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Grenada

Famed for forests fragrant with cinnamon, allspice, cocoa and – especially – nutmeg, Grenada happily snuggles up to its Spice of the Caribbean moniker. Although Hurricane Ivan walloped the luscious island in 2004, Grenada (pronounced gre-NAY-dah) has re-emerged as a premier Caribbean tourist destination. A new port facility has been added to accommodate large cruise ships; hotels have been refurbished; tourist attractions have been revitalized; and the island beckons to visitors with a renewed vigor. 

This former British colony offers charming architecture in its particularly picturesque harbor capital, St. George’s, which rings the submerged remnants of an ancient volcanic crater. The colonial-era buildings, 300-year-old churches and narrow streets are layered like a wedding cake along the steep waterfront, while bustling Market Square tempts wanderers with fruits, vegetables, arts and crafts. Fort George and Fort Frederick date back to the 18th century, and both played a role in the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada, an event that residents, glad for the "intervention," celebrate annually.

Self-travel is easy as many roads have recently been resurfaced or widened. Intimate inns dot the coves, while restaurants and resorts center on Grand Anse, an especially popular 2-mile honey-colored sand beach, along which you’ll find water sports, beach bars and some of the island’s wonderfully varied accommodations, ranging from apartments and guesthouses to luxury hotels and boutique resorts. South and east of Grand Anse, other beaches line the coves of L’Anse Aux Epines, an upscale residential community with additional accommodations.

As you head north, tourist infrastructure gives way to Grenada's rich agricultural and natural bounty. You can tour the island comfortably in a day, and at Gouyave visit one of the nutmeg-processing stations where the seeds are sorted, sacked and stamped for export. A hand-woven basket of spices makes a memorable souvenir for the folks at home not lucky enough to have joined you. Also worth a stop is the Grenada Chocolate Company, a tiny solar-powered cottage factory that entices both chocoholics and antique-machinery buffs with its sweet, organic treats. A historic factory nearby, River Antoine Rum Distillery, will fascinate rum connoisseurs – it’s the Caribbean’s only water-powered mill still operating.

Nearby at Balthazar Estate, you can take a gentle tube ride down the Balthazar River, an attraction that immerses guests in the flora, fauna and history of the estate. On your tour around the island, stop by the captivating Belmont Estate located in the Parish of St. Patrick in the north (a 300 year old plantation) which produces organic cocoa, operates an organic goat dairy, and has its own museum, gardens and restaurant. On Friday evenings, sample just-caught lobster, fish and jerked marlin cooked over open fires at the weekly Fish Friday Festival held in Gouyave. 

Yacht So Fast!

Sailing has long been an integral part of Grenada's lifestyle, and it is a premier Caribbean yachting center. Visitors can hire charter companies to provide a flavor of life on the ocean wave with day excursions, or weekly charters with crew or bareboat. The island's keenly competent sailors always welcome competition during Regatta. Grenada’s position at 12 degrees north of the equator has given it an advantage as a Caribbean sailing destination. Annual Sailing festivals and regattas have become permanent attributes of the Calendar of events

Game fishing is big sport here. The waters are filled with billfish, blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish and wahoo; you may even land a yellowfin tuna or dorado, also known as dolphin or mahi-mahi. Half- and full-day charters are easy to come by. More serious anglers might arrive in late January for the Spice Island Billfish Tournament. Three days of competitive fishing, one lay day, evening entertainment at the Grenada Yacht Club and plenty of cocktail receptions prove to be great fun.

Hiking trails with breathtaking scenery challenge walkers of all ability levels. Many trails lead to multi-tiered waterfalls for a refreshing swim. At a leisurely pace, savor the delights of Bay Gardens, one of many well-kept botanical sites in this gem of the Caribbean. Active visitors can also sign up for whale- and dolphin-watching expeditions, and can kayak in the quiet waters of Egmont Harbour.

Annual celebrations bring out Grenada's endearing traditions. Cheerful parades filled with military groups as well as Boy and Girl Scouts mark Grenada’s independence day in February. Foods from around the world and steel-band musicians make March’s Grensave International Food and Drink Extravaganza worth savoring. Local arts and craft, agricultural produce and cultural extravaganzas are part of the St. Patrick’s Day Festival held in the northern parish of St Patrick. In April, big-drum nation dance, string-band music and quadrille dancing take center stage at the Carriacou Maroon & String Band Music Festival, where local "maroon" foods are featured. Moonlight City Park in La Poterie turns into a cultural village during the May Grenada Drum Festival. In August, the carnival Spicemas takes place. And in December, delve into three days of open-air carol singing, cultural presentations and parang string bands in the streets of Hillsborough, followed by house to house "paranging" all night during the Carriacou Parang Festival. 

Grenada is actually a three-island nation, and from St. George’s one can catch the daily ferry to Carriacou (carry-a-KOO) and Petite Martinique (pitty mar-ti-NEEK), Grenada's two inhabited outposts in the Grenadine chain of islands. More than 20 sites around Carriacou attract scuba divers and snorkelers, and deserted islets nearby can easily be accessed by water taxi. Known as the Land of Reefs, 13-square-mile Carriacou has a small community whose residents might invite you to observe customs handed down from African and European ancestors. Traditional boat launchings, drum dances, candle-lighting "Pass Plays" and cemetery cleanings are held periodically. The village of Windward is known for building sailboats using the old-time methods passed down by Scottish settlers. The annual Carriacou Regatta held every summer encourages children to appreciate this art.

On Petite Martinique, French surnames remind visitors of the 900 residents' heritage. Many inhabitants build boats or make their livings by fishing.

Accolades

Grenada experienced a banner year in 2012 for marketplace recognition, adding top awards for its tourism product to Kirani James' Olympic Gold medal. The destination was listed by National Geographic Traveler, among the "Best of the World 2013" as one of the 20 Must See Places in 2013. In March 2012, the island's Underwater Sculpture Park was recognized as one of the "Wonders of the World - Earth's Most Awesome Places" by National Geographic. In May, the Grenada exhibit at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show 2012, won a gold medal, the tenth to be awarded to Suzanne Gaywood MBS and the Spice Island’s Pavilion. We were also cited for having both the “Best Wreck Diving” and the “Best Advanced Diving” in the Caribbean/Atlantic region by Scuba Diving magazine in the 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards and Grenada was recently recognized as one of the Top 25 Destinations in the Caribbean in the TripAdvisior’s 2012 Travelers’ Choice Awards.

 

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