Simply Carriacou is a Tourist Service Agency. It does not refer to the island itself, as some reviewers here have mistaken.
I booked a tour with Simply Carriacou, as I wanted to see the giant turtles. Having read the reviews here and looked at the company website, it looked beautiful.
I contacted Karen, who does indeed seem to be very efficient. She quoted a cost of £454 for the day trip from Grenada and back. It wasnt cheap, but we usually find you get what you pay for, and I really wanted to take this opportunity.
Our plane was at 9am. The ferry does not get to the island until 11am, so really flying is the best option. Its a tiny 8 seater plane, but the weather was good and the flight was very smooth.
We arrived at Carriacou airport and were met as arranged. We were taken down to the port a few minutes away, where we were met by Sherwin and Marlon with their boat. Without delay we were off in the boat along the coast.
Serwin explained that we would do a circular route around the islands, and that it would get rougher as we left the shelter of Carriacou. It did indeed. The weather was perfect, but in open sea, in a small boat, it was quite choppy. I was very soon absolutely drenched. Not really a problem for me, as I had my swimsuit under my clothes, and had taken spare clothes. However, my husband is not a good swimmer, and he was pretty terrified. We were not aware if there were any life jackets or safety equipment on board. The boat itself did not look particularly sturdy, and in our view is simply not robust enough for tourists.
We arrived at Tobago Cays marine park which is an absolutely beautiful area. The water is clear, and the islands are surrounded by their own horseshoe shaped reef. We saw a couple of vague objects underwater as we approached the islands, which the guys said were the turtles.
On the island, Marlon showed us some igunana, and the views were lovely. I did some snorkling, but unforunately did not spot a turtle.
Once back in the boat, we set off for lunch on Mayreau. As we were back in the boat heading away from the island, several turtles did pop their heads up out of the water, but were too fast to photograph. I would have liked to have gone back into the water, but as we were out of depth, the guys would never have been able to get me back into the boat. Some sort of ledge or ladder on the boat would have been more appropriate.
Of far greater concern was the lunch arrangements. We arrived on Mayreau to find that Blackboys bar had been demolished the previous week by the authorities. Pieces of his property and equipment were strewn along the beach. Pieces of wood had been nailed together under a plastic sheet, under which was a table and bench. Regardless, Blackboy was still cooking us lunch, and apparently going to rebuild his bar even bigger at some point in the future ! Frankly, myself and my husband were dumbstruck. It was like having lunch in a scrap yard with a beautiful view (if you looked in the right direction). We didn't feel there was much we could do, and we were hungry. I did fear for my health, as the 3 dogs coated in ticks watched us eat, and the cooking bowls were washed up in the sea after the meal. Most of the food must have been pre-prepared, but there was nowhere for anyone to wash their hands. I did ask for some rum punch (alcohol seemed a good option by that point), but apparently Blackboy had no drinks - in fact he did not even have running water. After the meal, we then had to wait for half an hour whilst an assembled group of men, women and children (Blackboy's friends ?) finished off what was left over from lunch, before we could move on. We didnt have any objection to other people eating the food, but this was clearly an arranged event.
One of the group from Mayreau, a boat taxi driver called 'courageous lion' then followed us on to Happy Island. Apparently he was after Sherwin's rum punch (which wasnt offered to me!), which he enjoyed with us completely stoned and smoking a spliff.
Happy Island may once have been a romatic shell built haven, but now it is more of a concrete block. However, it did sell alcohol. We were surprised to see our skipper tucking in, but subsequently just relieved to be heading towards home.
Since our return home, I have contacted Simply Carriacou and explained my disappointment. Karen has answered with efficiency, and here is part of her reply
'After each trip I always have a discussion with Sherwin to find out how the trip went and if there were any issues. He did mention the problems with Black Boy's bar which he was not aware of until he turned up. He had even spoken to Black Boy the day before to make sure everything was ok for lunch and was not told about it. We do have alternative places to go for lunch and will be using these for future trips. Sherwin told me that he was actually quite embarrassed about things when he saw the situation - with the bar, the crowd and 'courageous lion'. This was very unfortunate and unusual circumstances and by no means the normal lunch experience. Most people enjoy the "local lunch" experience as this is something they would not normally get to do, but it has to be said they are usually sat at a table within the beach bar and are completely left alone by "the crowd". The bar, before it was broken down, had full facilities such as running hot and cold water and a washroom.'
We have corresponded with Karen, but do not seem able to make her see that a tourist agency should not be treating clients in this manner. We knew that this would not be a luxury trip, but we did expected the essentials to be covered. Karens' view that this doesnt normally happen, isnt of much use to us ! The absence of safety and hygine is a serious breach, quite apart from the poor value. Karen does not seem to understand.
We are regular travellers, and have taken boat trips in St Lucia, Italy and Croatia without incident. But this experience will certainly make us more cautious in future. Tobago Cays is beautiful, but if you're thinking of going, my advice would be to hire a catamaran, which would be far more suitable.
In hindsight, we've accepted the trip was an 'adventure', and are complaining to the authorities. We are just relieved that no ill fate befell us. Other travellers beware.
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