How to go from Carriacou to Union Island – Carriacou to Union Island Ferry


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There are few scheduled ferries that travel between the Caribbean Islands, so when you find one, it is so much better than flying.   Travelling from Grenada to St Vincent and the Grenadines is one route that you can take by ferry.  In this article, you’ll find out how to go from Grenada to St Vincent – with specific detail on the Carriacou to Union Island ferry.  We cover the prices of tickets to get to Union Island from Carriacou, timetables and how to book your place.

How To Go from Grenada to St Vincent

If you’re wanting to know how to take the ferry from Grenada to St Vincent, then read on.  Grenada encompasses 3 inhabited islands and St Vincent and the Grenadines encompasses 32 islands.  However, when people want to take the ferry from Grenada they generally mean that they want to go from the main island of Grenada to the main island of St Vincent.  If that is your preferred option and you want to take a ferry rather than fly from Grenada to St Vincent, then your route needs to be as follows:

  1. Take the ferry from Grenada to Carriacou > read our detailed guide here
  2. Take the ferry from Carriacou to Union Island (one of the St Vincent and the Grenadine Islands) > you’re in the right place, this article is all about that
  3. Take the ferry from Union Island to St Vincent > read our detailed guide here
  4. If you want to take the ferry from Union Island to Bequia then you need to first go from Union Island to St Vincent and then take a ferry from St Vincent to Bequia.

If your experience is different, please do let us know and we’ll update the post.  Thanks to Nick (March 2020) for updates on the date changes which we’ve incorporated into this article.

Where to Stay on Carriacou

We stayed in Hillsborough on Carriacou at the fabulous Carriacou Grand Hotel.  > Check rates and book here

Carriacou GRand View Hotel

There are several places to eat on the front road in Carriacou, we ate at the fabulously local Butterfly Bar, with a superb view of the setting sun.  The Green Roof Inn gets good reviews but is somewhat more expensive.

 

We chose to stay in Hillsborough as we believed that the boat would be leaving Carriacou for Union Island from Hillsborough.  Knowing what we know now, we’d still opt to stay in Hillsborough, rather than Tyrell Bay.   However, we’d choose not to have our afternoon and evening arrival on a Sunday as Hillsborough is pretty closed on a Sunday!

Where to Stay on Union Island

The main kitesurfing area of Union Island is the bay where the town of Ashton is.  This is where the ferry from Carriacou arrives into.  The airport and the main ferry port to St Vincent, Canouan and Mayreaux are in Clifton.

 

Unless you’re kitesurfing in Union Island we’d suggest staying in Clifton.  There are plenty of places to eat, drink and stay in Clifton.  We opted for the TJ Guesthouse – which has private rooms, some with small kitchenettes and is in a great location near the ferry to St Vincent.

If you’re wanting to splash a little more cash then head for The Islanders Inn on the other coast (but still only 1 kilometre – 0.6 miles from Clifton), which has fabulous oceanfront rooms.

Overview of how to take the Carriacou to Union Island Ferry

When most people think about inter-island ferries they think large vessels, air-conditioned cabins and a big formal service.  The route from Carriacou to Union Island is much more down to earth than that.   The boats on this route do not run every day.  They run to a rough timetable and are a vital connection for the people who live and work between Grenada and St Vincent.  As well as paying passengers these boats carry cargo between Carriacou and Union Island, so you’ll likely be sharing your trip with large sacks of vegetables, boxes and crates.

Here are the key points you need to know about getting to Union Island from Carriacou

  1. There are two scheduled services you can take between Carriacou and Union Island
  2. They are both small boats, with a maximum of 8-10 passengers in total per boat.
  3. One service runs on a Monday and Thursday, another service runs on a Wednesday and Friday.
  4. They depart from Tyrell Bay, Carriacou – although immigration MUST be completed in the Immigration department in Hillsborough.
  5. Both boats arrive into the small town of Ashton on Union Island
  6. Both boats include a transfer to the Airport on Union Island where you must be stamped into St Vincent and go through immigration
  7. If you want to travel from Carriacou to Union Island on a day that is not scheduled, then you can charter one of the local speedboats.  Fares will depend on how many passengers you have.  Your captain must go to Immigration with you to clear out of the island (and into Union).  Find a speedboat service by asking at your accommodation.
  8. You can fly.  SVG Air operates 3 scheduled flights to Union Island from Carriacou. Flight from Carriacou to Union Island are on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.  The ticket price is $328.00 XCD one way.

Now, here’s the full detail on this trip for the ferries.

There are now TWO Options for Carriacou to Union Island ferries

For a long time, there was only a single option when you wanted to go from Carriacou to Union Island.  There are now 2 boats that travel on this route.

How to Go from Carriacou to Union Island by Ferry

How to book the Carriacou to Union Island Ferry

There is no online booking for either boat, contact the captains directly, here are their contact details.  The price for both services is the same.  The No Pressure is said to be a faster boat, but on the day we travelled, it arrived at least 90 minutes later than us.

Troy Gellizeau, captain of the Lady JJ – Carriacou to Union Island ferry

Lady JJ in Foreground

James, captain of the No Pressure – Carriacou to Union Island ferry

No Pressure ferry from Carriacou to Union Island

Where does the ferry from Carriacou to Union Island leave from?

Both boats (and indeed all ferry services) from Carriacou now leave from Tyrell Bay Marina.  There is still a postal pier in Hillsborough, but all the ferry services were moved to Tyrell Bay a while back.  Hillsborough gets a lot of swells and the pier here is dangerous for loading and unloading.  Tyrell Bay is much calmer and safer.

However, if you take the service run by Troy Gellizeau on the Lady JJ then you can meet him in Hillsborough at the immigration offices whereas this is where you need to go through immigration to leave Grenada.   Troy does not provide transport from Hillsborough to Tyrell Bay, but there is an easy EC$3.50 (EC$4 on Sundays and holidays) bus service that will take you from the Hillsborough bus station to right outside the Tyrell Bay marina.

Bus on Carriacou

Map of Immigration and Ferry Docks on Carriacou

Where does the ferry from Carriacou arrive in Union Island?

The ferry from Carriacou to Union Island arrives in the small town of Ashton.  Ashton is 2.8 kilometres (1.7 miles) from the Union Island airport and the main town of Clifton on Union Island.  The ferry service that you take includes transport to the airport, where you will go through immigration into St Vincent.  If you want to travel onwards from the airport, then you’ll need to pay your own transport costs with the minivan driver.  So your drop off point is the airport in Union Island.  The airport is just 700 metres (0.4 miles) or a 10 minutes walk from the centre of Clifton.

What days does the Carriacou to Union Island operate/run?

Both boats that run the route between Union Island and Carriacou work only on Monday and Thursday.  They leave Union Island in the morning and return to Union Island from Carriacou in the early afternoon.  Any differences to this schedule will be found by communicating directly with the captains of both boats.

What time does the ferry from Carriacou to Union Island leave?

The boats to Union Island from Carriacou usually leave around 1400.

Sea state Carriacou to Union Island

How long does it take to go from Carriacou to Union Island

The physical journey from Tyrell Bay, Carriacou to Ashton on Union Island takes around 90 minutes depending on the sea state.  However, there may be hold ups, or your boat may need to stop en route (we stopped at the Hillsborough Postal Pier to collect some more cargo.

However.  (and this is a big, however…) there are a series of process to go through which means this is probably going to take most of your day.

  1. You will need to meet Troy or James, at the Hillsborough Immigration Centre in order to hand over your passports and pay the EC$20 fee for leaving Grenada.  (Confirm with them when you reserve your seats).  The time that you usually do this is around 1000 but you’ll be told this the day before your trip.
  2. The main reason for this is that the immigration department closes for lunch, so your captain needs to be able to get the immigration done so that he’s able to leave when he’s ready.
  3. If you’re staying in Tyrell Bay, arrange to meet your captain and hand over your departure tax and passport, then you may be able to avoid taking the bus to Hillsborough as your captain will do this for you.
  4. You will then need to get to the marina at Tyrell Bay. There are no facilities at the port and there’s no shade apart from on the boats.  We recommend you drop your bags on the boat (security will let you into the marina) and then find a table at the Big Citi café and restaurant.  They have cold drinks, cocktails, good lunch options and good WifI, plus if you sit in a booth there are electric sockets to charge your devices!
  5. Your boat will not leave until around 1400 – it may be a little earlier. If you’re on the WiFi in the Big Citi café, then you can easily be connected with your captain on WhatsApp.

How much does the ferry cost from Carriacou to Union Island?

The cost of the ticket from Carriacou to Union Island is EC$60 per person.  This includes clearing immigration (although there is an EC$20 departure fee that you need to pay) and transport to the Union Island Airport on Union Island from your arrival point in Ashton.  Cash only.

There is no additional charge for your bags.

seating on the Lady JJ to Union Island

Where is immigration on Carriacou?

Immigration on Carriacou for departures to Union Island is at the Hillsborough immigration office.    The immigration office at Tyrell Bay marina is for yachts arriving and departing Grenada, not for the boat services to St Vincent via Union Island.  You will need to ensure that your departure card is completed and included with your passport.

When you meet your captain to deal with leaving Carriacou he will give you the immigrations and customs forms for St Vincent which you will need to complete.  Your captain will likely hold your passport and completed immigration forms for Union Island until you pass through immigration in Union Island.

Lady JJ ferry from Carriacou to Union Island

Where is immigration on Union Island?

Immigration on Union Island is at the Union Island airport. This is a maximum 10-minute walk from the main town of Clifton.  Your ferry ticket will include transport and immigration service.  You’ll be met where your ferry from Carriacou docks in Ashton, Union Island by a driver and a helper, who will take you to immigration.  They’ll carry your passport and forms and you will just need to approach the immigrations officers when directed once you arrive at the Union Island Airport.

There is free WiFi at the Union Island airport and a small café where you get a drink/ food.

Map of Ferry Docks and Immigration on Union Island

How to get from Hillsborough to Tyrell Bay on Carriacou

If you are staying in Hillsborough on Carriacou (we recommend the Carriacou Grand View Hotel for fabulous views, great rates and super little pool!), then you can take a bus from the Hillsborough Bus station to the Tyrell Bay Marina which is where both the Lady JJ and the No Pressure leave from.

Buses on Carriacou are the same as Grenada, small minivans.  The bus from Tyrell Bay to Hillsborough takes about 20 minutes and costs EC$3.50 (EC$4 on Sundays and holidays).

How to get to Union Island from Carriacou

Both the Lady JJ and the No Pressure are based on Union Island.  They travel from Union Island to Carriacou in the morning on Monday and Thursday and return to Union Island from Carriacou on the same day in the afternoon.

Contact the captain of each vessel to arrange meeting points and to confirm the immigration procedures to leave Union Island.

How to book the ferry from Union Island to Carriacou

If you wish to take the ferry to Carriacou from Union Island, then they leave at around 0700 on Monday and Thursday.  You will need to book your place with the captain of each both.  You will also need to go through the immigration on Union Island (at the airport) the night before your departure.

 

 

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carriacou to union island

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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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