One of the interesting things about sailing in the Grenadines is that the islands here are steep and spaced not more than 20 miles apart. Regardless of one’s location, there is a volcanic island jutting steeply out of the sea, the outline of which is faintly visible on the horizon. The scenery here is reminiscent of the 1970s era TV series Adventure in Paradise, set in the South Pacific.
From Admiralty Bay in Bequia, it is a short 15 mile sail southeast to Britannia Bay on the island of Mustique. Today, the wind is light from the east northeast, which makes for a relaxed close reach to Mustique in calm seas.
Approaching Admiralty Bay in mid-afternoon, there are about a dozen cruising boats moored in the harbor. Visiting yachts are required to make use of a mooring. The moorings are owned by the Mustique Company, as is just about everything on this island. We are greeted by Slick at the helm of the corporate dinghy. He is dressed in corporate attire. He maneuvers the corporate dinghy alongside to assist with mooring lines. He is very polite. Already, we are feeling the uniqueness of this place.
The mooring fee is $200 EC (about $74 USD) for a stay of up to three nights. One may stay for just one night, but the fee is still $200 EC. This is somewhat expensive by Eastern Caribbean standards, but not unreasonable. Admiralty Bay has a reputation for being a rolly anchorage, and many guests visit for only one night, including charter boats on a tight schedule. The timing of our arrival appears to be good. There are plenty of moorings and the weather here in the Windward Islands is expected to remain settled for the next few days.
After the decline of the sugar plantations on Mustique, the island was purchased by Colin Tennant in 1959. He installed roads, utility infrastructure, planted thousands of coconut palms, built an airport, a village, a school, a library, a hotel and a mansion where Princess Margaret honeymooned in 1960. This set the stage for Mustique’s ascendance as a destination for the rich, the chic and the famous.
Today, the island is owned and managed by the Mustique Company, which is controlled by the individuals who own property on the island. In addition to the hotel, there are about 100 mansions, private homes and villas, some of which are available for rent.
There is also a tennis club and a bird sanctuary on the island. Mustique is an exclusive place for the well-heeled. Our presence here is living proof that there are no rigid requirements for gaining admission to this island. Anyone arriving by boat may enjoy full access to the island.
The entire island is tidy and well-manicured, slightly to the point of sterility, but nonetheless pleasing to the eye. Even the roadways are gorgeous. Everyone drives around the island in four wheel drive ATVs. Employee housing is provided in Lovell Village and on-site at hotels. Some of the employees live on the island of St. Vincent and work rotating shifts with one month on Mustique and one month at home before returning again to Mustique.
In the village near the dinghy dock, there are a variety of clothing boutiques, a grocery store, a bakery/ice cream shop, fruit stands and the famous Basil’s Beach Bar. Basil’s is known for its live music and jump up parties on Wednesday nights. From time to time, a celebrity in residence makes an appearance at Basil’s. Basil’s is a funky looking structure. Perhaps this is a planned counterpoint and an escape from the rampant perfection of all other places on the island.
Mustique offers a fine network of hiking trails, including a perimeter trail around the island. On Tuesday, 3/25, we walk along local roads to the gorgeous beach at Macaroni Bay on the east coast. From here, a stone trail interconnects the various bays and beaches along the island’s east and south coasts.
At the completion of our hike, we pause for a late lunch of grilled lionfish at Firefly, a restaurant on the promontory overlooking Admiralty Bay. The reefs of Mustique will forever be protected as a result of our menu selection.
On Wednesday, 3/26 we set out to explore the northern half of the island, including a 3 hour hike along the rocky northeast coast trail before a well-deserved break for lunch at the relaxing Cotton House Beach Café.
We have tramped over much of Mustique during the past three days, providing insight into the lifestyles of the upper echelon. The island’s bent towards control and perfection is a unique commodity here in the Eastern Caribbean. It’s buildings, beaches and attractive roads are a treat for the eyes and well worth the visit.
On Thursday morning, we set sail for the Tobago Cays.