Grenada is an appealing destination for Caribbean cruise passengers. Once best known as the site of a U.S. troop intervention under President Reagan, this lush island paradise is laden with white sand beaches, mountainous rainforests, and spice plantations.
Known as the “Isle of Spice,” Grenada produces crops including nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, bananas, coconut, and cacao for cocoa production. Hurricane Ivan devastated Grenada in 2004, destroying 85% of the island’s nutmeg trees and 90% of the buildings on the island. While the island’s nutmeg production is still recovering, the buildings and businesses are back and, in many cases, better than ever.
Cruise passengers will be amazed by all there is to do on Grenada. Here are 5 of my favorites:
1. Get Out on the Water
Grenada is an excellent spot for water sports. Trips to Moliniere Point’s underwater sculpture park are popular with snorkelers, divers, and those wishing to see the site via glass bottomed boat. Created by Jason de Caires Taylor, Moliniere Point contains 65 striking sculptures and acts as an artificial reef. Wreck diving is also excellent in Grenada’s waters. The Bianca C, a 600-foot Italian cruise ship dubbed the “Titanic of the Caribbean,” is a good choice for experienced wreck divers. Dive operators can be found along Grand Anse Beach, offering snorkeling and dive trips, gear rentals, as well as kayaking, parasailing, windsurfing, and other water sports. Catamaran sails to Morne Rouge Beach are another fun way to spend the day. Half-day boat charters provide excellent game fishing for marlin, sailfish, tuna and more.
2. Feed Your Sweet Tooth
Grenada’s cacao is some of the best on the planet. One of the Caribbean’s finest agricultural tours can be found at Belmont Estate, about an hour’s drive from St. George’s. At this authentic 17th century plantation, guests can see raw cacao pods brought in for cocoa production, tour the cocoa processing facilities, visit the gardens and heritage museum, and enjoy lunch featuring traditional Grenadian cuisine. Cocoa from Belmont Estate is used in The Grenada Chocolate Company’s organic dark chocolate bars with cocoa levels up to 82 percent. The property also houses the Grenada Arts and Craft Co-operative, a produce stall, a gift shop, a goat dairy farm, and an animal petting farm.
3. Relax at a Resort
Spend your day enjoying all that Grenada’s best resorts have to offer. Adults and teens ages 16 and older will have a fabulous time at LaSource, an extraordinary all-inclusive resort located on secluded Pink Gin Beach. This property features exceptional dining, a wide variety of activities and fitness classes, and an excellent spa. Day passes ($115 US per person) are valid from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and include food, drinks, activities, classes, water sports and towels. Spa treatments are extra, subject to availability, and must be booked in advance through the resort. Those with younger children or who wish to enjoy the excitement of Grand Anse Beach should head to Mount Cinnamon Resort, a picturesque property with a pool, beach cabana, and lush gardens located along the sands of Grand Anse Beach. Day passes are $80 US per adult and $40 US for children under 16. Passes include transfers from the cruise terminal, lunch, all drinks by the glass except premium brands, the use of the pool and beach cabana, and non-motorized water sports. Day passes should be booked in advance through the resort.
4. Hike Grand Etang National Park
Grenada’s green, mountainous interior is definitely worth exploring. Grand Etang National Park has many excellent hiking trails that pass picture-perfect waterfalls and Grand Etang Lake. Trails can often be muddy, so come prepared with appropriate footwear, bottled water, and a swim suit in case you’d like to take a dip in the pools at Seven Sisters Falls. In addition, some lucky cruise passengers are fortunate enough to encounter a Mona monkey or two hanging out at the entrance to the park, particularly in the morning.
5. Learn About Grenada’s Spices
Grenada’s bustling capital of St. George’s was built by the French in 1650 and went on to become the capital of the British Windward Islands in the late 1800’s. Visitors to the historic city’s Market Square will find vendors selling many of the island’s spices. Those who wish to learn more can visit Dougaldston Spice Estate to see how many of Grenada’s spices and agricultural products (cacao, nutmeg, bay leaves, mace, allspice, cloves, ginger, pimento and more) are grown and processed. Plastic bags with fresh spices are available for sale here. The Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station, one of the largest nutmeg and mace processors on the island, also is available for touring.
Nancy Schretter is the Managing Editor of the Family Travel Network.