When I visited Bequia in the the Grenadines earlier this year, one of the first things on the to do list was a visit to Happy Island.
On previous trips, time constraints and weather prevented a visit, but this year I was determined to sail away to the happy little island so many visitors had mentioned.
We sat sail early in the morning with a nice trade wind breeze, and the water was quite smooth. Sailing in the Grenadines is a magical experience, and I suggest adding these island gems on your Caribbean bucket list. The water clarity and colors are amazing - changing from light aquamarine to a deep blue indigo.
Happy Island is not your typical island destination. This is a man made island formed out of shells and cement, and can be found just off the coast of Union Island.
As the tiny island came into sight, we could see a man moving around the perimeter.
Happy Island's owner is Janti Ramaj, and he came up with the idea for building his own island when he took a job removing conch shells from Union Island's beach.
I should note "conch" is the name for these shells throughout the Caribbean, but in The Grenadines "lambi shells" is the preferred name.
As he made a round of rum punch, I inquired as to how he picked this particular spot. He said he knew there was a large reef below, so in his mind, this was the perfect place to build an island. Over the years, he worked extremely hard dumping tons of shells, and then adding tons of cement to hold the island together. I have to say it was pretty awesome standing in the middle of the ocean on this perfectly man made little piece of paradise.
Another question - how did he get permission from the government in St Vincent to start building? Well he did NOT ask the government - just started dumping and building over the years. According to his story, the government was just happy to get rid of the over abundance of shells off Union Island. As his island dream rose up out of the sea, the government gave him approval. Happy Island is on the map - and he has official papers.
The two room wood structure is extremely small, but it seems to work well for Janti. The kitchen area serves two purposes - cooking/bedroom, and the other room is for the bar area. Palm trees were planted in the sand for a nice landscaping touch, and white plastic chairs round out the island bar's decor.
Janti has the true spirit of an entrepreneur who saw an opportunity and took full advantage. I've met many people in my travels throughout the years in the Caribbean, and he is by far one of the most interesting.
As the rum punch kept flowing, we all shared stories and many laughs. As we sailed away, I decided this will be an annual stop when visiting the islands. Janti's a fun guy, a great host, and I am looking forward to meeting up again.
It's getting cold here in the Midwest, and January cannot come soon enough!