Grenada (pronounced Gre-nay-da) is a tiny country in the chain of Caribbean Islands. Because of its small size it tends to stay under the radar.Grenadian cricketers just about make it to the West Indies team and its airport manages a handful of weekly international connections to major cities. Its best hotels are not international chains, but family owned affairs. Like its National Bird, the Grenada dove, the island is steeped in gentleness.
The island with its white sand beaches and lush, hilly interior is a safe haven for travellers.The English speaking locals, about 1,05,000 of them, tend to be educated, friendly and hardworking. They need never fear famine.With the Atlantic in the east and the Caribbean Sea in the west, fishnets are heavy with catch. Plentiful rain and rich volcanic soil spew plants in profusion. The giddy variety could set a Botanist stammering with excitement.
Nutmeg is Grenada’s cash crop. The seeds are covered in mace, another precious spice. These, along with coco are exported to Europe and America.Grenada’s flag has a nutmeg on it, asserting its identity as a spice island. In this piece of paradise, where the locals would rather stay on their island than migrate to America, there lurks a dark cloud; one that accompanies a thousand others along with whipping winds and lashing rain.It is the dreaded hurricane.
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan destroyed most homes and crops. “We were fortunate the world economy was strong then and other nations helped us rebuild,” said Wendy, owner of La Luna, a charming boutique hotel. The newly spruced-up island looks better than before. The trees have made a comeback, and hopefully, with stronger construction, Grenadians will be able to stare the next storm in the eye.
We drove through St George, the pretty capital ensconced in a horse-shoe harbour. The drive to Grand Etang National park in the heart of the isle was hilly and green. We stopped to walk through orchards, swam next to waterfalls and heard the lore around a crater lake. Past the lively town of Grenville on the east coast we stopped at the Belmont Estate to see how coco is processed from pods. The nearby Grenada Chocolate factory does the rest.
A Caribbean feast was the highlight at the plantation. Coastal drives took us past local “wedding cake” homes painted in pastels. External staircases and statues of lions at the entrance are popular. The beautiful south west, with its calm waters and wide beaches is where all the luxury hotels have carved out their stake. Grenada is nor overbuilt or over-run by tourists. Here, people inhabit their porches in the evening, exchanging news and fruits with neighbours. It’s the Caribbean held back in time.
How to get there- Fly from London, NY or connect via Barbados
Best time to go- Dec through April, although the weather in July is go.
Where to stay- Boutique- La Luna in Morne Rouge is a delightful hideaway for couples. www.laluna.com
Top end- Spice Island Beach Resort has rooms off one of the world’s top 10 beaches.
Affordable style- Grenada Home stays www.homestaysgranada.com
Grenadian delights- a riot of seasonal fruits. The Grenada Chocolate company’s products are good, too.
Driver guide- Cat-eye, a knowledgeable, distinctive local who only wears yellow. Mobile 1 473 414 6742
Explore- Belmont Estate- learn about coco production and have a sumptuous Caribbean lunch. Rainforest Trip- Meander through lush tropical forests up to Grand Etang National Park.
Snorkeling and diving- Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park.