A Carriacou Love Story aka The Alybiz Carriacou Travel Guide

This is a story about how this island girl found love in Carriacou…
 
It’s difficult to pinpoint just one moment that made me fall in love with Carriacou. Perhaps it was while on a speedboat at golden hour after devouring the best whole snapper I’ve ever had on Anse La Roche beach. Or maybe it was finally seeing Shakespeare mas in person. It could have happened years before on that night in Hillsborough when my friend, after threatening to curry a crab, got chased by said crab. Though, to be honest, it was probably that time I was informed that the key to happiness is marrying a Kayak man and moving to Carriacou.
 
Prior to October 2022, I’d been to Carriacou a handful of times in my entire life – no more than 5, I reckon. Then, in the space of a little more than a year, from October 2022 – December 2023, I went 9 times.  “You building a house there or you found a husband?” my friends teased. Following my Mexico adventure in March 2022 (which I still haven’t written about), Carriacou was my only “overseas” travel until September 2023. No wonder I fell in love.
 
Life gets hectic and sometimes we need to take a break and get away. If you’re looking for a quick getaway where time seems to go a little slower so you can truly relax and unwind, then look no further than Carriacou. Since I can think of no better re-introduction to Adventures of an Island Girl, here is my Alybiz Carriacou Travel Guide to help make your Carriacou travel planning a little easier.

The Alybiz Carriacou Travel Guide

 
The island of Carriacou is the largest of Grenada’s dependencies. Known as the Cradle of Culture and the Isle of Reefs, head to Carriacou to experience tradition in action – boat building,  stringband music, village maroons – and dive, snorkel and frolic in stunning, turquoise water.

Getting to Carriacou

 

Carriacou travel guide
Map (not drawn to scale) showing Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Image via geology.com

 
From Grenada, Carriacou is easily accessible by sea and air.

By Sea

 
There are 3 commercial passenger options for travel between Grenada and Carriacou: Osprey Lines, MV Dolly C and Tyrell Bay Express. The Osprey departs Grenada from the Queen’s Jetty on the Carenage, while the Dolly C and Tyrell Bay Express depart from the Caricom Wharf (entrance on Port Highway). All three vessels arrive at and depart from the Tyrell Bay Port in Carriacou. Schedules and fares may change, so please contact the vessels directly to confirm schedules and fares when making your travel plans. On the day of travel, plan to arrive at the boat at least 30 minutes before departure.
 
Carriacou Travel Guide

Alybiz Tip: Depending on the time of year, the ride up might be rough. If you’re prone to seasickness or just not sure how you’ll fare, take Dramamine or Gravol. Weather permitting, get an open air seat.
 
Osprey Lines: the Osprey ferry travels 6 days a week – Monday to Saturday. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the ferry departs Carriacou at 6:00am and 3:30pm and Grenada at 9:00am and 5:30pm. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the ferry departs Grenada at 9:00am and departs Carriacou at 3:30pm. The trip is approx. 1.5 – 2 hours each way. Fares [ow/rt] are EC $80/$160 for adults (12 years and older); $50/$100 for children (5 – 11 years); $10/$20 for infants (4 years and under). Purchase your tickets from the Osprey offices on the HA Blaize Street, St. George’s or Main Street, Hillsborough or before you board the ferry.
 
MV Dolly C: the Dolly C travels 3 days a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday – departing Carriacou at 5am and Grenada at 4pm. The trip is approx. 3 – 3.5 hours each way. Fares [ow/rt] are EC $50/$100 for adults (14 years and older); $35/$70 for children (8 – 13 years); $25/$50 for children (3 – 7 years). Purchase your tickets before boarding the vessel or call 473-410-2055 to reserve your seat.
 
The Dolly C also facilitates transportation of vehicles, so you can head to Carriacou with your car or SUV. The rates are EC $300 one-way or $400 return and include the driver.
 
Tyrell Bay Express: the Tyrell Bay Express travels 3 days a week – Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday – departing Carriacou at 5:00am and Grenada at 5:00pm. The trip is approx. 2.5 – 3 hours each way. Fares [ow/rt] are EC $50/$100 for adults (13 years and older); $35/$70 for children (7 – 12 years); $25/$50 for children (2 – 6 years). Tyrell Bay Express also has private cabins that you can book for EC $100. Purchase your tickets from the Tyrell Bay Express office in Tanteen, St. George’s or before boarding the vessel.
 
Traveling with your car? Rates are EC $200 one-way or $300 return and include the driver.

By Air

 
SVG Air currently flies twice a day, five days a week – Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – between Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport and Carriacou’s Lauriston Airport. The aircraft is a 19-seat Twin Otter, so it’s an intimate 15-20 minute flight. One-way fares are US $69 for adults; $49 for children (2 – 9 years); $39 for infants (in lap). Book flights via their Grenadine Alliance website. From Grenada, plan to arrive at the airport at least an hour before your flight. From Carriacou, arrive at least 30 minutes before.
 
Carriacou travel guide

Alybiz Tip: If you’re heading to Carriacou just for the day, flying is your best bet to make maximum use of your hours on the ground. But, it is the most expensive. Try flying up in the morning and taking the boat (Osprey) back down that afternoon for a more cost-effective option.

Where to Stay

 
Accommodation in Carriacou ranges from small hotels and guesthouses to cottages and villas. For this Carriacou travel guide, I have listed a few options where I’ve stayed, but you’ll find a lot more over on sites like Expedia, Booking.com, Airbnb and the Pure Grenada website.

  • Mermaid Beach Hotel: Located right on Hillsborough Beach. The rooms are spacious and with the beach mere steps away from your room, it’s the perfect choice if you want to hit the beach as soon as you wake up!
  • The Town House: The Town House is, as the name suggests, right in town. It’s great for business travelers – very comfortable with a kitchenette and work desk/table. My only word of caution is that if you’re staying during one of the festivals – Kayak Mas and Regatta especially – be prepared to stay up late with the action on the street below.
  • Hotel Laurena: Also in Hillsborough, Hotel Laurena is another convenient choice for business travelers, as well as families and groups.
  • Bogles Round House: The cottages at Bogles Round House are quaint and comfortable. You won’t find a TV in your room, so grab a book from the bookshelf, unplug, unwind and relax! It’s in the village of Bogles, so if staying here, you’ll want to have a vehicle.
  • Cox Sands Cottage: Cox Sands, on the Airport Stretch, is a two-bedroom cottage with lots of space, inside and out! Great for group getaways (sleeps 6), with ample space for entertaining. The backyard is huge and there is a gazebo and bbq grill. And it’s right across the road from the beach.
  • Pelicans: Pelicans is a three-bedroom villa with a pool and gorgeous view. It is part of the Down Island Villa Rentals collection of villas. These villas are an excellent choice for larger family trips and group getaways. This villa, and several others in the Down Island collection, is located in Craigston Estate, therefore a vehicle is necessary.

 
Alybiz Tip: if you’re heading to Carriacou for one of the festivals, book your accommodation early!

What to Do

 
Despite its size, things to do in Carriacou are plentiful. Here are some from my “must-do” list:

Go Island Hopping

 
Spend the day out on the water “hopping” around the small islands surrounding Carriacou. Each island offers something different – you’ll spot turtles at Saline Island and feel some of the softest sand ever on White Island. Sandy Island is great for lounging and snorkeling.
 

After hopping around with Mr. Levy on a scouting trip in October [see the Youtube video above], I booked Carriacou’s Unspoilt Islands day tour with Lambi Queen Tours for my family’s trip in December. The experience offered snacks and drinks, including Captain Sherwin’s famous rum punch, and lunch on Anse La Roche beach (more on this in a bit!) Check out some other Carriacou boat tours.

Take an Island Tour

Views, views, views! Photo: John James

 
Carriacou is definitely an “instagrammable” island. From the stunning views to well-preserved historical sites like the Belair Windmill and the Indigo ‘Ningo’ Well, there’s a lot to see and learn as you drive around Carriacou.
 
Carriacou travel guide
Belair Windmill

Carriacou travel guide
Your island tour is not complete without a photo op from the hospital hill.

 
If you’re into history, the Carriacou Museum, housed in an old cotton ginnery on Paterson street, is well worth the visit.

Relax on Paradise…

 
Beach that is! Paradise Beach is one of Carriacou’s best and the best in the Caribbean. Don’t just take my word for it, Paradise Beach once again captured the top spot in the 2024 USA Today’s Readers’ Choice awards for Best Caribbean Beach.
 
Carriacou travel guide

While on Paradise Beach, you’ll find amenities such as a public restroom and food and drink. Perfect for a beach day!

Go Diving

 
Carriacou isn’t called the Isle of Reefs for nothing! With more than 30 dive sites, Carriacou is a ‘must-dive’ if you are PADI certified. Dive shops in Carriacou include Deefer Diving, Lumbadive, Dive Carriacou and Incognito Adventures. Not yet a diver? Book a snorkel trip instead!

Go Hiking

 
Get those steps in and go for a hike up High North – Carriacou’s highest point. Once up at the top, you’ll find sweeping views of Carriacou and surrounding islands. While on the hike, keep your eyes open for a diverse wildlife – birds, tortoises, iguanas, and more. Stop by the Grenada Tourism Authority‘s office in Hillsborough to arrange a tour with a nature guide so that you can get the most out of your time at the High North National Park.

Getting Around

 
With only 13 sq. miles to explore, getting around Carriacou on wheels is easy. Whether you choose to drive yourself or have someone else drive you, here are a few resources:

Driving Yourself

 
If you decide not to head to Carriacou with your vehicle (via Dolly C or Tyrell Bay Express), you can get a rental from one of these companies:

  • Wayne’s Auto Rental Services (473-443-6120)
  • Franklyn’s Auto Rental Services (473-443-8496/456-5084)
  • Authentic Rentals (473-443-7228)
  • Talk Back Auto Rental (473-406-7246)
  • Sunkeys Auto Rental (473-456-5655)

Hiring A Driver

 
If you’re just in Carriacou for the day or you’re traveling with your entire squad, you can hire a taxi driver to take you around. Here are a few contacts:

  • Lincoln Bedeau aka Linky (473-406-2457)
  • Moses Bartholomew (473-419-1757)
  • Norbert Allert (473-404-8832)
  • Raymond John (473-403-5898)
  • Julian Morris (473-420-5105)
  • Stanley Mitchell (473-449-4482/419-0714)
  • Kenny Joseph (473-404-9458)

 
Carriacou has standard taxi fares, which are published by the Grenada Tourism Authority’s Carriacou office. Always confirm the fare before beginning your ride.

Taking Public Transportation

 
Public transportation in Carriacou follows the same system as Grenada. Buses typically run Monday – Saturday from about 6am to 7pm. There are 3 zones, with one route in each zone. Just like Grenada, there isn’t a set schedule, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself waiting for a bus for a while. The standard bus fare is EC$3.50.

Where to Eat

 

Carriacou travel guide
Waterfront dining at The Original Slipway

 
And now for the most important part of this Carriacou travel guide – where to get the delicious foods! Here are a few spots worth checking out.

Quick and Easy

  • Kayak Kafe, Hillsborough. Open for breakfast and lunch. They’ve got a variety of local juices available with some interesting blends. Be sure to try one!
  • Patty’s Deli, Hillsborough. My fav spot for a sandwich and cappuccino.
  • Original Sunset Jerk, Hillsborough. Popular spot with daily lunch specials. The lunch specials often go quickly, so if you’re in town for lunch, go early!
  • Mr. Grill International, Hillsborough. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And they stay open late!
  • Bayside Cafe, Tyrell Bay. Located a few minutes away from the Tyrell Bay Port, Bayside Cafe is the new restaurant in the space that was previously Big Citi Grill. Bayside Cafe’s official opening is March 30th and I expect it’ll still be a solid option when you’ve just come off the ferry, especially at night.

Relax & Stay a While

  • Paradise Beach Club, L’Esterre. There’s so much I can say about Paradise Beach Club! Great food, drinks and service. The menu changes daily, and there are themed nights during the week. For example, from September – April, every Monday is their special lobster barbecue. Another plus, if you’re having lunch at the restaurant, you’ll get discounted return boat ride to Sandy Island.
  • Lookout Lounge and Restaurant at Cassada Bay Resort, Belmont. Go for the view, stay for a meal. Open for lunch and dinner. Make sure to order a CBR rum punch!
  • Las Iguanas aka Iguana Cafe at Carriacou Marine, Hermitage. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and there’s pizza!
  • The Original Slipway, Hermitage. Operated by the same owners as Las Iguanas and the Restaurant at Bogles Round House (open for dinner only Wednesdays to Saturdays), Original Slipway offers a fresh, delicious menu that changes based on what’s available.
  • Tim’s Sunset Bar and Restaurant, Anse La Roche beach. By boat is really your best option to get to Anse La Roche beach. So, whether it’s as a stop on your island hopping tour or you go straight there from Hillsborough, I definitely recommend including lunch at Tim’s during your trip to Carriacou. The meal includes your choice of lobster (if in season), fish, lambie, chicken or pork, and family style sides of potato, fried plantains and salad. Sooo good!

When to Visit

 
It’s always a good time to visit Carriacou! If you’re a lobster lover, plan your trip around lobster season, which runs from September 1 – April 30th. Like Grenada, Carriacou has two seasons – wet (June – December) and dry (January – May). If visiting during dry season especially, embrace the water conservation efforts and do your part to save water.
 
One of the things I love the most about Carriacou is the emphasis placed on promoting and preserving the culture and traditions of the island. The best time to see this culture on display is during a festival, of which Carriacou has many. There are 6 major annual festivals, and I was fortunate enough to attend all of them.
 
Let’s take a look:

Kayak Mas – Carriacou Carnival (February/March)

 
Carriacou’s Carnival – Kayak Mas – is a pre-Lenten celebration climaxing on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  Like Grenada’s Carnival – Spicemas – Kayak Mas features calypso, groovy and soca competitions, Queen Show, J’ouvert, Fancy Mas, and Monday Night Mas. But what makes Kayak Mas unique is its traditional mas, Shakespeare Mas.
 
Carriacou is the only place in the world where you’ll find Shakespeare Mas, where Shakespeareans “battle” with speeches, i.e. reciting lines from Shakespeare. Shakespeare Mas is registered as one of Grenada’s Intangible Cultural Heritage elements. Check out this video to learn more.
 
On Carnival Monday, J’ouvert, Fancy Mas and Monday Night Mas take place on the streets of Hillsborough. On Carnival Tuesday, catch the Shakespeare Mas in villages such as Mount Royal and Six Roads at 8am. Then, the Shakespeareans come down to Hillsborough for a final battle.
 

Carriacou travel guide
Shakespeare Mas at 2023 Carriacou Carnival. Photo: Sister Isles Media Services

 
Alybiz Tip: You’re going to need to book your accommodation months in advance if you’re planning to experience Kayak Mas. Rooms sell out quickly!

Carriacou Maroon & Stringband Music Festival (April)

 
The Carriacou Maroon &  Stringband Music Festival, held the last weekend in April, highlights two of Carriacou’s cultural practices – the village maroon and stringband music.
 
According to the Carriacou Historical Society, the maroon is a cultural mainstay of Carriacou. “A bedrock of the culture, maroon continues to bind communities and unify the island’s citizenry. Annually held at the end of each dry season, it remains a wonderful celebration to share, give thanks for Carriacou’s bounty, and ritually invoke abundance for the year ahead.”
 
The Carriacou Maroon & Stringband Music Festival has 3 days of activities. Day 1 – Friday – starts at 6:00am with the “wetting of the ground”, i.e. a blessing with rum and water, where the maroon will take place later that day. From the Historical Society as well, “at each maroon, there is a an abundance of Saraca: plates of delicious rolled rice (just like that in West Africa), smooth rolled corn, tasty stewed peas, and well-seasoned island pork, chicken, and beef.”
 

Carriacou travel guide
My plate on Day 1 of 2023 Maroon and Stringband Music Festival

 
Once the sun goes down, the drumming begins. There’s a flambeau parade, Big Drum Dance and other performances.
 
Day 2 – Saturday – is Strings in the City in Hillsborough with stringband music, quadrille dancing, and a traditional wedding display with flag and cake dancing. Later that evening, musicians, singers and dancers from Carriacou and neighbouring islands take the stage for the Cultural Explosion.
 
Day 3 – Sunday – takes the festival to Paradise Beach for more cultural performances and live music.
 
Carriacou travel guide
Big Drum dance on Day 2 of 2023 Maroon and Stringband Music Festival. Photo: Sister Isles Media Services

 

May Pole dance on Day 3 of the 2023 Maroon and Stringband Music Festival. Photo: Sister Isles Media Services

Petite Martinique Whitsuntide Regatta Festival (May/June)

 
Held over the Whitsuntide weekend, the Petite Martinique Whitsuntide Regatta features traditional wooden boat racing and on-shore activities on Sanchez beach. The festivities also include a big show and a beach J’ouvert. Petite Martinique is only accessible by boat, and during the regatta weekend you’ll be able to get a boat to take you across from the jetty in Windward. Don’t leave PM without stopping by Simply Sweet Bakery for a delicious treat and taking your photo at the “I Love Petite Martinique sign”.

 

Carriacou travel guide
Boats lining up to race at 2023 Petite Martinique Whitsuntide Regatta Festival. Photo Discover Carriacou and Petite Martinique

 
Carriacou travel guide

Carriacou Regatta Festival (August)

 
The Carriacou Regatta Festival, which started in 1965, is the Caribbean’s longest running regatta over the Emancipation long weekend, i.e. the weekend before the first Monday in August. There is fierce competition among large and small deck sloops, workboats and even remote controlled model boats as they race in their respective categories. The Round-the-Island race happens on Saturday and the shorter races, such as the Windward to Hillsborough race, take place on Sunday and Monday.
 

Carriacou travel guide
A shot of Glacier during the 2023 Carriacou Regatta Round-the-Island race. Glacier ultimately placed second to Windward Pride.

 
After the races on Sunday and Monday, the action heads to the streets of Hillsborough in front of the Regatta Jupa for the on-shore activities. In addition to the entertainment and some cultural performances, the activities also include  competitions and races for children and adults, including dancing, water balloon throwing, mango eating, balloon shaving, beer drinking and weightlifting. For races, there’s needle & thread, egg & spoon, and even a donkey race. The highly anticipated greasy pole didn’t happen in 2023, but hopefully it returns in 2024.
 
In 2023, traditional boat building in Carriacou and Petite Martinique was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative  List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Traditional wooden boat building is a centuries-old tradition still practiced in Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Learn more about it here.

Carriacou Corn Festival (October)

 
Carriacou is known for growing large quantities of corn, and many of their traditional foods are corn based. Indulge in a variety of corn dishes, while enjoying stringband music and other entertainment. Corn Festival takes place on the last Sunday of October at Footprint Bar close to the Lauriston Airport.
 

Green corn dumplings at Corn Festival 2023. Discover Carriacou and Petite Martinique

Carriacou Parang Festival (December)

 
The last in Carriacou’s line up of festivals is the Carriacou Parang Festival, which takes place the weekend before Christmas. During the festival, which spans 3 days, parang bands first compete with traditional Christmas carols in the Hosanna Carols competition on the Friday night. Then, there’s a concert on Saturday night, and the bands return on Sunday night for the Melée Parang competition.
 

Carriacou travel guide
Hosanna Carols competition on Day 1 of the 2023 Carriacou Parang Festival

And that’s it with this Carriacou travel guide for now…

 
Carriacou is truly a special little island. And I’m glad to be able to share some of it with you. There are still more restaurants to try, places to stay and things to do, so check back often for updates. Have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!
 
P.S: In case you’re wondering if there’s an actual romantic love story here, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I haven’t married a Kayak man and moved to Carriacou!
 

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12 Comments

  1. Katherine A MacNeil January 29, 2024 at 5:26 pm

    Great read! Glad you are back!

    Reply
    1. Alybiz January 30, 2024 at 2:26 pm

      Thank you so much!

      Reply
  2. Joshua Y. January 29, 2024 at 6:22 pm

    That Petite Martinique sign has too many characters. Time for a moniker. Barbados has Bim. Petique? Petti Q? Pimmie? IDK.

    Reply
    1. Alybiz January 30, 2024 at 2:27 pm

      Joshua! LOL!

      Reply
  3. Sue January 31, 2024 at 6:37 am

    Interesting, informative, and a pleasure to read.

    Reply
    1. Alybiz January 31, 2024 at 9:23 am

      Thank you!

      Reply
  4. Olivia A January 31, 2024 at 7:10 am

    Lovely read and great info!

    Just a correction – Cassada bay resort is located in Belmont or Machineel, (foundly pronounced Marchalla by locals) not located in Belle Vue.

    Reply
    1. Alybiz January 31, 2024 at 9:22 am

      Hi Olivia, thank you so much! Correction has been made!

      Reply
  5. Jonnel Edwards January 31, 2024 at 4:59 pm

    Now THIS is Carriacou, curated. Lovely piece, AlyB!

    Reply
    1. Alybiz February 1, 2024 at 12:41 pm

      Thank you! <3

      Reply
  6. Faheem February 1, 2024 at 10:41 am

    I honestly didn’t know we had vehicle ferries going. And so regularly too! This was comprehensive af btw.

    Reply
    1. Alybiz February 1, 2024 at 12:42 pm

      Yes, we’ve got plenty options to head over. 😀

      Reply

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