Many of Grenada's
top attractions focus on the production of spices
, which is expected on a "Spice Island" that's one of the few places left in the Caribbean where agriculture remains a primary economic pursuit. But Grenada also has lovely beaches, great diving, and a rich history to discover...
© shaggyshoe via Flickr
When you live on an island, you tend to eat a lot of fish, and Fridays tend to be fish dinner nights in the Caribbean owing to residents' strong Christian faith, which discourages meat consumption on Fridays. Put that all together with a dash of community spirit and a fun-loving attitude and you have the weekly fish fries that are popular throughout the Caribbean. The village of Gouyave is known as the fishing capital of Grenada, and Gouyave Fish Fridays start at about 6 p.m. and run till after midnight, depending on the crowds. "Fried" doesn't necessarily mean "deep fried" -- you can get your fresh fish, lobsters, conch, shrimp and other delicacies grilled, jerked, or even in fish-cake form from the many vendors who set up shop, plus of course plenty of beer and local rum, served up to the beat of local bands.
© Grenada Tourism
This celebrated two-mile-long beach is the most popular on Grenada owing to its gentle surf, beautiful wide swath of sand, and ample activities, including a diversity of watersports, restaurants, beach bars, and fine hotels.
© Grenada Tourism
Like many Caribbean islands, Grenada has an interior that has remained relatively pristine thanks to its mountainous geography, and the farmer's (and resort-builder's) loss is your gain at the Grand Etang National Park. This high-elevation rainforest reserve boasts a variety of hiking paths with outings led by expert guides who can point out the various flora and fauna as you pass through, from mahogany trees to Mona monkeys. Grand Etang Lake sits in an extinct volcanic crater and is a great spot for bird-watching. For a truly immersive experience, you can camp out overnight in several campgrounds within the park.
© Meredith P via Flickr
Grenada's tiny National Museum is housed in a former French barracks building at Fort George, built in 1704, and includes standing exhibits on the island's early inhabitants, slavery, the plantation economy, as well as some material on local animal and plant life. It's far from extensive but worth the low price of admission to learn a little about Grenada's rich history.
Mt. Hartman Dove Sanctuary
© Shaggy Shoo via Flickr
Less than 100 Grenada Doves
survive in the wild, all within this small preserve, part of the Mount Hartman Estate. Also known as the Pea Dove or Well's Dove, the Grenada Dove (Leptotila wellsi
) is the national bird of Grenada. The park was established in 1996 with the express mission of protecting the remaining dove population, although the land has been periodically threatened by development. The doves roost in thorny, dry-scrub vegetation; guides can help you spot one of these rare birds in their last remaining natural habitat.
Follow a short, garden-like trail to Grenada's most popular waterfall, just outside St. George. The 30-foot falls can sometimes be a bit of a honky-tonk with vendors and performers flocking here to solicit the tourists, but the local color also can sometimes include amateur cliff-divers, a thrill to watch (if not participate). If you want to enjoy a quiet swim in the pool below the falls, time your visit for when there are no cruise ships in port.
© Grenada Department of Tourism
Most plantations in the Caribbean have faded into history, so what makes Belmont Estate unique is that it still functions as an agricultural business, producing cocoa and nutmeg as well as entertaining tourists. Visitors to this 17th-century plantation can tour the organic farm and gardens, explore an on-site museum, and a cocoa-processing facility, meet farm animals at a petting zoo, dine at a cafe serving traditional island food like mutton and callaloo soup, and shop at a market for spices, crafts, and flowers.
© Lee Coursey via Flickr
Prior to Hurricane Ivan in 2004, nutmeg
was the top export crop in Grenada, but the storm destroyed many of the nutmeg trees on the island. Still, while cocoa
is now number-one, the Spice Island still produces a prodigious amount of nutmeg. For just a dollar you can visit this working factory where nutmegs are collected, processed and packaged. It's a hands-on experience where you have the opportunity to help sort the nutmeg used as a spice from that destined to become medicine or cosmetics. And, of course, there's a gift shop where you can buy some nutmeg (and related souvenirs) to take home from your vacation.
© Grenada Board of Tourism
This diverse cultural center includes a theater where you can experience dance and drama as well as live music (including steel pan and calypso
performances), an open-air restaurant, and a Grenada heritage museum that features a special standing exhibit on the history of West Indies cricket
Diving/Underwater Sculpture Park
© Grenada Tourism
Among the 30-odd dive sites in the waters off Grenada are a variety of reefs and wrecks -- the latter both accidental and manmade. British artist Jason de Caires Taylor
's underwater sculpture park chronicles various aspects of the island's history.