You may have never heard of the island of Carriacou. It’s one of the seven that make up the island nation of Grenada in the British West Indies, and it’s adorable.
Fewer than 8,000 people live on Carriacou, including one of the world’s oldest people. We didn’t meet her, but we were told she is 113 years old. The people of Carriacou boast that they have one gas station, four doctors and more than 100 rum shops on the island. Perhaps it’s the amount of rum they consume that helps them live so long.
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How To Get to Carriacou
While there is a little hopper inter-island flight from St. George’s Grenada to Hillsborough Carriacou, most people take the Osprey ferry. It’s a pleasant enough two hour ride where you have the choice of riding inside in comfy, cozy seats or up top, enjoying the breeze, the fresh air and happy seagulls that follow along.
If you’re prone to sea sickness, this is when you want to be seated near a bathroom or the outside rail. That lasts for just 20 minutes or so and the rest of the ride into Carriacou is smooth sailing.
Diving the Reefs of Carriacou
Many people who come to Carriacou are scuba divers. While Grenada is nicknamed “the island of spices,” Carriacou is known as “the island of reefs,” which are fairly healthy and unspoiled here. On the Caribbean side of the island, the water is usually clear and calm for people of all skill levels, and with 32 dive sites, you can spend a lot of time underwater here and still not see it all.
We didn’t have time for a dive on this trip, but our friend David Noyes dived Carriacou and particularly enjoyed the famous Sandy Island Garden during a September visit. These underwater photos are his, taken with a Olympus Tough camera.
“What was most special about Carriacou is the remoteness of the location and how quiet both the town and waters were. I imagine this is different in high season, but for me, the escape from “resort diving” with a dozen other people, was a pleasure. I had my own private guide buddy and took the time to explore and enjoy the beautiful underwater world of the southern Caribbean.”
When diving Carriacou, please use sunscreen that does not harm the coral reefs, such as
Boat Builders on Carriacou
We were delighted to visit with Anthony McLawrence who is a fourth generation boat builder on Carriacou. I asked about his name – McLawrence, which is very definitely Scottish. I didn’t expect that there’s such a large population of Scottish and Irish boat builders on Carriacou. Anthony fells the white cedar trees on the island and cuts the wood himself.
Prior to beginning construction, Anthony says they sacrifice a lamb, an ancient tradition that is said to keep all of the workers safe. Another animal is sacrificed when the boat is finished, just before it is launched in the water, to keep crew and passengers safe on its many journeys.
Anthony’s boats, like this one in the distance, sell for US$100,000 and can be found throughout the Caribbean and along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. The island is becoming well known for regattas that feature handcrafted, wooden boats. I’d love to go back to Carriacou just take a sail in one of Anthony’s special boats.
Where to Eat on Carriacou
On an island as small as Carriacou, you might worry about finding a good place to eat, but wow, do we have two great recommendations. The first is Bogles Round House and it is what the name claims it to be – a round house. It was built in 1991 by the Russel family using all local, natural materials. Have you seen anything like these window frames? Seriously, it’s an iron spider web.
The lived here for nearly 20 years and now the daughter, Roxanne, is the chef and owner of the Round House Restaurant. I had a tasty tomato tart topped with local goat cheese and a callaloo tortellini. Callaloo is kind of like spinach and used in many Caribbean dishes.
The other great restaurant is simply called the Slipway Restaurant, a typical beach shack on Tyrrel Bay. We had salads and shrimp, but the main reason to go is the Mango Shortcake. Any questions?
Creative Treats on Carriacou
The history museum on Carriacou is remarkable for such a remote island. It contains artwork by Canute Caliste, who was considered a Grenadian national treasure. The museum also has an amazing collection of artifacts from the Arawak natives who first inhabited these islands. It’s worth your time, really.
And then right down the road is a fun little shop that was closed when we were there, but I’m determined to visit when I go back to sail on one of Anthony McLawrence’s boats.
The shop is called Creative Women Carriacou. They take old sails from sail boats and old clothes and turn them into tote bags they call “Carriacool Bags.”
On a little island like this, the conditions of the world’s oceans are the highest priority, so one use plastic bags and other plastics are frowned upon. It seems they have other cute items in the shop, so I simply have to go back and see what it’s all about.
Won’t you join me?
If you’re visiting Grenada or Carriacou, you may want to check out these guidebooks in advance: