Grenada Sailing Adventure

Sailing Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines

We always propose making your first charter experience the BVI. Why? Easy navigation, limited reefs along sailing routes, lots to do, lots of support, great anchorages and beach bars. And we keep going back to the BVI for the same reasons.

BUT consider Grenada for your second and beyond sailing vacations. Grenada is a 3-hour flight south of Miami.  That’s 30 minutes more than Miami to the BVI. So it’s an easy flight and we found the flight price to be similar if not less expensive than the BVI.

I snapped this screenshot inflight on returning to Miami showing the relative distances.

Grenada to Miami

Why Grenada ? Less crowded, longer sailing distances, awesome villages, beaches and beach bars, scuba and snorkeling, 15 knots trade winds friendly people. All in all, Grenada is not to be missed as a multi-visit sailing destination in this lifetime.

Salt Whistle Bay Mayreau Island

Salt Whistle Bay Mayreau Island
Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau Island, St. Vincent & The Grenadines

What we really mean when we say Grenada is the two countries of Grenada and St. Vincent & The Grenadines. Grenada includes the Island of Grenada and a few islands to the north – Ronde Island, Petit Martinique, and Carriacao. St Vincent & The Grenadines include St. Vincent and a dozen or more islands to the south including Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Tobago Cays, Mayreau, Petit St. Vincent, and Union Island.

There are several ways to sail the Grenada/Grenadines areas: A one-way drop of starting in St. Vincent or even the farther island to the north of St. Lucia and ending in St. Georges, Grenada OR you can start in St Georges, Grenada and sail north then returning to St. Georges. The one-way drop-off option whereby you start in St Vincent or St Lucia costs a little more to have the boat delivered back north but it does create a great trip as the wind angle for most of the trip will be a beam reach or broad reach on your port. We don’t recommend doing a one-way drop off whereby starting in Grenada and sailing north as this will mostly be close hauling all the way with many tacks making your time unrealistic.

You can also start in St. Lucia or St. Vincent and sail south then return to your starting destination. Typically, when one does this route, however, leave out sailing all the way down to St. Georges in Grenada. The time reward is not worth the extra 60-mile round trip sailing to return back up to the Grenadines. This is because it is a long sail down the western side of Grenada with not a lot of stopping options. In this case, it is best to not go farther south than Carriacao or consider staying in the St. Vincent & the Grenadines area to avoid the hassle of border crossings with immigration between the two countries.

St Vincent and the Grenadines
Grenada and St. Vincent & The Grenadines Geopolitical Border

For this trip, we started and ended in St. Georges Grenada. The town of St. Georges is lively with many great restaurants and well-stocked grocery stores. Most charter companies go out of Port Louis Marina which is in St. Georges.  Port Louis is an immaculately kept marina with crystal-clean bathrooms and showers. A fun bar and a very nice restaurant are also in the marina. The grocery store is a 10-minute taxi ride or you can rent a car for a day to visit some of the local attractions and pick up groceries. Car rental was inexpensive at about $US40 per day with a $US10 local license fee.

We drove to Allendale Falls which I would recommend. The falls aren’t too impressive by my home country of New Zealand standards but the drive there through the neighborhoods and out to the country is worth it. At the falls there are several vendors where you can start to take advantage of the local spices of the “Spice Island”

Allendale Falls Grenada
Allendale Falls, Grenada

Leaving St. Georges, Grenada you can stop slightly north of St Georges at Molinere Point where the underwater Sculpture Garden is, or slightly farther north at Halifax Bay. However, there are limited mooring ball spaces so usually it is best to not rely on the availability and leave the Underwater Sculpture Garden until the last day. Thus the typical first day is leaving early and getting up to either Ronde Island (20 nm) (the bay in the northwest provides good anchorage) or all the way to Sandy Island on Carriacao (32 nm). I recommend Ronde Island as it is a gorgeous mostly deserted island with only a few houses at the south end while the anchorage in the northwest is delightful protected clear water for swimming and good holding in the sand for anchoring through the night.

Ronde Island Grenada
Ronde Island, Grenada

Our Beneteau 46.1 came with an Anchor Bridle and this was a good opportunity to use it and show it off. An anchor bridle is used to take shock load from waves away from the windlass winch and distribute the load to the cleats at the bow of the boat. Usually, it is made of a stretch nylon type rope and many times for a small section the top will wind around a rubber flex section to absorb additional shock load. Using a bridle will also reduce rubbing noise at night.

At the end of the bridle, there is a chain hook that will hook to the chain. Once you have let out enough anchor rode, attach the bridle hook to the chain and then let out more chain while the bridle pays out with the chain. Once the chain on the boat side of the chain hook goes sufficiently loose, then the bridle begins to do its work of taking the load.

Anchor Bridle
Using an Anchor Bridle

Carriacou

Next, you want to get to Sandy Island on the southwest end of Carriacou. Sandy Island is a thin small island with sand and palm trees. The snorkeling at the east end is spectacular. There are many mooring balls at Sandy Island but you can also anchor as well. Mooring balls were $EC40. ($EC2.3 = $US1). Sandy Island is a definite stop and good for relaxing beach time – don’t miss the snorkeling, 🤿  however.

Sandy Island, Grenada

The island in the background below is Carriacou – it is a short dinghy ride from your anchorage at Sandy Island where you can find a few some good restaurants. Paradise Beach club is one such.

Paradise Beach Club Carriacao
Paradise Beach Club, Carriacou

When heading north into the Grenadines, you will need to clear out of Grenada and you can do this at Tyrrel Bay on the south end of Carriacou. The best way to do this is to dinghy over to Hillsborough and take a taxi to the customs office in Terrel Bay.  Alternatively, you can take your boat around to Tyrell Bay but you will lose time in doing that. The customs office is on the far southeast side of Tyrrel Bay. Do note however that taxi’s do tend to be expensive.

Carriacou Island
Carriacou
Tyrell Bay Customs at the South End
Look for this sign to find the Customs office in South of Tyrell Bay, Carriacou

Once you check out of customs in Grenada (at Tyrrel Bay) you must leave the country within 24 hours. We elected to spend the night at Anse La Roche at the northwest end of Carriacou. Here there is a tiny little beach bar run by Tim. Tim and his family will set up an amazing beach BBQ for you. Having stuffed ourselves on local Lobster, jerk Chicken, fish, and a Lambi seafood platter with a loose hand with the drinks the bill was $US60 each. That was a deal considering the ambience and the quality (and quantity). Highly recommended. Call Tim on +1-473-415-3488 to set up your BBQ and to see if he is open.

Anse La Roche

Canouan Island

Our next stop was Canouan Island where we elected to “clear in” to the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Many people check into Union Island but we wanted to get a little farther north and visit Canouan. We stayed in the super luxury high-end Marina resort at Sandy Lane. This is a must. The marina is beyond clean and amazing. In the bathrooms, you could eat off the floor. The showers are high-pressure and clean. There is a great French Bakery and gourmet grocery store. Also on the property are several restaurants and a great beach br called Scruffy’s. We had dinner at Shenanigans Restaurant which was superb. Prices are reasonable and similar to US restaurants and sometimes a little less. Shenanigans also has a pool to cool down and is also right on the sandy beach for a sea swim.

Canouan also has a Soho house on the beach at Charlestown Bay. Non-members are allowed to use the facility which is appointed very well with a great bar, restaurant, friendly staff, and an idyllic setting overlooking the beach and is a great place for sunset. You can also anchor in Charlestown Bay as it is very protected. However, being on a boat without a generator, we elected to stay 2 nights in the Canouan Sandy Lane marina.

You can rent golf carts to tour around the island but note that the north side of Canouan is privately owned so there is no entrance without a reservation. People are welcome but you need a reservation.

Tobago Cays

Note: Cays is pronounced Keys. From Canouan, we sailed to Tobago Cays. Extreme navigational diligence must be taken as there are many reefs in the Tobago Cays area. Helming and navigating is not for the easily distracted. Hint hint brush up on Coastal and Electronic Navigation with NauticEd Sailing Courses

If you want to have a first encounter swimming with a turtle (large almost 3 feet long), Tobago Cays is the place. Anchor or pick up a Mooring ball to the east of Petit Bateau island. Take your GoPro and film away. Anchoring East of Petit Bateau means you are exposed to the wind but not the waves as these are all flattened by the out reef. The reef is an amazing snorkeling spot and there are plenty of orange dingy mooring balls to tie off to so that you can explore the reef which is well worth it with an abundance of reef fish – I even saw Nemo’s cousin. Just dinghy east towards the eastern outer reef and you will see the orange dinghy mooring balls.

There are many boat vendors offering supplies – embrace these people – this is how they make a living and they provide good service here. From October through May, there is a beach bbq each night on the west sheltered side of Petit Bateau. The food was a wonderful Caribbean traditional dinner with Jerk pork ribs, jerk chicken, fish, and Grenada spiced vegetables. Cost about $US45 pp.

Here is our DJI drone Fly around and GoPro underwater tour of the Tobago Cays – enjoy! P.S. Subscribe to the NauticEd YouTube channel

Mayreau Island

Just west of Tobago Cays is the Island on Mayreau and the small very cute Salt Whistle Bay in the northwest of the island. Use extreme caution and prudent navigation in this area. There are many reefs to be aware – most of which are not marked.

Reefs around Tobago Cays

Salt Whistle Bay is definitely worth a stop either for an afternoon or an overnight.  On the beach in the bay are various beach bars worthy of indulging.

From Salt Whistle Bay we elected a night sail south to Sandy Island so that we could get a jump start on the next day back to St. Georges in Grenada. Out last stop prior to returning in to Port Louis, St, Georges was to visit the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Garden.

One place we missed, with regret however, was the tiny sandy island of Mopion just north west of Petit St. Vincent. This is just a fun island to visit with nothing there except sand and one thatched umbrella. Last time I was in this area we spend an entire afternoon soaking up the warm water on the edge of Mopion – it is a great stop never to be forgotten.

I’ve embedded a video from La Vida PenaVega Adventurers of Mopion here so you wouldn’t miss it like we did.

Grenada Mainland

Sandy Island to St. Georges and Port Louis is just over 30 nm. To make this is is just best that one of you volunteer to get up at 6am and get the boat going – that was me! But it’s a good time of the morning on a gorgeous ocean so no regrets on that.

We wanted to get going early to leave plenty of time to explore the Underwater Sculpture Garden just north of Port Louis. This is definitely worth a stop.

A guide to clearing customs and immigration in the Grenada and St. Vincent & The Grenadines area.

Both Grenada and St. Vincent & the Grenadines are separate countries and thus their sovereignty must be respected. Each time you enter you must check into the country and each time you leave you must check out. There is no exception and penalties can be high. Don’t mess with immigration! Fortunately, things have gotten a little easier. You now log in to www.sailclear.com and register your vessel (even if it is a charter vessel) plus all of your crew and their passports. Then once you go to leave or enter you just re-logback in and declare your intention. You must still visit the immigration office but all your information will be there in their computer system. The captain only must take all the passports to the immigration office.

Once you clear out of the country you then have 24 hours to physically exit, meaning you can still sail to a convenient anchorage and stay overnight and as long as you exit the border within 24 hours after your check out with immigration you are following proper protocol. When checking in to a country you should proceed to the nearest open customs office at your first stop. This means that if you arrive after the customs office is closed, you are ok as long as you go to the customs office once opened. Technically you are supposed to raise a Q flag and not get off your boat until the captain has cleared you in with the immigration office.

Visiting customs offices can be a bit of a time waster as you have to go to the designated customs office and spend a decent amount of time doing the clearing process. But it is what it is. You simply have to do it. Make sure you plan your itinerary around this.

View this animation of how we cleared in and out of Grenada and St Vincent & The Grenadines. Just remember that Carriacou is in Grenada and Union and Cannouan are in St. Vincent and the Grenadines – that should help with the confusion.

On this trip we cleared out of Grenada in Tyrell Bay, Carriacao and then cleared into St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Canouan. We then cleared out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Canouan and cleared back into Grenada at Port Louis. Since we arrived at Sandy Island in Grenada after the Grenada office was closed we elected to anchor and leave early the next morning for Port Louis skipping the possible clear in at Union, Grenada because it was earlier than they were open. This all make itinerary planning a bit of a challenge and as Captain/navigator you have to be cognizant of travel times to the next clear in/out destination.

Overall, the Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines area is a world-class chartering area. There is so much to do and so many varied places to go with good snorkeling, amazing anchorages, great snorkeling, and consistent 15-knot winds.  It is especially good for yacht charter training aka vacation training. It is an experienced sailor destination however as there are many of reefs to navigate through – in particular the Tobago Cays area.

If you have limited yacht chartering experience, we recommend that you connect with an experienced NauticEd vacation instructor and visit the Grenada and St. Vincent & the Grenadines area for the best vacation training experience.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced yacht charterer, then don’t miss this area in your lifetime.

Here is a good wrap-up summary selfie video of  Grenada and St. Vincent & The Grenadines. Obviously, if you’re thinking that this are might be for you, fill out the form on our Sailing Vacations page and one of our professional sailing vacations agents will get some quotes back to you. NOTE: NauticEd Sailing Vacation Agency does not charge you a fee – you get the same price as going direct but we will help you with getting the best deal and steering you towards the good companies and away from the not-so-good.

And finally, a good blog article like this would be incomplete without a suggested itinerary map. See blow and also click through to our Sailing in Grenada and St. Vincent & the Grenadines Guide.

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My vision for NauticEd is to provide the highest quality sailing and boating education available - and deliver competence wherever sailors live and go.
Grant Headifen