The fact that most people don’t realize that there are in fact three islands in the nation of Grenada is a fitting introduction to Carriacou (carry-a-cou). You won’t find cruise ships, big resorts or souvenir shops – this is Caribbean life the way it was 50 years ago: quiet, laid-back and relaxed.
Carriacou’s gentle pace is reflected in the sedate nature of its largest town, Hillsborough. There's a couple of streets lined with a mixture of modern blocks and classic Caribbean wooden structures. Go for a wander, appreciating glimpses of the turquiose waters at breaks in the buildings.
Famous Grand Anse beach is one of the island’s best and is justifiably popular. It's lined with a relaxed assortment of low-rise resorts. Drop by for the day at Camerhogne Park, where you can rent a lounger and get a snack. To escape crowds, look for a little dirt road off Grand Anse Rd, where it turns south right after the Spice Island Beach Resort.
Point Salines & True Blue
The filigreed coastline around Point Salines is dominated by Maurice Bishop International Airport. It’s notable for the string of lovely beaches to the north of the runway, just off the airport road. South of the airport, True Blue is a relaxed corner of the island with some nice top-end hotels, good eateries and multiple yacht marinas.
South of Hillsborough
The biggest reason to venture to this part of the island is the aptly named Paradise Beach, a superb stretch of sand bordered by palms and sea-grape trees. Further on, Tyrrel Bay is a deep, protected bay. It’s a popular anchorage for visiting yachts and there are a couple of cafes.
Grand Etang Road
Overhung with rainforest and snaking uphill in a series of switchback turns, the Grand Etang Rd shoots right up the island's spine. The mountainous center of the island is often awash with misty clouds, and looks like a lost primordial world, its tangle of rainforest brimming with life – including monkeys that often get a bit too friendly.
La Sagesse Nature Centre
Sitting along a palm-lined bay with protected swimming and a network of hiking trails, La Sagesse Nature Centre occupies the former estate of the late Lord Brownlow, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. His beachside manor house, built in 1968, has been turned into a small inn.
Tyrrel Bay (population 750) is a deep, protected bay with a sandy (although somewhat dirty) beach. It’s a popular anchorage for visiting yachts and hosts a number of regattas throughout the year, as well as being home to a busy commercial dock. Buses run with some frequency to and from Hillsborough (15 minutes).
Grand Etang National Park
Two and a half miles northeast of Constantine, after the road winds steeply up to an elevation of 1900ft, you enter Grand Etang National Park, a natural wonderland laced with hiking trails. At the visitor center you can pay your admission, learn a little about the park and get a refreshment.
Morne Rouge Bay
Though just down the way from Grand Anse Beach, this superior stretch of beach is a brilliant example of the snow-white sand and crystal-clear blue water that the Caribbean is known for. Development has so far been modest, so it's uncrowded. It has shade but limited services.
On the northern tip of the island, the town of Sauteurs (whose French name translates as ‘Jumpers’) is best known for its grim history. In 1651, local Carib families elected to throw themselves off the 130ft-high cliffs that line the coast rather than surrender to the advancing French army.