Carriacou

Carriacou, the smaller sister island of Grenada, offers a taste of the old Caribbean. As a part of the Grenadine Islands, this lovely little place offers an unspoiled paradise as well as the amenities modern travelers require. With beautiful beaches, welcoming hotels, and so much more, this small island is big on things to do. Forged over the vast reaches of time by volcanic activity, the two-mile Carriacou stretches for seven miles, with the Caribbean Sea lapping against its shores.

For many people, a trip to the beach tops their list of things to do on Carriacou Island. Hillsborough, the island's biggest city, is lined by a stretch of beach along the bay of the same name. Just steps away, you'll find charming shops and some of the Carriacou hotels. Many of the inner-island ferries from Grenada and Petite Martinique arrive at the beach, so you can start enjoying the sand and surf within minutes of arriving.

Paradise Beach is another popular place to experience a taste of the Caribbean. This white-sand beach and sheltered reef means excellent conditions for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. A charming little bar is just steps away. Close to the beaches, many of the dive shops will provide equipment and guides for all of the things to do on Carriacou Island in and around the world.

La Roche Beach is difficult to reach, but those who make the hike along the well-marked trail will be rewarded with amazing views and some of the best snorkeling anywhere. The sandy beach, complete with rocky formations off shore, is also accessible by speedboat if want an easier way to get to the sandy shores. Petite Carenage Beach, another stretch of sandy shore accessible by a marked trail, is known for its strong surf and sea turtles. After dark, local guides lead tours through the mangroves in search of nesting turtles.

Beyond the beaches, many of the things to do on Carriacou Island are located in the city of Hillsborough. Of course, with only seven miles from stem to stern, it won't take long to get to where you want to go. The main city, built in the last years of the eighteenth century, has many original buildings remaining, including colorful gingerbread houses. Many of the grand plantation homes have been transformed, now housing shops and restaurants. One of the buildings now houses the Carriacou Museum. The island's historical society has assembled an interesting collections of items from the Natives, Europeans, and current residents, sharing the stories of the people who shaped history. Nearby, you'll find the botanical gardens that are a lovely place for a stroll.

Several of the Carriacou attractions are located within the confines of Belair National Park, where visitors can learn about the influence of the French and English settlers. A variety of trails meander through the park, and are great to watch for wildlife and admire the beauty of the teak forest. As you explore the park on foot, you'll also have the chance to see historic ruins of former plantation house, as well as old windmills.

After dark, you'll find the chance to experience the island's dining scene and settle into one of the hotels. While all of the big luxury hotels are over on Grenada, the collection of Carriacou hotels are small and charming, most under 30 rooms. Whether you choose a small hotel, one of the cottages, or rambling villas, the views and the service will both prove excellent. Many of the Carriacou hotels may be off the beaten path, but they don't sacrifice modern conveniences.

Image: Grenada Board of Tourism

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