Why explore the Isle of Spice?
Grenada is a tri-island state also known as ‘The Isle of Spice’ or the “Spice Isle”. She has two sister islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. So, there are many things to do in Grenada.
Grenada seemed a well-kept secret for a Caribbean holiday. But when the Royalton brand come to the island, it lets you know there is something special about this place. There are beautiful secluded bays and beaches here. Grenada is more peaceful and less developed than its Caribbean neighbours.
Just 12 miles by 21 miles, here is a land of mountains and waterfalls, woodlands and rainforests. Grenada is a haven for divers and snorkellers with its coral reefs and underwater sculpture park.
There are fishing villages, chocolate factories, and old rum distilleries. This island has a colonial history. Time spent in the capital, St George’s is a rewarding experience.
St. George’s Grenada
St. George’s is the capital city of the Caribbean island of Grenada. Those travellers who have walked its narrow streets with their coloured colonial buildings, claim this to be the most beautiful harbour town in the Caribbean.
Here are some of the landmarks:
A walk around Carenage (St George’s Marina) will give you some spectacular views. The many restaurants serve local food
Fort George is an 18th century fort that offers panoramic views of the Grenada and St. George’s Bay.
Fort Matthew was a battleground and, later, an asylum, and has underground tunnels.
The Grenada National Museum hosts exhibits about the history of the region, including the plantation economy and the whaling industry.
Market Square in Young Street can start your education about the island’s spices. This is among the best-smelling markets you are likely to come across. This is a great place for souvenir shopping, fresh produce, and handmade crafts. Best time to go for a good vibe is Saturday.
Hike Grand Etang National Park & Forest Reserve
Many visitors to Grenada may go for the sun-soaked beaches and are content to work on their tan. But there are others who get a longing to view the wider scene. The Grand Etang National Park gives casual strollers and seasoned hikers a chance to stretch their legs and take in the wonderful sights and smells of a tropical rainforest.
The park covers a large part of central Granada and is home to exotic flora and fauna. A trek along the established trails may reward you with sightings of armadillos, tropical mockingbirds, mongooses and the rare Mona Monkeys.
Mount Qua Qua has stunning views of the park and the Grand Etang Lake. Then there is the scenic trail, with its fragrance of fresh spices, to Seven Sisters Falls just 2 kilometres from the Visitors Centre.
Be sure to pick up a map of the park from the Visitors Centre before you hit the trails and take sturdy walking shoes.
Diving & Snorkelling in Grenada
There are many alluring landscapes on Grenada, enough to keep the most discerning traveller engaged for the duration of any holiday. But some of the most spectacular scenery is below the surface of the sea around the coasts of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique.
Grenada turquoise waters attract divers and snorkellers to its 30 dive sites. The Bianca C, which sank in 1961, is the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean and about one mile off the coast at Grand Anse near to Carriacou’s shores. Scuba divers can reach it as the top of the ship is in only about 100 feet (30 metres) of water. The Times named the Bianca C as one of the top ten wreck diving sites in the world.
Apart from the various shipwreck sites, you can explore the unique Underwater Sculpture Park on the bottom of Moliniere Bay in St. George’s. This underwater art depicts scenes from Grenadian culture and folklore.
They created the park as part of a regeneration project to establish an artificial reef. One of the unusual works (some say eerie) is that of an outward-facing ring of children holding hands. They name this sculpture “Viccisitudes”.
The Sculpture Park is very accessible to scuba divers or snorkellers at five to eight metres deep. And glass-bottom boats depart from St George’s or Grand Anse. Check these Sculpture Park images from Caribbean & Co
Discover Grenada’s history & culture
The legacy of Grenada’s colourful history is clear in its vibrant culture today. The original inhabitants were the Carib and Arawak Indians. Although Christopher Columbus first sighted the island in 1498, they made no attempt to settle the island until 1609. It was then that an ill-fated British attempt was thwarted by the indigenous islanders.
The French were next-up in 1649. They followed a peaceful co-existence by a five-year war in which the French army defeated the original islanders. Chief Kairouane was the Carib leader of Grenada. Rather than surrender to a life of slavery, he and the small band of survivors leapt from a cliff. The French named the place Morne de Sauteurs or “Leapers Hill”. They remember the daring act of resistance today in legend and song.
The British captured Grenada during the Seven Years’ War on 4 March 1762. Then on February 7, 1974, Grenada gained her independence from the British.
You will glance into Granada’s colourful past when you visit Fort George and Fort Frederick. You can see historical artefacts of its first inhabitants, slavery and the plantation economy at The Grenada National Museum. Then 18th century churches and the Parliament Buildings give a glimpse of the way religion and politics have played their part in the culture.
The language reflects the British and French colonial rule and the influence of African cultures imported with the slaves. English is spoken but a French-African patois is used by some of the population.
A day trip to Carriacou or Petite Martinique
A great way to spend a day in relative peace is to visit Carriacou (pronounced “carry a coo”). There are several small hotels, restaurants, and a local museum.
The island lies twenty-three miles northeast of Grenada and has a population of 7,000 people.
Reach Carriacou and Petite Martinique by ferry from St. George’s; also fly into Carriacou’s Lauriston Airport from the main island.
Dolphins follow the boat on the short journey to Carriacou. Minibuses cover set routes around the island, or you can hire them as taxis. The north offers great walking trails while the beautiful sandy beaches are a draw in the south. The island also has great dive sites.
If you don’t want it quiet, then plan it right and get some sun, sand, and soca at the Carriacou & Petite Martinique Carnival. This annual event is celebrated on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday every year.
The heart of the musical celebration has been Soca. Costumes, Shakespeare Mass and stick fighting. Shakespeare (that is, quoting from the Bard) is highly featured in the villages on Tuesday morning and culminates in the town of Hillsborough at noon
The Carriacou Regatta showcases local music and the islands’ connection to the sea. This four-day festival happens on the first weekend in August.
The Carriacou Regatta started over 50 years ago and reflects the importance of seamanship and boat building.
The Carriacou Regatta attracts vessels from around the Caribbean including, Antigua, Tobago, Bequia, Canouan and Mayreau.
There is also much on-shore activity such as donkey-racing, the greasy-pole, bicycle-races, drinking competitions, and diverse evening entertainment.
If you want to experience a desert island retreat, then Petit Martinique comes close. This tiny island a few miles from Carriacou’s northeast shore has few amenities. But it’s worth the trip for its beautiful beaches.
Grand Anse Beach
The beach is set on the southwestern coast of Grenada about six miles from St George’s. Frommer’s states that Grand Anse Beach is among the best in the Caribbean and is reason enough to go to Grenada! It is the best of the island’s 45 beaches.
This two-mile stretch of creamy-white sand overlooks a sheltered, blue bay where red and yellow fishing boats speckle the water. Hotels, restaurants, and shops are an easy walk making this a great base for sun-seekers.
River Antoine Rum Distillery
You can’t visit a Caribbean island without a trip to the rum-making factory! This distillery is also a historic site.
River Antoine Distillery has produced rum since 1785. It is the oldest functioning water-powered distillery in the Caribbean.
You can take the tour through the rum-making process, from harvesting the sugar cane, fermentation and bottling. Their age-old techniques and antique equipment make a tour of the distillery walk through a working rum museum.
Most of the rum produced here goes to a loyal local customer base. The River Antoine Rum Distillery makes strong rum, up to 150 proof. This is above the limits imposed by many airlines for checked-in baggage. Be sure to get the less potent version for your journey home.
The River Antoine Rum Distillery sits on the northeast coast of Grenada an hour’s drive from St. George’s.
Belmont Estate & The Grenada Chocolate Company
There are many popular spice tours in Grenada. But you can combine this tour with a visit to the Grenada Chocolate Company.
The Belmont Estate is a plantation with 300 years of history and 400 acres of gardens, a goat farm, museum, and spices, like ginger, pimento, turmeric and nutmeg.
You can learn how the spices are processed and sample a few at the Belmont Estate Restaurant.
Chocolate lovers can plan a factory tour of the Grenada Chocolate Company. This humble cocoa processing plant produces organic chocolate that is sold all over the world.
A tour of the factory will show how this delicious treat is made, from cocoa pods to pouring and molding of the chocolate.
The Belmont Estate and the Grenada Chocolate Company are in the northeast of Grenada, about an hour’s drive from St. George’s.
Royal Mt. Carmel Waterfalls
The Falls are in Marquis, St. Andrews about two miles south of Grenville. Also known as Marquis Falls, these impressive falls are the highest on the island, with two falls cascading over 70 feet into the pools below. They can be reached with a gentle 30-minute hike through a private plantation where spices and fruits are grown. Just a short distance from St George’s. A must see if you are on the island.
Other places of interest in Grenada
Palm Tree Gardens botanical garden
Two acres of botanical gardens, including anthuriums, bromeliads, orchids, and over 25 species of palm trees. Stunning views of the mountains and ocean. Stop by the lily pond and see the red-footed tortoises!
Levera National Park
Beautiful and dramatic scenery on the north-east coast of the island where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.
In the mountains north of St. George’s, Annandale Falls is a 10-meter waterfall plunging to a pool tucked in tropical foliage.
This former estate of Lord Brownlow where the beachside residence has been converted into a romantic hotel and restaurant.
Explore nature trails winding through the windswept hills with picturesque views of the ocean. The area is ideal for bird spotters where many species make their home in the area’s scrub forests, mangroves, and salt ponds.
Sailing (St. George’s)
Sail along the Caribbean coastline aboard a catamaran.
Grenada National Stadium
The National Cricket Stadium, previously known as Queen’s Park, is the name of a cricket stadium complex on River Road. It became the 84th Test venue in 2002 when it hosted its first match between West Indies and New Zealand.
Grenada is still a relatively untouched island in the Caribbean as far as tourists go. But it is experiencing an increase in investment from some big resorts. So, this a good place to visit for your Caribbean holiday. As you can see there are many things to do in Grenada.