This perfectly formed Caribbean gem fully deserves the moniker ‘Spice Isle’, as a jeep journey through the lush tropical forests will attest; the heady scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves fill your nostrils. And with past settlers including the Spanish, French and British, there is much to pique the interests of culture and history buffs. And of course, this being the Caribbean, there are a myriad of water-based adventures to be had; take your pick from yachting, diving and cruising. These are our top ten things to do in Grenada.
Explore the British influence at Fort Matthew – Grenada has a colourful history; discovered by legendary explorer Christopher Columbus in 1498, rule from the French and Spanish followed, although the British left the greatest concentration of history and heritage. This British arrived in 1762 and set about establishing indigo and sugar plantations, spice states and run distilleries. They also constructed several forts and military installations to protect the island. The most notable and largest example is the impressive Fort Matthew which served as both watch station, and later, as a lunatic asylum. Poised strategically atop St George’s Richmond Hill, the fort was named after the ruling Lt. Governor Edward Matthew and currently only offers private pre-booked tours.
More accessible are the forts of Fort Frederick and Fort George, both located in Grenada’s capital. Fort Frederick was built in the 1700s by the French and sits alongside Fort Mathew on Richmond Hill - travellers can bike up to the forts via the trails that meander through the lush scented vegetation. Fort Frederick offers superb views over the church spires and red tiled-roofs of St Georges below, and to the glittering Caribbean Sea beyond.
Hike, swim and chill at the Seven Sisters Waterfalls – Head to the heavenly Grand Etang National Park which is the perfect spot to get to grips with Grenada’s nature. Hike the tropical park and cool off in one of the many picturesque waterfalls in this part of the world; Concord, Mount Carmel and Seven Sisters Waterfalls are all highly recommended.
Get your Scuba on – Together with sister islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, there are a myriad of scuba diving sites to explore. Divers of all levels come from all corner of the globe to experience the colourful coral reefs, thrilling drift dives and spectacular shipwrecks - there’s even a unique underwater sculpture park! Take your pick from 50 dive sites, including pristine Angel Reef which is brimming with octopus, angelfish and rays. Check out the mysterious Buccaneer Wreck and dive the ‘Titanic of the Caribbean’, aka the mighty Bianca C Shipwreck! The best part of scuba diving is seeing the amount of amazing different kinds of fishes, make sure you buy some scuba diving insurance from Divemaster insurance though just to be safe, as you never know what could happen.
Explore Belmont Estate – This authentic plantation dates back to the 17th century and provides a fascinating insight into Grenada’s traditions, cultures and flavours. The 400 acre farm and plantation is also home to a museum and visitors can watch the spectacle of cocoa processing up close.
Sample the delights of the River Antoine Rum Distillery – Definitely one for the adults! Sample a tot of fresh (and incredibly heady) spiced rum at the oldest rum factory in the western world, which still uses the traditional water wheel method to process the sugarcane.
Discover Grenada’s eco-credentials – The Island of Spice is a genuine contender for eco capital of the Caribbean, with pristine lakes, tumultuous waterfalls, lush spice gardens, pretty spice gardens, dormant volcanoes and of course rainforests brimming with endemic flora and fauna. Glimpse wildlife in their natural habitat, swim in bottomless lakes and trek the forest reserves. Top locations include the Mount Hartman Dove Sanctuary which protects the few remaining local Grenada Doves; Levera National Park spans some 450 acres and its lagoon boasts a colourful array of wildlife, and finally the shallow crater lake of Lake Antoine is a bird spotting paradise.
Learn a little at the Grenada National Museum – This fascinating little museum is a treasure trove of local historical artifacts, spread across several exhibits. Much of Grenada’s heritage is explored, including slavery, historical inhabitants, whaling, plantation economy and fishing.
Lose yourself in the tropical gardens – All three islands of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique are blessed with sumptuous gardens, brimming with herbs spices, exotic flowers and tropical plants. Walk over fragrant nutmeg shell paths within Laura’s Herb and Spice Garden in St David; explore 60 acres of tropical gardens at the Jessamine Eden Tropical Botanic Gardens, whose soils are fed by the fertile Grand Etang rainforest, and finally walk the formal Hyde Park Tropical Garden which boasts palms, bougainvillea, cycads and heliconias.
Grab some beach-time – OK so I can’t write a post on the top ten things to do in Grenada and NOT mention the beaches – indeed there may not be enough superlatives for these gems! Beach babes are probably already acquainted with legendary Grand Anse Beach, whose gloriously silky white sands stretch for two miles (three km). But there are others, such as the divine La Sagesse Beach which has appeared on many well-respected top tropical beach lists. And there’s the chic Bathway Beach which has plenty going on; stroll the adjacent village which is brimming with speciality shops, join a game of volleyball and people watch as locals and travellers alike socialise.
Explore Carriacou and Petite Martinique – To the north of the elliptical Grenada are the sister islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique; smaller but also bursting with the same heady Caribbean atmosphere. Both Carriacou and Petite Martinique are a scuba divers paradise, home to beautiful coral reefs. The larger island is Carriacou, which is dubbed the ‘Land of Reefs’, whose clear shallow clear waters are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and diving. Tiny Petite Martinique has a long history of both boat-building and fishing and this is undoubtedly the place to go for some of the finest sailing and deep sea fishing opportunities in the Caribbean. Travellers can take a short ferry trip over to both of these islands from Grenada.
Each of the three islands celebrates their own festivals and Carriacou really comes to life each April with the lively String Band Music Festival. All islands come to life each year to celebrate their Independence Day on 7th February – and in 2014 Grenada celebrates 40 years of independence from British rule.