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From protected reefs to unbelievable biodiversity, Carriacou is a Caribbean Shangri-La for scuba diving. Head to the island’s marine protected area for some of the best diving in the region.

Diving in Carriacou

Quick facts

Found near Venezuela and on the border between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Grenada’s little sister, Carriacou, offers some of the best diving in the Caribbean. Amazing shipwrecks, colorful reefs and exciting drifts make this tiny island a diver’s wonderland.

Of the island’s 20 dive sites, 15 are located within the Sandy Island / Oyster Bay Marine Protected area (SIOBMPA). These dives can be reached within a 10 minute boat ride from Hillsborough. Favorites among them include Sharky’s Hideaway, famed for its plentiful nursing sharks; Sisters Rock, notable for its black coral; and Whirlpool, which surrounds visitors with a wall of volcanic bubbles.

In addition to these natural environments, there are two intentionally sunk wrecks. The twin tugs Boris and Westsider rest within recreational limits where they promote coral growth and provide habitat for colorful species. In addition, the wrecks are safe for penetration should you hold a Wreck Diver certificate.

Divers can expect warm tropical weather year round with waters that range from 79-82°F (26-28°C) and variable visibility depending on the site. While it can rain at any point throughout the year, dry season generally lasts from December to May. June to November brings greater risk of rain and hurricanes. Most dives start from a boat, but in a few areas, shore diving is possible. There is something in Carriacou for all levels of diver, from protected reef to deep walls. Everyone is sure to have a perfect experience in Carriacou at any time of year.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

A variety of hard and soft corals, sponges and fans cover most of the island’s dive sites. Surrounding the wrecks, it is common to see beautiful and bright orange cup coral.

In the deep and on many of the drift dives, you have a good chance of spotting stingrays, sea turtles, barracuda, eagle rays and nurse sharks. During reef dives, purple Creole wrasse populate the waters along with sea turtles, shoals of blue chromis, octopus, moray eels and lizardfish. In the shallows, you might find a frogfish or the elusive black seahorse lurking about.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Area

Carriacou, known as ‘the island surrounded by reefs,’ is officially part of Grenada. It is the second largest island in that country, following Grenada itself. The population of 8,000 can trace their ancestry to England, Africa and France and the capital of this province is Hillsborough, which is also the largest settlement in the area. To the benefit of visitors, the island is considered to be the healthiest, safest and friendliest in the Caribbean.

Carriacou was first discovered along with Grenada in 1498 by Christopher Colombus. At that time, it was populated by the Carib Indians. In 1649, the French invaded from Martinique and colonized the island. Over the next few decades, the French effectively dismantled the local population, but after the Seven Years’ War, the British took over the territory in 1763. Independence was not granted until 1974 and from 1979 until 1983, the island was party to Grenada’s two military coups as well as an invasion by the United States. Fortunately, since 1983, the island country of Grenada has survived in sustained peace.

Sadly, recent years have brought disastrous hurricanes to Carriacou’s shores. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan damaged a majority of the island’s structures and Hurricane Emily in 2005 hindered recovery efforts. Today, 96% of the buildings have been repaired and strengthened for future storms. It is hoped that the island nation will soon return to being a major supplier of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and cocoa.

Other attractions

The above the water paradise known as Carriacou is just as interesting as its under water environments. Expect this tiny yet friendly island to keep you busy during your stay. Exploring the island’s 100 rum distilleries is a must as is exploring the island’s lush nature. Belair National Park offers a network of hiking trails as well as well-preserved windmills. Both Paradise Beach and Anse La Roche Beach are brilliantly white and wonderful for a day of relaxation and Dumfries Historical Site will give you insight into the island’s colonial past. If you happen to be in Carriacou for a special occasion, don’t miss the opportunity to take part in the Big Drum dance.

Getting there

The island’s airport, Lauriston Airport, welcomes small aircraft flights from Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport. There are also irregular flights to Carriacou from Barbados and St. Vincent.

The island can be travelled around by bus, rental car or taxi.

UTC-04:00

Time zone

XCD

Currency

+1473

Calling code

230 V

Electric volt

G

Plug type

GND

Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.