For many years, Grenada has been known…
The Island Blog
- April 20th 2010
When I first visited the Caribbean some years ago, I did plenty of homework to find the right destination. My companions and I wanted an island that was scenic, unspoilt and with beautiful beaches; not over-developed but with plenty to see and do.
We found all that and more in Grenada and, having been back recently, I was delighted to find that the island is as idyllic as ever. On my first Grenadian holiday, we sailed on a skippered yacht, swam in a jungle waterfall, visited the famous spice plantations, dived with tropical fish, raced catamarans, walked along the wild east-coast beaches, explored the colourful market, took a short flight to the nearby Grenadines… and still found time to relax on the fabulous Grand Anse beach.
On my latest visit, I found an island that remains resolutely traditional. New development has been discreet, with some exclusive properties blending into the lush landscape and new-builds paying more than a nod to conservation.
Vividly green Grenada and its cerulean waters lend themselves to low-key soft adventure, which has clearly been a focus for expansion. One new underwater feature is an artificial reef created by a series of 65 sculptures by Jason de Caires Taylor. Slowly, the rich life under the surface is beginning to take over this “exhibition”, much of which is shallow enough to be seen from a glass-bottomed kayak.
The “Spice Island” of Grenada and neighbouring Carriacou make up one of the Caribbean’s best dive destinations and there are several good schools to get you started, although a simple mask and snorkel will allow you to get close to the outstanding corals.
The superb new Port Louis Marina is opening up more aquatic opportunities. I recommend a trip on a yacht — even a day trip will allow you to explore exquisite bays and hidden beaches.
For those who still can’t get enough of the water, head inland and try river tubing. Sitting in a large rubber “doughnut”, you’ll bounce through the island’s rainforest along the sparkling Balthazar River. There are lots of options for jungle walks too.
If you’d like to join in the local party spirit, visit at Carnival time (August 9-10). It seems that each Caribbean island tries to out-do its neighbours in terms of spectacle, with Grenada no exception, so expect a heady mix of steel bands, masquerade parades, DJs, street dancing and flowing rum.
Another fun festival is Rock D’Spice (June 4-6), as much a celebration of life as a music event, at which Grenadians and tourists alike pay homage to the island’s culture, music and crafts.
Festivities are currently being planned for the 300th anniversary of the hilltop Fort St George, beside the harbour, but even without the party the fort is worth a visit for its commanding views over St George’s — one of the Caribbean’s most picturesque capitals with wooden buildings climbing the bay’s steep hillsides.
Grenada has long been recognised for its charming smaller hotels. Among the new additions is the 29-room Kalinago Beach Resort on Mourne Rouge Bay, in the quiet south of the island next to an outstanding beach. It offers great value.
At the other end of the scale is the stunning, Gaudi-influenced Cave House and Folly, which occupies its own little peninsula at Mount Hartman Bay, with just eight suites built into the hillside. And if an eco-friendly stay is important to you, two lovely properties — the Spice Island Beach Resort and the Blue Horizons Garden Resort — have been awarded Green Globes for their environmental practices.
No Caribbean holiday would be complete without a spa treatment or two, and a very fine facility forms part of the stylish and intimate Laluna. After a day’s activities, wind down in the sea-facing yoga pavilion or indulge in a Balinese massage. Holistic therapies are a speciality at LaSource, on Pink Gin Beach. Guests can indulge in one daily complimentary treatment from the range at the Oasis Spa.
There’s nothing better than a bite to eat after all that relaxing, and in my experience Grenada’s food is among the best in the Caribbean. The accent is firmly on local produce, including those abundant spices. I have enjoyed tasty snacks with a chilled beer at the rustic Jenny’s Place on Grand Anse beach and sumptuous cuisine devised by Gary Rhodes at the restaurant of the gorgeous Calabash hotel. Wherever you eat, try the marlin if it’s on the menu; the red snapper and conch are good, too.
Getting to Grenada has just got easier as British Airways now flies twice each week, via Barbados (Sunday) and Antigua (Tuesday). That, to me, is the perfect excuse to arrange another visit to an island whose combination of discreet charm, natural beauty and a splendid array of activities makes it my firm favourite.