Where is Carriacou?
This Island is in the Caribbean Sea it is the largest island of the Grenadines and is one of the three main islands that make up the state of Grenada; Petite Martinque (pronounced Pitty Mar-ti-neek) is the other. The island is believed to have gotten its name from the earliest settlers, the Amerindians, the called Carriacou Karyouacou, the Carib language for the “land of reefs”, and is pronounced Carry-a-koo. The French were the first European settlers and were followed by the English & Scottish settlers. The residents of Carriacou are proud and independent people, both the African and Glaswegian descendants can trace their ancestry back to the tribe to which they belong.
Carriacou is the most southerly of the Grenadine islands, located 20 miles north of Grenada. The island is 13 sq miles (34 km²), and a dependency of Grenada with a population of approximately 6,000. The main settlements on the island are Hillsborough, L’Esterre, Harvey Vale, and Windward. Its natural beauty and relaxed lifestyle lead to its international reputation to be among the friendliest, safest and most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Miles of empty white sand beaches, deep aqua bays, spectacular hill views of surrounding Grenadine islands, nature trails, gorgeous reefs and safe anchoring harbours attract people from all over the world. Carriacou has no rivers. The water supply for the island comes from its rainfall. The driest time of the year is between January and June.
The short distance between islands and the complete lack of active border patrol mean that it is possible to move between nations relatively easily – a common situation in the Caribbean.
Carriacou’s Island Neighbours
The neighboring island of Petite Martinique is 2 1/2 miles away from Carriacou, and also a part of Grenada. With its 586 acres (2.4 km²), population 900, it is relatively smaller than Carriacou. The residents of this island live by boat-building, fishing and seafaring.
The inhabitants of Carriacou perform the Big Drum or Nation dance which celebrates their West African ancestors that were brought to the island during slavery times. These Big Drum dances are usually performed at “Maroons” village festivals or fetes, where food and drink are prepared. They can also be danced at wakes and tombstone feasts in honor of dead relatives.
There still is a traditional boat-building culture located in the village of Windward, in the northeastern side of the island, where Carriacou’s Scottish and Irish ancestors are concentrated.
Hurricanes on Carriacou
Though Hurricane Ivan in 2004 dealt a devastating blow to the island of Grenada, remarkably, Carriacou and Petite Martinique suffered significantly less damage. However, in 2005, Hurricane Emily, hit Carriacou, damaging and forcing evacuation of its, then, only hospital and destroying or damaging hundreds of homes.
There are three major cultural festivals held on Carriacou. Carnival is held in February or early March. The Carriacou Regatta, held on the first weekend in August, is a racing event for locally built boats. In 2005, the Regatta celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Parang on the weekend prior to Christmas celebrates the island’s traditional Christmas music and culture. Since the turn of the millennium, a new festival of growing popularity has been started – the Carriacou Maroon Festival held during the second quarter of the year.
The residents of Carriacou travel mainly by privately run 15 seater buses. There is car rental available on the island and taxis for the night. More of the locals have fishing boats than cars. For external transportation they have a small airport on Carriacou and a small ferry boat that runs between Carriacou, Grenada and Petite-Martinique.