This Caribbean Island You’ve Never Heard Of Has Luxury Hotels, Stunning Blue Waters, and Some of the Best Snorkeling in the World

Blank, baffled stares. It is what I was achieved with when I instructed men and women I was heading to Canouan, a petite, three-square-mile island — just 1 of 32 inside of the string of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “Where’s that?” my friends, even the most nicely-traveled ones, would ask. I pulled up a map on my mobile phone, dragging my finger together the Caribbean Sea, pinching the screen in and out, inevitably pointing to a issue-mark-formed speck surrounded by Barbados, St. Lucia, and Grenada. I waited for a glimmer of detection. “Hardly ever listened to of it,” they’d say. The real truth is, I hadn’t both.

Canouan is something of an enigma in the Caribbean: Just a 45-moment flight from beloved Barbados, it has managed to keep on being a magic formula, help you save for a privy few — an in-the-know crowd who arrives to moor their million-dollar yachts (Robert Downey, Jr.) or dodge the paparazzi (George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio). It really is even been touted as a “area the place billionaires go to escape millionaires.”

Infinity pool at Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Infinity pool at Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Alisha Prakash

Not very long ago, though, the island was with out functioning drinking water or paved streets, and it tallied additional turtles than human residents. Now, you will find a runway for private jets, a flurry of new luxury hotels and villas, and a multimillion-dollar marina for mega yachts. Nonetheless, arriving listed here continue to feels like unearthing a thing new.

Mandarin Oriental on Canouan island

Mandarin Oriental on Canouan island

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Canouan

From the airplane, Canouan mimics several other Caribbean islands: turquoise waters, interrupted only by emerald-green hills and slick, masted sailboats — every tropical location cliché is on total screen from over. Up close, as the island quietly unfurls, roadways expose locals collecting on the streets of a modest, energetic village and unfettered ocean views at just about every bend. There are no packs of cruise travellers, no tawdry tchotchke shops, no overdeveloped swathes crammed with hotels and restaurants. Alternatively, in this article, traffic usually means breaking to let turtles pass (Canouan is the Carib phrase for “island of turtles”), and the mother nature is so unspoiled you experience as if you’re a single of the first to take a look at. Even greater, it all sits just underneath the hurricane belt, steering obvious of storms that historically hammer the area, so there is no bad time to check out.

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental remain encounter

Alisha Prakash

The allure is evident, so its pleasantly hushed profile is, then, most likely owing to its fairly remote deal with, a single that can be arrived at by using non-public charter, even though ferry and commercial flight service — the latter halting on several other islands — are also alternatives. (Mandarin Oriental’s personal jet also would make the 20- to 25-moment bounce from hubs like St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent, and Grenada.)

We flew from New York to Barbados, where a devoted staff whisked us to our private charter on SVG Air, looking after our baggage and pandemic paperwork. 20 minutes after touching the tarmac, we arrived at the Mandarin Oriental, a beautiful, gated vacation resort that rebooted the Pink Sands Club in 2018.

Mandarin Oriental on Canouan island

Mandarin Oriental on Canouan island

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Canouan

Sitting down on a 1,200-acre estate, the beachfront house does not have to have to encourage alone as a luxe hideout: The 26 suites and 13 villas, all of which facial area the beach front and have particular butlers, are evidence adequate. Suites are a lot more than spacious, starting off at 1,300 sq. ft, with marble loos and a terrace or back garden mere techniques from the sand — a see only designed improved with a glass of fresh watermelon juice in hand. And although chic, eliminated-from-the-entire world lodging are customary in the Caribbean, the Mandarin’s multistory hillside villas are in a league of their personal: Non-public infinity swimming pools, outside patios, elevators (in some), and additional than 5,000 square feet of room are regular in every single plush perch.

Inspite of this staying the Mandarin’s initial Caribbean outpost, the hotel acknowledges its origins with signature bursts of pink, from the umbrellas dotting the seaside to the loungers by the gorgeous infinity pool that seemingly drops into the ocean.

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay expertise

Alisha Prakash

The resort’s luxury credentials rely towards its food, too, no matter whether you pick to gasoline up at one particular of the good-eating institutions, in your suite, or right on the seashore for a personal torchlit meal, toes in the sand and all. (Buy the saltfish and coconut dough boy for breakfast.) The lodge can even prepare a castaway-fashion picnic on a secluded beach front for a extremely Robinson Crusoe-esque encounter.

Canouan Estate (a shorty dinghy experience absent) also has two tasty places to eat — L’Ance Guyac and Shell Beach front — and Soho Seaside Dwelling, also new on the island, and Shenanigans are good for people who want to undertaking off the estate. No matter the place you take in, even though, kick off the night with a sundowner at Turtles, a cocktail bar that appears to be like like it was yanked from the Hamptons.

Mandarin Oriental on Canouan island

Mandarin Oriental on Canouan island

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Canouan

And then there’s the spa: Not succumbing to environmental restrictions, the remedy cabanas are all tucked right towards a mountain overseeing the drinking water. The assets also lately debuted two overwater villas with an out of doors balcony, steam shower, and glass flooring so company can gaze at the cerulean waters as they drift off all through a massage, facial, or human body scrub.

You will find heaps to interact active tourists, too, like a spherical of golfing at the Jim Fazio–designed program adopted by sunset cocktails on the 13th gap, or getting out a catamaran, stand-up paddleboard, or kayak.

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay expertise

Alisha Prakash

Just one early morning, I opted for the limited — albeit deceivingly steep — climb up Mount Royal with Kezzy, the Mandarin’s character guideline. Pumping my arms and hoisting my knees substantial to maintain the momentum heading, I pulled my way to the 877-foot summit — the optimum stage on the island — pausing to value the tortoises and soldier crabs with whom we shared the trail, right up until a hummingbird flitting involving branches commandeered my gaze down. Reaching the peak right away erased my memory of the effort and hard work it took to get there: Gorgeous views, such as neighboring Mustique, Union Island, and Petit St. Vincent, unravel in each individual direction. I requested Kezzy, who tackles the path practically just about every day, regardless of whether he tires of the perspective. “By no means,” he said.

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental remain practical experience

Alisha Prakash

This appears to be to be a theme on the island. A further early morning, we sailed out to Tobago Cays, cradling five uninhabited islands and a safeguarded coral reef with some of the very best snorkeling in the Caribbean. Somewhere in between swimming together with a trio of green turtles and recognizing a school of stingrays and sea urchin, I believed to myself, this is too superior to be accurate. Later on that afternoon, as we bobbed again towards the resort on our catamaran, our guideline, unprompted, shared: “I enjoy the water. Each and every day is various — it will not get previous.”

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental keep expertise

Alisha Prakash

Though couple of routines exist outside of the gates of the Mandarin, there is no need to have for a jammed itinerary. Most days, I identified myself moseying to the sand in entrance of my suite far more than a dozen periods a day, dipping my toes in for a second, observing the waves gradual dance in the evening breeze. In the afternoon, I’d linger on a lounger with a guide, ending just about every chapter with a dip in the ocean.

On my last working day, I snapped one particular very last photo of the ocean, translucent below the midday sunlight, and texted it to a friend with the caption, “We have to appear back.” Following all, I’m not one to maintain a mystery.