They say immersion is the best way to learn, and Bequia’s Brent Gooding (above, inset) would probably agree. Throughout his childhood, Gooding often grabbed a tent or hammock and spent weekends traipsing through the island’s forests, observing every aspect of the environment that he could along the way.
Having formed a mental map, Gooding was able to rescue a man lost in the bush about 15 years ago. That man repaid Gooding in two ways: giving him the nickname “The Bushman” and helping him turn his expertise into a career as a hiking guide.
Gooding has a reputation for leading adventurous, off-the-beaten-path hikes with great sights and facts about the vegetation and animals. Most often, he guides a three-hour jaunt that starts with Mount Peggy (“Ma Peggy” to locals) hangs a left through the forest and ends at Lower Bay. “Usually after a hike, you like to take a swim,” he says. “And the water is right there.”
What are your favorite spots on Bequia?
We call it “Ma Peggy.” It is a big rock, and it is 881 feet from sea level. You don’t even have to stand and you [see] the rest of the island. It is like a bird’s-eye view. And the other one is out to the very end of Bequia, up to the northeast. When you go to that end, St. Vincent looks very close.
What will someone learn on your hikes?
There are certain plants on the island that you don’t want to have anything to do with, and then there’s medicinal plants. I point out what is good and what is bad. I have clients who just want to go bird-watching. There is a bird that we call the “yellow breast,” but in the bird book it is known as the bananaquit. Down here, honestly, usually everybody has a nickname.
Why do you enjoy exploring the forest?
You are going to see a lot of amazing things, you know, and you are not moving like you have to get somewhere. We are in no rush. We have time.
Food and Fun
When hiking guide “Bushman” Brent Gooding isn’t exploring Bequia’s forests, he is often at his favorite beach bar, Green Boley, where he says the Caribbean cuisine roti (curry stew with choice of meat wrapped in flatbread) is good eating. Gooding says De Reef Restaurant and Bar on Lower Bay Beach is popular too. To mix it up, visit Firefly Bequia Plantation, which has the ruins of a sugar mill and 30 acres of tropical fruit orchards to explore. St. Vincent is also accessible, approximately 10 miles north of Bequia.