Grenada is a bit like the kid in the back of the classroom. After going unnoticed for a while (pretty much since the U.S. invaded the Caribbean island in1983, using a tourist map to rescue American medical school students from a pro-Marxist regime), this country is surprising everyone with how much it has to share.
Grenada, which gained its independence from Britain in 1974, lies at the end of the Grenadines and 515 miles northeast of Venezuela’s coastline. It has been an important part of the Caribbean for centuries, having earned the name “the Spice Island” for its wealth of nutmeg, allspice, clove, and cinnamon. While spices are still important to Grenada’s commerce, the island is getting fresh attention for its tourism and nature-based attractions.
English is the official language. Plus, at 11 miles wide and 21 miles long, Grenada is compact. This makes it easy to get out and explore. Instead of scheduling one activity, it’s conceivable to pack a day with three or more excursions. For example, a morning hike to a waterfall, lunch at a historic plantation, and a boat trip out to the island’s Underwater Sculpture Park for a snorkeling or dive adventure.
Visit an underwater Sculpture Park
Accessible by boat, the Molinere Bay Underwater Sculpture Park offers visitors the chance to snorkel above or dive below the surface to view life-size sculptures created by British-born sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. His 2006 installation’s human figures, including Viccisitudes – composed of a circle of children and interpreted as a tribute to the slaves who survived the treacherous Middle Passage across the Atlantic – have since been transformed by coral and algae into eerie visions. The park is considered one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic.
Do go chasing waterfalls
An excursion to one of Grenada’s multiple waterfalls is a must-do for visitors. Standouts are the Seven Sisters Waterfalls in the island’s Grand Etang National Park and Forest Reserve, and the Concord Waterfalls in St. John.
Guided hikes and sturdy, waterproof shoes (such as Crocs or trail-running sneakers) are recommended. Once at the falls, there’s time for a dip, and in some cases, the chance to see daring Grenadians diving from the top of the falls in hope of a tip. If hiking presents a challenge, the Annandale Falls in St. George can be accessed via car and a short walk along a paved walkway.
Dive in: Spectacular waterfall hikes in Grenada
Spice up your life in St. George’s
Chances are a visitor will want to spend some time exploring the island’s capital city of St. George’s. Schedule the visit for Saturday morning and drop into the city’s Spice Market in Market Square.
While open daily, Saturday is when the market hums with activity. The market presents a colorful and vibrant opportunity to mix with the locals, buy spice-related produce, and stock up on souvenirs. (Just remember to pack them in your checked luggage since most bottles will exceed carry-on restrictions.)
Graze the Grenada Spice Market: What you’ll find in St. George’s
Take in the view from Fort George
While in the capital, find time to visit historic Fort George. Built during the early 1700s by the French (who eventually lost possession to the British) the fort has a commanding position atop Richmond Hill. Fort George provided a defense of the harbor from marauding ships. Today, the restored fort houses the police headquarters and presents an excellent vantage point for gorgeous sea and city views.
Sip rum at River Antoine Rum Distillery
Any traveler who takes to the road in Grenada will note the prevalence of tiny, local rum shops. Rum has a rich heritage on the island. The River Antoine Rum Distillery is a colonial-era distillery still in operation utilizing traditional methods, including a 19th-century water wheel providing energy for the rum-making process. After a tour, there’s a tasting and the opportunity to purchase a variety of rums.
Explore agricultural attractions
Grenada’s agriculture, spice production, and chocolate-making can be explored at a number of sites on the island.
Belmont Estate is a working plantation dating back to the 17th century. In addition to tours of its cocoa production, the estate has a large restaurant notable for its open-air design, which allows a flow of Caribbean breezes.
The Grenada Chocolate Company offers tours of its facility, which produces award-winning organic dark chocolate.
The Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station provides an up-close view of how nutmeg is processed and packaged. This is an authentically rural attraction offering a unique experience.