We recently had the great pleasure of visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines for two weeks and seeing firsthand the efforts at controlling lionfish in the islands as they work to bring back the struggling tourism industry. With the double hit of both a global pandemic and the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano last winter it’s little surprise that tourism has suffered, but the resilience and determination of the people shines through in every smile we witnessed and in everyone’s constant efforts to make our visit enjoyable. The quarantine requirements were recently lifted by the St. Vincent government so all we needed was proof of vaccination and a negative RT-PCR test 3 days before arrival. American airlines flies direct from Miami every Saturday afternoon so visiting was easy and affordable.
While we saw lionfish in most of the places we went, we also found determined lionfish hunters who were harvesting the problematic invasive species commercially and selling their catch to local restaurants. We had a couple of fantastic dives in Bequia with Dive Bequia and were happy to see their homemade lionfish container onboard. It seems the ease and cost of the bucket with a funnel-sliced lid has replaced the zookeeper down in these islands where importing is more expensive. We were also able to spend time and dive with Vaughn Martin of Serenity Dive in St. Vincent located by the Blue Lagoon Hotel where our charter boat was based out of. Vaughn has been very active in hunting the lionfish around St. Vincent and invited us to the monthly Lionfish Fish Fry held on the last Friday of every month.
Vaughn and his crew hold the lionfish fry as a way to help cover the expenses of lionfish removal while educating people about how great this delicate white, flaky, invasive fish tastes. The price is reasonable and while we had several great fresh fish meals on our trip the lionfish was probably the best!
Key points from our trip are that 1) St. Vincent and the Grenadines are open for business, ready for tourism and offering great value for those of us who have been missing the Caribbean. 2) The reefs are healthy and provide exceptional snorkeling and diving. 3) Lionfish hunting is active and being promoted, and if you get the chance to visit near the end of a month you should contact Vaughn at Serenity Dive to enjoy their monthly Lionfish Fish Fry.
On an unfortunately negative note, I must report that we were stood up by Glenroy Adams of Grenadines Dive Shop who I had contacted weeks prior to our arrival to arrange diving. I spoke with him the day before, whatsapp messages back and forth confirming the time and place…. and he never showed up and never contacted us. With the exception of Glenroy everyone else was great and accommodating, but he singlehandedly pissed off everyone on our boat and wasted a morning for us. Beware Grenadines Dive Shop.