Photo by David Brook

Paradise. You do know it when you see it. My first glimpse of Mustique was of massive houses perched on jungle green hillsides from a tiny six-seater plane as we swerved to make the landing on a tiny airstrip. Only three and half by one and a half miles large, the island, which was named for its once thriving mosquito population is one of those rare places that was created by one visionary (an eccentric Scotsman named Colin Tennant, a.k.a Lord Glenconner) and has evolved into an enclave that lives up to its legendary hype.

Cheat Sheet

  • Stay…in one of the island’s spectacular villas
  • Experience…the Wednesday night jump-up dance parties at Basil’s
  • Eat…by candlelight on the romantic terrace at the Cotton House
  • Drink…champagne and get to know your “neighbors” at the manager’s cocktail party
  • Splurge…on a house built for royalty at Princess Margaret’s hilltop estate
  • Savor…festive family picnics on the beach, prepared by the villa’s private staff
  • Visit…the island’s stables for an afternoon trail ride along the beach
  • See…the pristine Tobago Cays Marine Park on a daytrip
  • Shop…for breezy Lotty B caftans at the Pink House
  • Know...that as an Indagare member you can contact our Bookings Team for customized recommendations and itineraries and detailed advice on the best houses to rent

Lay of the Land

Located in the southern string of Caribbean islands, the Grenadines, Mustique sits south of St. Vincent and north of Canouan. Only 1,400 acres, the island feels larger than it is because of its hilly terrain, winding roads and dozens of secluded beaches. Points of reference are local landmarks like the airport, Basil’s and the beaches. One look at a map and a spin around the island in your mule (the jeep-style golf cars assigned to each villa), and you should be oriented. Guests arrive via small charters from Barbados (50 minute flight) and St. Lucia (30 minute flight).

Yes, Mick Jagger hides out here, and you may bump into Tommy Hilfiger, Pierce Brosnan or Michael Kors picnicking on the beach, but this is not a resort where the celebrities come for shopping or eating out in trendy restaurants. The island is run by a homeowner’s association that restricts development and intends to maintain a low-key village feeling. There are only a few boutiques, two hotels, two churches, a small school and one very famous bar, called Basil’s. The island will be limited to only 120 houses, some of the most spectacular of which have been built in recent years. There’s no golf course and no gambling. As one longtimer recalls, “it used to be that two hair dryers running at the same time would blow the electrical power.” But, since the first Mustiquers liked to feel that they were living a bit of the Robinson Crusoe fantasy that was just fine. Now the 10,000-square-foot-houses have gourmet granite kitchens and every known comfort and convenience, but the day’s activities still tend to revolve around beach picnics.

There’s a natural chic here that exists in certain Mediterranean places and nowhere else. Other islands in the Caribbean are terribly pretty: St. John, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos. Other islands have astounding private houses that come with staff: Necker, Musha Cay, St. Barth’s. Other islands have lively resort communities: Lyford Cay, Round Hill and Barbados. But I’ve never found an island that has all of these things in one place. It is small and beautiful with lush hills and gorgeous beaches. Some of the houses available for rent are as amazing as any I’ve seen. Not only are they fit for royalty, but were built for royalty. You could hole up in one of these villas—some have as much as eight or ten acre lots—and not see anyone but the staff, which comes with every house. Or, even better, you can become an instant member of the Mustique community by joining the weekly cocktail party, plentiful picnics, Basil’s Wednesday or Saturday jump-up and myriad other house party events.

Who Should Stay

Those who want to hole up in a fabulous villa or who want to join an international community of sun-loving people who, may have big names and bank accounts, but are have little to prove. Anyone looking for a glamorous hotel resort experience, where they can sashay through the lobby or appear fabulous by the pool. If that’s what you want, stick to Sandy Lane on Barbados.

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