I’m on top of the world.
Or at least it feels like it, here, high above the Caribbean, on the Grenadine island of Canouan.
A 3.5 square-mile gem in the Vincentian archipelago that’s dominated by the privately owned Canouan Estate, the island (whose name means “land of tortoises”) offers plenty of opportunities to commune with nature. Guests in the estate’s clutch of villas and the swanky 29-room Pink Sands Club can laze on talcum sands; stroll the gentle hills of the golf course; or swim and snorkel in the transparent turquoise waters that are this part of the Caribbean’s claim to fame.
But this Sunday morning I opt for a different yet equally enchanting meeting with Mother Nature on the rugged slopes of Mount Royal.
Getting to the island’s highest point takes only about 30 minutes. But what the trail may lack in terms of the time it takes to complete, it makes up for in steepness. At times you’re clambering up the hillside at about a 45-degree gradient. For short people like me, that means that sometimes you’ll be lifting your knees almost to your chest, your heart hammering as you pump your arms.
But your efforts are rewarded along the way with sightings of the island’s signature tortoises ambling casually (and slowly) beside the wooded path. You’ll spot hummingbirds levitating amid tree branches, and thriving spears of aloe plants that punctuate a trail carpeted with curling leaves in the full spectrum of autumnal hues.
And when you reach the mountain’s peak, you’ll know your time was well spent, as the splendor of the Grenadines unfurls below you. Looking south, Canouan’s sister islands of Mayreau, Union Island, Carriacou and Petit St. Vincent reach toward the horizon, each more stunning than the other.
As often as I’ve witnessed beautiful Caribbean vistas, I’m completely awed by the tranquil beauty of the scene before me. And so is my guide, The Pink Sands Club’s recreation manager Simon Julian, who tells me he’s been coming here for more than a dozen years yet never tires of the view.
“There’s something about this spot that gives you a feeling of peace,” he says, as we both look on in wonder. “It’s a very special place.”
I have no choice but to agree.
By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor