What is Grenada?
Not to be mistaken for the city of Granada in mainland Spain, Grenada is a sovereign state in the Caribbean, made up of the main island of Grenada and the smaller islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, known enchantingly as the Spice Islands.
What is a Sovereign State?
There are numerous Sovereign States within the Caribbean and beyond. Essentially, what this means for Grenada is that it is an independently governed country that is part of the British Commonwealth. There are 10 sovereign states within the Caribbean: among the more famous are The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua and, of course, Grenada. They are self-governing but have Queen Elizabeth II as their monarch. English is the main language of these nations with a myriad of other languages that have evolved over time derived from Spanish, French, Dutch, etc – depending on who historically governed each specific island.
In addition to widely spoken English, cars drive on the left side. The British feel extends to many of the place names around the island. The very English sounding parish names of St David, St Andrew as well as the main urban center on the island, the capital of St George, hark back to Grenada’s colonial roots. The stunning hillside harbor town of St George, named for the British monarch King George III is a dream of Georgian buildings and history overlooking one of the most picturesque horseshoe-shaped harbors in the whole Caribbean.
Where is Grenada?
First of all, where is Grenada? Well, it’s in the Caribbean. It occupies an easily accessed location at the southern end of the Grenadines (a group of 32 islands that includes Mustique, Union Island, St Vincent, and Petit St Vincent). It is located northwest of Trinidad and Tobago. Northeast of Venezuela and southwest of St Vincent.
Where is Grenada located in relation to the USA / Rest of World?
In under 4 hours, you can fly from Miami to Grenada. It’s around 5 hours from NYC.
There are non-stop services from London and Frankfurt a few times each week with many other flight options that can connect via some of the main Caribbean centers like St Lucia or Trinidad. By sea, Grenada is a mere 100 miles from the South American country of Venezuela.
How big is Grenada?
The island of Grenada is 12 miles wide with a length of 21 miles. The smaller island of Carriacou is 30 miles by sea from Grenada with Petite Martinique a mere 2.5 miles from Carriacou. As part of your vacation in Grenada, you can easily make an exciting day trip to visit these smaller, pretty islands.
Geography of Grenada
Like all islands who have formed as a result of volcanic activity aeons ago, the land is extremely fertile. The highest point on Grenada is Mt St Catherine and it is swathed in green and lush lowlands. All this coupled with a warm and temperate climate has created the very best conditions for cultivated farmland. The capital St George flows upwards from the harbor across a hill that is a crater of an extinct volcano.
The geography and climate of Grenada encourage the cultivation of spices. It is one of the biggest exporters of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves and is second only to Indonesia in the production of quality spices. This reputation has earned Grenada and its smaller satellite islands the sobriquet, Spice Islands. In addition, bananas and cocoa beans are one of the major agricultural crops of the island.
What to do in Grenada?
Carnival in Grenada takes place on the second week in August. Calypso music, steel bands, parades – everything colorful and the Caribbean is celebrated in the Carnival Festival that commemorates the emancipation of the slaves.
Other interesting things to do
Belmont Estate is one of those old colonial properties that remind visitors that there is another story to Caribbean life. Historically, this estate-like many of the other old estates across the region were involved in the production of cotton and sugarcane. With this came the use of slave labor. Happily today, Belmont has progressed to a very modern plantation that focuses on banana and cocoa production.
As a day trip, it’s really worth visiting Belmont. First to remember and recognize the past and to then step into the 21 Century. Get involved in some of the activities around cocoa production and enjoy some delicious dishes in the café. The petting farm zoo is always fun for young kids. An all-round good day out for everyone.
If you are an enthusiastic diver or someone keen to learn, Grenada is that underwater playground designed for you. As an island group that was formed thousands of years ago through volcanic activity, there is an entire network of underwater reef systems that have evolved into a magical marine world.
You can enjoy snorkeling from shore or get out on a boat and explore some of the pretty cays and islets. Let Exceptional Villas book you with one of the reputable diving operators who can coach you through a more significant dive.
Why not build a picnic lunch into your diving schedule and explore some of the undiscovered little beaches and coves across Grenada and it’s surrounding little islands.
Caribbean vacations are becoming more popular each year. It has become the perfect destination during those bitingly cold winter months for some really heavenly weather. Grenada is blessed with an incredibly laid-back vibe that creates the very best backdrop to a fun and fabulous vacation. The locals are friendly. They welcome families and are thoughtful and kind to all visitors.
Hospitality is woven into the fabric of life on the island. They are generous with their time and energy, making it a memorable destination. For the discerning traveler who likes the idea of an unspoiled Caribbean getaway, Grenada really ticks a lot of boxes.
Why did the US invade Grenada?
In 1983 during the last gasp of the Cold War, the Government of the US felt concern that the Marxist government of Grenada was forming too close an alliance with the USA’s communist neighbor Cuba. The US cited its intention to protect the 1,000 or so US nationals who were living and working in Grenada as their reason for invading the island. On October 25, 1983, about 2,000 US troops landed in Grenada. They were shortly followed by 4,000 more troops and the pro-Marxist government was overthrown. A new regime, approved by the US, was put in place.
A number of lives on both sides of the conflict were lost. The invasion by the US caused a great deal of debate and controversy with the United Nations condemning the action.
In 1985 the last of the US troops left Grenada and thus this chapter in the history of the island closed.
Where to Stay in Grenada?
The geography of Grenada makes any visit to this characterful island a joy. The mountainous interior offers quite a diverse type of holiday – everything from lush rainforests treks, to hikes, to spectacular waterfalls. You will want to visit the Grand Etang National Park where you can see some of the fascinating wildlife of Grenada and explore the natural beauty of this island gem.
The main body of tourist accommodation seems to be focused on the south-westerly point of the island, very easily accessed from the airport. What is remarkable about Grenada, rather than some other Caribbean destinations, is the absolute absence of high-rise hotels and resorts. There isn’t that feeling of high-density tourism anywhere on the island. Saying that there are lots of fabulous restaurants and bars that keep visitors entertained after hours. With a lot of tourists arriving by yacht into the beautiful Prickly Bay, there’s a fabulous buzz each evening.
The Silversands on Grand Anse beach is one of the most gorgeous places to stay while on Grenada. With every modern luxury, you are a short stroll from the most spectacular of Grenada’s beaches.
The attractive location of Lance au Epines offers incredible views over the coastline of Grenada. The Calabash resort’s Hummingbird villa has an enviable location within this award-winning destination.
For something quite different, the exclusive and private island of Calivigny offers guests that opportunity to step away from it all. A very short transfer from the main Grenada coastline and you will be stepping into your own private world.
The capital city of St George is considered one of the prettiest island capitals within the Caribbean. Grand Georgian buildings that house the Government offices – sit side by side with colorful homes. All of this overlooking the fabulous harbor. There’s a wonderful farmers’ market each Saturday that you will just want to ramble through, sampling delicious morsels of freshly cooked street food.
A short distance from St George is the most famous beach in Grenada – Grand Anse. It curves tantalizingly for almost two miles – white sand, turquoise water, palm trees. It really doesn’t get more Caribbean than this.
Dining, Drinking, and Dancing
Grenada is fun. The overall casual and laidback culture of the island makes it a very easy place to kick back and unwind. The overall scene is made up of restaurants that can be anything as simple as a beach shack with fresh spicy fish tacos, to candlelit restaurants within glitzy resorts. The common theme for all food experiences is fresh ingredients and spice (well, you are on the spice islands) – and don’t forget ‘spice’ doesn’t mean ‘hot’, it means flavor. There’s a big difference! There’s a wealth of fabulous seafood, shellfish, vegetables and fruit all harvested within Grenada. Culinary influences are a mix of South American dishes, Caribbean staples like a jerk, Indian curries … you get to try it all. Of course, the cosmopolitan nature of Grenada is that you will also find traditional US and English style dishes on menus – plenty of pedestrian options for the less adventurous palates.
Rhodes Restaurant at Calabash is considered the ultimate fine dining experience in Grenada. It’s definitely one of those nights where you can really dress up and enjoy a glamorous and romantic evening.
BB’s Crabback on Grand Etang Road is one of those legendary places where you simply have to go. The food is unfussy and delicious with an incredible view.
Any sugarcane producing nation will always have its fair share of rum distilleries. You won’t have one without the other. The River Antoine distillery welcomes visitors and you get to sample some of the rums that have been made here for generations. Rums in all their varieties are a feature of any night out. Delicious cocktails infused with rum and fresh fruit or shots of some ultra-smooth rum blends are found everywhere. For those who prefer something less potent, the West Indies Beer Company pub offers unique ales and beers.
The party atmosphere at the famous Dodgy Dock bar that hangs over the water on Old Mill Road is worth investigating. With live music and a fun crowd, it’s one of those Grenada landmarks.
Again, like the sugarcane … if you are lucky to be in a country that produces quite an amount of cocoa you can be sure to find chocolate on most menus. Whether it’s delicious chocolate, woven into pastries or cakes or thick and creamy hot chocolate at cute cafes, you will be spoiled for choice. Breakfast coffee might give way to a hot chocolate serviced with little pastries. It’s vacation – indulge yourself. With plenty of hiking and swimming each day, you can easily offset these extra few calories!
Time Zones in relation to Grenada?
Grenada’s time zone is only 4 hours behind GMT. For US visitors it means there’s very little disruption to travelers from the East Coast.
What are the Top Three Reasons to Visit Grenada?
- The local scene. It’s a very authentic Caribbean. You get to enjoy all of the comforts of a luxury vacation in one of our villas but with that unspoiled and unhurried Caribbean vibe.
- The quality of the sea. With spectacular beaches for splashing in, to top-rated dive sites to island exploration by boat, the island of Grenada and its tiny comrade islands, occupies one of the loveliest positions in the heavenly Caribbean Sea.
- Exceptional Villas has some of the most beautiful properties with dramatic views. You can kick off your shoes and enjoy the ultimate in luxury without any of the unnecessary pomp or ceremony of some of the more glitzy Caribbean destinations.
About Mairead Moriarty
Born and raised in Co Kerry, lived in London, New York, San Francisco, Dublin. Owner of one very battered suitcase, a well-worn passport and a million memories.
It seems very fitting for a travel writer that my surname translates as ‘Skilled Navigator’. Apart from an occasion when, aged 3, I got lost in a Supermarket in Tralee, I have managed to live up to my name!
Curiosity is probably the driver that has sent me on magical mystery tours around the world. I want to ‘feel’ a place. I want all my senses to be engaged: from the history and geography that has influenced a country or city, the arts and achievements of its natives, anything and everything really.
Regardless of whether I am on a local train travelling through Morocco, or poking around in Marconi’s study in Bologna or on a canal boat weaving through the heart of the English countryside, the same rules apply - ask questions, talk to locals, eat what they eat, sit quietly with nature and simply be.
Assimilate as much as is possible so as to understand the soul of a place. That is my passion. That is the compass by which I navigate.