Grenada is poised for growth. // © 2013 Grenada Board of Tourism
While Grenada doesn’t attract the same attention and visitation that powerhouse Caribbean destinations such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic regularly capture, the “Spice Isle,” as Grenada is called, has supplied some of my favorite experiences in the Caribbean. Waterfall hikes and swims, snorkeling above the submerged statues of the Underwater Museum and enjoying the laidback pace of the locals make up some of my memorable moments on the island. The island has world-class properties, such as the Spice Island Beach Resort, and is poised to gain a greater share of the spotlight when the Sandals LaSource Grenada opens.
One of Grenada’s charms is its busy harbor port city of St. George’s. The 300-year old city often has one, two or even three cruise ships in port. This many cruise passengers pouring into town means the shopping options and eateries are abundant. Strolling through the heart of St. George’s, you’ll come upon the picturesque Carenage district, where you can see the famous Christ of the Deep monument. Cobblestone alleys lead past craft shops, boutique stores and art galleries. One of my favorite stops is Market Square, where you can see the panoply of fruits, vegetables and rich spices that gave the island its nickname. Wandering past stalls heaped high, you’ll be immersed in local color and island life and captivated by the scents of fresh nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric. A relaxed way to see the capital is to board the Grenada Discovery Train, a little trolley inspired by a 1960’s steam locomotive. The trolley takes visitors on a 35-minute tour through the narrow streets of St. George’s making a total of six stops along the way, allowing passengers to get off at historical landmarks such as the Roman Catholic Church or Fort George.
Beach lovers have 45 beaches from which to choose. The centerpiece of the island is the world famous two-mile long Grand Anse Beach. Here you can get active with all types of watersports or just lay back and soak up the rays. Liming, the Grenadian term for hanging with your friends (new and old) and shooting the breeze, is easy to do along a row of beach bars.
A must-do activity is a snorkel or dive trip to Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park, the first of its kind, since duplicated in Cancun. The park is located just outside St. George’s in the Molinere Bay Marine Protected Area. It’s an eerie experience, floating above and looking down at life-size sculptures on the bottom of the sea floor, from whimsical pieces such as a man riding a bicycle, to more evocative creations, such as “Vicissitudes,” known locally as the “Circle of Children,” a collection of 28 figures from diverse ethnic backgrounds holding hands. The sculptures were created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. The park was designed to act as an artificial reef, offering an ideal environment for colonization by fish and colorful coral, and many of the statues have a large amount of prolific coral life growing on them. This has then attracted diverse species of reef fish and turtles.
There are also plenty of activities on dry land. Heading inland, try to find time to trek into the island’s lush rainforests or visit one of Grenada’s extinct volcanoes in the Grand Etang Forest Reserve and Lake. Visitors can travel back to colonial times by visiting one of the island’s active plantation estates, taking a guided tour of one of the rum distilleries or observing the daily workings of the Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station.
Getting to Grenada is easy, with various airlines offering nonstop service from the U.S. American Airlines offers four nonstop flights from Miami and Caribbean Airlines operates nonstop service from New York JFK on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Delta Airlines will operate seasonal service from New York JFK on Saturdays, from July 6 through August 31.