Grenada Travel Guide
Date Visited: April 2015
Welcome to Grenada! Home to some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean. In this country you will normally be greeted by a warm welcome and a big smile.
Grenada is the most southerly of the Windward Islands, located a short boat ride south of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
It is known as the “Island of Spice” due to its position as one of the largest exporters of nutmeg in the world. It supplies 40% of the world market. The country consists of the islands of Grenada (main island), Carriacou and Petit Martinique. The main island is 34-km long and 22-km wide. You could explore most of the island in a few days with your own car.
Grenada was originally inhabited by native Carib Indians until the French arrived in 1649. The French forced the natives to flee to neighbouring islands. The French remained on the island until the British took control in 1763. The French returned again for a brief period but then the British regained control and kept it until independence was granted in 1974.
A coup in 1983, which resulted in the moderate government of Maurice Bishop being replaced by a strongly pro-communist government, concerned the US administration enough that President Ronald Reagan ordered US troops to invade the island. Once a new (friendlier) government had been installed US troops departed.
Grenada has a population of about 110.000, which like other Anglo Caribbean countries, is comprised of people of African, East Indian and European descent.
The capital and largest city (population: 4,500) of Grenada, St. Georges is located on the hillside of an old volcano crater, wrapped around a horseshoe-shaped harbour.
A stroll along the harbourside street – the Carenage – is a good way to familiarise yourself with the city. The Carenage is home to bars, cafes, restaurants, shops and is full of activity from fisherman selling their catch to boats being unloaded, repaired etc.
The city is small and compact and most sites can be covered on foot in one day.
In 2004 hurricane Ivan destroyed the city. Today many buildings, including many of the main churches are still to be repaired.
Around the Island
North of St. Georges is the west coast town of Gouyave.
Worth a stop if you are passing through Gouyave is the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association. Here you can learn all about the island’s #1 export while watching factory workers process the nut ready for export all over the world.
River Antoine Rum Distillery
This is a “must see” – a rum distillery founded in 1785 where the technology has not changed one bit.
The sugar cane is crushed by a huge waterwheel, the cane juice then flows into holding vats. The giant distilling pots are fired by workers who throw wood onto the fire.
Everything here, including the bottling and labeling, is done by hand.
The tour cost covers a sampling of the three different rums – it’s all rocket fuel stuff. Very potent!
If you are driving on the east side of the island you should aim to arrive at Belmont Estate around lunch time. The restaurant here does a great buffet lunch where you can try typical Grenadian cuisine. This is a popular lunch stop for the tour groups so it can get busy.
The estate is still in family hands. You can take a tour and learn all about the cocoa bean manufacturing and drying processes.
The onsite Grenada Chocolate Factory shop will satisfy the sweetest tooth.
The best beaches are in the south-west of the island, a short drive south of St. Georges.
The main beach with lots of white sand, beautiful Caribbean sea and great swimming is Grand Anse. Here you’ll also find hotels, dive shops and a small shopping mall (only one on the island).
Further south is the more secluded but equally stunning Morne Rouge. This is the best place to watch the sunset. There are some hotels on the beach here.
The diving on Grenada is very good. An interesting dive site is the Underwater Sculture Park. You can also snorkel here as the sculptures are in about 10m of water. The park is a 5min boat ride from the dive shops on Grand Anse beach.
North of the main island, set like a stepping stone between Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is tiny Carriacou Island.
Carriacou is home to 8,000 people. The capital city is Hillsborough, the only town on the island. Everything is a 5-min walk in this town. With a car you could tour the whole island in an couple of hours or walk it in a day.
Carriacou is reputed to be the friendliest, healthiest and safest island in the Caribbean. It is a pleasant place to spend some time.
You will find accommodation concentrated in the south-west corner of the main island either in St. Georges or along Grand Anse or Morne Rouge beaches. There are other options elsewhere around the island.
If you are going to Carriacou you should book in advance as accommodation is limited. Best to book using booking.com
Restaurants on the island offer all the regular international dishes plus lots of local seafood and lambi (conch). Calaloo soup (a leafy vegetable similar to spinach) is a local favourite as a starter.
As with the other Anglo Caribbean Islands, Chinese and Indian cuisine is also available.
You should not leave the spice island without trying nutmeg ice cream.
Some nationalities require visas for Grenada – check your visa requirements prior to arrival.
International flights arrive at Maurice Bishop International Airport, which is located in the southwest of the island, 8-km south of St. Georges.
The following airlines provide international connections to Grenada:
- Air Canada Rouge to Toronto
- American Airlines to Miami
- British Airways to London (Gatwick)
- Caribbean Airlines to Port of Spain
- Condor (Seasonal) to Frankfurt
- Delta Air Lines (Seasonal) to Atlanta, New York (JFK)
- JetBlue Airways to New York (JFK)
- LIAT to Barbados, Port of Spain, Saint Vincent
- Virgin Atlantic to London (Gatwick)
There are no scheduled international ferry services, however private operators connect Carriacou island (Grenada) to Union Island (St. Vincent and the Grenadines). The journey time is approximately 45-mins. Ask around in either port for the captains of these boats.
The only other way to arrive by sea is b
Public transport on the main island is very limited and non-existent on the smaller islands. You can view the bus routes here.
Taxis are also available.
The best option is to hire a car upon arrival at the airport. Before you hit the road you will need to purchase a Grenada drivers license from the police station at Grand Anse – your rental company will drive you to the station.
A daily passenger ferry runs between St. Georges and Carriacou with a connection to Petit Martinique. The ferry service is operated by Osprey Express Ltd. The ferry departs from the Carenage in St. Georges. The trip usually takes about 90 minutes, travelling up the west coast of the main island. For fares and schedule, refer to the Osprey Express website.
Author: Darren McLean
Author of taste2travel.com and an avid traveler, photographer, travel writer, diver and adventurer.