It's been I few years since I sailed down there; here's what I remember:
1) If you haven't sailed the Caribbean
, it's all good. After you've been around you can decide for yourself what you like better.
2) BVI is not the ultimate sailing destination
; it is a fantastic place for beginning bareboaters. And partiers.
3) St. Martin and St. Bart's can be considered European resorts. Which is not necessarily bad, but no local flavor. Great food
and nightlife. St Bart's is snooty and ridiculously expensive. They clearly don't want riff-raff like me there.
is not the Caribbean
and is a totally different experience. If you are favoring Grenada, scratch the Abacos off your list, for now.
5) St Lucia
is pretty and I enjoyed the Petit Piton hike, but other than that the locals had an attitude that made me glad to leave. We enjoyed the passage
between SV and SL, both directions.
6) You really aren't going to experience much local culture anywhere. You will be seen as a rich tourist, not a fellow citizen. BUT: you might want to hire a local guide to take you around inland on one of the larger islands, like Grenada. You'll still be a tourist, but you'll see things that people who stay close to the anchorages
7) The diving
is good just about everywhere, if you love diving
. If you are jaded enough to need only the most spectacular reefs
, then you already know where to go. When I chartered from Grenada, we brought our own gear
, except tanks
. We rented tanks
in Grenada and got them filled as we worked our way north. We dove a lot, but only once with a guide. If there was a law requiring hiring a dive guide back then, we didn't know about it. I imagine the dive shops would have told us. The guided dive was the least enjoyable on that vacation
, but my all time favorite dives were with guides, so I'm not against guides per se, and we may have missed the best dives in the area. Take into account all the vacation
time you'll spend getting your tanks to a dive shop, hoping the shop is open, waiting for the tanks to be filled (on island time), lugging the tanks back to your dinghy
, getting back to your boat, sailing to your dive spot, anchoring
, yada, yada. Then consider that a dive service
will come to your boat with full tanks, wisk you to a great spot, and deliver you back to your boat, albeit expensively.
8) For a seven-day trip don't plan on going very far or have a packed itinerary. Grenada to St. Lucia and back is too far. If you had three weeks, I'd give you different advice. We took a week to get to St. Lucia (too hurried) and almost three weeks to get back to Grenada (about right, but could've been much longer). We sailed everywhere because the engine
in our boat was a POS. For me and my friends, at least one layover day per week is very welcomed.