I am from Bequia, which is a tiny island in the Caribbean that is often deemed a secret or hidden treasure. To be honest, not many people know about Bequia, and at best, they don’t even know how to pronounce it.
First off, its pronounced beck-way or beh-kwee-uh….now that was easy wasn’t it?
Bequia shares space with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, so very few people have ever heard of this island because Saint Vincent tend to take all the shine, but today I am here to steal just a little bit of it. We are the second largest island in the Grenadines, setting at about 5 miles long and almost a half-mile wide. As you can see, we do not stack up too much when compared to Saint Vincent, Jamaica, Barbados, or Puerto Rico. To be honest, most of our population tends to move to the main island of Saint Vincent. The population various throughout the year but that last time I checked Wiki, it was at about 5,300 people living on my island.
The name Bequia comes from the native islanders (Arawaks), which is loosely translated into English as islands of clouds. I have many Caribbean friends from different islands, and all of our islands tend to go by their indigenous name given to them by the Arawaks or Caribs. While other islands use their colonial name they still make sure that they recognize the indigenous name as well.
Below is a few islands and their indegenous names;
Barbados – Ichirouganaim
Puerto Rico – Borikén
Jamaica – Yamaye
Saint Croix – Ay Ay
Trinidad – Kairi
Tobago – Tobago
Saint Vincent – Hairouna
So, what can I say about Bequia that has not been said about heaven?
Outside of being a slow-easy going tropical paradise that’s laid back and the preferred destination for the rich, famous, and wise. It’s also a very gossipy island where everyone tends to know each other and often know more about what is going on in your house than you. The locals do not mean any harm it’s just the cycle of life in a small towns and villages. Everyone knows everyone’s business and sometimes that can be a good thing.
History & Culture
Like most Caribbean islands, Bequia was once home to the indigenous people known as the Arawaks. They gave it the name Bequia which means “Island of Clouds,” but once the European arrived, the population changed and became home to the French in 1750 and a host of other European colonizers. Bequia was once home to the father of Alexander Hamilton, who later became an American lawmaker. Everone knows Alexander Hamiliton! He is the Kittitian- Nevisian who ended up on the United States $10 bill and is toted as a founding father. Sorry to upset the Americans, but this statesman was from theCaribbean. He hails from the island of Saint Kitts- Nevis and was born in Charleston.
Later Bequia became a place for whaling and made a profit from this trade. The island also specialized in boatbuilding and turtle shell harvesting. Unlike other larger Caribbean islands, this was one island that had very little success in cultivating sugar and cotton.
Whaling has been the oldest economic trade with over 200-years of whaling in Bequia that is still carried out today under the Aboriginal Subsistence Scheme but in a very limited compacity. Another industry that persists is boating, as many yachts often make their way to Bequia yearly. Boatbuilding and repair are a vital part of the island’s economy. Boatbuilding and anything having to do with boating is just as important as tourism and the visitors who visit yearly. Outside of boating, hospitality and the serivce industry has become the main money making avenue for most islanders.
Another highlight to the island that adds to its lush past is Princess Margaret. The good old sister of the Queen often stayed and partied on the island. There is now a beach named after her called Princess Margaret Beach. This is a beautiful stretch of beach that was once frequented by Princess Margaret herself. Princess Margaret loved the island and spent loads of time there, and recognized the beauty and charm of Bequia.
Things to do on Bequia
Outside of being with family members, eating local food, and catching up on old times, when I visit my country, there are many things to do. For me, the one thing about my home that I love is the beaches. It’s the one thing about living on an island that I will always love and miss. Going to the beach year-round, day or night to sit and think about life or splash around in the water for hours is what I miss about home. When tourists visit, there are many ocean-related activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, BBQing on the beach, water sports, or just lying around.
Just like any other Caribbean Island, liming is another activity that we all love, getting out and meeting others at the pub, parties, and other social gatherings what we do best.
My motto is “just chill,” and Bequia is a just “chill island”, with plenty of warmth, color, and hospitality. The people are pleasant, and the food is awesome, I dear anyone to visit my Bequia.