Few beaches in the Caribbean paint a more complete picture of the region than Grenada’s Grand Anse.
Stroll down this two-mile-long stretch of white sand and, alongside tanning tourists from the adjoining hotels, you’ll find find fishermen hauling in the day’s catch, local boys playing soccer, vendors selling herbal tonics and spiced rum concoctions, and American students from the nearby St. George’s University medical school, all blended together in a seamless tapestry.
Grenada insists its beaches all remain open to the public, even those flanked by resorts — one reason why the social gulf between tourists and residents that’s so palpable on other Caribbean islands is little felt here.
Tearing yourself away from Grand Anse, with its crystal-blue waters, or any of the other 45 beaches on Grenada — an island country in the southeastern Caribbean Sea — can be a challenge. But exploring the back roads of this compact yet mountainous island is more rewarding than idling away on its shores. And, at just 21 miles long and 12 miles wide, virtually everything in Grenada is reachable within an hour.
With its horseshoe-shaped harbor, Grenada’s capital, St. George’s, is among the most picturesque Caribbean towns. Climb Richmond Hill to Fort Frederick, one of the best-preserved relics of the island’s colonial past, and take in the sweeping views, then walk along the Carenage, the waterfront promenade. Stop for lunch at BB’s Crabback (bbscrabbackrestaurant.com) and try the namesake dish, a crab shell stuffed with a tasty souffle made from the meat of 10 crabs. Or order Baracuda la Port — pan-fried barracuda fish wrapped in bacon, with a crab and lobster sauce.
Grenada is known as the Spice Island for its abundance of cinnamon, saffron, cloves, pimento and, above all, nutmeg. Grenadians have endless uses for their chief export, from ice cream to Nut-Med, a cream used for arthritis and joint pain.
Sample nutmeg and cocoa right off the tree at Belmont Estate (belmontestate.net), a working 17th century plantation with a great farm-to-table restaurant. And tour the Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station (about $1 at current exchange rates), where the crème de la crème of Grenada’s “black gold” is prepped for shipment. The seaside town of Gouyave also hosts a lively Friday-night fish fry, with vendors selling their catch right off the boat.
Just up the road from Belmont Estate is River Antoine Rum Distillery, said to be the oldest facility of its kind in the Caribbean.
In a process unchanged since the 18th century, a wooden water wheel is used to power the extraction of sugar cane juices, which are left to ferment naturally for over a week. Sip with caution: at nearly 90% ABV, the signature rum, Rivers Royale Grenadian, is for seasoned drinkers only.
Grenada boasts some rugged terrain for an island of its size, which means plenty of waterfalls and good hiking.
Head to the Grand Etang National Park, and set out through the rainforest to Seven Sisters Waterfall or Mount Qua Qua — you’re all but guaranteed an encounter with the Mona monkeys that reside in the area. For more strenuous hiking, scale Mount St. Catherine, the island’s tallest peak at 2,760 feet. Tour guides are generally recommended.
Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park (grenadaunderwatersculpture.com) has been Grenada’s most discussed attraction since debuting in 2006.
A modern art gallery and conservation project located 30 feet underwater, it’s comprised of 110 statues created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, strategically positioned to enhance the recovery of damaged coral reef. Grenada Seafaris (grenadaseafaris.com) offers half-day speedboat tours to the sculpture park, with a mixture of snorkeling and sightseeing, for $75 for adults and $38 for children.