Sandals off. Locks loose. Body stretched out on a surprisingly comfortable bed of fallen coconut tree branches…that was my conduct for most of the afternoon I spent on Sandy Island.
To say I painted a cliched picture of #islandlife would be an understatement, but I make no apologies for it. Because for all the times I used the word, this was the closest I ever came to actually being in paradise.
Point of clarification: Grenada is beautiful. Hog Island is whimsical. Carriacou is picturesque. But Sandy Island is the textbook definition of paradise. Just take a look…
Untouched. Unadulterated. Unspoiled.
We happened upon Sandy Island almost by accident. It was on my list of places to visit but it wasn’t a high priority until we saw it across the ocean from our lunch spot, Off the Hook Bar & Grill. Just a sliver of land probably a couple hundred yards out from Paradise Beach, it was a place we couldn’t see and not visit. So after a brief debate about whether to kayak or not (I was behind the ‘not’ vote) we had the boat captain take us across.
When we arrived I felt like I had literally stepped into a postcard. The powdery sand was almost blindingly white, the water was so clear you could see all the way to the bottom no matter how deep you went, and on that day the foliage was such a vibrant green that it just popped perfectly against the bright blue sky. It looked like it had been Photoshopped and filtered so I took a lot of photos as proof for those who would doubt my words.
At first glance I assumed we were on the island alone because there were no bodies lounging on the sand but as we walked along the beach we saw individuals and couples tucked away under the shade of coconut trees. There were also a couple of families splashing around in a shallow wading pool formed by the waves crashing over the wall of coral on the other side of the island.
As we passed, everyone nodded and smiled, a few waved, but it was clear they all just wanted to be in their own space. So we all set up camp far away from each other and kept to ourselves. There was no loud chatter, no intrusive music, no boats zipping by. No vendors pedaling goods, no overly friendly beach goers trying to make our acquaintance. After almost two weeks of dealing with just that at Grand Anse Beach, I was grateful for the respite.
There is absolutely no infrastructure on Sandy Island and while I’m not a big fan of ‘roughing it’, I really didn’t mind ‘living off the land’ for a few hours. We were fed and hydrated, so we didn’t need anything but a nice place to relax and that was taken care of with a bundle of dried coconut branches and a towel.
So here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in visiting Sandy Island.
When to go
Sandy Island doesn’t get overcrowded so any day of the week is a good choice. Because there aren’t any lights or other infrastructure, half/day trips are probably best, unless you’re equipped with the necessary gear to camp conservatively and responsibly overnight.
How to get there
Boat: My understanding is that any of the fishermen on the beach will happily whisk you over for a fee but we used the boat captain at Off the Hook who brought us across for $40 EC each. The ride takes less than 5 minutes but it was worth every cent.
Kayak: Off the Hook also rents kayaks for $60 EC. The ride is estimated to take 15 minutes on a still day. On a windy day like when we visited it will take about 30 minutes or more depending on the strength of the wind and the skill of the kayakers.
What to bring
Garbage bags: When I say there’s no infrastructure on Sandy Island, I mean none at all. Not even a garbage bin. Yet the island remains impeccably clean so maintain that trend by walking with a bag to collect your trash.
Food/drinks: If you want to picnic you’ll need to walk with everything already cooked/prepared but you can always have lunch and purchase drinks and snacks (like potato chips and biscuits) at Off the Hook or Hard Wood Restaurant and Bar, also on Paradise Beach.
Snorkel/mask/fins: There’s great snorkeling on the west side of the island so if you have your gear, bring it.
(Underwater) camera: This will be one of those experiences that you want to capture forever. The untouched beauty of the island, the great escape from civilization that makes even the slow pace of Carriacou feel like too much, and the sights underwater make having a camera necessary.
Small Tent: With very little cloud cover and minimal shade from the trees a small tent wouldn’t be a bad idea. Be sure to set it up off the sand so it doesn’t disturb other visitors.
Insect repellent: Because you always walk with insect repellent.
What NOT to bring
Big, bulky items: You can only get there with small fishing boats so anything big is out of the question. The beach is also narrow so anything too cumbersome might cause congestion.
Speakers: Don’t be ‘that guy/gal’. As I mentioned, Sandy Island is a quiet environment so anything that intrudes on the serenity of others should be avoided. Use headphones out of respect for the people who came there to truly enjoy the peaceful isolation.
Ever been to Sandy Island? If yes, share your experience in the comments!