How to Spend a Perfect Day in Carriacou
Bunny is currently building her home on the best island in the world: Carriacou. Never heard of it?
Well, Carriacou is one of those gems that travelers are eager to discover: a gorgeous, quiet and unspoiled Caribbean island that has retained its original charm and authenticity whilst possessing some (modest) tourism infrastructure and services.
Most visitors to Carriacou are yachties sailing in the turquoise waters of the Grenadines. Some tourists also make it to Carriacou from the main island of Grenada, usually on a day trip or on a short overnight visit.
Even with these occasional visitors, it never feels busy or touristy in Carriacou. There is not even a hint of package tourists or tour groups!
How to Get There
You can either take a ferry or a short flight from Grenada. The Osprey ferry currently runs twice a day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and takes about 2 hours. The Dolly C ferry offers a slower (and a bit cheaper) service once a day on the same weekdays. For flight schedules, check out SVG Air. Always check in advance as schedules for ferries and flights alike can and do change.
How to Get Around Carriacou
Carriacou is a tiny island: approximately 7 miles long and 2 miles wide.
Having a rental car is the easiest and most efficient way to get around. If driving on the main island of Grenada seems a bit daunting to you, Carriacou is different. There is much less traffic and the driving is easy, although the roads themselves often leave much to be desired…
Wayne’s Auto Rental & Services in Hillsborough is a good option for car rental and has a wide selection of vehicles to choose from.
If you’re dead against driving yourself, you can also arrange a taxi for the day. The rates are mostly fixed, but you can always try and negotiate a bit. You can find taxis outside The Carriacou and Petite Martinique Tourism Association building on Main Street in Hillsborough or in Tyrell Bay (at ferry arrival times). The Tourism Association is also a good place to grab some more information about Carriacou and its environs.
Check out below for Bunny’s ideas on how to spend a perfect day on her beloved island of Carriacou.
What to See
The two main hubs of the island are the capital Hillsborough and Tyrell Bay where the island’s main port is located. You are likely to spend time at both during your day in Carriacou.
Carriacou doesn’t have many “must see” sites as such. It is best enjoyed at a slow pace, savoring the amazing scenery and succumbing to the relaxed rhythm of the island. Brace yourself for infectious island smiles and friendly locals as well as plenty of chickens, goats, sheep and (mostly harmless) dogs running amok.
Princess Royal Hospital
Start your tour by driving up to the Princess Royal Hospital in the Belair neighbourhood. You will be awarded with gorgeous views over the western side of Carriacou, its capital and nearby islands. A strategically placed old cannon reminds the visitors of the times when the British and French used to fight over dominance of this small tropical hideaway.
On your way down from the hospital, stop by at the old, picturesque windmill that was used for crushing sugar cane back in the days of slavery.
Then drive to Windward, a tiny hamlet on the Eastern coast of the island. This is boat-building central of Carriacou. The island is proud of its boat-building tradition which has remained true to its heritage over the past centuries.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to witness firsthand the making of a hand-built wooden boat. Windward is well worth a visit regardless, thanks to some gorgeous, old houses and beautiful views towards Petite Martinique - the smallest of the three main islands that comprise Grenada.
In addition, Windward is the gateway to Bunny’s favorite beach on the island: Petit Carenage.
Petit Carenage Beach
Petit Carenage is a 5-minute drive from Windward but you cannot drive directly to the beach. You need to park near the colorful new sign for visitors and walk the last 300 meters along a flat and well-marked (with conch shells) foot path to Petit Carenage.
The horseshoe-shaped beach is amazing. The sand is white, with tiny pieces of coral, and seems to go on forever. There is usually a bit of a swell which is great for swimming. Just don’t venture too far out to sea unless you’re a very confident swimmer. The views towards Union Island (of neighbouring country St. Vincent and the Grenadines) are breathtaking and the water always seems to be the most amazing shade of turquoise.
You can frolic around and enjoy the peace and quiet - you are very likely to have this gorgeous beach all to yourself, Bunny says.
If you like bird-watching, there’s an observation tower at the northern end of the beach, close to a shipwreck that you can see from the beach. Petit Carenage is also a protected turtle egg laying area.
In addition to a few shady spots provided by trees, there is a handy shack in the middle of the stretch should you need refuge from the sun. There are no facilities here, so pack plenty of water and a snack because you will want to stay a while.
If you feel energetic, it is not a long hike from Petit Carenage to Gun Point, the northernmost tip of Carriacou. You will probably see plenty of iguanas along your uphill trek.
The views (and photo opportunities!) from the small peninsula are spectacular. An old, forlorn, cannon sits near the water’s edge marking the former division between the British and French dominions in the Caribbean.
By now, you will have worked up an appetite. You’re in luck, because the best pizzeria on the island, if not the Caribbean, Pizza Meh Heart, is located in Windward.
So drive back to the village, have a breather on the shady terrace of Pizza Meh Heart and enjoy delicious pizza with an ice-cold beer before venturing further on your island tour.
Bunny suspects few visitors come to Carriacou for its historical sites but there are some cool things to check out. Tibeau Cemetery is one of them.
It is one of the oldest cemeteries on the island, dating back to the 18th century. Sadly, Tibeau Cemetery has partly collapsed into the ever advancing ocean. Located on a beach that is slowly disappearing into the sea (due to sand erosion), some of the graves here have washed out into the sea while others are half-submerged in water. Plenty of gravestones still remain on dry land too. It is a haunting site that is well worth a short visit, Bunny says.
You will notice plenty of Scottish surnames on gravestones as nearby Windward served as a settlement for boat-building Scots.
Carriacou has no permanent rivers or streams. Even today, the population must rely on collected rainwater for their water supply. Ningo Well, a short drive from Tibeau Cemetery, is an example of 18th century water management on the island.
It is a large and deep oval-shaped well that played a vital part in the indigo production in Carriacou during the days of slavery. The indigo trade was long ago abandoned, the well now hides in bush on the eastern coast of the island.
Historic sites aside, next it is time to enjoy what Carriacou is most famous for today: its reefs! The original name of Carriacou (Kayryaouacou) literally means “land of reefs” and there are fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities around the island.
Paradise Beach is the most famous beach on the island. Although there is no real snorkeling at Paradise Beach, it is a lovely beach, and deservedly popular.
Bunny warmly recommends basing yourself at Paradise Beach Club. This delightful beach restaurant has friendly staff, a relaxed vibe, great rum punch and the best food on Paradise Beach. You can enjoy your cocktails in the dazzling turquoise sea or just lounge around as you wish. What’s best: if you dine there, you can take advantage of their discounted transportation to Sandy Island.
Sandy Island is one of Bunny’s favorite places in Carriacou and she has already written a separate blog post about visiting Sandy Island.
At first sight, Sandy Island is not much more than a gorgeous sand bar, with an attractive beach and picturesque coconut trees (or are those palm trees? Bunny is forever confused on the subject...) but it is a very special place.
As part of Carriacou’s Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area, the snorkeling just off the beach is some of the best Carriacou has to offer. And if you happen to be on Sandy Island on a quiet day (it’s a popular spot for sail boats), you’ will feel like the king of the world on this spectacular little spot.
Sandy Island is just a 5-minute speed boat ride from the Paradise Beach Club so you can easily linger on the island until sunset. Bunny suggests grabbing some cold drinks with you and pre-ordering your dinner so that you can return straight to your dinner table at Paradise Beach Club. That way, you can finish your day in Carriacou with a tasty dinner with your toes in the warm sand.
On a Budget?
If you’re on a budget and don’t mind a bit of walking here and there, you can do most of the above itinerary by local mini-buses as well. Bus number 10 runs between Tyrell Bay and Hillsborough (via Paradise Beach) and bus number 11 takes you to Windward. Just make sure you don’t visit on a Sunday when most mini-buses don’t run.
Bunny loves her little island. She thinks Carriacou is a perfect destination for independent-minded and adventurous travelers who have been everywhere and seen it all - a bit like Bunny herself.
In fact, Bunny so loves Carriacou that she hesitates to write about it. Nothing would be worse than it suddenly becoming popular and appearing on ‘Must Visit’ lists in travel magazines.
If you’re planning to visit, drop Bunny a line and she’ll happily share more advice and recommendations.