Known for its fragrant forests with cinnamon, allspice, cocoa and especially nutmeg, Grenada happily snuggles up to its reputation as the Spice of the Caribbean. Since the Hurricane Ivan struck his luscious island in 2004, Grenada has worked hard to become the luxury destination it is today. There is a new port facility to enable large cruise ships to make a stop here, hotels have been upgraded and refurbished, and the tourist attractions have had investment and are enjoying the new lease of life.
The architecture on this former British Colony island is picturesque, with a lovely harbour in St.George’s. You will find old churches, narrow winding streets and a bustling market square with locals selling their fruits, vegetables and crafts. Fort George and Fort Frederick date back to the 18th century and each played their role in the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada- an event that residents celebrate annually.
You can travel these islands on your own with a car if you wish; the roads are in good condition with many being new or refurbished. Accommodation wise, you will find a complete mix from luxury hotels to more budget options; while intimate inns and guest houses dot the coves, the main restaurants and resorts are around Grand Anse in order to make the most of the 2-mile honey-coloured sand beach which offers water sports and beach bars. The famous Grande Anse Beach and Lance Aux Epines which lie at the southern end of the island are home to Grenada's fine hotels, water sports, and tourist facilities. The dramatic bays and coves on this southern and the eastern coastline make this area a firm favourite with sailors and yachtsmen.
Heading north across the island, the tourist infrastructure gives way to Grenada's rich agricultural and natural bounty, and if you're touring the island, it is worth taking a day to explore the less-tourist populated spots. At Gouyave you can visit one of the nutmeg-processing stations where the seeds are sorted, sacked and stamped for export, and pick up a little hand-woven basket of spices to take home with you. The Grenada Chocolate Company is also worth a visit; this tiny solar-powered cottage factory entices both chocoholics and antique-machinery buffs with its deliciously sweet, organic treats.
River Antoine Rum Distillery is a factory with a rich history and will fascinate rum connoisseurs – this water-powered mill in the only operating one in the Caribbean. On your tour around the island, try to make a stop at the Belmont Estate which located in the Parish of St. Patrick in the north; this estate produces organic cocoa, operates an organic goat dairy, and has its own museum, gardens and restaurant all of which you can explore. If you’re around on a Friday evening, you can sample just-caught lobster, fish and jerked marlin that has been cooked over open fires at the weekly Fish Friday Festival held in Gouyave. For a relaxing way to get close to the flora, fauna and the history of the Balthazar Estate, hope on their gentle tube ride which ambles along Balthazar River. If you aren’t self-travelling, you can find tours which will take you to the main sites and show you the highlights.
As well as the landscapes, the people in Grenada are warm and embrace visitors to their special island, sharing their enthusiasm for all things revolving around cooking, socialising and celebrating. Travelling around the island you will notice the seamless mix of local crafts and spice shops with international restaurants and museums and, cuisine wise, expect to see all the Caribbean favourites alongside many dishes with an obvious French influence.
Lying across the equator, Grenada and its neighbours Carriacou and Petite Martinique are the furthest south in the group of islands comprising the Lesser Antilles. They are located around 70 miles south of St. Vincent and 100 miles north of Venezuela and, with less than 110,000 inhabitants over 133 square miles of land, the tri island state is barely visible on the world map. Yet, its culture, people and unspoilt beauty have given the islands the reputation they deserve, making of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique an unquestionable go-to destination for sun seekers and nature lovers around the world.
The three islands are blessed with lush, green volcanic mountains (Mt. St. Catherine tops out at 2,756 ft.), magnificent beaches, excellent dive sites, and exciting sailing which explains their rise in popularity with people looking for an unforgettable Caribbean holiday.
If, during your visit you fancy a change of scenery, you can arrange a visit to neighbouring Carriacou is easily arranged by air (20 minutes) or boat. Carriacou is not mountainous like Grenada, and is ideal for walking, resting on the fine sandy beaches or wandering around natural harbours to take in beautiful views over the Grenadine islands.