When William Cowper wrote, “[v]ariety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour,” he described his surroundings and reflections on life in 18th century England.
Although hundreds of years have passed since written, Cowper’s words came to mind reflecting on a recent visit to the Caribbean island of Grenada. Grenada is known as “The Spice Island” for the abundance of spices, which are grown, but it is not just the spice, which brings this phrase to mind. Grenada offers a variety of natural, historical, and cultural attractions for visitors to savor.
Located at the southern end of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean island chain, the country of Grenada is actually three islands, Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique. The island of Grenada is the largest of the three at 135 square miles. Its highest point is Mount St. Catherine, peaking at 2,670 feet above sea level, but spectacular views can be found at many vantage points around the island.
The capital city of Grenada is St. George’s, known for its welcoming port and colorful buildings. Frequented by cruise travelers, the port area offers shops with spices, chocolate, and local crafts.
Grenada offers 45 beaches, from the calm of Grand Anse Beach to the challenging surf of Prickly Bay. Grand Anse Beach is the jewel of the island, often rated as one of the best beaches in the world.
Waterfalls dot the hilly terrain, where you can take a dip in the cool clear water. Reaching the most remote waterfalls requires a hike through the rainforest, but many waterfalls are accessible with just a short walk from the roadway.
The island is home to the Mona monkey, which came to the island in the 18th century from west Africa. The monkeys love to dine on fruit, which is abundant on the island. These wild monkeys are accustomed to travelers offering treats. Come prepared with a few of the small, sweet bananas offered at many roadside stands. Be sure to save a few bananas for yourself, as they are more flavorful than any you have ever tasted.
A trip to the islands is not complete without a taste of the local rum. River Antoine Rum Distillery has been in operation since 1785, and is the oldest functioning water-powered distillery in the Caribbean. The watermill crushes the sugar cane to begin the process of making the rum, a great souvenir for friends and family back home.
After a stop at River Antoine Rum Distillery, stop at nearby Lake Antoine. Lake Antoine is a crater lake, formed in the crater of an extinct volcano. The lake was formed 12,000 to 15,000 years ago during the final stage of volcanic activity on Grenada. The lake is 20 feet above sea level and now occupies an area of 16 acres.
Grenada’s lush landscape is filled with fruit trees and flowers. A visit to “The Spice Island” would not be complete without visiting local farms for their abundance of nutmeg, mace, cacao, sorrel, and much more. Chocolate lovers will enjoy a visit to Belmont Estate, a 17th century plantation. The plantation features a cocoa-processing factory, allowing visitors to learn and taste the variety of chocolate products offered.
For those who prefer their recreation below water, the island offers the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Garden, where you can snorkel or dive among 75 sculptures designed by British sculptor, Jason deCaires Taylor. The Molinere Underwater Sculpture Garden was the first of its kind when construction commenced in 2006. Many of the sculptures are easily visible from the water’s surface.
The island offers a variety of attraction and activities, sure to suit the tastes of even the most particular traveler.