Grenada is a Caribbean country comprising a main island, also called Grenada, and 6 smaller surrounding islands. Dubbed the “Spice Isle,” the hilly main island is home to numerous nutmeg plantations. It’s also site of the capital, St. George’s, whose colourful homes, Georgian buildings and early-18th-century Fort George overlook narrow Carenage Harbour. To the south is Grand Anse Beach, with resorts and bars.
Welcome to the island nicknamed The Spice of the Caribbean. Why you ask? Well because there are more spices in Grenada per square kilometre than anywhere else on earth, nutmeg being the most abundant one. The lingering scents of spices in the markets are always enticing.
Three islands actually make up Grenada: they are Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. It is a nature lover's paradise, with many incredible, unspoiled national parks, kilometres of beaches and beautiful waterfalls. All water sports can be enjoyed, such as diving, swimming and hiking. There are also plenty of cultural attractions to visit, spice plantations, luxury resorts, great restaurants and wonderful shopping opportunities.
The distinctive Grenadian cuisine is a wonderful marriage of West Indian and Creole flavours. It consists mostly of fish, seafood and the fresh bountiful produce grown right on the islands. And every recipe is prepared to perfection with just the right amount of spices grown on the island, varying from nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and ginger, to name just a few. Nutmeg is king in this spice kingdom and is found in practically every recipe, even candy and ice cream.
Local dishes include the callaloo soup, a melange of fresh local seafood, and meats prepared with a true West Indian flare. Grenada's national dish, the Oildown, consists of a stew made with salted meat, breadfruit, onion, carrot, celery, dasheen and dumplings, all slowly steamed in coconut milk until the liquid is absorbed. Grenadian caviar (roe of white sea urchin), conch and a fish dish called Stuffed Jacks appear on traditional menus.
Culture The people of Grenada are made up of a rich cultural mix of African, East-Indian and European immigrants. Today the African make up close to 75% of the population. This is why you will often hear the Creole patois dialect.
Africans have probably been the strongest influence as well in music with their strong traditions of dances and drumming. Calypso is the music of the native Grenadian. You may also hear singers practise what is called ex-tempore, an art form where the musician sings to a standard tune but has impromptu lyrics.
Several festivals retain their religious origins. A prime example is the annual Carnival celebrated all over the Caribbean. This is the last party before the arrival of Lent. In the days of slavery, it became a way for the slaves to openly mock their colonial masters.
A storytelling tradition came about amongst the slave, with such tales as the cunning Anansi and tales of Spirits kidnapping those who stayed out after dark. Still alive today, this oral tradition can be experienced though the talents of Paul and Ricardo Keens-Douglas, among others, who enthrals audiences for hours. From this tradition were born wonderful writers as well, such as Grenadian writer Alister Hughes.
Geography There are three islands that make up Grenada. They are Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Grenada is largest of the three, measuring 18 km in width and 34 km in length. The island is of volcanic origin, crater lakes and displays mush lush vegetation, from rainforests, to the dry forests of the lowlands and mangroves at the coast. It is also quite mountainous, the highest peak being Mount St Catherine at 838 m above sea level.
Both Carriacou and Petite Martinique are north of the main island. The second island in size is Carriacou and it has a more hilly terrain. There are lovely walking and cleared hiking paths here to enjoy, as well as fine sand beaches. The volcanic tip of Petite Martinique is the smallest of the islands.
History Grenada's modern history began in 1498, when Christopher Columbus first sighted the island and named it Conception. The island was occupied at the time by the Carib Indians. After a failed British settlement attempt, the French "purchased" the island from the indigenous people in 1650. Britain and France exchanged possession many times until the island was ceded to Britain in 1783 by the Treaty of Versailles. In 1967, Grenada became an associated state within the British Commonwealth and gained complete independence in 1974. A coup d'État took place in 1979 by Maurice Bishop, who soon set about establishing strong ties to the Soviet Union and Cuba. He was later arrested in 1983 eventually executed. Since then, the country has had free elections since the incident.
Nature National parks, natural sanctuaries and wildlife preserves make up for almost 90% of the island's land mass. Therefore many nature lovers choose this destination to commune with the many natural settings, such as the Grand Etang Forest Reserve or the La Sagesse Estuary. Several species of forest trees, tropical flowers and shrubs grow throughout the island. Hummingbird, egret, dove, and wild pigeon make up the bulk of the bird population. If you are lucky, you may spot the occasional armadillo, agouti, and monkey.
And there is no shortage of magnificent waterfalls hidden amongst the mountainous regions. There is the Annandale Falls, just outside the capital of St George's. The Concord Falls offers three consecutive waterfalls. The first stage is easily accessible with a natural pool for swimming. The second and third stages are only accessible by foot. The Marquis Falls (or Carmel Falls) are the highest on the island, with two falls cascading over 70 feet into the pools below. The Victoria Falls and the Seven Sisters are a series of falls accessible only by foot.
Sports Water sports are very popular too, like kayaking, windsurfing, water-skiing, parasailing and more. Grenada offers some of the best sailing in the Caribbean; you can have your pick of pre-arranged tours or crewed yacht and bare boat rentals. Excursions can take you out on a deep-sea fishing expedition. Catches include billfish, blue marlin, white marlin and wahoo.
Golfers will enjoy the Grenada Golf & Country Club, a nine-hole course located near Grand Anse. Hikers, birdwatchers, mountain bikers and horseback riders are traveling to Grenada to revel in the nation's natural beauty and resources. Amateur Cart Racers meet at the old airport strip in St. Andrew on weekends.
Diving and snorkelling enthusiasts are treated to some of the most breathtaking underwater scenery and abundant marine life in the Caribbean. Grenada and Carriacou are known for spectacular walls and wrecks, with sharks, turtles, lobsters, sea horses and giant moray eels gliding against the backdrop of soft coral forest, striking reefs and sponges. The Bianca C dive site is known as the Titanic of the Caribbean.
St George's Currency : Eastern Caribbean Dollar Driver's License : An international driver's license is recommended and a local driving permit of EC$30.00 must be purchased when the vehicle is delivered. Must be 21 years old. Electricity : 220 V, 50Hz Entry Requirements : A passport, valid 6 months beyond intended stay, and an ongoing or return ticket are required. It is the traveller's responsibility to check with the country’s Embassy for up-to-date information. GMT Time : -4hr. Daylight savings time is not applied. Government : Independant democratic nation within the British Commonwealth. Land size : 344 km2 Language : English, French patois National Airlines : none Population : 90,739 approx Religion : 53% Roman Catholic, 14% Anglican, 33% Presbyterian Required Vaccines : none Tourist Season : December through May
Banks & Money
The legal tender is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. Money can be exchanged in the many banks and change offices found though out the island. Banks usually offer the most favourable rates. There are also ATM machines across the island as well.
Major credit cards and Traveller's cheques are accepted at all large shopping centres, restaurants, hotels and car rental companies.
Climate The climate on the island is tropical, which is tempered by breezy trade winds, with temperatures oscillating between 24° C and 30° C. The rainy season is from June to November. The island also experiences climate changes according to altitude. The water temperature hovers around 26° C.
For monthly average temperatures please refer to your destination of choice.
Communication The country code for Grenada is 473. Telephone services have been modernized and direct dialling is available from most hotel rooms. You can also use coin phones for local calls and card phones for both local and international calls.
Internet dial-up access can be found in hotels or Internet cafes. There are four radio stations and three television stations. Many hotels have cable television.
Health The water is safe to drink, as are milk and dairy products. Gastro-intestinal complaints, known as the turista, can occur, especially in rural areas. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally considered safe to eat.
There are no required vaccines to enter the country, unless you are arriving from a yellow fever affected destination. The following vaccines are recommended for any tropical destination: hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhoid, tetanus and yellow fever.
Official Holidays January 1 - New Year's Day February 7 - Independence Day March/April - Good Friday, Easter Monday May 1 - Labour Day May/June - Whit Monday May/June - Corpus Christi August - Emancipation Days August - Carnival October - Thanksgiving December 25 - Christmas Day December 26 - Boxing Day
Safety Street crime does occur occasionally here. Pick pocketing, purse snatchings, and robberies happen most around hotels, beaches, and restaurants. Use good judgement, take advantage of the safety deposit boxes provided by the hotels and ensure that your lock hotel door or your rented car. Carry your wallet and camera discreetly. Avoid walking on the streets after dark.
Shopping Typical Grenadian souvenirs include: handmade jewellery with precious gems; locally made crafts, such as leather goods, wood carvings, textiles and works of art. Spices are always a favourite purchase of course. Buy nutmeg syrups, jams, and jellies as well as sachets of indigenous nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger and other locally grown spices. And finally one cannot leave without a bottle of local rum, which is distilled from sugar cane and usually mixed with local spices for a unique flavour.
Taxes & Tips The departure tax of around EC $50, per person 13 years of age and older, is payable cash at the airport when leaving the country. For persons aged to 12 years of age, the departure tax is cut in half.
Hotels add an 8% government tax, restaurants add a 10% government tax and, in most cases, a 10% service fee is in lieu of tipping. Additional gratuities are at your discretion. Taxi drivers appreciate also a 10-15% tip; porters should receive $1 per bag.
Transportation International flights stop at Point Salines International Airport, and visitors are only a short hop by inter-island charter to Carriacou and other nearby islands. Several marinas offer immigration, customs and anchorage services. There are also daily shuttle boat services between Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
Please note that driving is on the LEFT. Car rental companies are found at the airport, in St George's or St Andrew's. A local driving permit of EC$30.00 must be purchased from local authorities. Taxis are available on the island, as are water-taxis between St George's and the Esplanade or Grand Anse Beach. The rates are set by the government. Minivans are the cheapest way to get around. The bus service is cheap but slow.
Free to Wonder in Grenada
Calling all nature lovers, adventurers, romantics, foodies, festivalgoers, and families! Choose from 9 beautiful resorts to experience this island of wonder and natural beauty in complete comfort.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the scenic paths to the beautiful waterfalls, explore the beaten paths on dune buggies, or party with the colourful crowds until sunrise at the vibrant festivals! You can dive into the turquoise waters and explore the beautiful reefs or visit the shops and restaurants to discover local goods, including the famous spices of the island. Grenada really has it all!
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