The aromas of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla waft through the soft breezes of tranquil Grenada, known as the spice island of the world for its wealth of luxuriant spice plantations. Its mountainous and volcanic landscapes give this island one of the most stunning natural environments in the Caribbean, with jungles, crater lakes and coastal mangrove forests giving way to dazzling beaches with the purest of powdery sand. Yet the real secret of this enchanted isle is that it is largely untouched by tourism, ensuring not only an unspoilt environment, but the freedom to enjoy its beauty away from the crowds.
What makes Grenada even more of an undiscovered paradise is that, unknown to many people, it actually consists of three islands. Besides the main island of Grenada, there are the two small islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinique, which are even less touristy than the main island, with no big resorts or souvenir shops. Both islands enjoy a gentle, laid-back way of life, and offer endless beautiful places you can have completely to yourself.
Featured Grenada Hotels
What tourism there is on Grenada's main island is mainly concentrated on the south-west corner, where you find its enchanting little capital, St George's, widely held to be the prettiest town in the Caribbean -- visitors have described wandering through its narrow streets as being like walking through an oil painting. Tumbling down its landlocked harbour, which is actually the crater of a long-extinct volcano, its steep streets are lined with colourful houses with red-tile roofs and wrought-iron balconies, while flamboyant trees and bougainvillea add to the riot of colour. You can stroll along the waterfront of the Carenage on the inner harbour, watching the brightly-coloured fishing boats, relax in one of the many cafes or restaurants, or explore the 300-year-old Fort George at the mouth of the harbour, with its old cells and underground passageways.
Serene and Untouched Beaches
Thanks to its mountainous interior, Grenada has a jagged coastline, with endless small bays and inlets providing a wealth of secluded and private beaches, that feel as if they have been untouched for ever. Most of the best-known beaches are along the south-western coast, some of the most serene and peaceful including Lance Aux Epines, Calabash and Horseshoe, and the paradise beach of Morne Rouge Bay. The south-west coast is also the location of Grenada's most famous beach, the two-mile long Grand Anse, a stretch of creamy-white sand overlooking a sheltered azure bay full of brightly-hued fishing boats.
A very special beach area on the south-west coast is La Sagesse, part of a former plantation along a private estuary, now the La Sagesse Nature Centre. Its salt ponds and mangroves provide some of the best bird-watching on the island, being home to unique species like the green-back heron and the northern Jacuna. There are also some delightful hiking trails, and its three beaches are wonderfully secluded.
Forests and Falls
Inland from St George's, the volcanic mountains of the central range rise to over 2,000 feet and surround a number of ancient crater basins, one of which contains a huge crater lake, Grand Etang, bordered by some of Grenada's most stunning rainforest. Near the lake is the visitor centre for the Grand Etang National Park and Forest Reserve, a starting point for exploring the island's indigenous wildlife and forests, with an abundance of fascinating flora and fauna. There are plenty of marked trails, ranging from half-hour walks to expeditions of several hours.
Close to Grand Etang is one of the island's most spectacular waterfalls, Annandale Falls, and there is also a scenic trail to the higher Seven Sisters Falls, just over a mile away. The highest of all, Mount Carmel Falls, is two falls in one, cascading over 70 feet to clear pools below. Many of the island's rainforest pools and lakes are formed by waterfalls, like the Concord Falls, reached by a walk through flower-filled forest from Etang, and these pools are perfect for a refreshing swim.
Spice Tours in the Spice Island
No visitor to Grenada should miss out on a spice tour to the idyllic Belmont Estate, just an hour's scenic drive from St George's. At this 300-year-old plantation you can see ginger, pimento, turmeric and nutmeg being processed, and wander through the fragrant gardens. You can also have a 4 or 5-hour Spice Plantation tour to the quaint fishing village of Gouyave, with its spice factory and nutmeg processing station, and the Belvedere Plantation in the mountains.
Grenada is truly hard to beat for a Caribbean holiday. With its untouched beauty, it provides a calm, peaceful and healing experience for its visitors which few other islands can match. When you come here you are not a tourist -- you are welcomed as a friend, and you feel that all the pleasures are laid on especially for you.