Kayaking in Carriacou

Image of mangroves

Bunny loves kayaking, whether it is in the Finnish lake district (the whole country is one big lake district, really), in the mighty Zambezi in Zimbabwe, in the pristine fjords of Norway or, as she did most recently, in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

As soon as Bunny arrived in the small Caribbean island of Carriacou this autumn, she knew she just had to test the waters for kayaking. Luckily, there are at least two excellent kayaking options on the island. Bunny did both!

Image of Sandy Island
Image of Bunny kayaking

Sandy Island

Postcard-perfect Sandy Island is one of Bunny’s all time favourite places in Carriacou. This gorgeous little sandbar offers some excellent snorkelling and is an ideal destination for a deserted island picnic trip. 

Bunny had visited Sandy Island a number of times before venturing there by kayak. For some reason, she had been under the impression that kayaking to Sandy Island would be a strenuous activity… How wrong she was!

As long as you pick a not-too-windy day, paddling to Sandy Island is a breeze. There is a bit of a current (to the south) so you will have to aim your kayak accordingly. You will easily cover the distance from Carriacou to Sandy Island in 20-30 minutes, depending on your level of athleticism. 

There is some boat traffic that you will have to watch out for, but this was not a big distraction for Bunny. She was more interested in peeking at the marine life from her kayak, hoping to spot turtles (alas, not lucky this time).

Once you reach Sandy Island, it is easy to drag the kayak onshore anywhere on the beach. And you can leave it there unattended while you explore the island or go snorkelling - there is practically no crime here.

Image of Sandy Island
Image of Sandy Island from snorkelling

Kayaking back is even easier as the current will help you on the return. 

For some reason though, Bunny’s kayak took a mysterious turn on the way back, towards Paradise Beach, instead of Fiji Beach, from where she had rented the kayak. It might have had something to do with the ice cold beers served in the Hard Wood Bar on Paradise Beach… 

Luckily, paddling from Paradise Beach back to Fiji Beach to return the rental kayak was easy-peasy, even after all those beers. Bunny just followed the coastline and took full advantage of the current.

Image of turquoise water
Image of Bunny and kayak

Getting There

Bunny rented her double-seater flat kayak from Alan on Fiji Beach (Alan’s house is right on this tiny beach) in L’Esterre. It was a very easy process. Alan provided life jackets and all the other necessary equipment. There was plenty of space in the kayak for Bunny’s backpack, snorkelling gear and even a small cooler with cold drinks. 

The price was 90 EC (about USD$35) for a full day's rental. If you go for the full day, take enough provisions as there are no services whatsoever on Sandy Island, Bunny says.

Sea kayaks can also be rented at Off the Hook Bar & Grill on Paradise Beach, which makes the distance to Sandy Island even shorter.

Kayaking Amongst Mangroves

Image of mangroves

Tyrell Bay in the south-western corner of Carriacou is an increasingly popular harbour that provides sheltered anchorage for sailboats and catamarans. The sea always seems very calm in Tyrell Bay. 

Carriacou’s extensive (and protected) mangrove forest is located right next to Tyrell Bay. It is an easy five-minute paddle to the mangroves from Tyrell Bay, transporting you to a very different world.

Bunny went on a windy day but the mangroves were calm. It was a very peaceful and beautiful place. Oysters grow on the mangrove roots here, but Bunny found spotting them a bit challenging. Perhaps she just needs new specs?

The kayaking was very gentle, suitable for total beginners. You don’t need a guide for this excursion as it is impossible to get lost. The mangrove forest eventually leads to a dead end where you will have to turn around and return the same way.

Bunny was curious about a mysterious big fish that had been making appearances (complete with big splashes) in the mangroves, without anyone really identifying the creature. And Bunny was fortunate enough to spot it! She has no idea what it was, but the splash was indeed quite big. Afterwards, Bunny also learned that the mangroves have plenty of nurse sharks but she did not see any on this outing.

Image of mangrove forest
Image of kayak in the mangroves

Bunny then spent some time paddling among the sailboats in Tyrell Bay and was lucky enough to spot not one, but two little turtle heads popping above the water. So cute!

After returning the kayak, it was easy to enjoy a little swim in Tyrell Bay and Bunny then head to the Slipway restaurant for a delicious lunch. A day well spent, Bunny says.

Getting There

Bunny rented a double-seater flat kayak for half a day at Dive Carriacou in Tyrell Bay. Their office is located right next to Tyrell Bay Beach so it could not be easier for reaching the mangroves. 

The rental process was totally hassle-free. You don’t have to sign any waivers or pay in advance.  Most of the time, you can just walk in and grab a free kayak. Just make sure you catch the staff before about 9 am when they leave for their daily scuba diving excursions.

Half a day of double kayak rental cost 45 USD. All of the equipment is included, although no life jackets were offered, or requested by Bunny, for that matter. A couple of hours is plenty of time for this excursion.

Image of Bunny at Dive Carriacou
Image of oyster bed sign

Sandy Island/Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area

Both Sandy Island and the mangroves are part of a special marine protected area that was established by the Government of Grenada in 2010. The protected area includes extensive reef systems with a wide variety of coral species, oyster beds, mangrove forests and sea-grass beds. It is considered as one of the most important marine ecosystems in the region.

The protected area aims to strike a balance between socio-economic and environmental sustainability in Carriacou. There has been some controversy about the new marina and port yard built in Tyrell Bay recently, but hopefully the situation has now calmed down and the mangroves will continue to flourish in Carriacou.

The oyster bed area is also important to boat owners who use it to shelter their boats during tropical storms.

Conclusions

Exploring beautiful Carriacou from the surface of the sea is highly recommended. Kayaking to Sandy Island and paddling around the mangroves are two very different, but equally charming options. The kayaking in both cases is mostly gentle, suitable for beginners and totally doable without a guide.

Image of Bunny paw prints

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