St. Vincent Hikes
St. Vincent, 19 miles long by 11 miles wide, is a volcanic island with dramatic rugged landscape which hides beautiful waterfalls, enchanting forest trails and an active volcano. The rainforests of the island’s interior are home to the unique St. Vincent Parrot.
Steeped in history and culture, St. Vincent offers a wide variety of opportunities to explore, from relaxing day trips to the Botanic and Montreal Gardens, to multi day high end hiking including visits to waterfalls, climbing the volcano and adventure river hiking to the volcanic hot springs (only possible in the dry season).
Listed below are some of the great hiking tours I offer on St. Vincent.
Dark View Falls
By far the most easily accessible of the major waterfalls in St. Vincent. The government has recently completely refurbished this site, and Dark View Falls now boasts food kiosk, rest rooms, new bridges and walkways, and secure parking, as well as changing room facilities for those wishing to bath at the falls. Access to the upper falls has also been made much safer, for those with a head for heights. It is possible to visit Dark View Falls in one day from Bequia, by leaving on the early morning 6.30am ferry and catching a van to Fitz Hughes, then walking to the falls from there. Depending on how long you wish to spend at Dark View, and which ferry you wish to return to Bequia on, it may be possible to visit an additional attraction either in Kingstown or on the way back to Kingstown, such as the Pirates of the Caribbean film set at Wallilabou, the Botanical Gardens or Fort Charlotte in Kingstown.
Duration: Full day
Hiking Rating: Easy
Please click on the link below to watch this short video on hiking to Dark View Falls
Trinity Falls are currently closed to the public due to landslides having eroded parts of the trail. The Ministry of Tourism is currently working with the Forestry Department and local contractors to refurbish the trail, and hopes to reopen these falls to the public before the end of 2010. The only way to reach Trinity Falls in one day from Bequia is to leave on the early morning ferry and catch a taxi in Kingstown, who is then willing to wait and bring you back to Kingstown for the evening ferry. The only other option is to stay at the Richmond Vale Academy (RVA), which has double and twin rooms for US$25 per night. From RVA it is approximately a 2 hour walk along rutted road and bush trail to Trinity Falls, with some steep descents as you near the falls. Trinity Falls take their name from the fact that the upper falls have 3 different separate ‘strands’ of water flowing into the falls below. There are also 3 separate level to these falls.
Please note while Trinity Falls are spectacular, they can also very dangerous, and a number of people have drown here over the years. Particular care must be taken NOT to go into the fast flowing river at the top of the falls, and also NOT to get out of your depth or get beyond the arms reach of the shore if entering the swirling whirlpool at the bottom. I cannot overemphasise how important safety is when visiting Trinity Falls. These are powerful falls with dangerous currents in the base pool, and have well worn slippery rocks close to the edges.Many people who visit Trinity Falls prefer to cool off, swim or paddle about in the stream just down stream from the falls, as it is generally regarded as a safer option for bathing.
Duration: Full day or overnight
Hiking Rating: Mostly Moderate, with occasional Challenging points.
Please click on the link below to watch this short video on hiking to Trinity Falls
La Soufriere Volcano Trail
When looking at a map of St. Vincent the whole northern half of the island is dominated by the massive La Soufriere volcano. It is truly awe inspiring in its scale, and reminds those who climb to view the crater of the raw energy and massive creative forces of nature. The hike travels along well worn bush trails that traverse through farmed land and tropical rainforest that give way to windswept sparely vegetated, rock strewn areas as you reach towards the crater rim.
It is advised that hikers considering climbing La Soufriere should undertake this hike in the company of an experienced guide.There are various options when considering climbing La Soufriere, ranging from a simple ‘up and down’ hike of the shorter Windward side, to full day hikes that can include,visiting the secondary crater and swimming in the lake there, climbing to the rim and descenting into the main crater,walking up the windward side, across the ridge of the crater and down the leeward side (or vice versa) – the full island hike, Atlantic to Caribbean Sea.
Visiting Hell’s Gate Falls, and hiking upriver, before commencing the cross island volcano hike (only possible in the dry season) or Australian hiking Tours.
For the very adventurous hiker, there is the option to camp out overnight either in the crater or by the lake in the secondary crater. The short ‘up & down’ hike can be accomplished by leaving Bequia on the early ferry, and either hiring a taxi or catching a van to Georgetown or the trail head. Full day hikes require staying in St. Vincent the night before, however this option does offer the possibility of other hiking options in St. Vincent the day previous, depending on when you wish to depart from Bequia.
Duration: Full day or Multi-day.
Hiking Rating: Challenging to Difficult depending on which option you choose.
Please click on the link below to watch this short video on hiking to La Soufriere Volcano
The Vermont Nature Trail and Parrot Reserve is a rainforest hike that treks into the heart of the island of St. Vincent, and offers the hiker the opportunity to hear and if you are lucky see the national bird, the St. Vincent Parrot. The trail snakes its way through the rainforest, past huge forest giants hundreds of years old, ascending to a lookout point over 1,800 feet above sea level, before returning on a circular route alongside bolder strewn streams.
While some hikers opt to take a taxi from Kingstown, taking a van to Vermont and walking from the village to the trail head allows hikers the opportunity to view and take in a slice of rural life that is often missed if taking a taxi. You will see old board housed, pass cocoa plantations, possibly see women washing clothes in the local river, and see farmers working their steeply terraced fields.
The Vermont Nature Trail can be hiked leisurely in 2 hours (excluding the walk to and from Vermont village), and depending on which ferry you choose to take from Bequia can gives the hiker the option of visiting an additional place of interest in Kingstown, such as the Botanical Gardens or Fort Charlotte, before returning to Bequia that same evening.Duration: Hiking from Vermont Village, 3+ hours. This does not include travel time to/from Vermont from Kingstown.
Hiking Rating: If dry, Moderate. In wet rainy condition, Challenging in places.
Please click on the link below to watch this short video on hiking to the Vermont Nature Trail
Having worked as an extra on the making of the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ , with much of the outdoor scenes shot in St. Vincent from January to April 2003, I can regale you with tales from the making of the film.While some of the wharfs built for the making of the film were destroyed by the surge from Hurricane Omar in October 2008. much of the land based sets are still in tact at the main film location in Wallilabou Bay. The bar and restaurant at Wallilabou contains lots of memorabilia.
Fort Charlotte, overlooking Kingstown harbour, was also used for shooting certain scenes for the film. This fort, with it collection of old cannon has its own unique and fascinating history, as the cannon mainly face inland rather than to sea. The British who build the fort believing that the Carib Indians were a much greater threat than the possibility of an invading French force from the sea!A visit to Wallilabou and Fort Charlotte can easily be accomplished in one day from Bequia.
Duration: One day
Hiking Rating: Easy
Please click on the link below to watch this short video on hiking to the film set locations for Pirates of the Caribbean
As Trinity Falls are currently closed to the public due to landslides having eroded parts of the trail, this hike is not currently available. The Ministry of Tourism is currently working with the Forestry Department and local contractors to refurbish the trail, and hopes to reopen the trail to Trinity Falls to the public before the end of 2010.A visit to the Hot Springs is a high end, extreme hiking adventure, that involves wading in a river for over 3 hours, sometimes chest high, and should only be contemplated by hikers who are fit and are comfortable with river hiking. This hike is a full day long hike that requires an early start, that can only be considered in the dry season, and requires staying 2 nights at Richmond Vale Academy (RVA).The first section of the hike involves trekking from RVA to Trinity Falls, then getting into the river and hiking upstream for approximately 2 hours until we reach the hot water streams flowing from the side of the volcano. It is a challenging hike that requires team work, full co-operation, and an understanding by participants of the extreme nature of undertaking such a hike.
The reward is sitting in streams of fast flowing warm water and dipping between hot springs and cold mountain streams. A short stop at Trinity Fall on the return journey is included in this tour.Please note that due to the unpredictability of rainfall in the mountains, that no guarantee can be given in advance of reaching Trinity Falls as to whether it will be safe to travel upstream, and that if the river is in flood I will NOT consider taking hikers upriver in dangerous conditions, and that the trip to the Hot Springs will be cancelled due to safety reasons.
Duration: One full day, full on hike, including at least 3 hours in fast flowing mountain river. Please note this hike requires 2 overnight stays at RVA
Hiking Rating: Difficult to Extreme
Please click on the link below to watch this short video on hiking to the Hot Springs
Hell’s Gate Falls and Black Point Tunnel
This day long hike requires leaving Bequia on the early 6.30am ferry. The hike involves visiting two separate locations, Hell’s Gate Falls and Black Point Tunnel both of which are approximately 2 miles outside Georgetown, on the Windward side of St. Vincent. Hell’s Gate Falls is to the north and Black Point Tunnel is to the south of Georgetown.The hike to Hell’s Gate Falls involves a trek past a sand quarry and though banana fields to reach the bush path that leads to the falls. While not the biggest falls in terms of height or water volume, these falls have uniquely shaped unusual rock formations that fascinate and inspire hikers. Also of interest near the falls in a strange and unique blue coloured fern that has not been seen growing anywhere else in St. Vincent. Returning to Georgetown for lunch, we then take a van south and visit Black Point Tunnel. Built by the British, using slave labour, this tunnel was honed out of solid rock using hand tool, in the early 1800’s.
Duration: Full Day
Hiking Rating: Moderate, with a few challenging places along the bush trail to Hell’s Gate.
Other tours that can be arranged include visits to the Botanic Gardens, Montreal Gardens and Fort Charlotte. For those interested in Amerindian culture and history a day tour to visit, photograph and take rubbings of the Petroglyphs, often called ‘Carib Stones’ in St. Vincent, at Barrouallie, Layou and Indian Bay is a great way to see some of St. Vincent.