Carriacou is the largest of the group of islands known as the Grenadines, which lie scattered between St Vincent and Grenada. It is part of the independent tri-island nation of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, and is 23 miles northeast of Grenada at 12 28′ N, 61 28′ W. Hillsborough, the only town, is the port of entry, and there are also several small villages scattered throughout the island.
Size: About 8 by 3 miles, but Carriacou with its many sandy bays, indented coastline and wooded hills (the highest point rises to 956 ft) to explore, has the feeling of a larger island. The population is around 6000.
Language: English, though some local patois derived from French and African languages may be heard.
Currency: The Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$) is the official currency. It is tied to the US dollar at approximately US$1.00 = EC$2.68. US dollars are widely accepted.
Banking: FirstCaribbean International Bank & Republic Bank (Grenada) both in Hillsborough, will exchange money, cash travellers’ cheques or allow you to get cash on your credit card. Both have ATMs accessible 24 hours.
Communications: International direct dial or credit card charged calls are available. You can purchase an IP card for Internet Access or there are several Internet Cafe’s in Hillsborough. Many of our villas feature broadband Internet free of charge.
Temperature: The year round average is in the low to mid eighties (80-85F; 27-32C). The sea is always warm for swimming.
Seasons: The dry season usually runs from January to May. The rainy season arrives in patches throughout the other months, though prolonged rain is unusual. Hurricanes can occur in the Caribbean between June and October, but are rare in the Grenadines.
Electricity: Current is 220 volts, 50 Hz. AC transformers/adapters may be needed to fit the British type 13 amp, 3 pin sockets.
Health: Carriacou has a small hospital. A doctor is always available. Advanced medical care is available on Grenada, Barbados and Martinique.
Clothing: Light casual clothes are generally worn. It should be remembered that swimsuits or brief beachwear worn around the town may offend local people. Otherwise, there are many clothing-optional locations on secluded beaches and nearby off-shore islands. It is generally accepted that beaches not readily acceptable to local families are discreetly clothing optional.
Pronounciation: Carriacou is pronounced “Kerry ah koo” but you will hear locals pronounce it “kerr ah koo”.
Transport: Down Island can arrange jeep rentals. Local transport is by mini-buses with colourful names such as “Survivalive” and “Lady in Red”, which ply the main routes during day time. Taxis are readily available. Some of the Carriacou roads are an experience in themselves!
Churches: The principal churches are Catholic and Anglican, both located in Hillsborough. Several other denominations, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, and Evangelists among them, also have small churches on the island.
History: From the many discoveries on Carriacou of pottery and tools, it is known that around 1000 AD. Arawaks, followed by Caribs, both from South America, settled on the island. The earliest written records go back to 1656 when the name was spelt Kayryouacou, originating, it is believed, from the Carib meaning “land surrounded by reef”.
Carriacou was settled by the French, but in 1763 was ceded with Grenada to the British. The majority of the inhabitants today are of African descent, with the influence in the island mainly British, such as driving on the left, though French names are still noticed, especially in the L’Esterre area. The village of Windward was home to a group of Scottish boatbuilders who settled here in the 19th century. The Scottish names and boatbuilding skills have been passed down through the generations. Many locally built boats from small fishing sloops to large trading schooners are seen in the Carriacou waters. Boat building is still carried out in the traditional way on the beaches but fewer have been built in recent years.
In former times Carriacou produced mostly cotton with some sugar, limes, coffee and cocoa. Today the inhabitants grow corn and pigeon peas for their own consumption and subsistence farming, live stock rearing, fishing and seafaring form the main occupations.