By Hillary Latos
From the moment you step off the plane you are greeted by the warm wafts of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in the air and you know you are on the idyllic island of Grenada. Known as the Isle of Spice because there are more spices per square mile here than any other place in the world, it was first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1498 and has been under rule by the French and British until it became independent in 1974, and still its rich colonial history has remained and influenced the culture and cuisine without the onset of overdevelopment. Unlike some of the developed neighboring islands, there are no hotels higher than a palm tree and the island is free of any large hotel chains or fast food franchises, where life here is about the same as it has been for years.
There are plenty of activities for the whole family to indulge in. For nature lovers, the Grand Etang National Park is situated in a rainforest with a multitude of waterfalls and white water rafting some of which are accessible by car and others can be accessed by experienced hikers. The highlight is the Grand Etang Lake in the center and also Lake Antoine which was formed in the crater of an extinct volcano. For naturalists, make sure to visit Laura’s herb & spice gardens located in St. David’s which grows every herb that can be found on the island.
For historians, step back in time to the 1800s at the River Antoine distillery, the oldest functioning water propelled distillery in the Caribbean that still makes rum in the same fashion as they did over 200 years ago. One of the best things about Grenada is the forty secluded white sand beaches throughout the island that are all open to the public. Grand Anse has the widest and most calm stretch of beach and is home to some of the top hotels in the island.
For luxury at its finest, the five-star Spice Island Beach Resort on Grand Anse Beach cannot be surpassed. Ideal for families, weddings or honeymooners, choose from luxuriously appointed secluded villas with a private full sized pool or a suite on the beach where an ensuite outdoor veranda and hammock on the beach await. Children from 3-12 can spend the day in the Nutmeg Pod activity room for free while adults can indulge in the many outdoor activities and rejuvenation center at Janissa’s Spa. The fully inclusive package offers golf green fees, tennis and watersports as well as all meals including complimentary room service, bar and mini bar.
A different experience awaits at the Mount Cinnamon Hotel. Enjoy spectacular views from the hillside setting of these homey and contemporary duplex villas complete with living rooms and kitchens that are decorated in different color palettes that represent the Caribbean and feature local artwork from West Indies artists. To enjoy watersports, there is a private beach club available to guests and a beautiful pool. The best thing is that if you fall in love with your villa, every villa is available to purchase.
For sybarites looking for rejuvenation and wellness, La Source could be considered paradise. Similar to a Club Med format, the all inclusive package at this beach resort includes daily spa treatments, group fitness activities, water sports, a golf course, and a variety of restaurants to choose from- a spa menu to a gastronomic buffet set against a lush tropical setting on Pink Gin Beach.
Grenada’s cuisine is like a melting pot of the different cultures that have at some point ruled this tiny country with a heavy influence in seafood and stews that layer different spices. To learn more about cooking with the local flavors, Maca Bana offers private cooking classes in their hillside villas with fully equipped gourmet kitchens. The Grenadian chefs from the renowned Aquarium restaurant are always on hand to share their well kept secrets for house specialties like Callaloo crepes.
On Fridays, “lime” (a popular Grenadian term that refers to hanging out or lounging) with the locals in Gouyave for Fish Fridays when you can choose the catch of the day from the local fisherman and have it cooked in front of you. Linger a bit for some local beer or rum cocktails and jive to the live music in Grenada’s “city that doesn’t sleep” where the festivities last until the wee hours of the morning.
How To Get There
From JFK American Airlines offers daily flights to Grenada through Miami International Airport and Caribbean Airlines offers direct flights from JFK twice a week.