An Aussie in London
Travel Articles

Spice Up Your Life on Grenada

Spice Up Your Life on Grenada

Grenada, recognized as the "Spice Isle of the Caribbean," is not only one of the most romantic and beautiful, but also one of the safest. Many consider its capital city, St. George's, to be one of the Caribbean's most picturesque ports. You'll find a lot to see and do there, whether you come to stay or stop off on a cruise.

Charming pastel colored Colonial buildings and warehouses, many dating to the 18th century, line the Carenage — a perfect horseshoe shaped harbor that's actually the deep crater of a dead volcano. Brightly colored fishing boats, many constructed in the Grenadines by local shipwrights, pull in and out all day.

On Tuesday afternoons, it's livelier, as shoremen load boats with crates and bags of fruits and vegetables bound for Trinidad. Sendall Tunnel, a traffic and pedestrian passage cut through the high promontory called St. George's Point, which divides the two bodies of water, connects the outer harbor on St. George's Bay, called the Esplanade, to the Carenage. Behind these areas, narrow winding streets climb green mountains dotted with well-kept, brightly painted wooden houses.

While busy every day, St. George's is especially lively on Saturday — market day. Colorfully attired local women selling their even more colorful fruits and vegetables fill the square. The aroma of spices wafts through the air. You can even buy small handmade baskets of fresh spices to take back home.

At the center of the Carenage stands Christ of the Deeps, a statue given to Grenada by the Costa Cruise Line in memory of the hospitality shown the passengers and crew of one of its ships, the Bianca C, which burned in the harbor in 1961.

Once you've checked in to your Grenada hotel or resort, your first stop should be the Grenada Tourist Board office on the Carenage, where you can pick up maps and sightseeing materials. The post office, public library and a handful of small shops and eateries, including Rudolf's and the Nutmeg, two restaurants popular with the locals, are all nearby.

The Carenage is also home to the Grenada National Museum. Here, you can see Josephine Bonaparte's marble bathtub, the island's first telegraph, a rum still, and memorabilia depicting Grenada's history. Set in the foundations of an old French army barracks and prison built in 1705, it also contains archaeological finds.

Perhaps the best shopping on the island is at Grencraft, the national outlet for all handicrafts made on Grenada, located on Melville Street in the Esplanade. Here, you'll find straw baskets, khus-khus mats, rugs, mahogany furniture, and coral and shell jewelry. You'll also find a fine selection of island-grown spices, as well as locally-made jellies, jams and condiments.

A few blocks away are the capital's churches. The pink-walled St. George's Anglican Church, decorated with colorful stained glass windows and frescoes, has stone memorial tablets depicting the island's past. Nearby stands St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, built in 1831and crowned with an imposing square-spired clock tower. Also nearby is the Roman Catholic Cathedral, with its tower dating from 1818. St. George's is also famous for its forts. Fort George, the oldest, built by the French in 1705, and Fort Matthew and Fort Frederick, both started by the French and completed by the British in 1783, have been restored.

Bay Gardens, with its winding paths, is about a 20-minute drive northeast of town and features six dense acres of tropical flora and mostly feathered fauna. You can stroll the grounds on your own, but it's best to go with a guide who will explain the exotic fruits and spices in their natural state.

For a magnificent view of all of St. George's, you can take a hand-rowed water taxi across the harbor from one side of the Carenage to the other, or you can hire a water taxi with motor in St. George's for a trip to Grand Anse Beach, the island's best strip of sand.

If your time is short, you see the sights in about two hours by hiring a taxi from any of the hotels of Grenada. Most taxi drivers also act as guides.