I wanted to talk about my time on the Island of Spice which is known as Grenada. Two years ago I visited for a day while on a cruise. I fell in love with the feel of the island and the city of St. George’s.
For a little background Grenada is located just north of South America and includes 6 other islands. It is known as the Island of Spice because of its production of nutmeg and mace.
The weather in Grenada is never that oppressive with an average high of 80′s and really only two seasons; dry and wet. The island is lush green, noticeable from the ocean coming in. Grenada is a somewhat mountainous island and much of Grenada is filled with crops such as nutmeg, cocoa, mace, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.
The Spice Island is filled with markets and stores basically selling those above items in tiny packs or separately (A great souvenir to bring back with you.)
On a given day there could be thousands of tourists in the capital of St. George’s (all the cruise ships dock there). So if you’re looking for a more authentic experience then you might have to leave the city. St. George’s is a business city and so if you’re looking for a beach there are some great beaches like Morne Rouge Beach just south of St. George’s (click on the link to see some Google pictures of the beach).
Walking around the city of St. George’s is what I decided to spend my time doing. St. George’s is a relatively tiny town but has a lot of hills so you definitely need to be comfortable with walking on steep sidewalks. Walking in the streets can be confusing because the streets are narrow, but as long as you have a map and some sort of reference point like, Fort George, you should be fine. Fort George sits on top of a hill overlooking St. George’s and the beautiful waterfront of Carenage. I started my morning here and I think they charge you around 3 dollars to get in. Now the fort is very run down and there is not much to learn as they have little information about the fort but it does offer some excellent views.
The city does offer a marketplace… this is a must. It offers different types of foods and of course spices! You could shop around for the spices but most stands offer the same types of spices at the same price.
My advice is to walk around the waterfront called the Carenage and visit the shops and little streets that branch off the main street. You will find the more touristy products down by the waterfront while the further you go away from the main waterfront the better deal you will probably get (Grenada is relatively safe but just be aware that it gets a little more shady away from the waterfront. If you do venture off you should be fine but just bring a group with you).
Grenada is a scenic island so if you’re done with the city of St. George’s and looking for more adventure then visit the beaches and waterfalls that exists over the island. Some of the most well-known beaches are Levera Beach, Bathway Beach, and Black Bay Beach (To get to these all you need is to get a taxi in town or ride the bus). Buses are, I think, harder to figure out the schedule and so I believe taxis are easier for you to get around. Make sure you flag a taxi with an ‘H’ in the license plates.
You’re in the Spice Island so of course there is going to be factories that produce the different crops. And now you can see how they do it and get to learn more about the different spices on the island. Like the Gouyave Nutmeg Factory, a nutmeg factory that is a considered “must-do” (sadly I didn’t get to do it.) Like most Caribbean islands Grenada is also known for its rum and a lot of distilleries like River Antoine Rum Distillery (apparently the oldest Rum Factory in the western hemisphere) or Westerhall Rum Distillery (a museum, taste tasting and tour all in one). Belmont Estate a great place if you’re interested in an authentic 17th century plantation which grows organic cocoa.
If you’re feeling more adventurous then there is always venturing out to Mt. St. Catherine, Grenada’s highest mountain. Or there is always the option of hiking Mt. Qua Qua, in the Grand Etang Nature Reserve.
Of course the island offers great diving and snorkeling, river tubing, and sailing. Most are found in the city of St. George’s and offer tours to different reefs or parts of the island.
Now if you’re wondering how to get to Grenada cheaply I have some ideas for you. American Airlines is the main US carrier that flies to Grenada and you will usually have to layover in Jamaica, Puerto Rico or Miami. From Chicago to Grenada I found a price of 640 dollars for a flight leaving in July but if you’re leaving in the months of (November, Late January and February then you can find deals as low as $550). Caribbean Airlines is also Grenada’s main airline and sometimes does offer deals but now American Airlines is running cheaper for the same time frame. It seems like if you’re traveling from an east coast city in the US you are going to find a cheaper flight then for someone who is coming from the west coast. Always be flexible with your schedule and sometimes the best deals are last-minute (Look at farecompare to get an idea of price).
If you’re coming in from a boat (which is what I did) there are many cruises that make a stop in Grenada. If you’re on a budget then my suggestion is to leave on an off-season time which typically is October, November, January, and February for cruises. You can find last-minute deals and you will be able to see other islands of the Caribbean but you will not have as much time on Grenada (Most of these cruises leave from San Juan so you do have to find a flight there).
St. George’s has that authentic feel to it; where you feel like you’re in a destination that is not like other Caribbean islands and a world away from the US. It’s a great place to come and relax but also enjoy some outstanding scenery. That is why I recommend the Spice Island as a travel destination. Make sure to comment if you have any questions about the island or how to get there.!
images by: me, Steph, Nick, Rob, Chaloos