Union Island, The Grenadines, is a hilly, sparsely populated island just west of Palm Island and the closest population center to Tobago Cays. This island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is quiet and relaxing. The beaches are pleasant, the hotels casual and comfortable, and there is some remarkably good food available at restaurants, in the gourmet shop, in market square and from ladies who cook outdoors.
The dusty little port town of Clifton on Union Island has a tourist bureau (phone 758-458-8350) and is a popular stopping-off point for yachters: Dozens of marine-service businesses have sprung up, and two full-service marinas are available—Bougainvillea and the Anchorage Yacht Club (http://anchorage-union.com). The pier at Clifton is a good place to buy fish or lobster direct from the fishermen, or just watch them at work cleaning conch. Union Island is also connected to nearby islands by air service.
Photographers and history buffs may want to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle or take a hike to reach Fort Hill, a 17th-century landmark. It sits 450 ft/137 m above Clifton Harbour and affords a breathtaking panorama from St. Vincent to Grenada in the south. Clifton is where most visitors begin their tours, whether it is on Union, to the Tobago Cays or elsewhere in the Grenadines. Ashton, Union's southern-coast commercial area, is also interesting to explore.
By car, it takes only an hour to see the whole island superficially. An interesting option is to take a minivan out of town and hop off for a hike to one of the farther beaches, such as pristine Chatham Bay.
If you happen (or can manage) to be on Union Island when the ceremonial Big Drum dance is being performed, do attend. Derived from French and African traditions with a form unique to this island, the dance is done for joyous occasions, in time of disaster and sometimes to call the rains.
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