Canouan – the awesomest island you’ve never heard of.
Ahhhh… Welcome to Canouan! Canouan is one of the Grenadine Islands belonging to St Vincent, measuring just 3.5 miles by 1.25 miles. The capitol village (indeed, its only village!), Charlestown, is a pleasant community of island descendants and seasonal workers. A barrier reef runs along the Atlantic side of the dry Canouan Island. It is outlined with rounded hills beneath the “Maho”, 900-foot tall Mount Royal which is recorded as the highest point on the island. Two bays, Glossy and Friendship, serve to mark the northern and southern sides of the island.
Today we were surprised to learn (while preparing to depart for Canouan from St. Lucia) that the newly refurbished airport terminal and runway were officially entering service. Due to the official ceremony and ensuing celebration, we had to hold at 2000 feet over the island before landing while spectators were ushered from the apron. This afforded us fantastic views of the island, however, the airplane’s windows were too dirty to shoot through so I don’t have any aerials.
On arrival at the Tamarind Beach Hotel, Mary and I enjoyed a bottle of our favorite champagne to celebrate Mother’s Day. We had a lovely time talking together, watching the sunset, and relaxing in the pink and orange hues of twilight.
Beautiful Canouan Island is located 25 miles south of St. Vincent, which, from 1871 to 1979 was part of the British colony of the Windward Islands. In 1979, the island became independent with a secure democratic government based upon the British system. Local lore recants several stories about the Arawak indians, who arrived in bunker canoes. These new residents brought fire-burners, plants and animals, basic farming and fishing skills with them. Legends tell of relative peace for 1500 years until a tribe of fierce fighters, known as the Caribs, invaded – wiping out the Arawak villages.
More than 200 years after Columbus laid eyes on St. Vincent, Europeans established a permanent settlement on Canouan. Its mountainous and heavily forested geography allowed the Caribs to defend against European settlement longer than on almost any other island in the Caribbean. After the Caribs were defeated, they joined slaves who had escaped repression on Barbados by following the trade winds westward to St. Vincent, as well as those who had survived shipwrecks near St. Vincent and Bequia.
The mixed descendants of the island warriors and the freed Africans (who became known as the Black Caribs) proved to be fierce opponents to settlement efforts in the region. Fearing domination by the increasing waves of settlers, Carib leaders allowed a French settlement on the island in 1719. In 1748, the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (which ended the Austrian War of Succession) officially declared the islands impartial to Britain and France.
In 1990 an investment group known as Canouan Resort Development (CRD), Limited, signed a 99-year lease agreement with the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for the construction and operation of an international residential resort and club on Canouan Island.
After an initial period when the construction of the resort had been contracted to third parties, in 1994 CRD Ltd. created the fully owned subsidiary CCA Limited to act as general contractor. Since then, CRD Ltd. has presided over the construction of the Canouan International Airport (CIW), Tamarind Beach Hotel and Yacht Club (TBH), the Canouan Island Raffles Resort, numerous general purpose and luxury homes and villas, the CCA Warehouse and the Canouan Police Station. They pretty much own the island…
The next morning, we were treated to a luxurious ride to the airport. The island’s many hills and valleys made for a bit of excitement at times, and the views were beautiful. The rough roads made shooting from the car impossible, however.
I spotted this island resident and couldn’t resist a shot. There are numerous tropical flora and fauna here – I tried shooting a few of the birds, but they were just too quick for me. They only stay in a spot for a second or two and then flit away to the next spot.
If you’ve been following my posts for any length of time, you know that I just can’t resist tropical flower shots. These flowers were nestled in the top of a tree and were visited every few seconds by various birds. The buds are large – about the size of your hand.
Another gratuitous flower shot. I just love em!
And finally, on arrival at the field, we cleared security and prepared for departure to St. Lucia. Here’s a shot of Mary reviewing and signing our numerous pages of official paperwork prior to departure. Each page has to be signed with various entries since these are all international flights. In the background is the flight attendant jumpseat for the #1 position, and the main entry door.
Canouan is a rare and unexpected treat for the modern traveler. The curious financial arrangement between private industry and government doesn’t appear to hamper the island in any tangible way, and it is well worth a visit. Like Nevis, this is a spot where utter tranquility is not only possible, it is practically required during your visit.
~ by John on May 11, 2008.