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Best Blue Waters Snorkeling in the World? This Caribbean Island You’ve Never Heard Of Has Unreal Luxury Hotels

Hidden away in the Caribbean Sea lies a secret island that is yet to be discovered by many.

Canouan is a small paradise, full of untouched beauty and serenity, waiting to be explored. Here, you can experience the ultimate relaxation with its pristine beaches, lush rainforests and crystal clear waters.

This remote location offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature’s tranquility. Whether you are looking for an adventure or just want to get away from it all, Canouan has something for everyone – making it one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets!

I was greeted with absolute bewilderment when I announced my plans to visit Canouan, an incredibly tiny island that is one of the 32 islands which make up St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

It’s a miniscule area measuring only three square miles! The looks on people’s faces ranged from complete confusion to utter shock – it was clear they couldn’t comprehend why anyone would embark on such a journey to this distant, off-the-beaten-path destination.

My friends, even the most well-traveled ones, would always ask me “Where’s that?” when I showed them pictures of my trips. So, I pulled up a map on my phone and began to demonstrate by dragging my finger along the Caribbean Sea.

After zooming in and out with pinching motions, I eventually pointed to a question-mark-shaped speck that was surrounded by Barbados, St. Lucia, and Grenada – which had been the destination of my latest journey.

I waited expectantly, hoping that someone might recognize the idea I had presented; however, each time I brought it up the response was always the same – “Never heard of it.” In reality, I had no familiarity with this concept either.

Despite all my searching and questioning, there did not seem to be a single hint of recognition from anyone. Canouan is a mysterious island located in the Caribbean, just a short 45-minute flight away from popular Barbados.

Despite its proximity to one of the region’s most treasured locations, it has successfully managed to remain relatively unknown and untouched by many outsiders; only a privileged few are aware of this hidden paradise and have chosen to moor their extravagant yachts at its docks.

It’s even been touted as a “place where billionaires go to escape millionaires.”

Not too long ago, the island was a vastly different place than it is today; there were no running water sources or paved roads, and the population of turtles greatly outstripped that of humans.

The lack of basic amenities meant that life for those who lived on this remote land mass was extremely challenging.

Now, there’s a state-of-the-art runway for private jets, an array of brand new and opulent luxury hotels and villas, and a lavish multimillion-dollar marina for mega yachts.

Yet, despite all the development that has taken place here recently, arriving here still feels like discovering something brand new and undiscovered.

As you soar over the Caribbean island of Canouan in a plane, the magnificent landscape below is one of captivating beauty.

The brilliant azure waters shimmer like liquid sapphires beneath the blazing sun, and are dotted with sleek sailboats that glide gracefully across their surface. Here and there, lush verdant hills rise up from the sea, providing a breathtaking contrast to the glistening turquoise waters and completing this perfect postcard image of a tropical paradise.

As we approach the island, it slowly reveals itself to us; winding roads lined with locals gathering on the streets of a small and vibrant village. Unending ocean views come into sight around every corner, creating a tranquil atmosphere as we admire the scenery.

The peacefulness of the island is punctuated by lively conversations and cheerful laughter from those enjoying their time together in this picturesque setting.

Cruise ships are no longer the bustling tourist beehives they once were; instead, there is a noticeable absence of crowds and souvenir stalls.

The landscape has been spared from being transformed into an overbuilt area, with no signs of sprawling hotels or eateries visible. Instead, passengers have the opportunity to experience untouched and unspoiled areas while on their journey.

Instead of the hustle and bustle of traditional traffic, here in Canouan – the Carib word for “island of turtles” – you’ll find yourself having to break for passing turtles. This stunningly unspoiled island feels like you’re one of the first people to ever set foot on it. Its untouched nature is almost surreal, providing a unique escape from reality.

Situated blissfully beneath the dreaded hurricane belt, this region is safe from the severe storms that have wreaked havoc on its coast in years gone by.

Consequently, it’s an ideal location to visit any time of year – you can be sure that your trip won’t be interrupted or spoiled by inclement weather. Even better, it combines safety with beauty and a plethora of exciting activities to enjoy!

The enchanting nature of this location is easy to see, so its tranquil atmosphere can be attributed to its secluded position that can only be accessed through a private plane or boat journey.

However, it’s also possible to reach the spot via ferry and other commercial flights which make stops at several other nearby islands.

The luxury Mandarin Oriental brand offers transportation services with their own private jet, which can make a quick and comfortable 20- to 25-minute flight from various Caribbean hubs such as St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent and Grenada.

This exclusive service provides passengers with an effortless way to reach their destination without the hassle of waiting in long airport lines or dealing with other inconveniences that come with commercial air travel.

We flew from the bustling city of New York to the tropical paradise of Barbados, where a friendly and devoted team welcomed us with open arms.

They seamlessly managed our luggage and ensured all of our necessary pandemic paperwork was in order before escorting us to our private charter on SVG Air. We were grateful for their assistance, as it made the whole process stress-free and straightforward.

After alighting the plane and making our way to the tarmac, we found ourselves at the Mandarin Oriental in no time. This exquisite and well-guarded resort had been recently renovated in 2018, reviving the former Pink Sands Club with its modernized facilities. As soon as we arrived, we were captivated by its beauty and grandeur.

Perched atop a sprawling 1,200-acre estate, the beachfront property doesn’t require any convincing of its luxurious amenities: 26 suites and 13 villas boasting stunning ocean views, each with their own personal butler service to attend to your every whim.

Offering an unparalleled level of opulent comfort and relaxation, this is truly a hideaway that needs no advertisement.

Suites provide a luxurious and spacious environment, boasting an impressive 1,300 square feet of living space. Each suite is complete with beautiful marble bathrooms and a private terrace or garden which provides direct access to the sandy beach below.

Enjoying the breathtaking views while sipping on a glass of freshly-squeezed watermelon juice is simply an unforgettable experience!

While luxurious and secluded retreats are a typical feature of Caribbean resorts, the Mandarin’s multi-level villas offer an unparalleled experience. Each villa comes complete with its own private infinity pool, outdoor patio, in some cases even an elevator; they boast more than 5,000 square feet of sumptuous living space.

Despite this being the Mandarin’s inaugural Caribbean establishment, they have made sure to pay homage to their roots by incorporating signature touches of pink throughout.

From the umbrellas dotting the beach, to the loungers surrounding the beautiful infinity pool that appears to dissolve into the ocean, these vivid flashes of colour add a unique and distinctive flair.

The resort’s luxurious offerings are not limited to its amenities but extend to its cuisine, offering a range of options for dining experiences.

From the exquisite fine-dining restaurants to having your meal delivered directly to your suite or even arranging a private candlelit dinner on the beach with your toes in the sand, you can be sure that you will have an unforgettable culinary experience.

For breakfast, why not order the saltfish and coconut dough boy? If you’re feeling adventurous, the hotel can even arrange a private picnic on an isolated beach for a truly Robinson Crusoe-inspired experience. With the sun rising over the horizon and your toes in the sand, it’s sure to be an unforgettable morning.

New to the island is Shenanigans and Soho Beach House, both mere shorty dinghy rides away on Canouan Estate—offering two luscious eateries in L’Ance Guyac and Shell Beach. For those seeking a more adventurous experience outside the estate, they deserve the attention.

Start the night off with crisp sundowners at Turtles: a cocktail bar that looks as if it was pulled straight out of the Hamptons. Regardless of what your evening plans include for dinner, Turtle’s is an excellent destination to begin!

The spa at this luxury resort exists against the backdrop of striking natural beauty, with cabanas offering treatments facing directly against a rugged mountain and the expanse of water sitting below.

This way, nothing detracts from an experience that paves the way for guests to be fully immersed in ultimate relaxation.

The beautiful property unveiled two exquisite overwater villas not long ago, offering visitors the chance to experience an unforgettable stay.

Each villa features a private outdoor balcony, steam shower, and glass floors so guests can take in the stunningly blue waters as they are pampered with a massage, facial treatment or body scrub before drifting off into relaxation.

The 13th hole at the Jim Fazio–designed golf course can provide active travelers with a fun sunset activity, complete with cocktails.

Those wanting more outdoors activities can rent out a catamaran, stand-up paddleboard, or kayak to enjoy around the area.

Early one morning, I decided to embark on a challenging yet rewarding journey up Mount Royal alongside Kezzy, the experienced and knowledgeable nature guide from Mandarin.

Although the climb appeared to be relatively short at first glance, it proved to be more difficult than anticipated due to its steep terrain. Nevertheless, I was not deterred and persisted in my pursuit of reaching the summit with Kezzy’s help.

I summited 877 ft – the highest point on the island: pumping arms and knees up, appreciating tortoises and crabs sharing the trail, entranced by a hummingbird in-between branches.

Reaching the summit and behelding the panoramic vista that opened up before me instantly wiped away any recollection of the arduous journey it took to get there.

The breathtaking views were spectacular, with Mustique, Union Island, and Petit St. Vincent visible in all directions. I asked Kezzy, who seems to traverse this trail on a regular basis, whether he ever gets bored of such an impressive sight. His reply was emphatic; “Never,” he insisted emphatically.

In the morning, we set sail towards Tobago Cays – a group of five small, uninhabited islands surrounded by spectacular coral reefs and providing some of the Caribbean’s most breath-taking snorkeling. Indeed, it seems the theme on this island is exploration of wild places in their untouched state.

Swimming with three green turtles and sighting a bunch of stingrays as well as sea urchin, it was unbelievable! That afternoon, sailing back on our catamaran to the hotel, our guide shared “enjoyment for water” saying each day is unique which prevents tedium.

Despite the limited opportunities outside the gates of the Mandarin, there is no requirement to have a full schedule. There is no pressure to cram every moment with activities; instead, visitors can take their time and relax in the tranquil atmosphere without feeling like they need to continuously be on the go.

Most days, I would slowly and leisurely make my way to the beach in front of my suite more than a dozen times throughout the day, dipping my feet in the water for a brief moment and admiring the waves gliding gracefully along with the night breeze.

As afternoon approached, I’d usually relax on one of the loungers while reading a book, taking breaks between chapters to go for a quick dip in the ocean.

On my last day, I couldn’t help but take one final shot of the stunningly translucent ocean illuminated by the midday sun.

I just had to share it with a friend so I sent them the photo along with a caption that read, “We have to come back – this place is too gorgeous to keep as a secret!”

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