by Jen Lewallen
In the far southeastern Caribbean lies a tiny treasure full of flavor. Grenada doesn’t come up on the radar for most tropical-bound travelers. In fact, it can’t even be seen on most maps, appearing as just a name floating on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. However, its remote recognition and small size have worked in Grenada’s favor. Its gorgeous landscape is relatively untouched, and the abundance of friendly locals have held on to their simple way of life. That being said, it’s still called the Spice Island for a reason and it’s not just in honor of its pungent exports. For a laid back escape yet anything-but-boring vacation, Grenada is the place to truly get off the grid.
Little Island with Big Heart
Grenadians are famous for their welcoming open-arms outlook on life. They embrace visitors as family and are eager to help anyone who needs it when trying to navigate their island. They’re likely to invite tourists to share a drink or a meal, especially during festival season.
Grenadians love to celebrate and have a good time. They’ll show you how to move to the music during the Spice Mas Festival, their largest event of the year that’s similar to Carnival on other islands. They have multiple events throughout the year celebrating music, fishing and sailing, and even an indulging chocolate festival. They have a zest for life and appreciate the simple things, and they never sweat the small stuff; a lesson we can all take from a page in their book.
A trip to Grenada is incomplete without sampling the island’s claim to fame, spices. Known as the Spice Isle, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cocoa, and allspice are all produced here and exported around the world. But nutmeg is the true star, and Grenada produces 20% of the world’s supply.
Shopping for these spices is a must-do and make excellent gifts and souvenirs. Tours to working spice plantations are a great daily activity and teach visitors how these flavorful plants and seeds are cultivated. As a treat for the nose visit the Spice Market in St. George’s. Vendors line the aisles with bins and bags full of freshly ground spices for sale, making it one of the best smelling markets around the world.
Beaches to Boast About
As with most Caribbean islands, sun worshipers will be pleased to find Grenada a temple of beautiful beaches. Whether it’s serene, social, or sui generis, this island has the perfect sandy spot.
Grand Anse Beach
Mingle with locals and tourists along two miles of pure white sand, enjoying views of sparkling turquoise water and the nearby colorful capital of St. George’s. Grand Anse is a social scene surrounded by watersport facilities, local restaurants, and a Vendors Market for souvenir shopping.
Despite its close proximity to St. George’s, Portici Beach is only accessible by two sandy trails off the main road, making it literally off the beaten path. Due to this seclusion, it’s the perfect spot to relax and get away from it all. The tranquil waters and off-shore coral reef make it an ideal snorkeling site.
Black Bay Beach
As the name suggests, this unique beach possesses volcanic black sand. Outdoor enthusiasts are rewarded with a secluded paradise after a 20-minute hike from the main road past sugar mill ruins and fruit and spice trees. Adventurers can explore the nearby caves to search for old markings made by the Amerindians, who are believed to be the first people to settle on the island.
Lush and rugged landscapes waiting to be explored, and crystal clear waters full of exploits guarantee a good time for thrill seekers.
Jaunts at Sea
The Deep Blue has always been a mystery, and humankind can’t help being captivated by it. Grenada’s surrounding sea offers plenty of detective work. Avid anglers can charter a boat for a fantastic deep-sea excursion. The fantastic fishing scene has even gained international attention with the Annual Spice Isle Billfish Tournament. Considered the dive capital of the Eastern Caribbean, scuba certified visitors will find coral reefs, shipwrecks, and underwater sculpture parks under the azure waves. And for those who have a need for speed, rent a wave runner for the day or hop on a tube and be towed through the water by a speed boat.
Escapades on Land
Grenada is a hiker’s paradise. Leisure strolls around lake shores to steep mountainous climbs ending at waterfalls, the island has a trail for everyone. The trails also provide excellent conditions for Mountain Biking. Peddle around the island with a guide and stop at historical sites and where the locals live and work. Looking to enjoy the landscape at a leisurely pace? Float down Grenada’s Balthazar River—referred to as the Great River by locals—and twist and turn in your very own inner tube while making stops to swim and enjoy a glass of refreshing rum punch.
While Grenada’s small size makes it nearly invisible on a world map, its warm people, flavorful culture, and simple excitement make it a larger-than-life destination. Contact your local travel agent and find the spice of life on your Grenada getaway.