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 really what I was achieved with when I told folks I was heading to Canouan, a petite, three-sq.-mile island — just a person of 32 in just the string of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “Where’s that?” my friends, even the most perfectly-traveled kinds, would check with. I pulled up a map on my cell phone, dragging my finger along the Caribbean Sea, pinching the display screen in and out, inevitably pointing to a query-mark-shaped speck surrounded by Barbados, St. Lucia, and Grenada. I waited for a glimmer of detection. “Hardly ever read of it,” they’d say. The truth of the matter is, I hadn’t possibly.

Canouan is one thing of an enigma in the Caribbean: Just a 45-minute flight from beloved Barbados, it has managed to keep on being a top secret, save for a privy few — an in-the-know group who comes to moor their million-dollar yachts (Robert Downey, Jr.) or dodge the paparazzi (George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio). It truly is even been touted as a “area in which billionaires go to escape millionaires.”

Infinity pool at Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Infinity pool at Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Alisha Prakash

Not long ago, however, the island was without the need of running drinking water or paved roads, and it tallied extra turtles than human residents. Now, there is certainly a runway for private jets, a flurry of new luxurious resorts and villas, and a multimillion-greenback marina for mega yachts. Nevertheless, arriving here nonetheless feels like unearthing a thing new.

Mandarin Oriental on Canouan island

Mandarin Oriental on Canouan island

Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental, Canouan

From the aircraft, Canouan mimics a lot of other Caribbean islands: turquoise waters, interrupted only by emerald-green hills and slick, masted sailboats — each tropical desired destination cliché is on complete show from over. Up near, as the island quietly unfurls, streets reveal locals accumulating on the streets of a modest, lively village and unfettered ocean sights at just about every bend. There are no packs of cruise travellers, no tawdry tchotchke retailers, no overdeveloped swathes crammed with inns and eating places. As a substitute, right here, website traffic usually means breaking to let turtles go (Canouan is the Carib phrase for “island of turtles”), and the nature is so unspoiled you experience as if you’re 1 of the first to pay a visit to. Even greater, it all sits just down below the hurricane belt, steering distinct of storms that traditionally hammer the region, so you will find no terrible time to pay a visit to.

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay practical experience

Alisha Prakash

The allure is obvious, so its pleasantly hushed profile is, then, perhaps due to its reasonably remote deal with, a single that can be attained via non-public constitution, although ferry and industrial flight service — the latter stopping on several other islands — are also options. (Mandarin Oriental’s personal jet also would make the 20- to 25-minute soar from hubs like St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent, and Grenada.)

We flew from New York to Barbados, the place a focused workforce whisked us to our personal charter on SVG Air, looking immediately after our baggage and pandemic paperwork. Twenty minutes soon 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 down on a 1,200-acre estate, the beachfront assets will not want to endorse alone as a luxe hideout: The 26 suites and 13 villas, all of which face the seashore and have personal butlers, are evidence sufficient. Suites are much more than spacious, commencing at 1,300 square ft, with marble bogs and a terrace or back garden mere measures from the sand — a look at only designed far better with a glass of refreshing watermelon juice in hand. And while stylish, taken off-from-the-entire world accommodations are customary in the Caribbean, the Mandarin’s multistory hillside villas are in a league of their personal: Personal infinity swimming pools, outside patios, elevators (in some), and more than 5,000 square ft of place are conventional in every plush perch.

Regardless of this becoming the Mandarin’s initially Caribbean outpost, the resort acknowledges its origins with signature bursts of pink, from the umbrellas dotting the beach 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 continue to be expertise

Alisha Prakash

The resort’s luxurious qualifications count toward its food, also, regardless of whether you pick to fuel up at 1 of the wonderful-dining establishments, in your suite, or right on the beach front for a private torchlit meal, toes in the sand and all. (Order the saltfish and coconut dough boy for breakfast.) The resort can even set up a castaway-fashion picnic on a secluded beach for a quite Robinson Crusoe-esque expertise.

Canouan Estate (a shorty dinghy experience away) also has two tasty dining places — L’Ance Guyac and Shell Seaside — and Soho Seaside Property, also new on the island, and Shenanigans are good for people who want to venture off the estate. No issue wherever you take in, nevertheless, kick off the night with a sundowner at Turtles, a cocktail bar that appears to be 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 certainly the spa: Not succumbing to environmental constraints, the treatment method cabanas are all tucked specifically towards a mountain overseeing the h2o. The home also lately debuted two overwater villas with an outside balcony, steam shower, and glass floors so visitors can gaze at the cerulean waters as they drift off throughout a massage, facial, or overall body scrub.

There is certainly tons to interact active travelers, far too, like a round of golf at the Jim Fazio–designed class adopted by sunset cocktails on the 13th hole, or using out a catamaran, stand-up paddleboard, or kayak.

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental remain experience

Alisha Prakash

A person morning, I opted for the small — albeit deceivingly steep — climb up Mount Royal with Kezzy, the Mandarin’s character tutorial. Pumping my arms and hoisting my knees large to hold the momentum going, I pulled my way to the 877-foot summit — the optimum place on the island — pausing to appreciate the tortoises and soldier crabs with whom we shared the path, till a hummingbird flitting concerning branches commandeered my gaze down. Reaching the peak immediately erased my memory of the exertion it took to get there: Beautiful views, such as neighboring Mustique, Union Island, and Petit St. Vincent, unravel in just about every route. I asked Kezzy, who tackles the trail pretty much each working day, whether or not he tires of the watch. “Never ever,” he claimed.

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental keep experience

Alisha Prakash

This seems to be a topic on the island. Yet another early morning, we sailed out to Tobago Cays, cradling five uninhabited islands and a guarded coral reef with some of the very best snorkeling in the Caribbean. Somewhere between swimming alongside a trio of environmentally friendly turtles and recognizing a university of stingrays and sea urchin, I assumed to myself, this is as well excellent to be true. Afterwards that afternoon, as we bobbed back towards the resort on our catamaran, our information, unprompted, shared: “I really like the drinking water. Each working day is diverse — it doesn’t get aged.”

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Canouan Island and Mandarin Oriental stay experience

Alisha Prakash

Nevertheless couple activities exist over and above the gates of the Mandarin, there’s no have to have for a jammed itinerary. Most times, I uncovered myself moseying to the sand in front of my suite extra than a dozen periods a working day, dipping my toes in for a minute, observing the waves slow dance in the night breeze. In the afternoon, I’d linger on a lounger with a guide, ending each individual chapter with a dip in the ocean.

On my final day, I snapped a single previous photograph of the ocean, translucent beneath the midday sunshine, and texted it to a good friend with the caption, “We have to appear back.” Soon after all, I am not 1 to maintain a solution.