Thursday, March 04, 2010

Mayreau and the Tobago Cays

We decided to anchor in Salt Whistle Bay, our first time on this island. The sweeping half moon white beach is perfect. On one side, even from our boat, we could see through the palm trees to another beach on the windward side. Long lines of breakers came in there and kite boarders played in them.

The low key but we imagine expensive Salt Whistle Bay Club is nestled back in the trees among the palms. That's it, no other habitations. The only other activity was a small group of vendors who set up by day on the beach to sell clothing and jewelry.

We swam, snorkeled and walked the beach till it was time to watch the sunset from our cockpit paint the sky. That night we had an almost full moon and got up in the middle of the night to sit and enjoy this different take on the view.
Next morning we had plans. First to eat breakfast at the hotel and then walk around the island.
The first was another pig out - albet more elegant. For $12 (plus 10% service chg and 15% tax) each we had coffee (a big carafe of really good stuff),fresh fruit, british oatmeal, eggs benedict and a bread bowl with banana bread,

muffins and toast (we took some of this with us and it served easily for breakfast the next day). A fun accompanyment was the antics of a group of birds. They watched us like hawks for every dropped crumb and sometimes dashed right onto the table. The management provides a water bottle with which to squirt them. It wasn't much of a deterent.

Naturally we had to follow this with a hike. A narrow road leads up from the beach to the top of the hill to the small community there. Only a few hundred people live on the island and until the 1970's the whole place was a private fiefdom owned by one family.

The islanders did not own their own land and could only build homes of dab and wattle (see example of construction here). When they achieved independence as part of the SVG, the government purchased enough land to distribute to the island families and most gradually built homes of cement and wood.

Originally brought to the island by the french as slaves on the plantation, the islanders remained Catholic and the outstanding building on the island is the stone church at the crest. The inside has some beautiful pieces of local art and craft.

The wooden carved face of Jesus shown in the alcove above right is very lovely and there was an exquisite needlework piece in the other alcove. A big community hall is attached which is used for adult education, social events and political meetings.
We looked into the few classrooms of the elementary school nearby and the well kept cemetary with a great view.

We were still too full to consider lunch although there are several recommended places, the most famous being Dennis' Hideaway, so we just walked back to the beach, through the line of souvenirs, and jumped in the water.
We sailed off then only a few miles around the island to the Tobago Cays. This is a National Park, a few small deserted islands surrounded by Horseshoe Reef. The reef protects against the big waves and swell but not from the wind.

We had a constant wind between 15 and 25 knots and a stong current coming from the reef. It's really hard to take a picture of this. Miles of multi colored ocean intermingled with small rock islands, each with one or more white beaches. We snorkeled at many places on the reef,

happily provided with dinghy moorings for that purpose. The coral was lovely and there were lots of fish and turtles.

This is prime territory for charter boats and day boats from nearby islands. During the day it was pretty busy with lots of traffic moving about, but at night it was quiet with only the lights from the few boats remaining to rival the stars. I particularily loved watching the local men darting about in their motor boats providing many services. Their names were unique too - Arrival, Surprises, Free Spirit 2 and my favorite, Me Alone In The Valley. You can buy fresh fish and baked goods, soft drinks & beer and have a lively discussion as well. Many of these are Rastafarians with their colorful berets holding their hair.
After three delightful days here we finally pulled the anchor and sailed north again, this time to Bequia.

1 comment:

Judy and Bill aboard S/V BeBe said...

This brings back such fond memories! You describe it beautifully. We first visited Mayreau in Jan 1984, when there wasn't much on the island. The SVG govt had recently built a concrete dock for the monthly supply boat (in a bay farther south) and there was a 50-ft stretch of concrete roadway that went nowhere. For several years we donated school supplies and had these shipped to Mayreau from Miami on on Windjammer boats. Love that little island and Salt Whistle Bay is the most beautiful bay there.