The Spice Island By Marguerite Cleveland
Grenada is one of the jewels of the Caribbean. This lovely island is known for its aromatic spices and produces nearly 20 percent of the world’s nutmeg. It is also known for its organic chocolate. If you love to dive or snorkel, Grenada is the place for you, with over 30 dive sites including the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean, the Bianca C., and the world’s first underwater sculpture park. The natural beauty of Grenada shines on its white sandy beaches and breathtaking waterfalls. Grenada has stunning national parks with lush rainforests and pristine marine areas with lagoons and mangrove swamps. It is a very diverse habitat, and bird watchers will love the brilliantly colored scarlet ibis and the variety of herons. You can enjoy an active vacation or just relax on the beach at a luxury resort.
If you are taking a couple’s getaway, Sandals Grenada is the place to stay. This luxury resort consistently receives excellent reviews with many repeat visitors. It is just a short drive from the airport in St. George’s but feels like a world away when you step onto this beautifully landscaped retreat. Everything is included—even scuba diving. If you are a diver, you will appreciate the Sandals Dive Center with PADI-certified staff and Newton Dive Boats to take you to the incredible dive sites around Grenada. With this being an all-inclusive resort, you may find it hard to leave, but with its location it is easy to get into town to explore and experience the local culture.
The Mount Cinnamon Resort and Beach Club is nestled among lush landscaping on a hill overlooking the renowned Grande Anse Beach. This lovely boutique hotel welcomes families with children of all ages. During peak season, the resort offers a Montessori Kids Club. You’ll find 37 suites and villas, most with a sitting room and full kitchen. The resort has an exclusive Beach Club with non-motorized water sports. You will also find two restaurants and a holistic spa on-site. It has all the amenities of a luxury resort while still having a local feel to it. The staff at Mount Cinnamon are known for their friendliness and hospitality.
Head up to Richmond Hill to walk through Fort Frederick and Fort Matthew, which are adjacent to each other. Fort Frederick has more than 250 years of history, and it is the best-preserved European fortress on the island. The views are stunning from this perch where, looking toward the south, you can see St. George’s and Carenage, the horseshoe-shaped inner harbor. Looking to the north you will see mountain ridges and lush vegetation with quaint homes tucked into the mountainsides. Fort Matthew is the largest fort on the island and, at one time, served as an insane asylum.
To enjoy the beautiful natural environment of Grenada, take time to visit a national park. Levera National Park is a coastal park with white sand beaches, lagoons, and the largest mangrove swamps in Grenada. Take a hike on the trail that loops around a 23-acre pond. During the summer months, book a nighttime tour to watch endangered leatherback sea turtle hatchlings work their way to the ocean. Grand Etang National Park is in the central portion of Grenada. The entire park is a pristine tropical rainforest with gushing waterfalls, Grand Etang Lake, and Mt. Qua Qua. This is the place to go if you like to hike. The hike to the top of Mt. Qua Qua is family friendly and worth the effort for the epic views of Grand Etang Lake, St. George’s and the coast of Grenada.
On an island known as the Spice Island, agri-tourism is a must. The Belmont Estate is an authentic 17th century plantation that is about an hour outside of St. George’s in St. Patrick. The plantation is fully functional and allows guests to visit, participate and learn where their food comes from. Tours include visits to the organic farm and cocoa processing facilities. You can stroll through the lush gardens and enjoy the lovely surroundings. Learn about traditional rural life by visiting the goat dairy farm. Tourist amenities include a gift shop, café, a local craft market, and children will enjoy the petting farm.
Don’t miss the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. There are more than 75 works in Jason deCaires Taylor’s first underwater sculpture park. It is the first one in the world and is widely acclaimed. National Geographic named it one of the 25 Wonders of the World. Created from concrete, rebar, and a variety of media, the sculptures are perfectly created for marine life to develop on. Over time, the artworks have formed an artificial reef which attracts divers, snorkelers, and riders on glass bottom boats, from all over the world. It is a truly unique experience.
Sandals Grenada has a variety of great restaurants including Butch’s Chophouse, which gets high reviews. But to really take in the flavor of Grenada, you need to escape the resort. A great way to experience a variety of local favorites is to take a Savor the Spice Tour. You will head out on foot to discover Grenada’s culinary secrets by visiting hidden gems you won’t find in the guidebooks. The tour features eight bites and sips. During your walk you will discover Grenada’s history and culture, and its impact on local cuisine. You’ll also learn about the island’s spices.
Brian Benjamin, known as Chef BB, was born in Grenada and serves up delicious local dishes at BB’s Crabback Caribbean Restaurant overlooking St. George’s Harbor. BB is famed for two dishes: his Crabback, which is so good he named the restaurant for it, and his Signature Curried Goat. The Crabback, a local dish, is like a crab Swiss. BB sautés fresh local crabmeat and mixes it with a cheesy white wine cream sauce and herbs, then serves it in a crab shell. Divine! Produce for the restaurant comes from his family garden, and many of his dishes are named after his children and other family members. Well worth a stop, with many visitors eating here more than once during their stay.
La Plywood is the epitome of a Caribbean beach bar. It sits right on the beach and has a tropical feel with its turquoise-colored walls. It is located at Morne Rouge Beach—or, as the locals call it, BBC. This darling bar is famed for its Blue Light Gin on tap, which is made locally. The friendly staff also serve up a limited menu of fish sandwiches, fish tacos, smash burgers (a double patty cheesy delight) and Grenadian fries. This is the casual type of place you can come right out of the water and plop down on the wooden deck to enjoy a cocktail. Sunsets are legendary, and La Plywood is hugely popular with both locals and tourists.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to pack your bags and plan a trip to explore Grenada, the Spice Island.
Grenada - PureGrenada.com
Sandals Grenada - Sandals.com/sandals-grenada
Mount Cinnamon Resort and Beach Club - MountCinnamonGrenadaHotel.com
Fort Frederick and Fort Matthew - PureGrenada.com/attractions
Levera National Park - Destination360.com/caribbean/grenada/levera-national-park
Grand Etang National Park - Destination360.com/caribbean/grenada/grand-etang-national-park
Belmont Estate - BelmontEstate.net
Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park - UnderwaterSculpture.com/projects/molinere-underwater-sculpture-park
Savor the Spice Tour - GrenadaCulinaryTour.com
BB’s Crabback Caribbean Restaurant - BBsCrabbackRestaurant.com/i_about_us.html
La Plywood Beach Bar Café - Facebook.com/LaPlywood