With little cruise traffic and few all-inclusive resorts, St. Vincent is one of the Caribbean's least traveled islands -- and that makes visiting this small volcanic island simultaneously exciting and challenging. On the plus side, the lack of development means that its landscape is still breathtakingly unspoiled; in fact, parts of St. Vincent are so densely forested that you can't circumnavigate the island by car. But it also means that if you're seeking boutique shopping, large-scale cultural attractions or haute cuisine, you may have to wait for your next port call.
St. Vincent is an ecotourist's dream, filled with plunging waterfalls, abundant rainforests and colorful coral reefs. The adventurous can climb to the rim of La Soufriere, the volcano that looms over the northern end of the island, or go swimming in the Falls of Baleine, a waterfall so remote it can only be reached by boat. Travelers looking for a more laid-back eco-experience can stroll the peaceful paths of the Montreal Gardens or take a drive among the lush banana groves and rainforests of the hilly Mesopotamia region. Mingled in with all the natural beauty are traces of St. Vincent's diverse cultural heritage, from 19th-century European forts to ancient petroglyphs etched into rock by some of the island's earliest inhabitants.
St. Vincent was initially settled by the Ciboney, a hunting/gathering society, and later overtaken by the Arawaks and then the Caribs. European ships arrived in the late 15th century and met fierce resistance from the Caribs, who fended off multiple attempts by the British and the French to colonize the island. But after two wars and several centuries of defiance, the Caribs were finally exiled in 1797 by the British, who then ruled the island until St. Vincent achieved independence in 1979. Want to learn more? Fort Charlotte, on a promontory overlooking the capital city of Kingstown, has a small museum where visitors can delve deeper into the island's history.