What is the friendliest, safest, and healthiest island in the Caribbean? It’s certainly not one of the big ones. It doesn’t have a cruise port or all-inclusive resorts. Nor is this a joke. One island can really be described as all three of these things. You just have to go to the end of the Grenadines chain to find it.
Carriacou is known as “the island surrounded by reefs.” The 13-square-mile island was settled by the Amerindians, taken over by the French in 17th century, and ceded to the British when they captured Grenada in 1763. The hilly island is still a dependency of Grenada. It’s full of white-sand beaches, cacti-dotted meadows, and views of nearby islands. But it’s still raw and rugged; it’s yet to be turned into a sparkly, squeaky-clean version of a Caribbean island.
The ferry from Grenada passes Mabouya Island, Sandy Island, and Jack Adam Island en route to Hillsborough. The island’s main town has a lively Monday market, a small museum in a former cotton gin, and gorgeous tropical flowers at the Botanical Gardens. It’s also full of rum shops—there are more than 100 on the small island—potholes, and very friendly people. The smell of coo-coo and stew pork wafts through the streets. While the airstrip outside of town is cleared of goats before airplanes take off or land.
Head south to see two of the island’s most-popular spots: Paradise Beach and yacht-filled Tyrell Bay. Go snorkeling with golden-born moray eels, stingrays, and coral that grows up to 10-feet high. Scuba dive at the Deep Blue site with eagle rays and nurse sharks or at the Two Sisters site with turtles and schools of colorful fish.
Then go north to see the stone remains of the island’s first church in Dover. Hike High Point, the highest point on the island. You might see iguanas and soldier crabs along the way. Visit Windward, where boats are being made in the boat yard. Watch the waves crash at Gun Point, the island’s northern tip. Then relax on Anse La Roche, a secluded beach with views of Petite Martinique and Union Island.
Eventually, you reach Bogles. The little town is home to a Rastafarian church and the island’s best restaurant. Bogles Round House, which is run by an award-winning chef, overlooks a garden, the beach, and the setting sun. The menu changes regularly, but cream of callaloo soup, king prawns, and coconut-crusted mahi-mahi are always popular when they’re served. As is the passion fruit cheesecake, if you have any room left at the end of your filling meal. Or just sip a glass of Jack Iron rum. It’s not like you plan on leaving anytime soon.