Virginia Wagner knows the waters of the Grenadines like the back of her hand. The captain of the 75-foot catamaran Matau, Wagner has been cruising the region since 1986, spending nearly all of the last two years there. While plenty of yachtsmen frequent the Caribbean, few venture down to the Grenadines, the last island chain before South America. And that’s exactly why Wagner and the yacht-charter guests who cruise with her love it so much. “It’s amazing that really not much has changed in 20-plus years,” she says. “It is still very local and has a ‘real’ feel… There are no high rises, no chain stores.” Even better, the meals that Matau’s chef prepares on board for guests each day come straight from local farms and fishermen. Residents, who Wagner nicknames the “boat boys,” pull up alongside Matau to sell produce grown by their families and fresh fish they catch themselves.
To get a better sense of what makes the Grenadines so special, I asked Wagner to name a few of her favorite cruising spots:
Tobago Cays: This tops her list. The group of small islands boasts a lot of beaches, great hikes and views, a turtle sanctuary, and “diving and snorkeling to no end,” Wagner explains. She recommends that her clients only stay there for two days, however. “Without a schedule, you could spend endless days here.”
Salt Whistle Bay in Mayreau. Simply put, it’s “stunning,” Wagner says. “Walking to the top of Mayreau, about a half-mile hike on a road when the sun is high and slightly behind you, gives you an incredible view of all the reefs and islands of the Tobago Cays. It is a picture postcard.”
Happy Island in Union Island. Created by a local named Janté, Happy Island sits on a reef and is comprised of conch shells and cement. “He does a great happy hour, is a great host, and loves to tell his story,” Wagner says. Plus, she says, “You can watch the sun set over your yacht.”
Grenada. While technically not part of the Grenadines, the island nation of Grenada is also a favorite. “You could spend forever in Grenada!” she exclaims. From its famous waterfalls like the Seven Sisters and the botanical gardens, to the organic cocoa factory and the variety of spices that the island is known for, there is plenty to see and experience. Even better, “Grenada has the most hospitable people of all of the Caribbean!”
Matau charters in the eastern Caribbean (including the Grenadines) during the winter through Nicholson Yachts. The rate is $39,900 per week, accommodating eight guests. (The rate is inclusive except for fine wines, cruising fees, and dockage.)