The Magic of Mustique: 50 years of the Caribbean’s most famous private island

Colin Tennant, Anne Tennant and Bianca Jagger on Mustique, in The Grenadines

As the Mustique Company celebrates 50 years of running this celebrated island in St Vincent and The Grenadines, here’s the ten most important things to know.
A deluxe seaview room at The Cotton House, Mustique, in The Grenadines

1 Forget about rock stars, royalty and celebrity-filled villas – the best reason to visit Mustique is that it’s a small, beautiful, safe, assiduously-run, family-loving island with peaceful beaches and lots to do. It was bought in 1958 by the Scottish aristocrat and party-lover Colin Tennant, and a decade later the Mustique Company was created to run what has long been the most stunning and enjoyable private island in the Caribbean.

2 You get there flying from Barbados or St Lucia on a 18-seater Twin Otter decked out in the green-and-cream livery of the Mustique Company. The terminal is just a simple bamboo-and-thatch affair but you still have to do Immigration and pay airport departure tax (cash only) when you leave. Pack light and forget the bling.

The bamboo terminal at Mustique Airport, St Vincent and The Grenadines

3 There are around 100 villas on the island and the majority are for rent. They come in many styles, some of which are quite overpowering. We particularly like the ten exquisite residences created in the island’s formative years by the theatre designer-turned-architect Oliver Messel – if that’s of interest, consider Clonsilla, Samambaia and Blue Waters. For something easy to enjoy, try Antilles or Marguerite. Or for knock-out looks, Tommy Hilfiger’s Palm Beach can’t fail to impress, while Les Jolies Eaux, originally built at the southern end of the island for Princess Margaret, is a winning mix of heritage and modern needs. All villas come with staff including a cook, with meals and gratuities an additional cost.

Les Jolies Eaux, a villa on Mustique, in The Grenadines

4 There are also two boutique hotels, The Cotton House and Firefly Mustique. The first has 17 rooms built around an old sugar mill and cotton warehouse. It faces on to a large lawn and a small, gently-shelving beach and has a private pool. Many guests are perfectly happy staying in the three sweet and romantic Cottages, but there many other options including rooms with a sea view and family-friendly layouts. Firefly Mustique is smaller, more affordable and more intimate, perched on a forested hillside overlooking Britannia Bay.  Both hotels have excellent bars and restaurants.

A bedroom at The Cotton House on Mustique, in The Grenadines

5 Want to party? Make sure your visit coincides with the complimentary Tuesday night cocktail party held at The Cotton House, which virtually the whole island attends. Villa-owners never stop throwing parties, and are often generous with their invitations, while Basil’s Bar, which has had a 50th anniversary makeover by Phillipe Starck, has a Jump-Up every Wednesday night.

A beach picnic on Mustique, in The Grenadines

6 Beach picnics are a big thing here – so big you need to reserve a space in advance, and work out the catering with your hotel or villa staff. There are no public toilets though, so yes, you’ll just have to get in that lovely water.

7 Most visitors get around by “mule” (heavy-duty golf cart). Your villa will have one, or several, and hotel guests can rent them by the day. You’ll need your licence to get one and you also have to buy a local driving permit.

8 Mustique is a great place to see turtles – they often hang out by Basil’s Bar. The island also has a coral nursery you can swim out to from The Cotton House jetty, and a sanctuary for retired horses.

A deserted beach in Mustique, in The Grenadines

9 And it’s not only about the beach: Mustique has 35km (22 miles) of exhilarating walking trails, along with an equestrian centre, six tennis courts, a spa, watersports and a community library.  There’s also some boutiques, a fish market and a fruit stall.

10 The story of how Mustique was born, and then became the paradise it is now, makes highly entertaining reading. Pack a copy of Lord of the Isle by Nicholas Courtney (Bene Factum), which tells the merry tale of Colin Tennant’s reign here and on St Lucia.

Lead image: Colin Tennant, his wife Lady Anne (l) and Bianca Jagger attending his gold-themed 50th Birthday Party in 1976 © Lichfield/Getty Images; all other images ©Mustique Company. 1, Deluxe Seaview Room, The Cotton House; 3, Les Jolies Eaux; 4, Seaview Room, The Cotton House


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