We sent photographer Rory Doyle to the Caribbean to capture the calm beauty of the lesser-known islands of Petit St. Vincent and Petit Martinique in the Grenadines. He dove in — literally — making friends with all sorts of locals, from soccer players to sailors to ghostly stingrays and swimming turtles.
PETIT ST. VINCENT – I am drawn to the collision of colors. Working in the Caribbean is a fun sort of chaos for me because of how colorful everything is in the tropics. My work often focuses on smaller "subcultures" that are overlooked. I think there's great knowledge to be gained from observing the under-observed, and I found plenty on the quiet, blissful, less-trodden islands around Petit St. Vincent.
The plane to Union Island is barely wide enough to fit two rows of seats, so I was able to get a really intimate look at the landing at Union Island. As we left Barbados, we arrived at Union just before sunset. The pilot has little room for error on the short runway that sits right on the edge of the island. I've done quite a bit of aerial photography, including in planes with no windows — so I felt right at home as we flew over the Caribbean.
But for others on the flight, it was a little nerve-wracking as the pilot made a sharp turn onto the landing strip just barely above the colorful residential villages. Nonetheless, this ride was certainly one of the most gorgeous plane rides I've experienced, especially as we flew over the turquoise waters of the nearby Tobago Cays en route.
Look at those clouds. I took in this gorgeous tropical sunset right at the main pier after arriving on the island. A scattering of yachts beautified the view.
New guests arrive at the main pier just after the sun sets below the horizon. Matthew, the PSV's manager, greets everyone with an extremely welcoming piña colada.
Just after sunrise, we took a tiny boat over to Petit Martinique, seen here in the background. Some staff members live on PM, which is territory of Grenada.
It’s only a five-minute boat ride to Petit Martinique, but from here you can get a great lay of the land of PSV.
Many of the houses are painted in bright colors that can be seen from Petit Saint Vincent.
Goats and sheep dot the landscape.
One of the first things you'll notice are the bright sails of the hobie cats and sunfish in contrast to the lush jungle vegetation.
The water at the Tobago Cays is some of the most stunning I've seen in the world. It's no surprise that boats anchor nearby to relax in the beautiful blue environment.
Our chief mate for the day, Simba, enjoys the shade of the sail.
Captain Jeff gave me the heads up for this photo — where the palm trees wave at visitors as they sail away from the Tobago Cays.
A short boat ride from PSV, Mopian Island is the tiniest speckle on the map. But this spit of white sand is in a unique location where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea meet. I begged the staff to bring me out here for sunset, and for about an hour I had an entire island to myself, disconnected from the rest of the world. Utter bliss.
I had next to zero underwater photography experience before the trip, so I was quite leery about buying underwater housing for my everyday camera. Instead, I bought a very affordable Olympus Tough TG-5 Digital Camera knowing that I'd be swimming and diving in waters that PSV and the Jean-Michel Cousteau Caribbean Diving Center (housed on the island) are diligently working to protect. Seeing this massive spotted eagle ray swim just a few feet below me was an absolute highlight of the trip. The grace and beauty of this animal is unforgettable, almost indescribable. It's one of those Mother Nature moments you have to experience to fully understand. I contemplated skipping out on an underwater camera all together — but this eagle ray confirmed that my purchase was a wise decision.
For more than five minutes, this turtle and I swam and snorkeled together as it fed on turtle grass in the shallow waters of Tobago Cays. I've always dreamed of swimming with wild sea turtles. This shared experience did not disappoint.
Our yacht captain said some of the best snorkeling he's ever experienced is along the reef in Tobago Cays. I'd have to say his hype was spot on.
I took this portrait right around dusk as many of the staff members congregated for an afternoon soccer game. It's easy to overlook the importance of staff when you're relaxing in luxury, and I wanted to shed some light on the people who help make the stay on the island so special. I politely interrupted their game and asked if I could make a portrait.
Being one of the most exclusive islands committed to eco sustainability, a clear night on PSV provides great opportunities for seeing the stars. On the Atlantic side of the island, there's almost no light pollution to impact the stargazing experience.
I woke up early my last morning on the island, hoping to squeeze in one more snorkel by the main peer. I lost quite a bit of time photographing and gazing at this colorful double rainbow that was symbolic of the most luxurious trip I've ever taken.
About Rory's Camera Gear
For my trip to Petit St. Vincent, in the Grenadines, I chose to travel with two cameras, both older Nikon D700 bodies. I love them—despite their age—mostly because this camera body has extremely accurate colors in raw files. I usually shoot with newer models, but I really wanted to capture the lush blue and greens at PSV. I worked with a 35mm prime Nikon lens, along with a 24-70mm and 70-200mm.
I was extremely happy with the affordable Olympus Tough TG-5 digital camera for my underwater explorations. It allowed me to capture raw images along with video underneath the sea’s surface. I was able to photograph and video turtles, a spotted eagle ray, numerous fish, and the beautiful coral that the Jean-Michel Cousteau Caribbean Diving Center (housed on the island) are working to protect and preserve.