Union Island is probably best known for its insane kite surfing possibilities, its full moon parties, and Happy Island.
We sailed into Clifton Harbour about two hours after leaving Tyrell Bay in Carriacou. Clifton Harbour is a confusion of shallow reefs, moorings, haphazardly anchored yachts, and local, breakneck speeding powerboaters, competing to assign one of their mooring balls to the hapless new arrivals—for a price (EC$65).
Recent changes in COVID check-in protocols led to lots of inaccurate information about the current process. When we arrived, the government had just started to streamline things by sending everybody to a small office, accessible by walking from the dinghy dock through the adjacent Bougainvillea Bar and Grill.
A lady by name of Shinelle took our documents (exit papers from Carriacou/Grenada, passports, vaccination cards, negative PCR test results, boat registration, and proof of boat ownership). She hand-filled out the SVG entry form—which we had submitted online via sailclear.com the day before and printed for her—in triplicate. Once we’d gone through all the details (boat name, size, HIN, crew, etc.), Shinelle told us to wait at the bar and proceeded down the path into town to the Nurse’s station and the Customs and Immigration office.
Twenty minutes and a couple of cokes later, we paid US$102 (US$25 agency fee, US$50 processing fee, US$27 customs fee) and we were officially admitted to St Vincent and the Grenadines for a maximum stay of six months—not a timeframe we intend to utilize even remotely.
After we established our legal presence, we hopped into the dinghy to go explore the island. Running in a counterclockwise direction, we exited Clifton Harbour and slowly puttered close to shore and across even more shallow reef areas until we reached Frigate Island. From there the water got deeper and we quickly reached Miss Irene Point, the westernmost edge of Union Island.
I was admiring the cliff when Steve spotted reef manta (his opinion) or mobula (her opinion). We slowed down and the ray continued to circle us for quite a bit before disappearing into the blue.
We continued around the corner and soon spotted Chatham Bay and its lineup of gin joints, all jonesing for customers. We approached the second, smaller, dilapidated pier and a local guy came running to take our line. This turned out to be quite helpful because the concrete end of the pier was sharply edged and too high to just jump onto from the dinghy.
Steve opted for a fruit cocktail soda, and I picked the bitter lemon soda. Both were delicious. From there, we made our way down the beach. The sand was too hot to walk on, so I sent Steve to the dinghy to get me my fake pink Crocs.
The beach at Chatham Bay is gorgeous, btw. Pristine, ongoing white sand, a string of watering holes, and gently swaying palm trees make this my second favorite beach so far (second only to Anse la Roche on Carriacou).
We decided to dinghy back the way we came, rather than continue our counterclockwise exploration. The northeast side of the island was a bit too daunting with the dinghy and it was time to head back.
At 5 pm I went back to the Bougainvillea Bar for a drink and to attend a couple of Zoom meetings. As it turned out, both were canceled so I WhatsApp’d Steve to come and get me. Since it was still early, we changed into something more respectable and headed to Happy Island for some happy hour cocktails and sunset watching.
We ran into Dave and Diane from the Delphine whom we’d met in Carriacou at the L’Estere Health Center on Monday, where we’d all gone to get our PCR tests taken.
Happy Island was rowdy, loud, crowded, and lacking in charm (at least when sober). We never got our drinks, despite the bartender cranking them out like a champ. The owner was there, too. We recognized him from one of S/V Delos’s episodes. We’d have been bummed had we missed it but really, we wouldn’t have missed all that much, except the hype.