Not long ago, the Island Runaways had barely even heard of Carriacou, one of Grenada's three islands. Then we read stories about this unspoiled isle with a distinctive culture and uncrowded beaches. So on our island getaway to Grenada, it didn't take much convincing for us to hop a ferry from the capital, St. George's, for a 90 minute ride north to this tropical destination with the unusual name. We've written about Tyrrel Bay beach and we've even posted about a bar named Joe's Banana on this beach, but for some reason I had not gotten around to talking about the one spot that any traveler to Carriacou absolutely must see...
(One stunning beach. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
Paradise Beach! Let's face it, it takes a bit of nerve to name any beach "paradise," especially when you consider the plethora of Caribbean beaches out there with swaying palm trees, soft beige or white sand, and water as blue as a handful of turquoise and sapphire stones. To be honest, Zickie and I were a little skeptical. We'd read that Paradise Beach was the most popular sand and sea spot on Carriacou, and this was just after New Year's, so we were expecting to find hoards of tourists. Nevertheless, we followed the road map which led us south of Carriacou's little capital town, Hillsborough, and after a wrong turn or two, found the sign we'd been hoping for.
(The sign marks the spot. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
As we rolled into the dirt parking lot, we noticed a couple of other cars. There was a bar that was closed, and a little shop (Fidel Productions) that was open. Otherwise, very few people milled around, despite a stretch of truly spectacular beach. So we grabbed our towels and set out for a walk.
(Sandy Island. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
I quickly spotted Sandy Island in the distance. Snorkelers like to head over to this small spit just offshore, and spend a few hours sunning and exploring the sealife under the waves. Since we'd just gotten off the ferry, however, we weren't in any rush to get back on a boat. It was fine to appreciate the isle from Paradise Beach instead.
(Testing out the water. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
The ocean was clear, clean, and just gorgeous, like the sea in an exotic postcard. There was something surreal about Paradise Beach. Despite it being so beautiful, why weren't there more people? Why wasn't this crowded with tourists, vendors, and hotels? Who knows, but how fabulous to find a place that felt barely discovered. Strolling along, we came across all kinds of conch shells, just scattered on the sand.
(Conch shells on Carriacou. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
We soon learned that conchs were practically everywhere on Carriacou. The sight of so many of these lovely pink shells almost shocked me, since I'm used to the Florida Keys, where many conch shells you see have been imported from abroad -- and are for sale in souvenir shops!
Zickie and I stopped off for a Carib beer at Joe's Banana Bar, and then meandered onward while the surf caressed our toes. Finally, we agreed that the beach deserved its name. It was spectacular, and we felt like we'd stumbled upon our very own desert island. The sun gradually grew a little lower in the sky, and just around then, I fell in love with Carriacou. The light, the sea, and the beach all looked...magical. There's simply no other word for it.
(Paradise Beach was paradise. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
Would I recommend Paradise Beach? Yes, if you want a laid-back place where there aren't any sleek hotels or slick beach bars pumping the latest tunes. If you're seeking a slice of the Caribbean that still retains a sleepy, small-town vibe -- with stunning scenery -- then Paradise Beach might just be paradise for you, too.