Mention Grenada Island to many people and expect a blank stare in response. It was earlier known as the Spice Island. However, many people don’t make the association.
This gem is a Caribbean island is tucked away in between St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the north. On the southern Trinidad and Tobago. Another locator is that it is about 160 km north of Venezuela, the northern-most country in South America.
This small oval island is about 19 km wide and 34 km across. In 2017 the estimated population was 113,000. Comparable cities in the United States are Cedar Rapids in Iowa or Murfreesboro in Tennessee.
But what Grenada Island lacks in population, it makes up for with warmth, hospitality, and culture. These tightly-knit families know how to bond, jive and shimmy. Although there are family spats – as in all countries in the world – when it comes to defending honor, it comes first and foremost. Grenadians are proud of being from their country.
And since everyone is connected somehow, nobody stands alone – so don’t mess with the locals. Smile, greet, shake hands to be accepted as a family friend forever.
Now that Grenada Island has made the “new must-see” list, book a ticket soon to avoid the tourist hordes. English is the official language, although a lot of locals speak their own brand of Creole.
Learn a few words of the language and be a local rock star.
When it comes to getting a map of Grenada on the world stage, Kirani James deserves his medals. In 2011 he became the first national from Grenada to win the 400m at the World Championships. Then he followed up in the London Olympics in 2012.
How to get to the Caribbean Island?
This Caribbean Island is not overwhelmed with direct flights. But there are lots of options like going to Port of Spain and then getting a connecting flight. One of the things the tourism people in Grenada are working on is getting more airlines to fly without stop-overs.
Even though it takes a while longer to get there the journey is well worth it. Frankly, even paddling a boat from a nearby airport would be worth the experience.
What is the history of Grenada Island?
The history of this Caribbean island is tragic. It was originally inhabited by the Caribs. In 1492, Christopher Columbus renamed it “Conception.” Later it was dubbed “Grenada” after the city in Spain.
Grenada was a productive country under French rule in 1763. The population consisted primarily of 12,000 African slaves. The Caribs were exterminated without any remorse.
The French and the British attempted in the 1600s to seize control without much success. It bounced back and forth between the two colonial powers until France took control under the Treaty of Paris.
In 1958, the Grenada Island became part of the British-sponsored Federation of the West Indies but this was short-lived. In 1983, there was a failed military coup.
The United States then invaded Grenada with a token force of 300 soldiers from neighboring islands. The elections since then have not been able to form a strong government with either of the two rival parties.
Why is Grenada also called the Spice Island?
There are two main answers: nutmeg and mace. Other spices include cinnamon, turmeric (also known as saffron), allspice, bay leaf, ginger, and cloves.
Tours of the spice plantations are available and people get to sample the fresh spices they have ever eater.
Additional industries in Grenada are agriculture, tourism, and fishing.
In 2004 Hurricane Ivan lashed Grenada. Spice trees take a long time to grow and the island is still recovering.
One example is that the force of the wind was so strong that it pushed a small store across the road. It was never moved back to its original place.
What is the terrain like in Grenada?
Like many islands in the Caribbean, Grenada erupted as a volcano. Consequently, flat land is at a premium except along the beaches. High mountains run north and south. The east and west one are less steep.
Mount St. Catherine – at 840 meters – is the highest point on Grenada island. The landscape is best described as “rugged.” With that adjective comes lush, tropical, and diverse.
It is a virtual paradise for hikers, trenchers and happy wanders. The trails vary from namby-pamby ones that great-aunt Mildred with a walking cane can manage. Others require skill, knowledge, and experience. A hankering for a sense of endurance also helps.
What does Grenada Island offer visitors?
Quiet, relaxation, spectacular food, rum for those who want to imbibe, local haunts, great music. Sun and sand people are in their glory.
But the best of all is the open accepting attitude of the locals. Smiles galore and they are so welcoming.
Where to stay in Grenada?
Type in a search engine request for places to stay on the Caribbean island and be overwhelmed with possibilities.
Low budget – pitch a tent and a sleeping bag on the beach.
Medium cost- too many to mention.
Off the beaten trail, Petit Anse is on the north tip of the island on the Atlantic Ocean. Highly recommended for turtle watching in the GrandEtangf National Park.
This boutique resort is owned by Annie and Phillip Cliff who are originally from the UK. After sailing across the Atlantic, they found Grenada and fell in love with the place. The people were overwhelmingly friendly. So they built a spectacular resort on the northern “rugged” side of the island.
And the food at the restaurant there is to drool for. Fresh juice, homemade everything and a chef that went from making sugar cakes in high school to preparing world-class cuisine.
The joy of Annie’s day is to ride her donkey in the morning. When she heads out in her essential 4-wheel drive to get up and down the mountains, people run out on the street to flag her down.
Not for a ride – although she does offer those as well – but to stitch up cuts, bandage open wounds and take people with broken bones or more serious conditions to the emergency ward in the countries’ small hospital. She’s the Florence Nightingale of Grenada Island and also pays for many of the medications as the locals don’t have enough money to cover the costs.
For an all-inclusive spoiled beyond belief experience, make a reservation at the Spice Island Beach Resort. This luxury business is run by Sir Royston Hopins KCMC and his gracious family now into the third generation.
Where to eat on this Caribbean island?
The food on Grenada Island is fresh, fresh, fresh. Want to check out a hole-in-the wall or street food? Go for it.
Craving a spectacular lunch to doddle over for the afternoon while looking over the sea? Head for BB Crabback. This family-run operation offers seared tuna spiced with wasabi mashed potatoes. Other options are crab back and grilled snapper. Order a beer or a bottle of wine and enjoy the reggae music. No fast food here.
Forget the Bermuda shorts and singlets and dress up for a spectacular dining experience at Oliver’s Restaurant at the Spice Island Beach Resort. Savor the flavors and enjoy watching the waves rolling in. The service is impeccable, without being intrusive.
This auspicious restaurant is open to those who are not guests at the resort. The food is so well presented that it even deserves selfies for social media. And the background music is a hint of the true Caribbean.
For a “no shirt, no shoes, no problem” memorable meal, hire a local taxi, rent a car or hop one of the minivans that ply the route to Sauteurs. Here there are a plethora of restaurants. The open-air restaurant at Petit Anse also offers great food.
What is St. George’s Like?
St. George’s — boasting a population of about 36,000 – maintains a stable population base. People move to other Caribbean Islands or go to work in other countries. With the island being the size it is, it can’t support a booming population.
Put on comfortable walking shoes, pack a bottle of water, don a hat and head out for a day trip.
This colorful, friendly city is totally walkable. Shops, restaurants, art boutiques abound. And it is delightfully clean.
Make sure to visit the marina and boatyards. The terrain is a natural for inlets and safe harbors. Consequently, St. George’s has become the main harbor for the sea-faring West Indies.
What is the culture of Grenada Island?
Dancing, music, art, drums, family, religion, and visiting. It has a rhythm of its own.
What is the national drink?
Locally brewed rum is the drink of choice in Grenada. These choices of rum come in all sorts of qualities and quantities and is found everywhere. And it ranges from rot-gut to expensive collector’s bottles.
Don’t see any run in the little store that sells bread, detergent, eggs, and candy? Ask as it is kept under the counter. It is also available by the shot, the quarter of a box or the whole bottle. Some of the runs are so strong that visitors aren’t allowed to bring them into their countries as duty-free.
For knowing what to expect on a run cruise, check this YouTube video on Grenada Rum Runner. Practice “olay-olay-olay” even though people don’t sing in tune. Also be sure to stock up on hang-over medications.
Forget Mexico, Costa Rica and, the other “already been there” spots and head for Grenada, the Caribbean Island that offers so much.