My Grenada Grenadines Beach, Gecko and Grenadian girl

Activities    Beaches    Calendar    Diving    Ecology    Exploring    Geography    History   Home  Restaurants & Nightlife    Tourist Offices    Grenada Tours    Travel Tips    Grenada Weddings
Whales & Dolphins    MDDM    Carriacou    Carriacou Hotels    Grenada    Grenada Hotels  Grenadines    Petite Martinique    Petite Martinique Hotels    Grenada Video


Churches: The principal churches are Catholic and Anglican, both located in Hillsborough. Several other denominations, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, and Evangelists among them, also have small churches on the island.

A warm welcome is assured Lauriston Airport Hillsborough main street

Carriacou is the largest of the group of islands known as the Grenadines, which lie scattered between St Vincent and Grenada. It is part of the independent tri-island nation of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, and is 23 miles northeast of Grenada at 12 28' N, 61 28' W. Hillsborough, the only town, is the port of entry, and there are also several small villages scattered throughout the island. Carriacouans are industrious and most are self-employed, announcing their services in hand-lettered signs: They fix tyres, make furniture, print menus, shoot passport photos, straighten ladies' hair, and record music, all in the span of just a couple of streets. The island's architecture shows both whimsy and practicality and says a lot about island life. Hand-sawn fretwork and hand-chipped stone embellish simple houses whose jalousied or glassless windows let in the cool trade winds. Planters, recycled from plastic buckets, trim cottage stoops, and front yards are furrowed into rows of corn and pigeon peas. Though many of the islanders don't have much in terms of material goods, they express well-being. You will see babies delighting in their morning sea bath, men playing earnest games of soccer on the beach, and night-time gatherings at the crossroads for conversation.

Hillsborough, Carriacou's one town, has an unprepossessing Main Street: some storefronts are empty, paint is peeling on others. But take a closer look and you will see its history in the stone and shingled buildings, balconied second floors, and the beautiful, dressed-stone remains of a lime warehouse, being carefully and conscientiously salvaged in an overgrown lot.

An impressive number of Amerindian artefacts have been found here, (a few years ago a dig in Harvey Vale uncovered several complete human skeletons, burial masks, a drinking well and other remnants leading speculation toward a 1,000+ year old Taino site) including ceramic body ornaments and loom weights.

Roads built by the French in the seventeenth century, now bowered by overreaching trees, crisscross the island and make wonderful walking trails. Summer Year 2001 was the reconstruction of the major commercial road network island wide. Until its completion we had patience and endurance as the old roads were removed and replaced with concrete. The cotton, sugar, and indigo plantations established by the English in the 1700s and 1800s may be long gone, but there still remain their great houses and outbuildings (in various stages of repair) in cow pastures and trackless woodlands.

Unique Carriacou boats Hillsborough Harbour A mecca for cruising yachts

Carriacou is a volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs. 7 miles long, 3 miles wide, with a central ridge of some 300 feet and two high points of approximately 955 feet. The island is sparsely developed (pop. 6000 in 13 sq miles). There are many original chattel houses and some plantation ruins with old windmills and mellow stonework against a backdrop of the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean.

Carriacouans also like to celebrate: "Fisherman's Birthday" is a once-a-year, three day fête at which everyone seems to join in the swimming races, tug-of-war, domino games, and dancing. For Carnival, villagers competitively recite Shakespeare, and at weddings, four-piece bands play for intricate quadrilles which spouse will dominate. Even a foreboding dream may be a cause for a festival: To avoid a drastic event a "Maroon" is held with "smoke food," hymns, and the playing of Big Drums.

Nonetheless, Carriacou is on most days a quiet place where you get up with the sun and go to bed with the moon's rising. Time has no meaning; thermometers do not exist. Cows cool themselves on the beach and braying donkeys graze at roadsides, and though Canute Caliste's naive paintings have been internationally recognised, he is proudest of his 23 children and more than 200 grandchildren.

Even with just a little over 100 "beds" on the island, Carriacou has an astonishing range of accommodations, from plain guesthouses with shared facilities to airy mountainside suites to private cottages and villas. Simplicity, however, is the order of the day: Closets are routinely minute, soap is the only amenity, showers are most often without temperature controls.


A naturalists dream come true

It is not uncommon to see donkeys , or a hen with her chicks, in Main Street. Once out of the tiny town, huge tracts of wooded hills drop down to near deserted coastlines. Beaches range from volcanic black in places to the purest white on the many easily accessible sandbanks and uninhabited out-islands. Eastern beaches have a deserted and abandoned atmosphere with twisted, sea-whitened tree trunks and ancient graveyards. Western beaches are softer and have traditional fishing boat and schooner activity among the shoreline palms. The out-islands of White and Sandy offer 'desert island' shooting at its best, with some of the finest water colours to be found in the world.

Carriacou's obvious attractions are the gorgeous waters - clear, warm, with white-sand seafloors, and there are always local boat operators willing to take you to the many nearby, uninhabited off-islands if you have already taken the time to explore the beaches around the island itself. The close-in reefs abound with fairy basslets and stoplight parrotfish, even queen triggerfishes and schools of squid. Extensive coral beds that a snorkeller can reach from the beach provide hours of enjoyment. Explore the island and find the Santa Maria trees whose fragrant leaves are used in herbal remedies. Walk the often sylvan roads and trails. Greet the women in their gardens, children wheeling hand-made toys, young men playing soccer in the road. Always take plenty of water and don't pass-up one of the 100 rum shops where you can get - besides rum and conversation - beer and sodas.

Making the films of the Islands is such hard work

Carriacou has perhaps a dozen restaurants but a multitude of eating establishments. However, daily research is required: Stop by the restaurants, bars, and rum shops. Ask what they are cooking that day, for even in season what you see on the menu is not necessarily what you'll be offered - menus merely suggest the range of the cook's skills. Since they rely on fresh foods, their repertoire is determined by availability. Most, if not all produce is imported from Grenada, St. Vincent or Trinidad, so don't expect California-size salads. But the fish is always wonderful -- usually two or three kinds, almost always including the local specialty lambi, or conch, or lobster when in season (after 1 September).

History: From the many discoveries on Carriacou of pottery and tools, it is known that around 1000 AD. Arawaks, followed by Caribs, both from South America, settled on the island. The earliest written records go back to 1656 when the name was spelt Kayryouacou, originating, it is believed, from the Carib meaning "land surrounded by reef".

Carriacou was settled by the French, but in 1763 was ceded with Grenada to the British. The majority of the inhabitants today are of African descent, with the influence in the island mainly British, such as driving on the left, though French names are still noticed, especially in the L'Esterre area. The village of Windward was home to a group of Scottish boat builders who settled here in the 19th century. 


The Scottish names and boat building skills have been passed down through the generations. Many locally built boats from small fishing sloops to large trading schooners are seen in the Carriacou waters. Boat building is still carried out in the traditional way on the beaches but fewer have been built in recent years.

In former times Carriacou produced mostly cotton with some sugar, limes, coffee and cocoa. Today the inhabitants grow corn and pigeon peas for their own consumption and subsistence farming, live stock rearing, fishing and seafaring form the main occupations.

At 955 feet above sea level, High Point North is the highest point in Carriacou. This national park encompasses the complete spectrum of ecological systems in Carriacou. It includes L’Anse La Roche, the most scenic and private beach in Carriacou, where coral reefs and outstanding volcanic and uplifted sedimentary formations are clearly visible. The littoral vegetation of sea grape, manchineel and coconut is well developed. The park is the most undisturbed area of Carriacou.

Carriacou Fossil Beds: The fossil beds at Grand Bay are The only known beds in the country which are plainly visible. They provide excellent information, exposing millions of years of archaeology in the rock layers including prehistoric shellfish, some of which are long since extinct. Shore birds can be seen searching for crustaceans in the mudflats of the lagoon. The adjacent coral reefs are unquestionably this nations finest. Panoramic views of the reefs may be seen from various lookout points on both Saline and White Island.

Belair National Park offers fabulous views over the north of the island and beyond Petite Martinique.
Belair also has old French and English ruins and the finest sugar mill and windmill foundations on the island.

Sandy Island Marine Park: Surrounded by white sands, this tiny island has the most spectacular coral reef, the home of shoals of variegated tropical fish, in clear blue water. Ideal for picnics, this beautiful island has been used for television and magazine advertisements.

Saline Island and White Island Marine Park present examples of fascinating geology. Columnar jointing of the rock formations indicate major volcanic activity. Saline Island has a brackish lagoon salt pond surrounded by a mangrove ecosystem. White Island is a marine park because of its virgin reefs, and shoals of exotic tropical fish.

Petit Carenage Bay: The mangrove ecosystems at Petit Carenage Bay are among the most developed in country. Both the mangrove swamp formation and littoral sand beach vegetation are found. This is one of the finest mangrove and mud flat ecosystems. Here numerous migratory and shorebirds can be found. The area is one of the best bird-watching spots in the country.

Tyrell Bay: At Tyrell Bay ‘tree oysters’ grow on mangrove roots. The oyster beds can be visited by boat, and the trail back to L’Esterre is spectacular with wonderful views.

Underwater Study: The introduction of the ‘Carriacou Islander’, a 35 foot motor powered catamaran, has opened exciting new possibilities for both Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The 16 x 4 feet underwater observation window, which can be raised and lowered as required has the double advantage of allowing very close views of the tropical reef and fishes while avoiding possible damage to this fragile ecosystem. There is a library and running commentary, which provides study opportunities for those with a special interest in marine life.

Activities   Beaches   Calendar   Diving   Ecology   Exploring   Geography   History   Home  Restaurants & Nightlife   Tourist Offices   Grenada Tours   Travel Tips   Grenada Weddings
hales & Dolphins   MDDM
   Carriacou   Carriacou Hotels   Grenada   Grenada Hotels  Grenadines   Petite Martinique   Petite Martinique Hotels   Video