Balmy tradewinds rustle through the palm-lined shoreline and fill the mainsail above your head. Paradise awaits in the form of the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique. With lures ranging from jungly waterfalls, uninhabited islands and white sand beaches to picturesque hillside towns, bustling markets, and lively local restaurants, one can easily fill a two-week or longer cruising itinerary here.
The main island of Grenada is known for its spice trade: nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, bayleaf, clove, and more recently, cocoa. There are numerous small bean-to-bar chocolate factories in Grenada, and most will give factory tours to visitors. An around-the-island tour of Grenada is a great way to see a lot in one day, and usually includes visits to some of the more easily accessible waterfalls. The interior of the island is wild and lush, and best experienced on foot. For the adventurous, there is a range of hikes all over the island and to other waterfalls. (Visit the Sailors’ Hikes page on our website, www.doyleguides.com, for details.)
Carriacou and Petite Martinique are much smaller than Grenada, have long ship building traditions, and are part of the geological chain of the Grenadines. They are charming rural islands where life moves slowly enough to appreciate the natural beauty of your surroundings.
The open ocean passage between the north of Grenada and the south of Carriacou is 15 nautical miles, made longer by the fact that the last nice anchorage going northward (Calypso Island) is only about halfway up the leeward coast of Grenada. The passage northward up Grenada’s leeward side can be slow and gusty. It helps to stay a couple miles offshore for more consistent wind, and then tack in towards the northern tip of Grenada just before you get past the island. An underwater volcano, Kick ’em Jenny, sits between Grenada and Carriacou. It is still active, and there is a 1.5 km exclusion zone around it for your protection (although it is not enforced).
Sailing northward up the windward side of Grenada is a long beat into the wind and waves and is not recommended. If you want to see the windward side of the island, it’s best to do it on a southbound journey when you can sail down with the wind and waves.
Let’s assume you cleared in at St. George’s, came around to the south coast for any required “R and R” (repairs and relaxation, with plenty of opportunities for both), and now are ready to cruise around a bit more. When departing from Prickly Bay, Clarkes Court, or Le Phare Bleu, the downwind run to Point Saline can be an exciting one. Be aware of The Porpoises, a rocky shoal about half a mile off Prickly Point that can be difficult to spot in unsettled weather.
You should try to spend a couple hours at Glover’s Island, just south of Prickly Bay. Only big enough for a couple of boats, the holding in sand is good. The snorkeling can be excellent as fishing boats often come here to clean their catch, attracting spotted eagle rays that seem to know the sound of an engine approaching. The island itself is dry and scrubby, with low-lying plane landing on the island’s seaside runway.
Trim the sheets and head up towards the island’s capitol, St. George’s.
St. George’s and Grand Anse
To your right, Grand Anse’s three kilometers of white sand stretch to a distant point. To your left, a sea of red fishscale roof tiles fans out up the hillside of St. George’s, the Carenage forming its basin. Pick up a mooring in the Grand Anse (Pandy Beach) anchorage, between town and
Once connected by a land bridge to the Port Louis Marina side of the Lagoon, the Carenage and Lagoon area is worth taking a day to explore, and is a good place to provision. Food Fair, on the south side of the Lagoon, has a dinghy dock in shallow water (a stern anchor may be necessary) and is a convenient place to do the bulk of your provisioning.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the capitol of St. George’s. Walk up Young Street to the MNIB (Marketing Board) for a good selection of local fruit and veg, or over the hill to the local market, most active on Saturday mornings. Across from MNIB is The House of Chocolate, a café,
boutique and museum where you can learn how chocolate is made, buy some cocoa products from one of the many local chocolate factories, and enjoy a latte and some delicious baked goods (the brownie is a personal favorite).
Fort George atop the hill is a steep climb up the stairs on the north side of the Sendall Tunnel, but is worth the commanding view of the town and bays below. Walking through the tunnel is an experience in itself, where you’ll be inclined to “make yourself small” as the locals say.
Esther’s Bar in the Spice Market on Grand Anse beach, behind the dinghy dock at the north end of the beach, makes a wicked good mojito, and is a great spot for an afternoon on the beach. Rent a beach chair or post up under the shade of a beach almond tree and enjoy the seascape. For a good traditional local meal try Coconut Beach Restaurant, or 61° West for a more modern dining experience.
Flamingo Bay and Dragon Bay
For an afternoon of snorkeling or an overnight stop, you can’t beat Flamingo Bay or Dragon Bay. This is part of a Marine Protected Area, so pick up a mooring. Located just north of the Molinaire Underwater Sculpture Park, you can snorkel off the back of the boat (the liveliest reefs are along the outer points, and in the mouth of the bay. Be aware of the current and fishing boats. Then dinghy around to Molinaire to see the worldfamous underwater sculptures.
ISLE DE RONDE
Isle de Ronde, between Grenada and Carriacou, is a good lunch stop in fair weather. Snorkeling in the bay and around the northern point is interesting, and gets even better if you dinghy over to Sisters Rocks. There can be strong currents, so be careful. There are a couple of beaches surrounding the anchorage. Although beaching the dinghy can be difficult in any swell, the best place is the northern bay opposite Diamond Rock.
Tyrell Bay is the yachting center of the island, and has the largest concentration of bars, restaurants, live entertainment, and yachting services. Both of Carriacou’s marinas are here, and it’s a good place to fill your water and gas tanks if you’re running low. The large mangrove lagoon is open to yachts only when there is a hurricane warning, but it is a wonderful place to kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Lambi Queen restaurant has good Italian-style pizza, and often has live entertainment, as does DJ’s bar.
An uninhabited strip of sand held together by a line of tall palm trees and surrounded by bright turquoise water that seems to stretch on forever, Sandy Island is a popular getaway, and part of the Sandy Islands/Oyster Bed Marine Protected area. Pick up a mooring if one is available, otherwise anchor in sand if the rangers allow it. The snorkeling here, especially toward the northern end of the island, is excellent. Take some time to explore ashore as well: a shallow lagoon created by blocks of coral washed ashore during a hurricane is a nice place to lounge on a float with a cold drink.
Across the channel in L’Esterre is Paradise Beach, Carriacou’s most popular and idyllic beach. A cluster of casual local bars and restaurants sits at the northern end, along with Fidel, a boutique with local Caribbean art, jewelry, and clothing in a brightly colored renovated shipping container.
A little farther south, among the beach almond and seagrape trees is Miss Alison’s Paradise Beach Club: a bar, restaurant and cruisers’ social hot spot. She has a water taxi, and will pick you up from any of Carriacou’s anchorages. For a more local crowd check out the beach bars at the south end of the beach; Banana Joe’s usually draws an interesting crowd.
For some local culture drop the anchor off Hillsborough, Carriacou’s capital. Fruit and vegetable stalls fill the spaces between variety shops selling a bit of just about everything. The museum is an interesting place, though it is partially closed for repairs due to termite damage.
While the Alexis supermarket in Tyrell Bay is the most modern, American-style place to provision, there are a number of good grocery stores in Hillsborough, and for specialty items, deli meats and cheeses, fresh baked goods, and good wines, don’t miss Patty’s Deli.
Bogle’s Round House / Sparrow Bay
Tropical garden beds surround Bogle’s Round House, a fairy-tale like building, its domed roof and cobblestone walls house this island’s best restaurant. Roxanne, the chef, and her team prepare a range of excellent dishes (the lamb shank is mouth-watering). It is a great place for a romantic dinner or to enjoy a sunset cocktail. Anchor in Sparrow Bay and dinghy ashore to the small beach, where there is a path and stairs up to the restaurant. It’s best to make a reservation.
Anse la Roche
Named for the large rock in the southern part of the bay, this small anchorage is a wonderful day-trip stop. The sandy bottom has good holding, or call Tim ( 415-3488) — who has a beach bar and barbecue restaurant here where he grills up huge plates of fresh seafood — and he can send a complementary water taxi to pick you up from Sandy Island or Hillsborough. Beaching the dinghy can be difficult when there is a bit of swell, but you can call Tim for help.
There is a trailhead at the southern end of the beach that takes you on a short but steep hike up to a gently sloping grassy meadow with a breathtaking view of the anchorage, Union Island, and the Grenadines beyond. The path continues up the hill to the road, where there is a trailhead to Carriacou’s highest point, High North. This moderate to difficult hike is about three hours round trip and best done with a guide; call the local Tourism office ( 443-7948) to arrange one.
The sail north to Petite Martinique (a.k.a. PM) is short, but can be rough and into the wind. The anchorage here is large, though often filled with fishing boats. Anchor with care. Wander ashore and spend a couple hours walking around. This is a quiet place, where sheep graze in roadside pastures and life moves slowly. A single road goes most of the way around the island; follow it as far as you can and you should find a path up the Piton, the island’s highest point. Keisha of Bamboo Tours ( 535-0893) will be happy to guide you and tell you all about the local flora and fauna. For a good meal, book at Palm Beach, facing the anchorage.
Lexi Fisher is co-author of Sailors Guide to the Windward Islands, available at chandleries or from www.cruisingguides.com.