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’s what I was achieved with when I told persons I was heading to Canouan, a petite, a few-sq.-mile island — just 1 of 32 inside the string of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “Where’s that?” my mates, even the most perfectly-traveled ones, would inquire. I pulled up a map on my mobile phone, dragging my finger alongside the Caribbean Sea, pinching the display screen in and out, ultimately pointing to a concern-mark-shaped speck surrounded by Barbados, St. Lucia, and Grenada. I waited for a glimmer of detection. “By no means listened to of it,” they’d say. The real truth is, I hadn’t either.

Canouan is one thing of an enigma in the Caribbean: Just a 45-moment flight from beloved Barbados, it has managed to remain a key, save for a privy several — an in-the-know group who will come to moor their million-dollar yachts (Robert Downey, Jr.) or dodge the paparazzi (George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio). It’s even been touted as a “area wherever billionaires go to escape millionaires.”

Infinity pool at Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Infinity pool at Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Alisha Prakash

Not lengthy ago, even though, the island was with out operating water or paved roads, and it tallied far more turtles than human people. Now, there is certainly a runway for personal jets, a flurry of new luxurious resorts and villas, and a multimillion-dollar marina for mega yachts. Nevertheless, arriving in this article nevertheless feels like unearthing something new.

Mandarin Oriental on Canouan island

Mandarin Oriental on Canouan island

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Canouan

From the airplane, Canouan mimics many other Caribbean islands: turquoise waters, interrupted only by emerald-inexperienced hills and slick, masted sailboats — every single tropical vacation spot cliché is on whole screen from above. Up shut, as the island quietly unfurls, roadways expose locals collecting on the streets of a small, energetic village and unfettered ocean sights at each and every bend. There are no packs of cruise passengers, no tawdry tchotchke outlets, no overdeveloped swathes crammed with accommodations and eating places. In its place, below, site visitors means breaking to permit turtles go (Canouan is the Carib word for “island of turtles”), and the mother nature is so unspoiled you feel as if you might be one of the 1st to visit. Even better, it all sits just below the hurricane belt, steering obvious of storms that traditionally hammer the area, so there is no negative time to take a look at.

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay practical experience

Alisha Prakash

The allure is evident, so its pleasantly hushed profile is, then, probably due to its rather distant deal with, a person that can be attained by means of non-public constitution, nevertheless ferry and commercial flight provider — the latter stopping on several other islands — are also solutions. (Mandarin Oriental’s personal jet also helps make the 20- to 25-moment leap from hubs like St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent, and Grenada.)

We flew from New York to Barbados, in which a focused workforce whisked us to our non-public charter on SVG Air, seeking immediately after our luggage and pandemic paperwork. 20 minutes immediately after touching the tarmac, we arrived at the Mandarin Oriental, a attractive, gated 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 on a 1,200-acre estate, the beachfront residence doesn’t have to have to boost alone as a luxe hideout: The 26 suites and 13 villas, all of which encounter the beach and have personal butlers, are evidence adequate. Suites are extra than spacious, starting up at 1,300 square toes, with marble bathrooms and a terrace or backyard garden mere techniques from the sand — a perspective only created improved with a glass of fresh watermelon juice in hand. And though chic, eliminated-from-the-planet lodging are customary in the Caribbean, the Mandarin’s multistory hillside villas are in a league of their have: Private infinity pools, outdoor patios, elevators (in some), and additional than 5,000 square toes of house are normal in each individual plush perch.

Irrespective of this remaining the Mandarin’s initially Caribbean outpost, the resort acknowledges its origins with signature bursts of pink, from the umbrellas dotting the seashore to the loungers by the breathtaking 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 qualifications depend toward its food items, far too, no matter whether you decide on to fuel up at one particular of the high-quality-eating institutions, in your suite, or straight on the beach for a non-public torchlit food, toes in the sand and all. (Buy the saltfish and coconut dough boy for breakfast.) The lodge can even prepare a castaway-design and style picnic on a secluded seashore for a pretty Robinson Crusoe-esque working experience.

Canouan Estate (a shorty dinghy ride absent) also has two tasty dining establishments — L’Ance Guyac and Shell Seashore — and Soho Beach Household, also new on the island, and Shenanigans are great for these who want to undertaking off the estate. No make any difference exactly where you consume, while, kick off the evening with a sundowner at Turtles, a cocktail bar that seems 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 is the spa: Not succumbing to environmental restrictions, the therapy cabanas are all tucked directly in opposition to a mountain overseeing the h2o. The residence also lately debuted two overwater villas with an out of doors balcony, steam shower, and glass flooring so guests can gaze at the cerulean waters as they drift off during a massage, facial, or physique scrub.

There is heaps to interact energetic vacationers, much too, like a round of golfing at the Jim Fazio–designed program followed by sunset cocktails on the 13th hole, or taking out a catamaran, stand-up paddleboard, or kayak.

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay expertise

Alisha Prakash

A single morning, I opted for the limited — albeit deceivingly steep — climb up Mount Royal with Kezzy, the Mandarin’s nature guidebook. Pumping my arms and hoisting my knees substantial to hold the momentum heading, I pulled my way to the 877-foot summit — the highest issue on the island — pausing to value the tortoises and soldier crabs with whom we shared the path, until finally a hummingbird flitting in between branches commandeered my gaze down. Achieving the peak instantly erased my memory of the hard work it took to get there: Spectacular views, such as neighboring Mustique, Union Island, and Petit St. Vincent, unravel in each direction. I asked Kezzy, who tackles the path virtually each individual day, whether he tires of the check out. “Never,” he stated.

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental keep knowledge

Alisha Prakash

This would seem to be a topic on the island. Another morning, we sailed out to Tobago Cays, cradling 5 uninhabited islands and a secured coral reef with some of the ideal snorkeling in the Caribbean. Someplace concerning swimming along with a trio of eco-friendly turtles and recognizing a college of stingrays and sea urchin, I considered to myself, this is far too good to be correct. Afterwards that afternoon, as we bobbed again toward the hotel on our catamaran, our guideline, unprompted, shared: “I like the drinking water. Just about every day is distinctive — it doesn’t get previous.”

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental remain encounter

Alisha Prakash

Nevertheless handful of pursuits exist outside of the gates of the Mandarin, there is no want for a jammed itinerary. Most days, I observed myself moseying to the sand in entrance of my suite far more than a dozen times a working day, dipping my toes in for a moment, observing the waves sluggish dance in the evening breeze. In the afternoon, I’d linger on a lounger with a guide, finishing just about every chapter with a dip in the ocean.

On my final working day, I snapped one particular past picture of the ocean, translucent below the midday solar, and texted it to a friend with the caption, “We have to appear back.” After all, I am not a single to preserve a key.