Mopion – Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Atlas Obscura


Looking like nothing more than a cartoon deserted island, this tiny sandbar is home only to a single umbrella. 


Supposedly the smallest island in the Caribbean, Mopion is more of a cay (a low inlet mainly composed of coral or sand) and its size depends on the tides. But its iconic umbrella is never quite submerged.

The very first name of the island seems to have been Morpion, with an R, “morpion” being the French word for “pubic louse.” But over time it appears the R has been removed according to more common Caribbean speech patterns. Mopion is part of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines island chain and is considered by many to be a sort of geographical mascot for the whole area. It’s easy to see why. 

A pure sandy beach surrounded by a lovely underwater reef, Mopion is a quiet gem in the middle of turquoise waters. At just 100 feet (30 meters) long or so (depending on the tides), the small sandbar is so low that a thatch umbrella was built on it for the sailors to spot from a distance to avoid dashing their vessels on the reef. The straw parasol is also the only protection against the sun for anyone marooned, intentionally or otherwise on the idyllic little piece of land. Visitors are also known to leave their mark carved into the trunk of the umbrella.

Know Before You Go

Reachable by boat (your own, or a water-taxi hired on any surrounding island). Though the small stretch of sand is a pretty dreamy little beach for those that can reach it, there is another sandbar in eyeshot that is unvisited, and for that matter unnamed, as it is said to be where all of the local tourist restaurants in the area dump their garbage, resulting in a large amount of sharks in the surrounding waters, although this is unconfirmed. 

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