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All beaches on mainland St. Vincent are public, and many of the best border hotels, where you can order drinks or lunch. Most of the resorts are in the south, where the beaches have golden-yellow sand. The only real white-sand beach is on Young Island, which is private. Many of the beaches in the north have sands of a lava-ash color. The safest swimming is on the leeward beaches; the surf on the windward or eastern beaches is often rough and can be quite dangerous.

The island's most popular strip is narrow Villa Beach, only a 10-minute drive from Kingstown. Its tranquil waters make swimming safe, and there are numerous simple cafes and watersports stands. Unfortunately, this beach can barely accommodate the crowds who flock here; weekends can be particularly bad.

Nearby Indian Bay Beach is similar to Villa Beach and also attracts lots of Vincentians on weekends. Monday to Thursday, however, you'll probably have plenty of room on this narrow strip. The sand is slightly golden but tends to be rocky. The reef-protected tranquil waters are ideal for both swimming and snorkeling. You'll find both bars and restaurants here.

Heading north from Kingstown, you'll reach Buccament Bay Beach, where the waters are clean, clear, and tranquil enough for swimming. This beach is very tiny, however, and it has black volcanic sand. In the same area, Questelle's Bay Beach (pronounced Keet-ells) is also on the leeward, tranquil Caribbean side of the island. This black-sand beach, next to Camden Park, is very similar to Buccament Bay.

Only die-hards head for the beaches on the east coast, or windward side, where the big breakers roll in from the Atlantic. Don't plan to go swimming in these rough waters; you might just enjoy a beach picnic instead. The best beaches, all with black volcanic sand, are found at Kearton's Bay, Richmond Beach, and Peter's Hope, all reached along the leeward highway running up the west coast of St. Vincent.

All This & Johnny Depp, Too -- While scouting a location for its Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, Disney officials settled on St. Vincent for its virtually untouched coastline that seemingly belongs back in the 1800s.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.