visiting:
St. Lucia, Casablanca ...
see more
Cruise Line:
Windstar Cruises
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Why go to Bequia?

Pros:

Water babies enjoy white-sand beaches, clear waters for snorkeling or sailboat rides to Mustique

Cons:

Only the smallest luxury cruise ships actually call here

Bottom Line:

This tiny island is a picture-perfect spot for an uncrowded beach day

Bequia Cruise Port Facilities?

Port Elizabeth encompasses only a few streets and a pretty harbor area. Shops and restaurants border the waterfront path known as the Belmont Walkway. There is also an open-air market in town as well as Bequia Technology Center (Front Street; 784-458-3045) for Internet access. Princess Margaret Beach is a 30-minute walk (or quick cab ride) from Port Elizabeth. From town, the Belmont Walk joins the newer Princess Margaret Walk, which meanders along the rocky coastline in spectacular fashion. Even if you're not interested in going to the beach, this is a lovely walk.

Good to Know?

If you decide to use the local public transportation system, be aware that vans may sit and wait to depart until they're full, and that schedules may be erratic. Be sure you know how you're going to get back to the ship at the end of the day if your van stops running. Also beware of the Manchineel tree (some of which are planted near the Belmont Walkway); the fruit is poisonous and you can get a rash from touching the bark.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Port Elizabeth is very small and easily walkable, with Princess Margaret Beach 20 or 30 minutes away on foot, depending on distractions along the way.

By Taxi: Open-backed taxis can be found in Port Elizabeth -- usually "under the almond trees" near the harbor. Rates are fixed by the Bequia Tourism Association Office. You can pick up a rate card at the BTA's office in Port Elizabeth. Most cab drivers will be happy to give you a personalized tour of the island for about $30 U.S. per hour for up to four people, and $7 per person per hour for five or more. A typical short itinerary would include a trip to Fort Hamilton, perched above Port Elizabeth, as well as visits to the turtle sanctuary and the whaling museum.

Water taxis are also available from the Belmont Walkway and can drop you off at Lower Bay or Princess Margaret; the typical rate is $7 for several people in a boat.

By Rental Car: Several local companies offer car and 4x4 rentals, starting at about $55 a day. Try Bequia Jeep Rentals or Challenger Car Rentals. If you don't have an international driver's license, you'll need to purchase a temporary local permit (about $28) at the Revenue Office in Port Elizabeth. Note that Bequians drive on the left.

By Van: Bequia's public transportation system consists of "Dollar Vans" that shuttle folks around the island from as little as 40 cents per ride. This is the cheapest and most informal way of getting around Bequia, but from Port Elizabeth, they only travel south along the main road as far as the village of Paget Farm.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The local currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, valued at about $2.70 E.C. to $1 U.S. You can use American dollars around the island, though you'll receive change in the local currency. There are two banks with ATMs in Port Elizabeth: Bank of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and RBTT (Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago).

Language?

English is the language spoken in Bequia.

Where You're Docked?

Ships anchor in Admiralty Bay and passengers tender to Port Elizabeth, the island's only real town.


Bequia Cruise Reviews

Pacific Princess
grandmaR
Sail Date: Dec 2018
Bequia is the largest island of the Grenadines (part of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) at 7 square miles. Another tender port. After the first fiasco, I had stopped listing to the port talks. But I did go to... Read More
Royal Clipper
Smilingvillager
Sail Date: Jan 2020
Bought a wonderful model whaling vessel.... Read More
Misty Morning
Sail Date: Nov 2019
Quiet afternoon at Princess Margaret Beach... Read More
Marella Celebration
chicopus
Sail Date: Jan 2018
This is a very small port, visited by smaller ships and requiring a tender. Once there, you can walk to the beach or take a water taxi (neither suited to the less able-bodied), or take a short trip around the... Read More
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