Beauty, by one definition, is a sailboat. She sets out from a natural harbor on a private isle in an archipelago on the Caribbean’s eastern edge. Like the island resort she belongs to, Petit St. Vincent, she was hand-built locally with the purpose of exploring and reveling in the wonders of the Windward Islands. Petit St. Vincent was founded in the early 1960s by sailors who discovered this uninhabited gem in the Grenadines and decided to make it a place guests would never want to leave. Nearly a half-century later and under new ownership, their mission still holds true—honeymooners of decades past have turned into generations of families that return here each year.
A paisley of green amid swirls of turquoise seas, Petit St. Vincent — called PSV by its regulars, is a 115-acre volcanic island fringed with pristine beaches. Its 22 spacious villas and cottages are discreetly tucked into the hillside or along the shore, and you’re likely to forget that there are other people on this island unless you seek them out. The outside world is all but nonexistent here, and the greatest decision you’re bound to make is whether to take out the kayak or the paddleboard, whether to head to the beach on the Atlantic side or the Caribbean side. PSV is an island getaway that takes “getaway” very seriously.
Considering how many tiny islands are sprinkled across the Caribbean, it says something about Petit St. Vincent that Jean-Michel Cousteau—a leading ocean conservationist and son of diving pioneer Jacques Cousteau—chose to establish his dive center here. This is a Caribbean resort ahead of the pack, where sustainability matters and subtle elegance coexist with wild splendor and the rhythms of nature.
Paved roads are scarce, beachfront high-rises and crowded beaches are nonexistent. Instead of a television, there is a wide-open ocean view from every part of your cottage. Instead of telephone or Internet, communication happens by a quaint form of semaphore: flags of varying colors communicate your needs to the attentive lodge staff that outnumber the guests three to one. The focus here is celebrating the people you’re with and the gorgeous place where you are, whether that means sailing, snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking, or just finding a perfect spot on a perfect beach and raising a flag to summon a picnic.
As a guest of National Geographic, you’ll be treated to a private, guided snorkeling tour with one of the stellar dive instructors from the island’s Jean-Michel Cousteau Dive Centre. Don your gear and head out from the shore for an up-close, insider’s view of corals, fish, and other marine wonders that surround the island.
Minimizing the lodge’s negative effects on the environment has become a top priority at Petit St. Vincent in recent years. The management has teamed up with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society to develop conservation and sustainability initiatives that range from eliminating plastic water bottles on the island to creating education programs to teach local students about marine conservation and resource management. The lodge has established its own water filtration and bottling plant that uses reverse osmosis machines, and they are currently creating constructive wetlands that convert wastewater into irrigation water. Compost is used in the organic gardens, which source much of the produce used in both restaurants, and some 200 chickens supply the eggs.
The lodge has worked in partnership with National Geographic Explorer Bob Ballard’s Ocean Exploration Trust and other local nonprofits to organize field trips, community projects, and beach cleanups on nearby islands. A scholarship fund set up by the island’s owner, Phil Stephenson, helps support the education of the children of PSV’s employees from preschool through university.
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