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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.