Banks -- Most banks are open Monday to Thursday from 8am to either 1 or 3pm; and Friday from either 8am to 5pm, or 8am to 1pm and then 3 to 5pm. There are a few banks with ATMs on Halifax Street in Kingstown on St. Vincent (plus one at the airport), and there are also a few on Bequia and Union Island.
Currency -- The official currency of St. Vincent is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$), pegged at EC$2.67 per U.S. dollar (EC$1 = 37¢). Most restaurants, shops, and hotels will accept payment in U.S. dollars or traveler's checks. Prices in this chapter are quoted in U.S. dollars.
Documents -- British, Canadian, and U.S. citizens should have a passport and a return or ongoing airplane ticket.
Electricity -- Electricity is 220-volt AC (50 cycles), so if you're traveling with U.S. appliances, you'll need an adapter and a transformer. Some hotels have transformers, but it's best to bring your own.
Emergencies -- In an emergency, dial tel. 999 or 911.
Hospitals -- There is one hospital on St. Vincent in Kingstown: Milton Cato Memorial General Hospital (tel. 784/456-1185), Hospital Road.
Language -- English is the official language.
Liquor Laws -- Liquor can be sold on any day of the week. It's legal to have an open container on the beach as long as you don't get rowdy or litter.
Pharmacies -- On St. Vincent, try the People's Pharmacy, Greenville Street, Kingstown (tel. 784/456-1170), open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 8pm. There are a few other drugstores in Kingstown as well.
Post Office -- The General Post Office, on Halifax Street in Kingstown (tel. 784/457-1744), is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 3pm and Saturday from 8 to 11:30am. There are smaller post offices in 56 districts throughout the country, including offices on the Grenadine islands of Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, and Union Island.
Safety -- St. Vincent and its neighboring islands of the Grenadines are quite safe. Even in Kingstown, the capital of St. Vincent, chances are slim you'll encounter serious crime. However, take the usual precautions and never leave valuables unguarded.
Taxes & Service Charges -- The government imposes an airport departure tax of $16 per person. A 10% government occupancy tax is charged for all hotel accommodations. Hotels and restaurants almost always add a 10% to 15% service charge; ask whether it's included in the initial hotel rates you're quoted. If it's not already added at a restaurant, tip at that rate.
Telephone -- To call St. Vincent or the Grenadines from the United States, dial 1, then 784 (the area code for St. Vincent), and then the local seven-digit number. Once on St. Vincent, you can access AT&T Direct at tel. 800/225-5288. To reach MCI, dial tel. 800/888-8000.
Time -- Both St. Vincent and the Grenadines operate on Atlantic Standard Time year-round: When it's 6am on St. Vincent, it's 5am in New York. During daylight saving time in the United States, St. Vincent keeps the same time as the U.S. East Coast.
Water -- In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, stick to bottled water.
Weather -- The climate of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is pleasantly cooled by the trade winds year-round. The tropical temperature is in the 78°F-to-82°F (26°C-28°C) range. The rainy season is July to October.