Saint Vincent & the Grenadines - Off the beaten track
Belmont & Richmond Bays
These two remote bays on the undeveloped northern side of Union Island have turquoise waters and powdery white sands. Big Sand, the beach at Belmont Bay, has nice views of Mayreau and the Tobago Cays, a few cows lazing in the bush and terns and pelicans feeding just offshore.
The more sheltered Richmond Beach, just east of Big Sand, has better swimming. Richmond Beach is a 25 minute walk northwest from Clifton, and Big Sand Beach is just a few minutes more to the east. The road from Clifton skirts a large salt pond with good birdwatching.
No airport, a single unnamed village, clear waters and white-sand beaches make Mayreau a quiet, rustic getaway. About 200 people live on this small island just west of the Tobago Cays. Most visitors arrive via small cruise ships that dock at Saline Bay on the southwestern shore - making the island's other beaches best for seclusion. Salt Whistle Bay, at the northern end of the island, is protected from rough Atlantic breakers by a long narrow arm. This gorgeous bay has clear waters, beautiful white sands, calm swimming conditions and a protected anchorage for visiting yachts. The 20-minute walk from the village (near the middle of the western coast) to Salt Whistle Bay follows a path lined by cacti and scored by birdsong. There's a good view from the hilltop stone church at the northern side of the village.
Most people who've heard of the Grenadines can probably tell you that Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret are neighbours on Mustique - though practically everyone's a neighbour on an island that's only 8km (5mi) long. Most of the 800 permanent residents work directly or indirectly for those who vacation on the island, which has been privately owned since 1958. Since the 1960s it's become a holiday haven for the rich and famous and, despite its typically dry and hilly Grenadine landscape, it's been successfully planted with coconut palms and citrus trees. The island is managed by the Mustique Company, which runs a village of sorts on Britannia Bay on the western coast that consists of a general store and a handful of boutiques. There's good swimming and snorkelling at Britannia Bay, and the Mustique Company can arrange horse riding and diving.