Bequia, the second largest island in The Grenadines is unusual and arguably the most interesting one. Not just for her outstanding beauty of lush hills, sparkling beaches and relaxed yet bustling life — it’s this mix of all the ethnic backgrounds – African, Carib, French, English and Scottish – plus snowbirds and expats from numerous foreign countries, which set Bequia apart. All these people are living peacefully together, creating the island’s unexpected character which could well serve as a model to our disturbed world.
Bequia is not just for tourists who want to bask in the Caribbean sun all day long, Bequia is for individualists, families with adventurous kids, sailors, divers, explorers – people who want to find a hidden beach not marked on any map, or the majestic Blowhole, rivaling ‘Old Faithful’ in a remote gorge not far from The Old Fort. This brings us to ‘Mother Hen’ Bequia, and her ‘Chicks’!
Indeed, Bequia has five lovely ‘Chicks’ if you permit – mini-islands rather – just a few miles away. These five incredibly beautiful, uninhabited isles are the true treasure. Hardly visited, hardly noticed and yet, so special, one has to wonder why nobody seems to know.
Let’s start from East to West; Monsieur Battowia and Madame Balliceaux as I like to call them, as seen from The Old Fort against the rising sun!
Battowia’s peak rises impressively up in the air while Madame Balliceaux with two gentle, perfectly symmetrical hills appears gentle and inviting, ladylike in fact. Their unforgiving colonial history tells a different tale and calls for a chapter by itself, something for history buffs to explore.
Battowia, 165 acres, has great biodiversity and is heaven for a totally undisturbed wildlife; hundreds of rare sea birds buzzing about not leaving their nests when we pass by. Iguanas in bright green and silver-brown colors remain on their favorite branch, not fleeing, mirroring Galapagos. These rare and beautiful species to marvel at have not yet learned how intrusive men can be. There is a hidden mysterious cave where artifacts have been found as well as the ruins of a plantation, abandoned no one knows for how long.
Balliceaux, 320 acres, is mellow and lovely. Good anchorage and ideal for an easy stroll. It is also great for fishing and diving. There should be no trouble to mount a delicious BBQ by the beach. Some sailors and fishermen visit, otherwise, it’s just you, the isle and the sea.
The Triple Islands: Ile a’ Quatre, Petite Nevis and Ramier (Pigeon isle). Together with ‘Mother Hen’ Bequia, they form the remaining rim of a sunken volcano and subsequently provide outstanding sea life and dive adventure.
‘Ily Quat’, as the locals call her, with 376 acres the largest of the five, consists of four points/hills/beaches. One of her bays reminds one of the movie ‘Blue Lagoon’, as sparkling colorful and romantic as it is.
Subsequently, once in a while a yacht drops anchor or Bequians come over for the day in order to have a real good time. For explorers and archaeologists; there is an abandoned farmstead with substantial cistern, chimney and oven as well as a second, even older entire village, presumably from the early 1800s, complete with massive fireplace, cistern, foundations plus surrounding, protective wall.
So besides snorkeling, hiking and camping, there is a lot to do, including discovering former coconut groves and long forgotten trails.
Petite Nevis, approximately 70 acre, less than a mile from Bequia, happens to be the former whaling island with some facilities still in place like huge coppers (cauldrons to render the blubber) and a ramp to pull up the humpbacks. The whaling station is not in use anymore, but yachts and locals come by to use the lovely beach for cook ups and diving.
Ramier (French for pigeon), the smallest of all and is most remote to the West. However, it is famous for her superb diving sites, even surpassing the already fantastic diving grounds ‘Mother Hen’ Bequia and all her ‘Chicks’ possess. A diver’s paradise!
Not to forget, the views from these five islets are unsurpassed, as one literally breathes in the beauty that surrounds what some would characterize as a dream world; the archipelago of The Grenadines, with numerous more islands seen to the South.
One would have also noticed; all the names are originally in French, as the French were the first European settlers here. They all have specific meanings.
To all these fabulous Iles and Mini-Iles, tours and excursions are arranged and organized from The Old Fort, Bequia’s only historic plantation, from where all these isles can be seen in close vicinity from East, South to West.