St Vincent & the Grenadines form a multi-island nation well known to wintering yachties, aristocrats and rock stars, but off the beaten path for most other visitors. Despite its pockets of lotus-eating luxury, for the most part it's a refreshingly rugged and raw-edged backwater. The 30 islands and cays of the Grenadines are among the most popular cruising grounds in the Caribbean. They reach like stepping stones between St Vincent and Grenada and are surrounded by coral reefs and clear blue waters ideal for diving, snorkelling and boating. Fewer than a dozen are inhabited, and even these are lightly populated and barely developed. Although some of the Grenadines, like Mustique and Palm Island, cater to the rich and famous, others, like Bequia and Union Island, attract an international crew of sea salts and beachcombers and offer decent places to stay and eat.