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You’re Going to Need a Smaller Boat: Island Hopping within the Grenadines


We spent the morning hanging across the dock in search of a ship to take us over. The weather was taking a turn for the more serious once we finally found a captain. Amongst his various gigs, he navigated his single-motor craft several times every week over to Carriacou and loaded plastic tanks of fuel to sell on Union Island, which lost its only gas station in a deadly 2020 explosion.

After a drenching ride across the swells, we docked with some relief and joined the road at a dark customs warehouse, where we spent about an hour with fidgeting yachties and native merchants, sharing the vibe of a rare moment when the road between tourist and resident blurred.

After clearing customs, we checked into the waterfront Green Roof Inn, furnished with old leather chairs and mosquito-net-shrouded beds, and ventured out at dusk because the tree frogs whistled. We considered renting a scooter from the splendidly diversified Wayne’s Automobile Rental and Bar, however the videos of Caribbean hip-hop artists like Koffee and Popcaan playing on an enormous screen there drew us in, and we lingered late into the night nursing Carib beers as an alternative.

The subsequent morning, we hiked a steep trail to a jungle redoubt called the KIDO Foundation, founded a long time ago as an animal sanctuary and an environmental school. Tiny boas lay coiled in hollowed-out coconut-shell bird feeders, a colony of fruit bats hung from a ceiling in a single meeting room, and a rescued one-winged hawk perched inside a room-size cage.

KIDO offers quite a lot of voluntourism opportunities, including patrols to guard turtle nesting sites. The group has planted tens of 1000’s of mangroves and offers a Green College after-school program that, amongst other projects, teaches island students methods to nurture and plant indigenous trees nearly worn out by colonial cravings for exotic wood.

At midnight before dawn the following day, we boarded our last ferry, to Grenada, called the Spice Island for its nutmeg, clove and cinnamon production. To get there, the ship barreled over Kick ’Em Jenny, an energetic underwater volcano that occasionally belches gases so dangerous that boats must change course. Jenny wasn’t kicking that day.

In the nice and cozy breeze, facing backward, we watched the Grenadines dwindle into the pink horizon. Frigate birds and boobies drifted above the deck, sometimes resting on the radar array before plunging toward a meal. On all sides, the ocean undulated, the colour of mercury. For 2 hours, sleepy passengers dozed and rocked. On this last crossing of our voyage from speck to speck of land, every thing — water, flora, fauna and human — gave the impression to be living in sync.

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