Tourism has yet to make a big mark on St Vincent, largest island in the Grenadines.
But with its modern, though modest, cruise terminal, and with a new airport due to open in 2011, it will surely catch up with its busier neighbours.
Leaping dolphins welcomed the Ventura to the port of Kingstown this morning, and after breakfast 12 of us clambered aboard a much smaller vessel, the Sea Breeze, in search of more of these delightful creatures.
With the help of amiable skipper Hal Daize and his hydrophone, we were not disappointed.
During the four-hour excursion, we saw countless bottlenose and Frasiers dolphins, and a decent-sized pod of pilot whales. We also heard – and we have to take Hal’s word as the expert – several sperm whales, which unfortunately declined to surface for us.
On our return journey, we travelled down the coast, visiting Wallilabou Bay where a collection of buildings, jetties and cranes looked somewhat incongruous, though slightly familiar.
That’s because they were built as the set for the first two Pirates of the Caribbean movies and will surely become a bigger draw when tourists arrive in larger numbers.
Back in Kingstown, a stroll through the bustling streets revealed a community catering for a procession of ferries to Bequia and the smaller Grenadines, The supermarkets, hardware stores, market stalls and street hawkers are clearly there to meet local needs rather than attract the tourist dollar.
The town has some claims to fame though. It houses what is reputed to be the oldest botanical gardens in the west, with a breadfruit tree dating back to the original plant brought by Captain Bligh (of Mutiny on the Bounty).
The Liverpudlians among Ventura’s passengers would have been familiar with the concept of two cathedrals – the Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption is a particularly ornate affair with a mixture of Moorish, Byzantine, Venetian and Romanesque influences which by itself could have been another movie set.