Known as the spice island because of the nutmeg, mace and other spices it produces, Grenada (pronounced 'Grenayda'), the most southerly of the Windward Islands, has a beautiful mountainous interior and is well endowed with lush forests and cascading rivers. Hikers and nature lovers enjoy the trails in the national parks, where many different ecosystems are found, from dry tropical forest and mangroves on the coast, through lush rainforest on the hillsides, to elfin woodland on the peaks. St George's, the capital, is widely acknowledged as the prettiest harbour city in the West Indies, blending the architectural styles of the French and English with a picturesque setting on steep hills overlooking the bay. The southern coast, with its sandy beaches, bays and rocky promontories, is being developed for tourism. In 2004 Grenada was blown away by Hurricane Ivan, which killed dozens and destroyed or seriously damaged nearly every building on the island when the 'eye' of the storm passed directly over. Now, however, business is back to normal as Grenadians have bounced back, although you can still see hurricane damage in the forests and some homes and churches have not yet been rebuilt.

Getting there

Air links with Europe and North America usually involve a change of plane in San Juan, Trinidad or Barbados, although there are some direct flights from London, Frankfurt and Philadelphia. There are charter services but these are seasonal. Unless you are on a yacht or a cruise ship it is not easy to get to Grenada by sea either, although there is a ferry between Union Island (St Vincent) and Carriacou, allowing island hopping from the north.

Getting around

There is a good and colourful bus service connecting St George's with most parts of the island. It is cheap, but driving is fast and roads are twisty, so if you have a tendency to car sickness this may not be for you. One alternative is car hire, if you are good at finding your way around and are not intimidated by local drivers.
Cycling is good around Grenada, with accommodation conveniently spaced. The ride between Sauteurs and Victoria is peaceful with spectacular views. From Gouyave to St George's via Grand Étang is difficult but rewarding with some steep hills in the beautiful forest reserve and small, friendly communities. Allow five to six hours. There are many tours offered if you want someone else to do the driving, usually by minibus and reasonably priced and informative.

St George's

St George's is one of the Caribbean's most beautiful harbour cities. The town stands on an almost landlocked sparkling blue harbour against a background of green and hazy blue hills, with its terraces of pale, colour-washed houses and cheerful red roofs. The capital was established in 1705 by French settlers, and much of its charm comes from the blend of two colonial cultures: typical 18th-century French provincial houses intermingle with fine examples of English Georgian architecture. Unlike many Caribbean ports, which are built around bays on coastal plains, St George's straddles a promontory. At every turn is a different view or angle of the town, the harbour or the coast.

The Carenage
runs around the inner harbour, connected with the Esplanade on the seaward side of Fort George Point by the
Sendall Tunnel
, built in 1895. There is always plenty of dockside activity on the Carenage, with goods being unloaded from wooden schooners. Cruise ships now come in to a new deep water cruise ship port on the Esplanade on the western side of the city,while the ferries and hovercraft from Carriacou and Petite Martinique still dock in the middle of the Carenage. Restaurants, bars and shops line the Carenage.

The small
National Museum
, in the centre of town (corner of Young and Monckton Streets) is worth a visit. It used to be the
Antilles Hotel
, part of the former French barracks built in 1704. From 1767-1880, the British used parts as a prison, then the ground floor became a warehouse and upstairs a hotel. Note the cast iron balcony, not many of which are left in St George's. Displays are rather dusty and old-fashioned, but cover a wide range of historical topics, pre-Columbian, natural history, colonial, military, Independence, the Cuban crisis, some items from West Africa, exhibits from the sugar and spice industries and of local shells and fauna. The
Public Library
is in a renovated old government building on the Carenage. In this part of the city are many brick and stone warehouses, roofed with red, fishtail tiles brought from Europe as ballast. Also on the Carenage is a monument to the Christi Degli Abbissi, or Christ of the Deep, moved from the entrance to the harbour, which commemorates 'the hospitality extended to the crew and passengers of the ill-fated liner',
Bianca C
. It stands on the walkway beside Wharf Road.

Fort George
(1706) on the headland is now the police headquarters, but public viewpoints have been erected from which to see the coast and harbour. Photographs are not allowed everywhere. Some old cannons are still in their positions and the views all round are tremendous. The French called it Fort Royale but the British named it Fort George. After the overthrow of Eric Gairy's government in 1979 it was briefly renamed Fort Rupert, but reverted to George after the return of democratic rule in 1983. Just down from the Fort is St Andrew's Presbyterian Kirk (1830) also known as Scot's Kirk. On Church Street are a number of important buildings:
St George's Anglican Church
(1825), the
Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
(tower 1818, church 1884) and the
Supreme Court
buildings (late 18th, early 19th century). St George's oldest religious building is the
Methodist Church
(1820) on Green Street.

has recently been developed to take pressure off the Carenage. The cruise ship pier and terminal is here, the entry point for thousands of tourists. Further north is the main bus terminal and a car park, then the new fish market, all built on reclaimed land on the seaward side of the road. The
Market Square
, off Halifax Street (one of the main streets, one steep block from the Esplanade), is always busy although the weekly market is on Saturday. There is a wide variety of local produce, herbs, spices and local crafts including luxuries such as nutmeg oil, nutmeg soap, rich cocoa balls, sold under cover. The trades people are keen to sell, but are polite, good-humoured and not pushy.

Just north of the city is
Queen's Park National Stadium
, rebuilt after Ivan with the help of the Chinese, which is used for all the main sporting activities, cricket, carnival shows and political events. From
Richmond Hill
there are good views (and photo opportunities) of both St George's and the mountains of the interior. On the hill are Forts Matthew (built by the French, 1779), Frederick (1791) and Adolphus (built in a higher position than Fort George to house new batteries of more powerful, longer range cannon), and the prison in which were held those convicted of murdering Maurice Bishop before Hurricane Ivan blew the roof off in 2004.

East of St George's

The Eastern Main Road heads east from Richmond Hill through numerous villages, twisting and turning, and there are a few places of interest for short excursions from St George's. To see a good selection of Grenada's flowers and trees, visit the
Bay Gardens
, at Morne Delice (turn off the Eastern Main Road at St Paul's police station, the gardens are on your left as you go down). It's a pleasant place with a friendly owner; the paths are made of nutmeg shells. They will show you around if you want and explain the uses of all the fruits, herbs and spices. If you take the next turning off the Eastern Main Road, you reach the
Morne Gazo Nature Trails
, on your right. Morne Gazo (or Delice Hill) rises to 1,140 ft and the Forestry Department has created trails covered with nutmeg shells in the forest. At the summit a lookout platform gives a panoramic view of the island, down to the airport in the south, across to La Sagesse and up to the hills around Grand Étang. Information leaflets are available in several languages. Further along the Eastern Main Road near Perdmontemps, is the turning for
Laura Spice and Herb Gardens
, where you can see nutmeg, cloves and all the other spices and herbs grown on the island.

Southwest Grenada

From the Carenage, you can take a road which goes round the Lagoon, another sunken volcanic crater, now a yacht anchorage. This area is the site of a massive development, Port Louis, which will transform Lagoon Rd. A mixed use resort and maritime community development is being built with a world class marina for yachts up to 90 m, houses, apartments, a 120-room 5-star hotel and a 120-room mid-range hotel, reclamation and renovation of the seafront and upgrading of Pandy Beach with provision of watersports and more sand. Carrying on to the southwest tip you come to
Grand Anse
, Grenada's most famous beach. Along its length are many hotels, but none dominates the scene since, by law, no development may be taller than a coconut palm. Rather surprisingly, the St George's University School of Arts and Sciences has a campus here, right on the beach. Access to the beach and parking is at Camerhogue Park at the north end by the
shopping mall. From Grand Anse the road crosses the peninsula to a roundabout, from where roads lead off to the Point Salines Airport or the Lance aux Épines headland. The road to Portici and
Parc à Boeuf
beaches leads to the right, off the airport road.
beach is virtually deserted, with good swimming despite a steeply shelving beach and excellent snorkelling around Petit Cabrits point at its northeast end. The next road to the right leads to
Magazine Beach
, then comes
Pink Gin Beach
and, practically as far as you can go, is the all-inclusive
La Source
(closed 2005 for renovation after Ivan), all very close to the airport. On the south side of the peninsula, at
Prickly Bay
(the west side of Lance aux Épines) are hotels, the Spice Island Marina and other yachting and watersports facilities. Luxury homes take up much of
Lance aux Épines
down to Prickly Point. There is a glorious stretch of fine white sand, the lawns of the
Calabash Hotel
run down to the beach, very nice bar and restaurant open to non-residents, steel bands often play there. The next bay west,
True Blue Bay
, is smaller and quieter, with no real beach, but also has a hotel and yachting facilities as well as the university's School of Medicine.

From the Point Salines/Lance aux Épines roundabout you can head east along a road which snakes around the south coast. At
Lower Woburn
, a small fishing community (bus from St George's), you can see vast piles of conch shells in the sea, forming jetties and islets where they have been discarded by generations of lambi divers. Stop at
Island View Restaurant
or a local establishment,
Nimrod and Sons Rum Shop
. Yachtsmen visit this spot to sign the infamous guest register and to be initiated with a shot of Jack Iron rum (beware, it is potent!). Past Lower Woburn is the
Clarks Court Rum Distillery
(tours available with rum sales, tip the guide). It is a steam-driven operation, unlike the river Antoine water-wheel system. Any number of tracks and paths go inland to join the Eastern Main Road, or run along the rias and headlands, such as Calivigny, Fort Jeudy, Westerhall Point or La Sagesse with its nature reserve . Many of Grenada's most interesting and isolated bays are in the southeast, accessible only by jeep or on foot; taxis can drop you off at the start of a path and pick you up later.

West coast Grenada

Heading north out of St George's, past Queen's Park stadium and Grand Mal Bay, you can turn inland to see petroglyphs, or rock carvings, near
(look for a sign on the road). Beauséjour Estate, once the island's largest, is now in ruins (except for the estate Great House). It is private, but from the road you can see the remains of the sugar mill and distillery on the opposite side of the road from the sports ground. Beyond Beauséjour is Halifax Bay, a beautiful, sheltered harbour, and the second most protected harbour in Grenada, but onland it is marred by a rubbish dump with smoke rising from it. Looking back over Halifax harbour is an old plantation house, Woodford Estate, a wooden building with pretty tiles but unfortunately falling apart.

At Concord, a road runs up the valley through nutmeg, cocoa, cashew, guava and clove trees to the First
Concord Falls
(45-minute hot walk from the main road or go by car, driving slowly, children and vendors everywhere). It is very busy at the end of the road with tour buses and spice stalls. There are toilets and changing facilities (small fee) if you want to bathe in the small cascade, but there is not much water in the dry season. The Second Concord Falls are a 30-40 minute walk (each way), with a river to cross seven times; there is no need for a guide but it is advisable. Three hours further uphill is
Fedon's Camp
, at 2,509 ft, where Julian Fedon fortified a hilltop in 1795 to await reinforcements from Martinique to assist his rebellion against the British. After fighting, the camp was captured; today it is a historical landmark. It is possible to hike from Concord to Grand Étang in five hours; it's a hard walk, but rewarding. The trail is hard to spot where it leaves the path to the upper falls about two-thirds of the way up on the left across the river.

North of Concord, just before Gouyave (pronounced
), is a turn-off to
Dougaldston Estate
. Before the revolution 200 people were employed here, cultivating spices and other crops. Now there are only a handful, the place is run down, the buildings in disrepair, the vehicles wrecked, but you can walk round and see the old machinery and imagine how it used to be. Hurricane Ivan destroyed 80% of the nutmeg trees and 60-70% of cocoa bushes on the island, while many are still covered in vines. At Dougaldston they still dry spices in the traditional way on racks which are wheeled under the building if it rains and someone will explain all the spices to you. However, there is no fermentation here now and the family has turned to tourism rather than agriculture. Samples cost EC$5 for a bag of cinammon, cloves or nutmeg, or there are mixed bags.

, 'the town that never sleeps', is a fishing port, nutmeg collecting point and capital of St John's parish. There are a few interesting old buildings; the post office, just past the shiny red fire engine, has an iron balcony. At the
Nutmeg Processing Station
 you can see all the stages of drying, grading, separating the nutmeg and mace and packing (give a tip). On the top floor
is dried for four months in Canadian pine boxes before being graded. There are three grades, used for culinary spice, corned beef or cosmetics, and only Grenada produces grade one mace for cooking. On the first floor,
is dried on racks for two months, turned occasionally with a rake. The lighter ones are then used in medicine and the heavier ones for culinary spices. The husks are used for fuel or mulch and the fruit is made into nutmeg jelly (a good alternative to breakfast marmalade), syrup or liquor. The station is a great wooden building by the sea, with a very powerful smell. No photos are allowed. A little shop sells nutmeg products. There are two other processing plants, at Victoria and Grenville, but this is the largest. There is also a nutmeg oil distillery at Sauteurs. All are open to the public. Gouyave is the principal place to go to for the
Fisherman's Birthday
festival. On Fridays, Gouyave is open to tourists on a grand scale, in the evening the main street is closed to traffic, there is seafood, drink and music and dancing.

Northern Grenada

The road continues around the northwest coast, turning inland at Duquesne (pronounced
) where there is a beautiful grey sand and petroglyphs on the beach (not particularly clean because of fishing), before returning to the sea at
, the capital of St Patrick's parish, on the north coast. There is a lovely, wild beach with leaning palm trees as you approach along the coast road. The town is renowned as the site of the mass suicide of Grenada's last 40 Caribs, who jumped off a cliff rather than surrender to the French . Leapers Hill is appropriately in the cemetery by the church, behind the school. Recently redeveloped, there is an interpretation centre with a model of a Carib village, washrooms and shops, while a board shows all the islands you can see looking out to the north. In March Sauteurs celebrates St Patrick's Day with a week of events, exhibits of arts and crafts and a mini street festival.
Helvellyn House
is perched on a hill in lovely gardens often used as a lunch stop for tour parties with a view of the Grenadines and the mountains inland. At the side of the drive up to the house is an artisanal pottery being developed with the help of a Moroccan potter, who has been teaching local children in schools. The first designs were all Moroccan, but they are developing local themes and experimenting with local clay.
Morne Fendue
plantation house is just south of Sauteurs and a popular place for tour groups to stop for lunch. The house was built in 1912 and still has all the old mouldings, cornices and light fittings of that time. The buffet lunch features local specialities and is served in an open air dining room in front of the old colonial house with a view of Mt St Catherine. Reservations essential.

East coast Grenada

From Sauteurs a road approaches
Levera Bay
from its west side. Turn left at
Chez Norah's
bar, a two-storey, green, corrugated-iron building (snacks
available); the track rapidly becomes quite rough and the final descent to Levera is very steep, suitable only for 4WD. A better way to Levera approaches from the south. The road forks left about two miles south of Morne Fendue, passes through river Sallee and past Bathway Beach. The river Sallee Boiling Springs are an area of spiritual importance; visitors are inspired to throw coins into the fountain while they make a wish.
Bathway Beach
is a popular weekend spot when it can get busy. It is a huge dark golden stretch of sand, with cliffs at either end, trees for shade, a beach bar, picnic tables, and the
Levera National Park
visitors' centre. There is a ridge of rocks just offshore, parallel with the beach, which provides protection for swimming, almost like a swimming pool, but you must not swim beyond the rocks or you will be drowned. From here a dirt road leads past Levera Pond, which has not yet recovered from Hurricane Ivan and both the road and the mangroves are in a sorry state. Birds are best seen early morning or late evening. Swimming is good at the beautiful and wild Levera Beach where leatherback turtles come to nest in April-June, and there is surf in certain conditions. It is not as busy as Bathway because not many people want to subject their vehicles to the dusty/muddy, potholed, dirt road. Do not swim far out as there is a current in the narrows between the beach and the privately owned Sugar Loaf Island.

A huge resort development is planned for Levera Beach, which will include an 18-hole championship golf course (nine holes already complete), a 600-room hotel and 200 villas, casino, medical centre and shops. The population explosion will completely change the character of the area.

On the east side of the island, the coastal road runs south past the circular crater lake,
Lake Antoine
where, like St George's and Grand Étang, the water has risen at times of volcanic activity, notably in 1902. Nearby is the
River Antoine Rum Distillery
, driven by a water mill, the oldest in the Caribbean (guided tours, T4427109). Grinding of the sugar cane is done in the mornings and the basic distillation process results in the Rivers Royale Grenadian Rum, which at 75% alcohol is breathtaking firewater. At the distillery there is also the Rivers Restaurant and Bar. The
Dunfermline Rum Distillery
can also be visited. There are no actual tours but the staff will show you around.

Inland from here is the old
Belmont Estate,
, which dates from the 17th century. When open, you can tour the 400-acre estate and follow the beans from bush to export. A heritage museum is complemented by shows of traditional activities such as stick fighting, nation drumming, bele and pique dancing and games practised by the slaves. A lavish buffet is offered for lunch, with indoor or outdoor dining, reservations required by 0900. To get there turn towards Sauteurs when you reach the Tivoli/La Poterie junction near Tivoli RC church; at the next junction turn left and Belmont is on your right after a minute or so. Do not miss a visit to the
Grenada Chocolate Factory
. Using certified organic cocoa beans from the Belmont Estate and organic sugar from a cooperative in Paraguay, this tiny factory roasts and grinds all its own beans and produces some of the world's finest chocolate. The whole operation is solar powered and the shells and dust are recycled as fertilizer around the cocoa bushes. Staff will explain and show you the manufacturing process, and you can buy their delicious organic chocolate (61% or 70% cocoa) or cocoa powder/drinking chocolate. It will not melt in the car on the way home and survives island hopping or transatlantic flights perfectly!

Amerindian remains can be seen at an archaeological dig near the old
Pearls Airport
. Apparently it's so unprotected that lots of artefacts have been stolen. The airport is worth a quick visit to see the two old Cuban and Russian planes and the duty-free shop, a ghost town, although the runway is well used for driving lessons, cricket, biking, go-karting and social encounter in general.

is the main town on the east coast and capital of St Andrew's Parish, the largest parish in Grenada with a population of about 25,000. It is a collection point for bananas, nutmeg and cocoa, and also a fishing port. There are some well-preserved old buildings, including the Court House, Anglican Church, police station and post office. Funds are being raised to restore and convert the old Roman Catholic church into a library, museum, art gallery and cultural centre. Construction of the church began in 1841 and it was used as a church until 1915, when mosquitoes finally triumphed over worshippers. From 1923 to 1972 it was used as a school, but then abandoned. Good local food can be found here along the main street, try
for curry mutton, stewfish, Creole fish and rice and peas, or
, right by the buses to town, which is the best place for roti. The
Rainbow City Festival
is held here at the start of August, with arts and crafts displays, street fairs, cultural shows and a 10-km road race.

Two miles south of Grenville are the
Marquis Falls
, also called Mount Carmel Falls, the highest in Grenada. Trails are being improved, with signposts and picnic areas. Marquis village was the capital of St Andrew's in the 17th and 18th centuries. Nowadays it is the centre of the wild pine handicraft industry.

The interior

There are several routes up
Mount St Catherine
, perhaps easiest from Grenville. Take a minibus to the Mount Hope road, this is a 4WD track which becomes the path up the mountain. It takes about two hours from leaving the minibus. A guide is not necessary. Do not go alone, however, and do not go at all if you suffer from vertigo. Don't take chances with daylight either. For information on this and anything else, contact Mr and Mrs Benjamin at
Benjamin's Variety Store
. Mrs Benjamin is on the Tourist Board. Telfer Bedeau, from Soubise, is the hiking expert.

The transinsular, or hill road, from Grenville to St George's used to be the route from the Pearls Airport to the capital, which all new arrivals had to take. It is well surfaced, but twisty and narrow. The minibus drivers on it are generally regarded as 'maniacs', one bend is called 'Hit Me Easy'. The road rises up to the rainforest, often entering the clouds. If driving yourself, allow up to 1½ hours from Levera to St George's. Shortly before reaching the
Grand Étang
, there is a side road to the St Margaret, or
Seven Sisters Falls
. They are only a 30-minute walk from the main road, but a guide is essential, or else get very good directions. A guide will show you a circular route, which is steep but more interesting than returning on the same path and takes two hours. The trail runs over private land, so a small fee is payable to the owners who keep the paths clear, at their place by the main road. After Grand Étang, there is a viewpoint at 1,910 ft overlooking St George's. A bit further down the hill is a detour to the
Annandale Falls
which plunge about 40 ft into a pool where the locals dive and swim. Tourists are pestered for money here, for diving, singing, information, whether requested or not. If coming from St George's on Grenville Road, fork left at the Methodist Church about half way to Grand Étang.

The peaks in the southeast part of the Grand Étang Forest Reserve can be walked as day trips from St George's. For
Mount Maitland
(1,712 ft), take a bus from the Market Place to Mardigras, or if there is none, get off at the junction at St Paul's and walk up. At the Pentecostal (IPA) church, turn left and immediately right. The paths are reasonably clear and not too muddy. The walk takes less than one hour each way. There are good views from the top over both sides, with some hummingbirds.

Mount Sinai
(2,306 ft) is not as spectacular as Mount St Catherine, nor as beautiful as Mount Qua Qua, but is not as muddy either. Take a bus to Providence, then walk up (two hours) the particularly lovely road to Petit Étang and beyond, where the road turns into a track in the banana fields. The path up the mountain begins behind a banana storage shed and must be closely watched. The terrain is a bit tricky near the top. There is a path down the other side to Grand Étang. Local opinions vary as to how badly you would get lost without a guide as the paths are no longer maintained.

Beaches and activities

There are 45 beaches on Grenada. The best are in the southwest, particularly
Grand Anse
, a lovely stretch of white sand which looks north to St George's. It can get crowded with cruise passengers, but there's usually plenty of room for everyone. Beach vendors have a proper market with 78 booths, washroom facilities, a tourist desk and a jetty for water taxis, to prevent hassling on the beach.
Morne Rouge
, the next beach going southwest, is more private, has good snorkelling and no vendors. There are other nice, smaller beaches around
Lance aux Épines
. The beaches at
in the northeast are also good, wild and unimproved.


The reefs around Grenada provide excellent sites for diving. A popular dive is to the wreck of the Italian cruise liner,
Bianca C
. Other dive sites include
Boss Reef
The Hole
Valley of Whales
Forests of Dean
Grand Mal Point
(wall dive),
Dragon Bay
(wall dive) ends at Molinière,
Happy Valley
(drift with current to Dragon Bay). Three wrecks from cargo ships off Quarantine Point, St George's, are in strong currents.
reef for beginners to advanced has a sunken sailboat, the
reef is a slopey sand wall (advanced drift dive);
reef is a shallow reef at the entrance to St George's with many rusted ships' anchors;
Spice Island
reef is for resort dives and beginners as well as the wrecks
Red Buoy
Veronica L
Quarter Wreck
. Dive sites around Carriacou include
Kick Em Jenny
(a submarine volcano),
Isle de Rhonde
Sandy Island
Sister Rocks
(to 100 ft, strong currents),
Twin Sisters
(walls to 180 ft and strong currents),
Mabouya Island
Saline Island
(drift dive). Local dive shops and agencies are working towards setting up a marine park to preserve the underwater world of Carriacou. The reefs are unspoilt, with forests of soft corals growing up to ten feet tall with a wide range of creatures living among them. Dive sites are reached with a 10-15 minute boat ride and the reefs are about 20-30 feet down. There is no shore
diving. In 2005 a 1960s tugboat, Westsider, was sunk as a wreck dive site in the planned marine park and has already been colonised by marine life.

The best
is around Molinière Point and up to Dragon Bay and Flamingo Bay. Flamingo Bay is named after a snail, not a bird. Snorkelling trips by boat will usually bring you to this area, often in the afternoons so that divers on board can do a shallow dive as well. You can see a wide variety of fish and invertebrates on the rocks and coral, even moray eels in holes if you look carefully.

Whale watching

Humpback whales
can be seen off Grenada and Carriacou during their migrations in December-April. Pilot whales, dolphins and several other whales are also found in Grenadian waters . Contact Mosden Cumberbatch for whale-watching tours, he has a boat especially designed for whale watching, taking up to 35 people on a four-hour trip.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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