Grenada See And Do
Grenada may be small, but it plays host to two entirely different beach experiences. Without a doubt, Grand Anse Beach is Grenada's cerulean crown jewel: two miles of sand, sea, and picture-perfect palms along the placid western Caribbean (between the airport and the city of St. George's). On Grenada's more aggressive eastern Atlantic side, locals prefer Bathway Beach in St. Patrick parish (close to the fishing town of Sauteurs), which is protected from strong rip currents by an offshore coral ledge and backed by snack stands and Levera National Park. An hour's drive south in St. David, La Sagesse Beach is calm and quiet, and leads to La Sagesse Nature Centre hotel's bar and restaurant (473-444-6458; www.lasagesse.com). Although nearly all of Grenada's beaches are white sand, tiny black-sand strips can be found in St. David.
With its position south of the hurricane line, Grenada has emerged as a serious player in the regional yachting scene. Captains can make their base at either the 50-year-old Grenada Yacht Club in the Port of St. George's or at one of numerous private docks. It's an easy day trip to nearby island neighbors. Among the most competitive races and regattas are the LaSource Grenada Sailing Festival in late January (473-440-4809; www.grenadasailingfestival.com) and the Carriacou Sailing Series in November, jointly organized by the Grenada Yacht Club and the Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association (www.ttsailing.org).
Grenada's August Carnival delivers the same colorful costumes, elaborate floats, and musical parades that mark similar celebrations from Bavaria to Brazil. Packed with Grenadian émigrés, this ten-day marathon of steel-pan performances, dance parties, and island-wide pageants culminates in the all-night Parade of the Bands. Wallflowers should know that audience participation is nearly mandatory. This is the only "peak" period during the summer; travelers looking to visit during Carnival should book early (especially airplane tickets).
Grenada's colonial capital reflects the island's dual French and British legacies, with red-tile roofs, red telephone booths, and a pair of impressive hilltop fortsFort Frederick and Fort George. Though crowded, the town is safe for day trips at all hours, but mornings are best for sampling organic tropical fruits and bargaining for spices in Market Square, an open market on Halifax Street (busiest on Fridays).
What began in 2005 as a once-a-month attempt to lure a few tourists to the island's largest fishing town (about a half-hour drive up the craggy coast from St. George's) has expanded into a weekly street party. Every Friday at 7 pm, several roads are blocked off, and local chefs rustle up everything from steamed red snapper and shrimp kebabs to marlin pizza. The winning combination of seafood, cold Carib beer, hot music, and great people-scoping guarantees a big turnout that doesn't break up until midnight, when the food runs out.
Grand Étang Forest Reserve
It's tempting to do little more than trek from room to plunge pool to beach on Grenada, but after a few days of decompressing, you might want to explore the island's wilder side. Grand Étang Forest Reserve in the island's central range is filled with towering bamboo, wildflowers, fields of razorgrass, the cool waters of Grand Étang Lake—an extinct volcano crater—and exotic mona monkeys, an African species brought over centuries ago on slave ships. Trails are well marked, but there are no camping facilities. Guide/local legend Telfor Bedeau is approaching 70, but the spry, cutlass-wielding pathfinder can cover every inch of the island more easily than men half his age. He creates customized day hikes for every fitness level (473-442-6200).
Tel: 473 442 0050
A visit to this little chocolate factory in St. Patrick (on the north side of the island) will get you a ten-minute introduction to the basics of chocolate-roasting. The reward? Sweet samples of deep, dark, chocolate bars made from organic cocoa beans harvested on a 100-acre farm nearby.
Open Mondays through Fridays 8 am to 5 pm.
32 Duke of York Street
Tel: 441 297 1423
Built around 1700 and originally known as one of Bermuda's first governor's houses, this museum is a time capsule of the turbulent years of the American Civil War from a Bermudian perspective (the British used Bermuda as a waypoint for smuggling guns to Confederate forces, in exchange for cotton). On display are documents, maps, ship models, and even photographs, plus a section on the construction and role of St. George's during the divisive years.
Closed Sundays; closed and Mondays and Tuesdays November to March.
They don't call Grenada the "spice island" for nothing. It's the world's second-largest producer of nutmeg (after Indonesia). The spice, which was introduced to Grenada in 1843, has since dominated nearly every aspect of the island's economy and culture: A nutmeg even graces the colorful national flag! Major processing stations in the towns of Grenville and Gouyave are open to the public (Gouyave Processing Station; 473-444-8337), though production has diminished since Hurricane Ivan uprooted more than 80 percent of the nutmeg trees. De la Grenade Industries is a 40-year-old organic operation that produces a range of nutmeg products, from jelly, jam, and syrup to its secret-recipe liqueur (St. George's; 473-440-3241; www.delagrenade.com). Local supermarkets, such as Food Fair on the Carenage, also stock a range of nutmeg goods.
The two smaller islands that form the tri-island nation of Grenada are well worth a side trip for their secluded beaches, quaint cottages, and untouristed atmosphere.
An easy 90-minute catamaran ride from St. George's, the 12-square-mile Carriacou is where locals escape from the stress of big-island life (Osprey Lines; 473-440-8126; www.ospreylines.com; $54 round-trip) and shop for duty-free appliances smuggled from the nearby Grenadines. Make your base at the Silver Beach Hotel in Carriacou's main town of Hillsborough. The retreat was damaged badly by Hurricane Emily in 2005, but two suites and two cottages on a secluded sliver of beach are still available for rent (473-443-7337; www.silverbeachhotel.net; email@example.com). Ann's Eating Delight in Hillsborough is far from fancy but serves simple, tasty lunch fare, such as roti, conch stew, and fresh fruit juices (Main St.; 473-443-6991). The menu's more ambitious at the Garden Restaurant (Main St.; 473-443-7979), with grilled mahi mahi and lobster Thermidor. Crystal-clear waters and nesting pelicans are the draw at Anse La Roche beach on Carriacou's leeward (western) side, while Sandy Island Marine Park (1 mile off Hillsborough) attracts snorkelers with its coral reefs. Nearby Magic Garden, a bubbling underwater vent, and the area around Kick 'em Jenny, a submarine volcano in the channel between Carriacou and Grenada, are best for scuba excursions (Arawak Divers; 473-443-6906; www.arawak.de). The High North Peak National Park is a newly protected 600-acre eco-reserve stretching from coastal mangrove swamps to the island's tallest point (955 feet) and supporting some seriously eclectic wildlife, such as iguanas, tree boas, and 2,000-pound leatherback turtles.
During the spring, take a day trip to Petite Martinique (three miles away) aboard the Osprey Lnes ferry that runs daily from Carriacou. The 586-acre island is tiny, but big enough for its own beach gems as well as a pre-Lent Carnival and Easter regatta. Here and at Windward, a Carriacou village just across the channel, you're liable to find local shipwrights building traditional wooden boats right on the sand.
River Antoine Estate
Tel: 473 442 7109
Since 1785, this rural distillery has produced tiny batches of bracing, overproof rum using the Caribbean's oldest working waterwheel to crush its homegrown sugarcane. The rest of the operation is just as old-school: The cane juice is boiled in enormous iron vats over wood fires; the hooch is hand-pumped into a ten-gallon Rubbermaid water cooler, then dispensed from the spigot into a single bottle at a time. The popular Rivers brand isn't officially exported—at 75 to 80 percent alcohol, it's too combustible to take on airplanes. The distillery also produces a 139-proof rum that is (barely) legal. Be sure to bring a designated driver, because the $2 admission fee includes tastings.
Open Monday through Friday 8 am to 4 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 3 pm.
The nearly half-dozen shipwrecks dotting Grenada's seabed are a testament to its historic popularity with both pirate and cruise ships. Along with coral reefs, tropical fish, and the occasional whale, the wrecks are the main attractions of the island's more than 30 diving and snorkeling sites. There are many diving centers on the island, including Aquanauts Grenada, which, like all quality centers, is both PADI-certified and a member of the Grenada Scuba Diving Association (888-446-9235; www.aquanautsgrenada.com).
Allamanda Beach Resort
Tel: 473 439 4942
Half-day, full-day and sunset rows (from $50) meander through shallow mangrove swamps, which empty into snorkel-perfect coral reefs. Moonlit midnight pedal-boat rides include wine, snacks, and a stop in a private bay.
9 Young Street
Tel: 473 440 3001
Set in the heart of St. George's (close to the Carenage), Yellow Poui sells a range of traditional and contemporary pieces, and displays prints, sculptures, photography, and masks from 80 local and international artists. Owner Jim Rudin's collection includes works by Canute Caliste, a nearly 90-year-old painter and one of Grenada's national treasures. As an island art expert, Rudin is also a great resource for information on local art festivals and events.
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays, November through June and August through September.