A taste of Bequia Island life

Article image

The History of Bequia

Posted 6 years ago

A visit to Sunbird Bequia guarantees as much variety and originality as the island’s rich history. The Caribbean islands have always been a sought after destination. This has brought tumultuous conflict, but also a fascinating culture. Want to immerse yourself in the way of life this beautiful destination has to offer? A great place to start is learning how Bequia came to be the way it is.

Originally, the island was inhabited by American Indians from the northern coast of South America. We don’t know a huge amount about these inhabitants. They arrived in the Caribbean in canoes, and were advanced in pottery, with small shards displayed at the Bequia Tourist Office.

The Arawaks, indigenous to South America and the Caribbean, were the island’s first settlers. They gave Bequia its name, meaning ‘Island of the Clouds.’ This could have been inspired by the island’s volcanic mountains, a highlight of its lush terrain. These mountains, valleys and plains sparked interest amongst French colonists in the 18th Century. To this day, Bequia’s natural beauty draws tourists from around the world. Bequia had previously been written off as being “too inaccessible to colonise.” The Caribbean has a rich cultural and ethnic mixture as a legacy of colonisation, with French settlers arriving in Bequia in approximately 1750.

Several notable figures have walked across the sands of the island. In 1760, a clerk from St. Kitts arrived in Bequia looking for a prosperous fresh start. His name was James Hamilton, and he would become father to Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. Bequia was also the alleged base of Edward Teach, more widely known as the pirate Blackbeard. Historians say that his flagship vessel, Queen Anne’s Revenge, was first stationed in Bequia.

Bequia’s waters have always brought fortune to the island. French colonists found it teeming with turtles, highly valued for their shells. This is a great time to mention that visitors to Bequia can now visit the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, meet sea turtles and learn all about turtle conservation efforts!  By the beginning of the 19th Century, whaling was discovered to be a boon for the island’s economy. This was following the island’s well-documented struggles cultivating sugar. Alongside this, boat-building had emerged as an economically viable craft.

When whaling declined in the 20th Century, ship building became Bequia’s most lucrative activity. The Bequia Tourist Office state on their website that ‘of the 153 ships registered as having been built in St. Vincent & the Grenadines between 1923 and 1990, no less than 71 were built in Bequia.’ Sea-faring remains at the heart of Bequia’s identity. Visitors to the island are sure to love its crystal-clear waters, whether they’re snorkelling, diving, sailing or fishing.

Visitors to Bequia should expect a cultural melting pot, with a legacy that stems from Africa, the Caribbean, France, England and many more places. They will also get to marvel at the island’s unspoilt, natural landscape and pristine waters. Finally, they’ll feel at one with the relaxed way of life that the Caribbean is renowned for. Sunbird offers luxury accommodation in a prime coastal location. Click here to start your next adventure.