Grenada & Carriacou guide
Grenada & Carriacou at a glance
GRENADA, CARRIACOU AND PETITE MARTINIQUE are three inhabited islands and a score of cays in the southern Caribbean. Grenada is lush, large, volcanic and mantled in rainforest, with gracious islanders, a lovely capital St George’s, the Caribbean’s prettiest harbour town, one excellent main beach and many delightful smaller coves, several with superb beach bars. Going about Grenada you'll find a full range of accommodation, with good value at the bottom end, as well as some lovely small and stylish hideaways. Excellent for sailing and island hopping, also spices (Grenada calls itself the Spice Isle).
Carriacou is a lovely, dozy, near-comatose small island with beautiful sea views, encircled with superb sand, good scuba and some charming inns and villas.
Petite Martinique very small, strong local community, few facilities for visitors.
Read about Grenada history, population and politics in Island Essentials.
The Definitive Guide to Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique gives you independent reviews, listings, and information from top travel journalists and Caribbean specialists.
- Best for:
- Friendliness, sailing, nutmeg and cocoa plantations, arts, crafts and batik
- What for:
- Flowers & Gardens, Food & Cooking, Hiking, Scuba Diving, Yacht Charters
- Not for:
- Camping, Casinos, Naturist
- How to get there:
- Direct flights from the UK, North America or via Barbados, San Juan and Trinidad
- Top tip:
- Take the ferry from Grenada to Carriacou or book a day sail in Grenada or the Grenadines
Grenada & Carriacou in depth
About GRENADA, CARRIACOU & PETIT MARTINIQUE...
Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, three very unalike islands stretched over 60 miles of aquamarine and azure sea. They make up the most southerly country in the Windward Islands. Tall, volcanic and immensely green, Grenada is the southern anchor of the Grenadines, which run north-east to St Vincent in a scattering of pretty islands and cays. Carriacou and Petite Martinique are two of the Grenadines. They are much smaller than their sister island and have a lovely, somnolent air.
On the map Grenada itself has something of a Catherine wheel about it. It spins around the Grand Etang in the mountainous centre of the island, throwing off islands to the North-east, the Grenadines, and in the South-west an extraordinary series of serrations that make excellent finger coves. And it is this that gives the island two of its strongest characteristics. First its white sand beaches, on which you will find the island’s hotels, second its sailing. The coves are ideal for yachts and of course the Grenadines are some of the best sailing in the Caribbean.
On land Grenada is typical of the other Windward Islands, if a little less extreme. It is immensely green and beautiful, both close up – in its scenes of riverside greenery and waterfalls in the forests - and from afar. The view from Grand Anse over St George’s to the mountains beyond is heart-achingly pretty. The mountain summits are usually tethered with vast, sail-like clouds. The water-laden winds of the Atlantic rise on the island’s eastern slopes and condense. The mountaintops receive so much rain that they are furred with rainforest and run with cascades. Grenada is also immensely fertile. There are some exceptional public and private gardens on the island and you will soon come to know Grenadian spices – cocoa, nutmeg and mace, allspice, cinnamon and ginger. Grenada calls itself the Isle of Spice.
Grenada is not the most developed of the Windward Islands, but the island has been moving on steadily over the past 20 years, its quaint wooden buildings being replaced by larger modern houses in that extend further and further into the accessible parts of the country. St George’s the capital is well known as one of the prettiest towns in the Caribbean. The Carenage sits on an amphitheatrical bay, all pink and yellow-brick (interspersed with more modern) buildings with red tin roofs stacked toe on shoulder on the steep hillside. The Carenage was particularly badly hit by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, and there is still some way to go before it is completely repaired, but St George’s is extremely lively, particularly on the Esplanade side, where you will find the market and the bus station.
Elsewhere the pace of life is less frenetic and getting out and about in Grenada is fun and is bound to bring a strong West Indian experience, whether you are in a rum shop or on a plantation tour. The Grenadians themselves are typical of the Windward Islanders. They are welcoming and easy going, and they make exploration of the island a real pleasure. The vast majority of the approximately 95,000 islanders live on Grenada itself.
Grenada is not that developed a tourist destination, which is probably an advantage. There are just a few large hotels in the typical Caribbean mould, but the real character of Grenada resides in its small independent hotels, of which there are plenty, tucked into the small coves along the southern shoreline and Point Salines peninsular. They are laid back and they have immense Caribbean charm.
Of course there is the sailing too, up through the Grenadines, though it’s always worth remembering that sailing downwind to Grenada is a more comfortable ride. And then you can spend a few days on island. There is a reasonable crop of restaurants, most interesting for the West Indian food, there are the gardens, the beaches and of course the beach bars - Grenada is still ideal for lazy days spent at a beach bar in a secluded cove.
CARRIACOU and PETITE MARTINIQUE
Carriacou and Petite Martinique, the two northern islands that are politically attached to Grenada, are completely different in character from the larger island. Here you will find classic Caribbean small island life, Grenadines style. Quiet, dozy and enchanting. The islands are set in fantastic sea, and the other islands in the area make the views in all directions spectacular
Just five miles by eight, Carriacou (pronounced as in carrikoo) feels quite mountainous, though the highest hill is only 985 feet above sea level. There is a population of around 6,000 scattered in small communities of a few houses and in two main centres, Hillsborough and Windward. As you travel around the island you can see that Carriacou was once well husbanded - the islanders had to be almost self-sufficient on what is a pretty barren outcrop – but this life is now all but passed and the walls and hedges have fallen into disrepair. Carriacou is well known for its ship-borne trading (which, as Grenadian regulations gradually tighten on the trade, has often tipped into smuggling).
The atmosphere for the visitor is extremely laid back most of the time. Life is likely to revolve around the beach and the lazy comfort of a hammock at your inn or apartment, and then in the evening a visit to one of the bars and restaurants in Tyrrel Bay, which occasionally sees a lively crowd in season. Carriacou is extremely quiet, but then that’s its charm.
Petite Martinique (petty martnik) is even smaller and quieter. Basically it is one mountain that rises in a pyramid just to the east of the northern tip of Carriacou. There is a population of around 800 and they are even more closely mixed up in trading, and reputedly smuggling, than the Carriacouans. Per capita, Petite Martinique is said to be one of the richest islands in the Caribbean. It was only recently that the Grenadian authorities managed to put a Coastguard onto the island. The island is a fairly simple local community, which is interesting to visit but doesn’t offer much typical Caribbean activity or entertainment.
This Definitive Grenada Guide is put together and maintained by top travel writers and our own in-house team of Caribbean specialists. The guide contains independent reviews about Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, its accommodation, things to do, places to see, getting around, how to get there and links for travel to Grenada.
Contributors include Jane Anderson, Alexander Gray, Feona Gray, Peter Ellegard and Sara Macefield. Picture editor, Holly Cocker. Senior Picture Editor, Alexander Gray.
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Grenada & Carriacou weather
Looking for inspiration?
- Sail the Grenadines from Carriacou to St Vincent
- Jab Jab at Grenada's Spice Mas Festival
- Dive the Titanic of the Caribbean - the Bianca C
- Enjoy Grenada's culinary and cultural history at Belmont Estate
- Explore the island's natural beauty around Grand Etang