This driveway is so steep the owner
put a staircase in the middle.
Hard Wood Bar sports an intriguing logo.
The Lord Reigns
"Mind your Business"
A beautiful spot for breakfast.
Nutmeg Syrup - like maple syrup?
A fruit and vegetable stand in Hillsborough, Carriacou.
A basket of breadfruit.
Bananas ripen on the vine.
Steps up the tree to the coconuts.
The view across from the now-defunct Coconut Beach Bar.
Driftwood on the beach.
Traipsing through the thick brush.
The Coconut Beach Bar, once a little slice of heaven.
Banana Joe's Bamboo Brunch Club is a local hangout.
A great spot to share an afternoon.
Open for business, this shipping container is transformed
into a t-shirt shop.
Ladies' dress shop.
Lambi Queen's murals.
All over Grenada and Carriacou, solid concrete homes
are painted bright glossy colors.
Conch shells encircle a palm tree.
An iguana suns himself on the wall nearby.
Is it called "Privacy" ??
Carriacou Island, Grenada (1)
Late December, 2009 - Unlike our more urban setting on Grenada, on the island of
Carriacou (pop. 5,000, 13 sq. miles), we stayed right on Paradise Beach, the prettiest beach
on the island. We fell out of bed into the water everyday and had a hard time pulling
ourselves off the beach to go sightseeing. For such an exquisite beach, dotted with beach
bars and simple accommodations for travelers, there was hardly anyone there. At any given
time there were at most 10 or 12 people on the whole mile-long beach, mostly locals.
Finally reaching our fill of beach time, we took a few long walks around the south end of the
island. Like all of the Grenadines, Carriacou is very hilly. One driveway was so steep that
the owners built a staircase in the middle of it.
We walked into the town of Hillsborough to get
groceries and change some money at the
bank. The sounds of goats bleating and
roosters crowing accompanied us all the way to
town. Thick bunches of pink flowers drew
equally thick bunches of hummingbirds to their
nectar. The birds were very dark and had
small crests. We got a big kick out of the many
signs on the storefronts. The Hard Wood Bar
and Snacket had a most unusual logo, which
must have stood for "hard wood."
Another "bar and snacket" was licensed to sell
"spiritious" liquor. Other bars proudly displayed
their licenses to sell liquor and spirits as well. One
was licensed to sell "spiritual" liquor, and another
to sell "intoxicated" liquor. Whew!
There were wonderful murals and
signs with elaborate paintings as
well. One industrious soul had
painted an enormous building's
wall with images of everything sold
inside, ranging from TV's to power
drills to computers to hammers
The buses and many cars
were given names, and often
offered something of a
statement of the driver's
philosophy of life.
The island is so small we saw many of these
minibuses over and over in just a few hours of
walking. We recognized "The Lord Reigns" as the
bus that had taken us to our apartment when we first
got off the ferry. Inside it was festooned with images
of Barack Obama.
Even the boats are named, many operating as water taxis.
We hadn't planned
our grocery shopping
very well, so we had
awoken to bare
cupboards. By the
time we got to town
we were starving.
Our breakfast at an
Hillsborough bay and
jetty was so good! A
little group of
watched us eating, their beady little yellow eyes following the
food from plate to mouth, waiting patiently for scraps.
Out in the harbor a schooner floated on the horizon.
Once we got to the store we took our time checking out all the
items that are unique to this area. Grenada is the number two
nutmeg producer in the world, and they have found many uses
for it besides a powdered spice. We were amazed to see
"Nutmeg Syrup" alongside the honey.
The ferry had just arrived when we got to town, and boxes of produce
were being unloaded. Several makeshift fruit stands were immediately
set up near the ferry dock. They sold the familiar imported apples from
northern states, but they also sold a lot of things I didn't recognize. A bin
of red fruits the size of strawberries turned out to be "Sorrel," the hips of
hibiscus, which are ground and then steeped in boiling water with sugar,
cinnamon and other spices to make a refreshing drink.
I haven't had a glass of sorrel juice yet, but I did have a
delicious glass of green golden apple juice. Golden
apples are the shape of a kiwi, but hard like an apple,
with a soft skin you peel off and a pit in the center.
Green ones are unripe but make a great juice drink. A bin of breadfruit
looked intriguing and made me want to learn more about how of all these
exotic fruits are prepared and eaten.
Walking back, we passed thick bunches of bananas in all stages of
ripeness. When I sampled one I could not believe the richness of the
flavor. I have never tasted a banana like that -- something gets lost in the
A little further on we passed a
palm tree with wooden ladder
steps nailed into it. This makes it
much easier to reach the
coconuts! Even though
Carriacou is a desert island,
unlike neighboring Grenada, and
has been experiencing a severe
drought in recent months, it
seemed to us a very lush tropical land.
On our walk to town we ended up taking the
"long route" by accident, coming up on a
junction called Six Roads and having to ask
another walker which road would take us to
town. When we checked the island map it
was clear we had walked way out of our way
and covered a lot more ground than
necessary. A better route lay along the shore.
So we took that route back.
The road had absolutely no cars on it, and the only sound was
the wind in the palms and the waves on the sand. It was a
stunning strip of oceanfront land. This bit of ocean faces the
Caribbean Sea and it is unprotected open water, so there was
beautiful driftwood strewn along the shore.
Suddenly the road turned away from the sea, and we passed a
sign saying, "You are now leaving Carriacou." Huh? Then the
road dead-ended at a tiny airstrip. We poked our heads inside
the terminal office and three very official looking clerks stared at
us. They were dressed in pleated shirts and striped pants and
were carefully guarding the international border doorway and
customs inspection area that stood between us and them. We were in
shorts with sandy feet in thong sandals, our cameras slung around our
necks, and arms loaded with groceries. No planes were in sight and
none appeared to be due any time soon. "Does the road get around the
airport somehow, or can we walk across the airstrip?" We asked,
pointing to the map that showed the road crossing the runway. "Not any
more. You have to go back the way you came or go around the point."
Arrrgh. We tromped back to the shore and looked out at
the point. The waves came up to the trunks of the trees
all around it, pulling back just long enough to expose a
thin line of wet sand. It was either brave the sand and
water or take a long walk back towards town to the correct
road, so we went for it, dodging in and out of the trees
and running as each wave revealed a little sand.
Suddenly an opening appeared in the trees, and we found
something of a path. Crouching under some tree limbs
and clamoring over others, we made a circuitous route
through the thick vegetation and finally came out at the far
end of Paradise Beach, our beach. It had been a direct route on the map, but it sure made for a
crazy hike home.
Just before our jungle excursion we had seen a sign: "Coconut Beach Bar." Passing it, we saw it
must have been a terrific place at one time, complete with thatch roofed ramadas and benches
and a little homestead for the owner. The view from the beach bar was stunning. Union Island
sat on the horizon with a wide turquoise bay filling the entire mid-ground while a white sand
beach with swaying palms spread wide across the foreground.
Mark was all set to buy the place and set up shop. Wouldn't that be fun. But Coconut Beach
Bar had probably succombed when the road along the water no longer traversed the air strip to
the other side of the island. Once the road dead-ended at the airfield there was little reason for
anyone to come this way unless they were catching a plane.
The beach bars on Paradise Beach were thriving, however. A few catered to the visiting
yachts and were always filled with white, ex-hippies who live on sailboats in the Caribbean.
Another was definitely a local hangout: Banana Joe's Bamboo Brunch Bar. There was
always a crowd at this place, and they always seemed very mellow.
Another beach bar sold "the best pizza in the
Caribbean," according to one couple. The little
chairs under the thatched cabanas looked so
The entrepreneurial sprit is alive and well on
Carriacou. We never saw any beach vendors on
Paradise Beach, but there were many tiny shops
set up here and there. One woman sold
souvenir t-shirts out of a shipping container.
When we first saw it all locked up we didn't think
anything of it. It was painted pale blue and
somehow blended in. But when she threw the
doors wide, suddenly she was the proprietor of a
Another home looked very orinary with its doors
closed in the early morning, but a few hours later,
once the merchandise was hung all over the
outside, the house transformed into a ladies' dress
Lots of people were very creative
painting the outsides of their buildings.
There seemed to be great pride taken
in having a fresh coat of paint on your
home or shop. We saw at least 10 or
sprucing up the
exteriors of their
homes and shops
with a bright glossy
paint during our
visit. There is
too, and many
murals on their
We loved every minute of our
walks around Carriacou, and we
had several planned that never
materialized simply because our
home-base was so spectacular.
The beach drew us to its lapping
waves and warm waters every
day, and wouldn't let us out of its
Our balcony was an ideal spot
to unwind. Gazing around
ourselves in that half-stupor
that seems to wash over
visitors to this dreamy isle, we
suddenly noticed there were
two iguanas sunning
themselves on the wall next to
us. I'm not an iguana expert,
but they did not look at all alike.
They both had impossibly long toes, but one was much
bigger than the other and didn't have the long dangling chin
of its companion.
Once those guys slithered away, our attention turned back
to the water where a huge mega-yacht had taken up
residence for the evening. This mammoth black-hulled
beauty sat quietly on the horizon while it summoned water
taxis to its side. From around the point water taxis would
fly across the sea and then hang out at the back of the
mega-yacht for a few moments, handing things up to the
service staff on the yacht. Then the water taxis would
disappear back to their homes. We figured the guys on the mega-
yacht had called for more of cases of beer, or for pizza from Curtis's
on the beach. What a life. With Tiger Woods dominating the news,
we wondered if he might have slipped away on his yacht to an island
paradise like Carriacou.