Exploring the Spice Island – Grenada
We were lucky enough to have a week at the Sandals La Source in Grenada and despite there being so much to do on site, including the wonderful diving, we couldn’t wait to get out and explore the lovely island of Grenada.
Most of the hotels, the airport and the charming capital St George’s, is located in the south-west corner of the island. This is also home to some of the most famous beaches including Grand Anse, 2 miles of sheltered white sands. Away from this small part of the island there are very few visitors, a densely forested and mountainous interior and gorgeous deserted beaches.
The capital, St George’s, has to be one of the prettiest towns in the Caribbean being set around a large natural harbour in the south-west of the island with pastel-coloured houses rising up the lush, verdant hillsides. The Carenage, taking its name from a location where wooden sailing ships were cleaned (or careened) is still a bustling inner port with local vessels tied up alongside the quays and Caribbean Georgian buildings around the foot of the hill upon which Fort George sits. There’s an excellent small National Museum, housed in a former French barracks from 1704, and once past the church and cathedral on the ridge line you drop down into the Bay Town district with its busy streets and bustling main market. All in all it’s well worth a morning to explore.
With a hire car it is very easy to get around although in truth the signposting is not for the fainthearted! We explored both the coastal areas, the north and the mountainous centre. Away from the south-west where most of the beach hotels are located, the island is mountainous and forest covered. The lush landscape has waterfalls, mountain peaks and trails for those interested in hiking. The best known sight is the Grand Etang National Park with the large crater lake, sitting at 530m altitude, and a number of trails. The panoramic views from the heights are superb and you will see small villages tucked away in small valleys and precipitous cliffs. The east coast town of Grenville is a noisy, bustling place full of life and the perfect spot to pick up some spicy rotis. The northern part of the island felt very slow paced and miles away from busy St George’s. Everything grows to profusion and our visit coincided with mango season which meant the roads were littered with thousands of windfalls – driving over them seemed a crime but there were only so many we could pick up and eat! Bathaway is a popular and fun Atlantic beach, with some excellent restaurants behind, and Sauters was a small town on the northern coast with a horrible history but charming location. We returned south along the west coast, hugging the shoreline most of the way with gorgeous views and character fishing villages such as Gouyave.
The island is famous for the growing of spices with nutmeg and mace being the most important followed by cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Cocoa is also gown, and the Belmont Estate in the north is a historic plantation and organic chocolate factory. Lastly as with much of the Caribbean rum was widely produced and it is possible to visit one of the distilleries dotted around the island and we visited Westerhall, originally founded in the late 1700s. As well as finding out about the making of rum the historic ruins were brought to life in a guided tours – waterwheels, boilers, sills and the cane crushing machines. The modern rums are mainly from imports however the plans are to use the local cane and introduce the ‘rhum agricole’ methods used on the French islands.
With such a beautiful natural side plus St George’s and the historic sights there is plenty to see and do around Grenada for a few days if you can tear yourself away from the beach and dive sites.