Bargaining is not common for most transactions in St Vincent, but a little bit of haggling is acceptable when shopping in markets or at roadside vendors, especially those selling souvenirs to visitors. Apart from taxi services around Kingstown, prices for transportation are usually always negotiable.
Dangers & Annoyances
Manchineel trees are poisonous so be sure not to eat their apple-like fruit or shelter under them during a rainstorm – the sap causes blisters on the skin and is quite painful.
Street bars in Kingstown can get rowdy, especially later in the day.
The electric current is 220V to 240V (50 cycles). British-style three-pin plugs are used. Some resorts also have US-style outlets with 110V power.
Embassies & Consulates
For the UK, US and other countries, Barbados is usually the place to find the closest embassy or consulate.
Emergency & Important Numbers
Entry & Exit Formalities
All visitors are normally given a 30-day stay on arrival to St Vincent. EU citizens may be given an automatic 90-day stay. Extensions to your stay are available at the Immigration Department upon payment of a EC$25 fee.
St Vincent doesn't have any particularly unusual customs regulations, though it is illegal to bring spearfishing equipment into the country.
If you're traveling with pets contact the Customs and Excise Department (www.customs.gov.vc) before departure as importing animals from many countries requires a six-month quarantine period. Pets can arrive on yachts without paperwork as long as they don't leave the boat.
All visitors should carry a valid passport with them. A round-trip or onward ticket is officially required.
Not required for citizens of the US, Canada and most European and Commonwealth countries.
St Vincent is socially interesting, being at once conservative but also very laid-back. Locals on the main island are less outgoing than those in the Grenadines, who are far more accustomed to outsiders.
- Greetings Social situations do not involve much contact, although a handshake is normal in business situations.
- Drinking When out drinking the norm is to buy rounds; this is especially true with groups of men.
As with elsewhere in the Caribbean, the view about gays and lesbians is outdated, to say the least. You won’t find any gay-friendly events, resorts or cruises here. Gay and lesbian travelers should be cautious with public affection, but should otherwise be fine.
Internet access is widely available on all the larger islands in SVG. Wi-fi access is common at hotels and increasingly at bars and restaurants. Most towns will have some version of an internet cafe.
You probably won't see many police officers during your stay in St Vincent and, if you do, you're unlikely to run into any difficulties. They're not known for shaking down foreigners.
St Vincent is the region's biggest source of marijuana, but you should avoid buying on the street or smoking in public as it remains illegal and convictions can bring heavy fines and jail sentences.
- Newspapers The Vincentian is published weekly and is the oldest newspaper in the country. The Caribbean Compass is an excellent monthly paper that covers marine news and travel issues.
- Radio The one local AM radio station, NBCSVG, broadcasts at 705kHz. There are half-a-dozen stations broadcast on the FM band out of Kingstown.
The Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) is the local currency. Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels, car-rental agencies, dive shops and some of the larger restaurants. All of the major islands, except for Mayreau, have a bank and one or more 24-hour ATMs. But the network can go down, so carry backup cash. People will always accept US$.
There is 15% VAT that is added onto most retail items; this will already be included in the price. Most hotel rates have 10% VAT and 10% service charge added on top of them.
The Eastern Caribbean dollar is pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 2.70 to 1.
In restaurants a tip of 10% to 15% is the norm, though it's often added to the bill; 10% is usually added to hotel bills. A 10% tip is customary in taxis.
The following are standard business hours across the larger islands (opening hours may be limited on the smaller islands). Note that much is closed on Sunday.
Banks 8am–2pm Monday to Thursday, 8am–4pm Friday
Shops 9am–5pm Monday to Saturday
The St Vincent postal service covers all corners of the country and even reaches the remote islands.
In addition to those observed throughout the region, SVG has the following public holidays.
St Vincent & the Grenadines Day January 22
Labour Day First Monday in May
Caricom Day Second Monday in July
Carnival Tuesday Usually second Tuesday in July
Emancipation Day First Monday in August
Independence Day October 27
Smoking is fairly uncommon in St Vincent. It is still possible to smoke in some bars, but all hotel rooms and most restaurants are generally now smoke free.
Taxes & Refunds
A 15% VAT is included on most purchases in St Vincent. There is no mechanism for visitors to claim back VAT upon departure.
The country code is 1; the area code is 784. To call any other country with a country code of 1 (most of North America and the Caribbean), just dial 1 and the 10-digit number. For other countries, dial the international access code 011+country code+number.
GSM cell phones are compatible with local SIM cards. There is also 3G service. The main operators are Digicel (www.digicelgroup.com/vc) and Flow (www.discoverflow.co/saint-vincent).
St Vincent, along with the rest of the Windward Islands, is on UTC minus four hours.
There are few public toilets in St Vincent. Your best bet is to duck into a cafe and buy a bottle of water so you can use the toilet.
The Department of Tourism St Vincent & the Grenadines has an office on St Vincent. Bequia has an excellent tourist office as does Union Island. Several free publications are also highly useful, including Ins & Outs St Vincent & the Grenadines.
Travel with Children
While there are few accommodations or restaurants in SVG that go out of their way to cater to families with children, some of the more tranquil islands are great for relaxed family time. Most resorts allow children, but you should always check ahead.
Travelers with disabilities, especially those in wheelchairs, will have difficulty traveling throughout SVG. There are rarely sidewalks, pathways are often sand and ferries and other seagoing transportation are not designed with special needs in mind.
Despite the lack of development in the country, volunteering is not particularly widespread in SVG. Volunteer positions appear occasionally on international volunteer boards.
Volunteers are especially needed in the areas of health and dentistry. Check out Health Care Volunteer (www.healthcarevolunteer.com) for details.
Weights & Measures
St Vincent uses the imperial system.
St Vincent and the Grenadines remains one of the poorer Caribbean countries and there are limited opportunities for foreigners to work here.
All jobs in St Vincent must be advertised locally before being filled with an international applicant. Work permits are issued by the office of the prime minister.