Carriacou & Petite Martinique

The Islands Carriacou & Petite Martinique

Located at 12 28’N & 61 28’W, Carriacou is the largest of the Grenadines, a necklace of island gems scattered between St. Vincent and Grenada. Along with our sister isle, Petite Martinique just 3 miles east, and the mainland of Grenada, some 23 miles to the south of us, we make up an independent tri-island nation. Carriacou is about 7 miles in length and averages 2 miles across. Volcanic actions created an interesting topography mainly of wooded hills, rising up dramatically in places, (the highest being 956 feet up), and giving us an irregular coastline. Coral reefs surround our island providing a base for our beautiful sandy beaches. The main town and port of entry is Hillsborough and there are several smaller villages dotting our island. Three miles east of Carriacou lies Petite Martinique, our little sister island, measuring roughly one mile in diameter with a conical shape. Evidence of Carriacou’s cultural history has been discovered from pottery shards and ancient tools found around the island. Around 1000 a.d. peaceful Arawaks lived here, followed by fierce Caribes, both coming from South America. Written records dated 1656 refer to “Kayryouacou”, derived from the Caribe meaning “land surrounded by reefs.” Originally settled by the French, whose influence is still evidenced in some names and local patois, Grenada wasceded in 1756 to the British who cultivated the land. Plantations in Carriacou yielded mainly cotton, some sugar, indigo, coffee, limes and cocoa but now only a few farmers grow small crops for their own consumption. Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique were granted independence in 1974 but still belong to the Commonwealth. The population on Carriacou and Petite Martinique hovers around 6000 and is comprised mainly of African slave descendents. There is a bit of Scottish influence, as evidenced by family names, especially in the Windward area, bringing their boat building expertise. Carriacouans are renown for their sea faring skills and many locally made vessels are still in use today from small fishing sloops to large trading schooners. For those interested, an exploration will often be rewarded with a boat in some stage of construction in Windward or Harvey Vale. Petite Martinique is very small with less than a thousand people and located about 3 miles east of the north end of Carriacou. The East Coast of this volcanic island is rocky and totally uninhabited.