Palm Island



Also known as Prune Island, Palm Island, The Grenadines, was once deserted except for the mosquitoes in its swamps. It's now invitingly landscaped and just slightly more populated. One resort lays claim to the island, and its guests soak up the scenery and explore hushed beaches and stunning coral reefs. All of it stems from the actions of one man: John Caldwell.

A U.S. citizen who had already sailed his family around the world, Caldwell decided in 1964 that this spot could be transformed into a private paradise. Though he did not own the island, there wasn't anyone else using it, so Caldwell went to work. He cleared the land, planted thousands of palm trees and built bungalows to rent to guests to help finance his enterprise. The government, noting his progress, granted him a 99-year lease to the island, and members of his family managed the Palm Island Resort until his passing in 1998. The resort came under new ownership in 2000, and rates have increased noticeably since that time.

The snorkeling and diving facilities are still great, however, and the resort's style remains very informal (shoes are seldom worn). Casuarina Beach runs the entire length of the western side of the island, and discreet topless and nude sunbathing is accepted.

There is a short trail around the island known as Highway 99. It leads to a small hill on the south side of the island, an ideal vantage point to look out over the Grenadines.

In addition to guests at the resort, the island is open to cruise ships (they drop anchor off the beach), visiting yacht charters and day-trippers. A dedicated boat runs with some frequency between Palm and its larger neighbor, Union Island, which has shops and a small airport. You can catch the ferry at the small pier on Casuarina Beach.

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