GoNOMAD DESTINATION MINI GUIDE
Grenada: The Spice Isle
By Michael DeFreitas
The smallest of the Windward Islands, Grenada is situated about 160 km west of Barbados.
Grenada is well off the beaten path and, along with its sister islands, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, offers visitors spectacular white-sand beaches, crystal clear waters, beautiful reefs, tropical forests, friendly people, and a place to slow down.
Grenada is affectionately called the "Spice Isle" because it is a leading producer of exotic nutmeg, clove, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger. The capital, St. George's, with its horseshoe-shaped harbor, is said to be the loveliest city in the Caribbean and Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine has rated Grand Anse Beach one of the ten best in the Caribbean.
WHEN TO GO
With average temperatures of 24C/75F to 30C/87F and the tempering caress of the cool northeast trade winds, Grenada is a year-round destination. January to May is the dry season, but even during the rainy season, from June to December, it rarely rains for more than an hour at a time and generally not every day.
During Grenada's "high" tourist season, from November to May, rooms are harder to come by and expensive. But during the "low" season, from June to October, hotel rates drop by as much as 20% - 30% and you have a wider selection of accommodations to choose from.
Grenada's weeklong carnival extravaganza takes place each August 11 - 15. The island becomes Party Central for a week, and although most hotels still offer lower rates, rooms are few and far between. If you plan to visit at carnival time, book well in advance.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND
Many International and North American carriers like American Airlines, Air Canada, BWIA and British Airways offer direct flights into Grenada's Point Salines International Airport from gateways like London, New York, Miami, Toronto, and Montreal. Regional carriers like American Eagle and LIAT offer daily flights from regional hubs in Puerto Rico, Antigua, and Barbados.
The island is small and the roads are good, so the best way to get around is by rental car or tour guide. A local driving license is required for EC$30.00. Driving is on the LEFT.
Taxis are expensive, but plentiful. They have no meters, so you must negotiate the fare before getting in. Expect to pay about $15.00 US from airport to town.
Mini buses ply all the main roads, but don't run on any schedule. They are a great, inexpensive way to get around and meet the locals at the same time. Most trips between the airport, beach and town will cost about US $2.00.
Another good way to get around town and out to the beach is by mountain bike.
- Ride Grenada
Rents bikes by the day or week.
Ferry service to Carriacou runs daily from the Carenage dock in town. $15.00 return trip.
Grenada to Carriacou: Tues 9:30am; Wed 10:00am; Fri 11:00am; Sat 8:00am; Sun 7:00am.
Carriacou to Grenada: Mon 10:00am; Wed 9:30am; Thur 10:00am; Sat 9:00am; Sun 5:00pm.
BEST MAJOR ATTRACTIONS
- Grand Anse Beach
A relaxing day or three on the uncrowded white sands of 3 km long Grand Anse Beach is definitely a highlight of the island.
When you tire of sunbathing and swimming (or need to get of the tropical sun for a few hours), there are a few other attractions worth checking out.
- Fort George
High on a hill guarding the entrance to the harbor is the imposing form of Fort George. Built in 1705 it has dozens of 300 year-old cannons, tunnels, and passageways to explore and offers spectacular views of the city's picturesque harbor.
- Market Square
Below the fort in a part of town called the Esplanade is the bustling, noisy hub of Grenadian commerce, Market Square. The best time to visit is on Saturday when the country folk bring their produce and wares to sell and the air is filled with the delicious scents of spices.
BEST UNUSUAL ATTRACTIONS
- Leapers Hill
On the northern tip of the island, above the village of Sauteurs is a promontory called Leapers Hill or Le morne des Sauteurs. Here, in the late 1700s, French troops surrounded the remaining native Caribs, who rather than surrender, jumped to their deaths from the cliff.
- Grand Etang National Park
In Grenada's mountainous interior lies Grand Etang National Park. The park has a network of hiking trails and a large lake, Grand Etang Lake. The lake is the flooded remains of an extinct volcanic crater.
BEST ACTIVITIES AND TOURS
- Henry's Safaris
Tel: 473-444-5313, fax: 473-444-4847 or 4460
Denis Henry, an excellent local guide with his own minibus, can show you everything on the island and arrange off island and water tours.
- Sensational Tours
Tel: 473-444-1594/1842/2243, fax: 473-444-1103
Offers island, hiking, and bird watching tours, as well as rental vehicles.
Every Saturday morning the Hash House Harriers meet to go hashing, a type of cross-country paper chase that usually ends at a local pub. It's great fun.
- Batik Art Factory
On Young Street in St. George's. See and purchase batik cloth being made by deaf and handicapped women. Sign language greatly appreciated if you know how.
- There are a number of volunteer programs available, but they tend to run in conjunction with the Peace Corps (USA) or The VSO (Canada). However, CORAL (The Coral Reef Alliance) does have volunteer programs like reef cleanup, fish census and reef health programs for divers and snorkelers on vacation.
- Coral Reef Alliance
2014 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704-1117
TeL: 510-848-0110, fax: (510) 848-3720
BEST LOCAL HAUNT
- Boatyard Bar
Situated in the quiet Prickly Bay Marina this place is everything but quiet. The bar serves great local food and swings all night long with local live bands.
- Fantazia 2001 Disco
Nestled under the palms on Morne Rouge Beach, it features beach jump-ups to live bands on Wednesday and Saturday nights.
- Cedars Inn
Box 73, True Blue, St. George's, Grenada, W.I.
Tel: 473-444-4641, fax 473-444-4652.
This quiet 20-room inn sits on a hillside overlooking St. George's. It has a pool, a/c, tour desk and good restaurant. Rates: $60-$80.
- Coyaba Beach Resort
Box 336, St. George's, Grenada, W.I.
Tel: 473-444-4129, fax: 473-444-4808
A 70-room resort on Grand Anse Beach. Rates $85 - $110.
- Aquarium Beach Club & Restaurant
Located on the beach at Point Salines near airport. Serves delicious local cuisine.
- Canboulay Restaurant
Probably the most popular restaurant on the island. High on Morne Rouge overlooking St. George's. Great views and great local cuisine with an intimate ambience.
Right on the beach at Prickly Bay near the airport. Great local dishes in picturesque setting.
Grenadians like their music and dancing. In addition to the beachside jump-ups, many bars and most hotels provide some form of entertainment nightly, including steel band and calypso music.
- Village Hotel
Located on the slopes of Morne Toute near Grand Anse Beach, this nightclub features great Wednesday night jazz sessions with local and visiting musicians.
- The Yellow Poui Art Gallery
On Cross St. in downtown St. George's, this local gallery sells Grenadian paintings and is worth a visit.
- Spice Island Perfumes
On the Carenage. Sells perfumes and potpourris made from the island spices, as well as locally made batik cloth goods.
VISAS AND DOCUMENTS
A valid passport or birth certificate along with a photo ID like a drivers license, plus a return ticket is all you need.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
No vaccinations required. Swimwear or mini shorts should not be worn in the streets or stores.
Bring lots of sunscreen as Grenada is very near the Equator and the sun can be quite strong. Bug repellent is a good idea if you plan to do any hiking in the National Park.
Grenada is generally very safe, but as always, be aware of beach thieves. Do not leave your valuables unattended on the beach. Don't go walking alone at night along the beach dressed in a g-string bikini, watch out for the odd pickpocket at the market on Saturday and never leave stuff visible in the car.
The water is safe to drink from the tap, and locals believe in cooking their food well so you are unlikely to get food poisoning.
MONEY AND COMMUNICATIONS
The Eastern Caribbean Dollar (ECC) is linked to the US Dollar and is currently at EC$2.67 =US$1.00. Both ECCs and US dollars are accepted. Credit cards and travelers checks are also commonly accepted. Most prices are quoted in both currencies at most shops and haggling is allowed. If in doubt always ask first before buying. Small local merchants deal only in $EC so if you pay in $US expect to get your change in $EC and at a much lower exchange rate.
There are ATMs available in St. Georges.
Grenadians speak English, but sometimes they talk so fast and use some local phrases that are difficult to follow. Simply ask them to slow down a bit.
Local phones take a local $.25 coin, but phone cards can be purchased in various denominations from $5.00 to $25.00. With a credit card or cash you can make long distance calls from the Cable & Wireless office in St. George's.
Grenada Board of Tourism
Burns Point, Box 293, St. George's, Grenada, W.I.
Tel: 473-440-279/ 2001/ 1346, fax: 473- 440-6637
Grenada Tourism Office
820 Second Ave., Suite 900D, New, York, NY, 10017,
Tel: 212-687-9554 or 800-927-9554, fax: 212-573-9731.
512 Duplex Ave.,Toronto, Ont., M4R 2E3
Tel: 416-485-8724 or 1-800-267-7600, fax: 416-485-8256.
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