Caribbean Destination Series Part 12-Grenada


Nutmeg ice cream. Nutmeg cheesecake. Nutmeg sprinkled over rum punch. There’s even a nutmeg rub that’s supposed to cure the common cold. Grenadians are nothing if not resourceful with the spice. And that’s understandable: They grow one-third of the world’s nutmeg.

But although you’ll see (and smell) plenty of the glossy brown nuts in Grenada, there’s more to this country than spices. St. George’s, the capital city, is one of the prettiest ports in the region. Pastel-colored houses with red-tiled roofs perch on green slopes overlooking the bay, which includes a lagoon that’s actually the collapsed crater of an extinct volcano. Then there’s the intensely blue lake atop the rain forest in Grand Etang Park.

All of the islands that make up this nation have the languid charm of the Caribbean as it used to be. Although resort developers have discovered Grenada, only a small stretch of beach is given over to them. The rest of Grenada feels very local rather than touristy. Grenada was badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, but most hotels and services—including the new Melville Street Cruise Port Terminal—are now functioning.

Carriacou and Petite Martinique—the other two islands sometimes visited by travelers—are especially enticing for those who find even the leisurely pace of Grenada too hectic. A windjammer-type cruise or a yacht trip through the area is a good option: These are some of the finest sailing waters in the world.

Geography

The nation of Grenada is composed of three large islands, Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, and a number of smaller islets. The main island—Grenada—is 21 mi/34 km long and 12 mi/19 km wide and is the most southerly of the Windward Islands of the Caribbean—it’s only 100 mi/160 km north of Venezuela. It’s also among the most lush. Rain forest covers the rugged, volcanic interior of Grenada, and small streams wind their way to the coast. It’s divided into six parishes (districts), all named after saints. The other islands, including Carriacou, Petite Martinique and many smaller islets, are part of the Grenadine chain that stretches to the north of the main island. They’re drier than Grenada, dominated by rolling hills and sandy beaches.

History
The Carib Indians were in possession of Grenada when Columbus arrived in 1498, but their fierce resistance to European settlement kept the island uncolonized for another 150 years. It was the French who finally defeated the Caribs, some of whom jumped to their deaths rather than surrender. (The cliff in the town of Sauteurs is now known as Caribs Leap.)

The French established plantations that used slave labor to grow tobacco, sugar, cotton and other crops. The British wrested control of the island from the French in 1783, and though they abolished slavery 50 years later, plantations remained the island’s economic mainstay.

Little changed until the independence movement of the 1960s, led by Eric Gairy. After Grenada became fully independent in 1974, Gairy headed the nation until the late 1970s. But many viewed him as a corrupt tyrant. In 1979, Gairy was ousted in a bloodless coup, and the Marxist-Leninist People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) came to power, headed by Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. Grenada aligned itself with Cuba and other Soviet-bloc countries, which alarmed the U.S. and other Caribbean nations. In 1983, the PRG split and many Bishop supporters were massacred. Bishop was executed by a firing squad.

At this turn of events, the U.S. dispatched a joint U.S.-Caribbean force to Grenada that took control of the island, bringing an end to Grenada’s revolutionary government. The incident, known on the island as the “intervention,” continues to be a topic of discussion. Leaders of the coup remain in jail on Grenada.

After U.S. troops withdrew, elections in 1984 installed the first of several postrevolutionary governments. Aid and technical assistance programs sponsored by the U.S. have strengthened the country’s economy. Grenada has attempted to increase tourism in recent years, a task made easier by the completion of the international airport and the new Mercer Street Cruise Port in St. George’s.

Snapshot
Grenada’s main attractions include beaches, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, hiking or rope-climbing up Mount St. Catherine, great food, old forts, beautiful scenery and relaxation.

People who love the beach and the outdoors and who are looking for a less-traveled destination with lovely scenery will enjoy Grenada. Travelers who relish a very active nightlife will be less impressed, and those looking for casinos won’t find them.

Port Information
Location
Cruise ships dock downtown in St. George’s harbor off Carenage Road. The pier can accommodate two ships. The Melville Street Cruise Port there has been completed and is welcoming cruise passengers. The new jetty can accommodate two megaships at once, and there are two smaller jetties to accommodate tenders and water taxis. Passenger services include a visitor reception area with tourist information, duty-free shops, restaurants, a parking lot and a bus terminal.

A five-minute walk from the terminal around the horseshoe-shaped harbor takes you to the center of old St. George’s, which is known as the Carenage (inner harbor). You can also walk to the city’s main thoroughfare, known as the Esplanade—but it’s a steep walk up and over a hill on a narrow sidewalk. Visitors will find plenty of taxis at the cruise-terminal entrance. The trip to Grand Anse Beach area is about US$10, and a bus to Grand Anse costs US$1-$2.25. The narrow Sendall Tunnel also connects the two parts of town by car or (very cautiously) on foot.

Shore Excursions

Consider signing up for the excursions offered by your ship. They may not be the least-expensive way to see the island, but you won’t have to waste your limited time making arrangements yourself—and you won’t have to worry about missing the ship. Shore excursions—and their prices—vary from cruise line to cruise line. Typical tours include exploring the island’s rain forest and historic sites or swimming and snorkeling along the southwestern coast. Check with your ship’s shore-excursion staff or your travel agent for additional information. Most cruise ships dock in Grenada for six to eight hours.

Potpourri
Carriacou has more than 100 rum shops.

Grenada has more spices for its size than any other place in the world. It is second only to Indonesia in the production of nutmeg. The spice is such an important part of the economy that it’s featured on the island’s flag.

Most of the island’s population is of African descent.

Grenada’s building code prohibits structures that are taller than a full-grown palm tree.

Male travelers should be aware of the story of La Jablesse (Creole for “the devil”), a mythical beauty in flowing skirts and a large brimmed hat. She is said to lure straying men and then remove her hat to reveal her nightmarish demon skull.

The many breadfruit trees on Grenada all descended from plants imported by Captain Bligh, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. On his first trip to Tahiti to gather the trees, the mutiny took place, but he later successfully transported the trees to the Caribbean.

The film Island in the Sun was shot in the village of Woburn.

Grenada is known for its rock-star postage stamps. The world’s first Elvis Presley stamp was issued in 1978 to commemorate the first anniversary of his death. Other stars who have been immortalized by the Grenadian postal authorities are Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Elton John, Bob Marley and Madonna.

See & Do
Sightseeing

Along with the expected sun fun, Grenada has a handful of cultural offerings worth pursuing. The Grenada National Museum in St. George’s has excellent exhibits on the island’s history. The 18th-century Fort George on Church Street, with its passageways, cells and guards’ quarters, is fun to explore but closed because of damage from Hurricane Ivan. From the high ramparts of another 18th-century fort, Fort Frederick, visitors can look down on the horseshoe-shaped harbor. At the Dougaldston Spice Estate, you can see how nutmeg, cocoa, cinnamon and other Grenadine spices have been processed for over a century.

Recreation
Beaches
Grenada abounds with 45 beautiful beaches, including a few with black sand. The more popular ones are along the southern and southwestern coasts, where the water is shallow and calm. If you’re looking for a bit more wave action, there are two good beaches on the northeastern coast, but be aware that strong currents accompany the big waves. Most beaches on Grenada are public, and hotels or restaurants are usually within easy walking distance. Most are accessible by minivans and taxis. A rental car, however, may be less expensive and more practical for an extensive trip along the coastline.

The 2-mi-/3-km-long stretch of white sand known as Grand Anse (just south of St. George’s) is one of the loveliest in the Caribbean. It’s very popular with locals as well as tourists, so you’ll find plenty of watersports, scuba-diving shops and good restaurants. Vendors selling various wares (both legal and otherwise) are prevalent and persistent.

For smaller, more secluded beaches, you’ll need to travel a little farther afield. Morne Rouge Beach, just southwest of Grand Anse, is a good choice, especially with children—the water is shallow and calm. It’s a popular spot for snorkeling. Prickly Bay Beach, on the south coast in the area known as L’Anse aux Epines, is a charming stretch of secluded white sand. Sea grapes and palm trees line the beach, and the water is calm. A hotel on the beach offers lunch and refreshments. To the north of St. George’s are Grand Mal Bay and Palmiste Bay.

On the Atlantic side, you can spread your towel at the somewhat turbulent Pearls Beach, a long gray-sand beach (just north of Grenville). It’s a great place to surf. Don’t expect much shade, however: The beach is at the end of a runway for the little-used Pearls Airstrip—the main airport before Point Salines was built. We recommend renting a four-wheel-drive vehicle so you can drive along the beach. There are no restaurants or beach bars, so pack a lunch and take plenty of refreshments.

Bathway, on the northeastern Atlantic coast near Levera National Park, gets crowded with locals on weekends, but this beach is large enough so you won’t feel cramped. A large offshore reef protects it from the full force of the ocean, so the swimming is good. There’s a new visitor facility that has some marine-life exhibits as well as modern restrooms. If you’re looking for a more secluded spot, hike 30 minutes north to Levera Beach, east of Sauteurs. (There is a road between Bathway and Levera Beach, but it’s pretty rough, so most people walk.) Levera Island, also called Sugar Loaf Island, is just offshore. Pack a lunch and refreshments.

Boating & Sailing
Conditions for boating and sailing are excellent in the waters surrounding Grenada and north through the Grenadines. Sunfish, small sailboats and sailboards are available at many hotels, and you can rent watersports equipment, including Jet Skis, at Grand Anse. There are also glass-bottom boat tours of coral and marine life.

Companies in Grenada can arrange one-day outings or lengthy charters to offshore islands. (You will want to make arrangements in advance if you are planning an extensive, multiday voyage.) Rates vary by the number of people onboard. First Impressions (phone 473-440-3678) does half- and full-day sailing and motorboat excursions, whale- and dolphin-watching trips as well as picnics and snorkeling trips to the offshore reefs and islands. Other charter companies to contact are Horizon Yacht Charters (phone 473-439-1000), Flyingfish Sailing Ventures (phone 473-443-5784)and Footloose Yacht Charters (phone 473-440-7949). Captain Peters’ Water Taxi Service (phone 473-440-1349) offers a full slate of half- and full-day excursions to the smaller islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Prices start at US$50 per person and include picnic lunches, drinks and snorkeling gear.

Most dive shops can arrange waterskiing. Try Daddy Vic’s Watersports at the Grenada Renaissance Resort (phone 473-444-4371). One run is US$15.

Constant trade winds make for good windsurfing. Most dive shops rent windsurfing equipment and can arrange Jet-Skiing. Rates range from US$10 per hour to US$50 per day. Lessons are about US$15 per hour.

Fishing

Because the waters that surround the island are home to a huge variety of game fish, including marlin, wahoo and sailfish, Grenada is the home of the annual Spice Isle Billfish tournament, which attracts some of the best sports fishermen in the world every January. Half- and full-day deep-sea fishing charters are available through Bezo (phone 473-443-5477), Evans Chartering Services (phone 473-444-4422 or 444-4217), Havadu (phone 473-440-4386) and First Impressions (phone 473-440-3678). Rates run US$375-$550 per person, depending on the number of hours and number of people going out.

Golf

Currently, Grenada has one nine-hole course near Grand Anse that is open to visitors, but unless you are a die-hard golfer, don’t waste your time. It’s not a very good course. Contact the Grenada Golf and Country Club (phone 473-444-4128).

Hiking & Walking

Trekking through the main island’s many waterfalls is breathtaking. The easiest one to reach from St. George’s is the Annandale Falls. The triple cascades of Concord Falls can include a refreshing freshwater swim. The upper falls there are spectacular but require a bit more hiking. For the more adventurous, the steep, rocky climb to the falls of Fontainbleu and Victoria are highly recommended. The highest and most popular waterfall is actually two different falls cascading down together—the Marquis (Mount Carmel) Waterfall—but unfortunately is inaccessible because of hurricane damage. The impressive Seven Sisters, seven separate cascades at one site, usually reached by hiking under a rain-forest canopy of towering mahogany and gommier trees, are also closed at this time.

Scuba & Snorkeling
With excellent visibility as well as a good variety of coral and tropical fish to be seen at 30 different dive sites, Grenada is a major diving and snorkeling destination. The deep, clear water surrounding Grenada contains several shallow reefs of interest to divers, but the most popular dive spot among experienced divers is the wreck of the Bianca C, a 600-ft/180-m cruise ship that caught fire in St. George’s harbor in 1961 and was later scuttled to make a man-made reef. It teems with rays, turtles and colorful fish. One of the newest dive sites is the wreck of the Shakem, which capsized and sank to the bottom of the sea in 2001. Kick ’em Jenny, one of the only active underwater volcanoes in the world, lies just off Grenada’s coast. It’s also a popular dive site. Off the southeast shore, Boss, Shrak Two Sisters and Wibble reefs are good for both snorkeling and diving.

The snorkeling is excellent just about everywhere, but the very best sites change from day to day, depending on wind and weather conditions, so ask when you arrive. Moliniere Reef, a 15-minute boat ride from Grand Anse, is usually a sure bet—it’s also a great site for beginners. Another reliable site is Channel Reef, not far from St. George’s Harbor. Reefs line the entire length of Grand Anse and the quiet coves of L’Anse aux Epines, making it possible to wade in and begin snorkeling. Most of the resorts in the area have dive shops that rent masks, snorkels and fins. Expect to pay US$5-$10 for equipment, more for lessons or boat trips.

Dive companies offer instruction, day and night dives and snorkeling trips. They include Aquanautics Grenada (phone 473-444-1126), Dive Grenada (phone 473-444-1092), Daddy Vic’s Watersports at the Grenada Renaissance Resort (phone 473-444-4371), and Grand Anse Aquatics at the Coyaba Beach Resort (phone 473-444-7777). Expect to pay about US$40 for a one-tank dive. Lessons and longer dives also are available.

In the event of a diving emergency, the Divers Alert Network (DAN) will provide treatment advice and, if necessary, arrange for evacuation to Trinidad (there is no decompression chamber in Grenada). Phone 919-684-8111 or 919-684-4326. (Both lines connect to DAN’s headquarters in the U.S.) DAN also answers health-related questions about diving. For more information, phone 919-684-2948 or toll-free 800-326-3822. http://www.diversalertnetwork.org.

Tennis & Racquet Sports

All the major resorts along Grand Anse have lighted tennis courts that are open to the public for a fee (Grenada Renaissance and Coyaba have the most). Check with the front desk and expect to pay US$10 an hour for court time. There are public courts on Grand Anse and at the Tanteen Tennis Courts in St. George’s, which are usually busy.

Nightlife
Grenada’s nightlife is low-key. There are no casinos, so most of the activity is in the resort hotels and in small, local bars like Castaways in L’Anse aux Epines. You can usually find calypso music, a steel band or a folklore presentation at the resort hotels. (Reservations recommended.) The Fantazia 2001 Disco, on Morne Rouge, is the island’s main disco. It’s packed on Friday and Saturday night. The Island View Restaurant also boasts a packed dance floor on weekends. The Grenada Jazz Society offers several concerts a year at the Fox Inn’s Music Room.

Casablanca, in Grand Anse, is the island’s major sports bar.

Shopping
Grenada doesn’t have the variety of goods or bargains that are found on some other Caribbean islands. Only selected shops are duty free. Although there are some good buys on imported goods, spend your time looking at locally made or locally grown items, such as arts and crafts, rum and the many spices that grow on the island.

The best shopping is along Wharf Road and Granby Street and in the hotel shops at Grand Anse Beach. Grenada is an excellent place to buy high-quality art, and the works of many talented local artists are still available at reasonable prices. At Art Fabrik, a batik studio on Young Street, you can watch the design and decoration of handmade art, jewelry, clothing and accessories in a myriad of colors and patterns. Across the street, Tikal is an old-time favorite for Caribbean and Latin American crafts. Two of the best art galleries are Yellow Poui Art Gallery on Cross Street in St. George’s, which carries the works of dozens of artists from all over the Caribbean, and Art Grenada, upstairs in the Grand Anse Shopping Centre, which handles local artists exclusively.

Food items worth taking home include locally made jams and jellies (especially guava jam), as well as spices (nutmeg, ginger, mace, cinnamon, bay leaf and vanilla). You’ll see spices packaged in small hand-woven baskets everywhere, which make nice gifts. But the best prices and widest selection can be found where the locals shop: at the supermarket. Most shops around Carenage and Market Square also stock spices, including Minor Spices Co-Operative Society, a classy shop behind the market. Arawak Islands, on Upper Belmont Street, uses local flowers and spices to make distinctive perfumes, colognes, body oils, insect repellent, potpourris and bush teas.

Grand Anse’s Shopping Centre, the Le Marquis mall and the new Spiceland Mall (only partially open thanks to Hurricane Ivan) offer more modern boutiques, and duty-free shops sell the usual array of watches, perfumes and liquor.

Smaller shops and markets take cash only; the established shops accept most major credit cards. In most shops prices are fixed, but paying in U.S. dollars will bring some advantages. However, take local currency to the markets or be prepared to get local currency as change. Everyone uses a different exchange rate, so take a vendor’s exchange rate into consideration when comparison-shopping.

Shopping Hours: Monday-Friday 8 am-4 pm, Saturday 8 am-1 pm. Some of the smaller shops close for an hour at lunch. Shops in St. George’s are open on Sunday and when a cruise ship is in port.

Itinerary
Local Tours

Adventure Jeep Tours
Half- and full-day jeep, mountain-bike and even self-drive tours throughout the island organized by one of the island’s best tour companies. Based in St. George’s. Phone 473-444-5337. http://www.adventuregrenada.com.

Henry’s Safari Tours
Customized ecotours through the Grand Etang Forest Reserve and La Sagesse Nature Centre, along with a handful of other tours, such as boat excursions, fishing trips and snorkeling along the coast. Woburn, St. George’s, Grenada. http://www.spiceisle.com/safari.

Mandoo Tours
Offers half- and full-day bus tours along the island’s northern, southern and eastern routes to all the island’s most popular waterfalls, hiking trails and plantations. Based in St. George’s. Phone 473-474-1428. http://www.grenadatours.com.

Day By Day
Though the main sights of the island of Grenada can be seen in about three days, we recommend a longer stay to allow time for relaxing, snorkeling, diving, meeting people and forgetting there’s a world beyond the island shores. We also include time for a visit to Carriacou.

Day 1—Arrive Grenada.

Day 2—St. George’s tour and beach time.

Day 3—Grand Etang Forest Reserve.

Day 4—Explore the island’s outlying attractions or spend the day on the beach.

Day 5—Depart for Carriacou. Explore the island and overnight there.

Day 6—Carriacou or a day trip to Petite Martinique. Overnight on Carriacou.

Day 7—Return to Grenada and spend the rest of the day on the beach.

Day 8—Depart Grenada.

Day Plans

To help you make the most of your time in Grenada, we’ve designed three different itineraries.

PLAN A

Touring and Tanning

Start early, before it gets too hot, on a walking tour of St. George’s. (You can take a minivan or taxi tour, but walking gives you a real sense of the town.) Stroll along the scenic Carenage to the center of town, where you can poke around the narrow streets, small shops, the museum, the market and historic attractions. Have lunch at one of the cozy restaurants near the harbor.

After lunch, catch a minivan or a taxi to Grand Anse. Along this 2-mi/3-km stretch of beach you’ll find several resorts and shops where you can rent snorkeling equipment. Snorkel at the south end of the beach, going around Quarantine Point to secluded Morne Rouge Bay, which has beautiful reefs and a soft, white-sand beach. If there’s time, stop for a drink along the beach before heading back to the ship.

PLAN B

Round the Island

You’ll need to hire a taxi for this tour and make lunch reservations at Morne Fendue Plantation House. Ask your driver to start with a brief spin around St. George’s, including stops at Market Square—especially if you’re there on Saturday morning, when locals come to buy and sell everything from crabs to exotic spices, vegetable and tropical fruits.

Go north out of town along the west coast to the Dougaldston Spice Estate, a spice-processing center on the outskirts of the fishing village of Gouyave. Learn about the history of the spice trade and watch as cloves, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and cocoa are prepared and sorted by hand, then set out to dry.

The road hugs the coast past the quiet little fishing village of Victoria, then turns inland before reaching Sauteurs, where, years ago, the Caribs leapt to their deaths from a cliff above the town rather than be captured by the French.

Nearby is Morne Fendue Plantation House. After a long lunch, take a look at the house’s collection of decorative arts and antiques. Then rejoin the scenic coastal route to Levera National Park and one of Grenada’s most beautiful beaches. Deserted, palm-fringed Levera Beach is the perfect spot for a walk, swim or just lazing in the sun before heading back to the ship.

PLAN C

To the Woods

Pack your camera (and plenty of film), grab your swimsuit and put on comfortable walking shoes: This tour takes in a good portion of the southern half of the island. Most taxi drivers are willing to negotiate the fare for this type of trip. From town head east into the mountains toward Grand Etang National Park.

About an hour’s drive from St. George’s is the Grand Etang Forest Centre. After viewing the exhibits, make your way along the trails that wind around the lake. This is Grenada at its lushest, where abundant rainfall feeds a diverse array of plant life. Across the lake is the prominent summit of Mount Qua Qua.

Then continue through the fertile interior to the east coast. The road meets the sea at Grenville, where there is a small spice factory. After trying some local dishes at one of the eateries in town, head south along the rugged, beautiful southeastern coast to La Sagesse Nature Centre. The nature trails through the mangroves will lead you to quiet, lovely beaches. Spread your towel on the sand and stay as long as you like.

Dining
Dining Overview
Eating in Grenada is enjoyable and relatively inexpensive compared with other Caribbean islands, although Grenada does have its share of upscale restaurants. Creole cuisine prevails, but French, Chinese and Italian food are also available. Local seafood is excellent and fresh, often marinated in spices. Our favorites are lambie (conch), flying fish and stuffed crab back.

An abundance of fruits and vegetables grow in Grenada’s fertile soil, including yams, plantains, pigeon peas, cassava, breadfruit and dasheen (the leaves of which are called callaloo, the main ingredient in the ubiquitous callaloo soup).

Grenada’s national dish is called “oil-down.” It’s a hearty one-pot meal of salted meat, chicken, dumplings, breadfruit, callaloo and other vegetables. The whole thing is stewed in coconut milk, herbs and spices to add even more flavor.

Dessert lovers will be in heaven: Hundreds of concoctions are made from fruits, including coconut fudge bars, nutmeg mousse and outstanding ice creams (soursop, mango, nutmeg, coconut and even avocado).

The local rum punches, served with a sprinkling of nutmeg, are a national passion (and very, very strong).

In general, Grenadians have breakfast in the early morning, around 7-8 am. Lunch, eaten around noon, is the main meal of the day, and an extended lunch hour is not uncommon. The evening meal is eaten around 6-8 pm. On Sunday, a large, sociable late-afternoon meal usually takes the place of lunch and dinner.

Expect to pay within these guidelines for a meal for one, not including tax, tip or drinks: $ = less than US$10; $$ = US$10-$20; $$$ = US$21-$50; $$$$ = more than US$50.

Local & Regional

Aquarium Restaurant
One of the best restaurants for seafood. Its Sunday-night lobster barbecue on the beach is a winner. Daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations a must for dinner. $$$-$$$$. Most major credit cards. Point Salines, Grenada. Phone 473-444-1410.

Cicely’s
Thanks to its Caribbean cuisine with a Continental flair, this place is considered one of the best restaurants on the island. The char-grilled lobster is divine. Daily for dinner only. Reservations required. $$$. Most major credit cards. Calabash Hotel, L’Anse aux Epines, Grenada. Phone 473-444-4334.

Deyna’s
Authentic local cooking with a waterfront view. Grenadians swear it serves the island’s best stuffed crab. It’s also a good place to try the “fix up”—a tasty sampling of the day’s specials—or “oil-down.” Monday-Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Sunday for lunch and early dinner. Reservations recommended. $-$$. Most major credit cards. Melville Street, St. George’s. Phone 473-440-6795.

Island View
A 15-minute drive from town, it serves an excellent dinner a la carte, but the buffet served the last Saturday of the month is a real treat. The selection varies, but you’ll generally find lots of fresh fish, conch, yam pie and callaloo. Nightly for dinner. Reservations recommended. $$. Most major credit cards. Woburn, St. George’s.

Morne Fendue Plantation House
Morne Fendue is legendary for huge Creole lunches made with vegetables and spices from the platation’s garden. Lunch is well worth the 25-mi/40-km drive from St. George’s. The 1912 plantation house, built of hand-chiseled river rock and mortared with lime and molasses, is set in a beautiful garden that offers spectacular valley views. Daily for prix-fixe lunch; dinner served on request. Reservations required. $$$. No credit cards. Sauteurs (at the north end of the island), Grenada. Phone 473-442-9330.

The Nutmeg
This popular place right on the harbor attracts locals as well as just-arrived yachters with its spicy creole-style seafood dishes. Its roti sandwiches (think Caribbean taco) are the best in town. Popularity has its price, though: you may have to share a table with other diners. Monday-Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No reservations. $$-$$$. Most major credit cards. Wharf Road, the Carenage, St. George’s. Phone 473-440-2539.

Cuisines
Mexican

True Blue Bay
You’ll find fajitas, tacos and burritos served on a deck overlooking the bay. The bar is pretty lively, especially at happy hour. Daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended. $$. Most major credit cards. Grand Anse, St. George’s. Phone 473-443-8783.

Security
Personal Safety
Grenada is relatively safe, but petty crime does occur. Thieves target U.S. passports as well as cash. Don’t leave valuables unattended at the beach, and don’t walk alone at night in deserted areas.

For the latest information, contact your country’s travel-advisory agency.

Health
Your biggest concern will probably be the sun—drink plenty of liquids and use plenty of sunscreen. Also take along a hat, sunglasses and insect repellent. Ask your doctor about vaccinations for hepatitis and typhoid. Stay away from machineel trees, which grow along some beaches. The applelike fruit is poisonous, and the sap can blister the skin. Often the trees are marked with warning signs or bright paint.

The water is safe but not necessarily agreeable to your system. Stick with bottled water. The food is also safe, but exercise some discretion when purchasing food from street vendors—not all adhere to strict sanitation standards.

There are medical and dental facilities on the island, including four hospitals. St. George’s Hospital, modern by Caribbean standards (phone 473-440-2051), is located on Grandetang Road. Take along all prescription medication for the length of your visit. In case of an emergency, dial 911.

For more information, contact your country’s health-advisory agency.

Dos & Don’ts
Don’t call anyone from Carriacou a Grenadian. They are very proud of their small island and feel that the people of the “big island” look down their noses at them. They like to be called Carriacouans or Kayaks.

Do offer your guide or taxi driver a soft drink when you’re on a tour. It’s a common courtesy on the island.

Don’t wear swimsuits or short shorts anywhere except on the beach. It’s considered rude.

Do ask permission first if you want to take people’s pictures—Rastafarians almost always refuse on religious grounds, and others may want to be paid.

Don’t be in a hurry on these islands: Nobody else is, and you’ll find that getting agitated won’t help things move any faster.

Do establish prices before purchasing or hiring. Also make sure which currency is being quoted before any transaction takes place.

Do expect Grenadians to ask you about political events in your country. And don’t be surprised to find that people in Grenada have differing attitudes toward their own political history. Some view the U.S.-led intervention in 1983 as a blessing, others think the U.S. was unnecessarily meddling in Grenadian affairs.

Hotels
Hotel Overview

There is a wide range of accommodations on Grenada, although a handful of hotels have closed temporarily because of damage from Hurricane Ivan in 2004. There are a few large beach properties (70 rooms or more) and all-inclusive resorts. Small hotels and inns are more common, and basic cottages and budget hotels are also available. We prefer the small inns (most contain between 15 and 40 rooms) for their local charm and personal attention. Be aware that an 8% government tax will be added to your hotel bill.

Facts
Geostats
Passport/Visa Requirements: Beginning 8 January 2007, all U.S. citizens must have a passport when traveling by air to or from Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Mexico. Citizens of Canada, Mexico and the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda also must have a passport or other designated secure document to enter the U.S.Beginning 1 June 2009, passports are required for land crossings at the Canadian and Mexican borders with the U.S. and for cruise passengers returning to the U.S. from Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada or Bermuda.

A departure tax of EC$50 must be paid in cash at the airport. Reconfirm travel document requirements with your carrier before departure.

Population: 100,895.

Languages: English, French patois.

Predominant Religions: Christian (Roman Catholic, Protestant)..

Time Zone: 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is not observed.

Voltage Requirements: 220 volts.

Telephone Codes: 473, country code;

Money
Currency Exchange
U.S. dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted, but you’re better off using the local currency, the Eastern Caribbean dollar. When negotiating for taxis or purchases, be sure you know whether the price you’re quoted is in EC or U.S. dollars.

If you need to exchange currency, ATMs offer the best rates. Most banks are open Monday-Thursday 8 am-3 pm, Friday 8 am-5 pm.

Tipping

A 10% tip is added to most hotel and restaurant bills in the major tourist areas. Where this charge is not added, you should tip 10%-15%. If you go diving, tip the dive shop about 10%.

Weather

The best time to visit is January-May, when it’s dry and cool, although January and February are known for the “Christmas Winds.” June-December is considered the rainy season, but it isn’t too bad—it clouds up a bit, but the rain only lasts an hour or two (and it makes the air fragrant with spices). Average daytime temperatures are in the 70s-80s F/23-32 C year-round, with nights in the 60s-70s F/15-27 C. Because of the constant trade winds, there’s little humidity.

What to Wear

Light clothing that reflects the sun is best, and a hat is a must. Never wear swimsuits or very short shorts in town, and topless or nude bathing is not permitted. Wear long pants and hiking shoes for hiking. Evening dress is informal.

Communication
Telephone

There are three telephone companies operating in Grenada: Cable & Wireless, Digicel and AT&T Wireless. Phone service is generally good. International calls can be made from coin or card phones. Prepaid local and international cards are available at shops in the vicinity of card phones, at hotels and at the Cable & Wireless office in St. George’s.

Internet Access

There are several Internet cafes along the Carenage in St. George’s and one across from the Marquis Complex in Grand Anse. Some hotels also offer Internet access, including the Grand View Inn in Morne Rouge.

Mail & Package Services

The island’s main post office is open Monday-Thursday 8 am-4 pm, Friday 8 am-4:30 pm. It’s on Lagoon Road, St. George’s. There are also FedEx, DHL and UPS offices in St. George’s.

Transportation

Taxis, minibuses and rental cars are the main means of getting around the island. It’s also possible to rent a scooter, but you will need a local license (available from police stations).

Air
The airport in Grenada, Maurice Bishop (formerly Point Salinas) International (GND), is 7 mi/11 km southwest of St. George’s. You can fly from Grenada to Carriacou on SVG Air. Taxis and rental cars are available at both airports. There is no regular bus service to the Grenada airport, but you can request an airport stop from bus drivers on routes heading to Grand Anse Beach. The fare is about US$3.75.

There is a departure tax of US$20 for stays of more than 24 hours.

Car
Car rentals range US$45-$65 a day, but you must first purchase a local driver’s permit (available at the rental office) for US$12. Many local agencies have a three-day minimum for rentals.

Be aware that driving is on the left, the roads are narrow and winding, and there are very few signs to guide you. (And locals drive with almost reckless abandon.) It’s also possible to hire a car and a guide/driver. This will generally cost more than renting your own vehicle for the day, but some of the drivers can provide insights into Grenadian life.

Ferry

There is daily ferry service from Grenada to Carriacou and Petit Martinique, but it can take three to four hours each way. With high-speed catamaran service offered by the Osprey Express, few passengers use the ferries these days, and they are now mostly used for cargo. The catamaran service operates twice daily Monday-Friday and Sunday, once daily on Saturday. The round-trip fare for the 90-minute trip is US$35. Depending on wind and sea conditions, the journey can be a bit rough—take appropriate precautions if you’re prone to seasickness.

Public Transportation

Privately owned but government-regulated, minibuses are the main mode of transportation for residents because they’re so economical (US$3 or less to most places on the island). They do tend to be slow, but they’re also colorful—some of the vehicles have distinctive names and many have blaring music. Think of them as a way of having contact with Grenadians—sometimes very close contact, as the buses can be crowded and hot. Many of the routes begin at Market Square or the Esplanade bus terminal on Granby Street in St. George’s, but you can flag down a bus almost anywhere on its route. When you want to get off, tap the ceiling or yell “drop one” and the driver will pull over. Buses outside St. George’s charge US$3 for the first 10 mi/16 km and US$2.25 for each additional mile. The fare is paid when disembarking. Buses generally run every day 7 am to 9 pm, and there is an additional charge of US$0.75 after 6 pm.

Ship

Cruise ships dock downtown at the new Melville Street Cruise Port at the harbor off Carenage Road in St. George’s. Along with the new jetty that will easily accommodate two mega-sized cruise ships at once, there are now two smaller jetties to accommodate tender boats and water taxis. Passenger services will include a visitor reception area with plenty of tourism information, duty-free shops, restaurants, a car park and a bus terminal.

Taxi
Taxis are the most efficient means of transportation for visitors. The rates are set by the government: The cost from the airport to Grand Anse and L’Anse aux Epines is US$9.30, and to St. George’s US$11.25. Outside St. George’s, the first 10 mi/16 km is US$1.50 per mile/kilometer, then US$1.13 per mile. Between 6 pm and 6 am, there is an additional charge of US$3.75. Many taxi drivers offer sightseeing tours for a flat fee—just be sure to negotiate beforehand.

There are also water taxis that operate around the harbor area of St. George’s and Grand Anse Beach; some give tours of the harbor. A trip for two is about US$3.75.

Other

Eze Rentals
Rent a scooter for around US$20 a day, US$120 per week. Grand Anse, St. George’s. Phone 473-444-3263.

For More Information
Tourist Offices

Grenada: Grenada Board of Tourism, Burns Point, St. George’s. Phone 473-440-2279. Fax 473-440-6637. http://www.grenadagrenadines.org.

Canada: Consulate General of Grenada, Phoenix House, 439 University Ave., Suite 930, Toronto, ON M5G 1Y8. Phone 416-595-1343. Fax 416-595-8278.

U.S.: Grenada Board of Tourism, 317 Madison Ave., Suite 1704, New York, NY 10017. Phone 212-687-9554. Toll-free 800-927-9554. Fax 212-573-9731.

Grenada Embassies

Canada: Grenada is represented by the High Commission for the Countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, 130 Albert St., Suite 700, Ottawa, ON K1P 5G4. Phone 613-236-8952. Fax 613-236-3042. http://www.oecs.org.

U.S.: Embassy of Grenada, 1701 New Hampshire Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20009. Phone 202-265-2561. Fax 202-265-2468.

Foreign Embassies Serving Grenada

Canada is represented by its high commission in Barbados: Bishop’s Court Hill, St. Michael, Bridgetown. Phone 246-429-3550. Fax 246-429-3780. http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/bridgetown.

The U.S. Embassy is located on the main road into L’Anse aux Epines, in the “Green Building,” near Point Salines Airport. Phone 473-444-1173. Fax 473-444-4820.

Additional Reading
Caribbean 2004 (Frommers).

Eastern Caribbean by Kevin Anglin et al. (Lonely Planet).

Grenada: Isle of Space by Norma Sinclair (Interlink Publishing).

Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines by Cindy Kilgore et al. (Hunter Adventure Guides Series).

Grenada: A History of Its People by Beverley Steele (Macmillan).

Angel by Merle Collins (Seal Feminist Publications). A novel about a young woman and the political turbulence of Grenada, by the island’s best-known writer.

Events
Calendar
Carnival is such a fun party that they celebrate it twice in these islands. Carriacou celebrates Carnival at the traditional time (before Lent, in February or March). If you go, take along some outrageous apparel so you can join the local merrymakers, who dress in costumes. Even the boats are decorated. Grenada’s carnival takes place around the second weekend of August. Again, costumes are worn, and revelers and steel bands take to the streets. The celebration lasts five days.

Boat races are popular events in the islands, too. The Carriacou Regatta (early August) is one of the more popular regattas in the Caribbean, with racing, cultural shows and the Big Drum Dance Festival. On Venezuelan Independence Day (2 July), Grenadian sailors join their mainland neighbors in a race from St. George’s to Venezuela and back. The Grenada Sailing Festival is a four-day event held in late January. Boat races are also held as part of celebrations on New Year’s Day, Grenada’s Independence Day (7 February), the Easter Regatta and Fisherman’s Birthday (29 June). Fisherman’s Birthday is most festive in the town of Gouyave, and a big jump-up (dance) and blessing of the fleet are also part of the town’s celebrations.

Other noteworthy events include the annual Spice Island Billfish Tournament (late January), the weeklong Grenada Cricket Classics Festival (late March) and Thanksgiving (25 October), which commemorates the 1983 U.S. intervention.

NORTHSTAR Travel Media, LLC. ©2010 All rights reserved.

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