Grenada holidaysThe sample prices are per person based on two people travelling!
English is the official language of Grenada, although Grenadian Creole English is the most-used tongue and can be tricky for English speakers to understand. British English is spoken widely in the southwestern tourist areas around St George’s.
The Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) is the official currency, although US dollars are widely accepted. However, visitors will get a more favourably exchange rate by changing US dollars for local currency at banks. Currency exchange facilities, banks and ATMs are easily found in the tourist areas, and major credit cards are accepted in top-end restaurants, hotels, car rental agencies and most dive shops.
Nationals of the UK and other EU countries, the US, Canada, other Caribbean countries, Japan, Norway and several other countries may enter Grenada visa-free for up to three months on production of an onward flight ticket and a current passport. Nationals of other countries should check with a Grenadan embassy or consulate for visa regulations.
Grenada has a tropical climate which is typical of the Caribbean, with two seasons, rainy and dry. The humid, hot rainy season runs from June through September, with an average of 22 days a month seeing rain. The dry seasonâ€•which is also the high seasonâ€•runs between mid-December and mid-April, with measurable rain on 12 days every month, and the hurricane season runs from June to November. However, as the Grenada archipelago lies on the edge of the hurricane belt, these destructive storms are a rare occurrence.
From September though February, daytime temperatures sit at around 28°C, with cooler evenings and nights of around 24°C. As the rainy season approaches, temperatures rise by a few degrees and humidity increases considerably, making the average of 30°C seem much hotter. In the island’s interior, high humidity results in daily light rain year-round.
Located on the southwestern tip of Grenada’s main island, some eight kilometres from St George’s, Maurice Bishop International Airport is the main aviation gateway to this tropical paradise. It’s a small facility, serving mainly tourism flights from the US and the UK, and regional flights to other Caribbean destinations.
Visitors from the UK have a choice between full-service carriers British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights and charter flights via low-cost carrier Monarch, all of which fly from London-Gatwick. Air Canada, Sunwing and Canjet offer seasonal flights from Toronto and national flag carrier Caribbean Airlines flies from New York and Toronto. American Airlines flies from Miami and Delta Air Lines offers a New York flight. Regional routes include St Lucia and Antigua with British Airways, Barbados with LIAT and several smaller islands with SVG Air. Average flight time from London is 10 hours.
Travelling outside the main tourist season (mid-December to mid-April) is the best way to save money on flights, although with only one low-cost airline serving the UK, British travellers are advised to book early. Online comparison of flights versus times of year is the best way to bag bargains, and last-minute offers could prove useful. Licensed taxis, buses and self-drive are the ground transportation options here.
Grenada is a major stop on cruise lines covering the Caribbean, many of which operate from Florida, with one cruise starting from Southampton and visiting several other Caribbean island chains. Once on the island, water taxis run between the cruise terminal, Carenage and Grand Anse Beach.
Getting around the Grenada archipelago’s three inhabited islands of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique is easy by cargo boat or catamaran from St George’s harbour. Ground transportation is by taxi, easily arranged car rental or bus, the main and most economical way to go. For those in a hurry, Grenada and Carriacou are linked by air. The interiors of the islands are volcanic and mountainous, with single-track, switchback roads needing care at all times, and the coastal roads are reasonably well-maintained.
SVG Air connects Grenada from Maurice Bishop International Airport to Lauriston Airport in Hillsborough, Carriacou Island’s main town. Affordable morning and late afternoon flights run daily between the islands, giving the option of a daytrip or an overnight stay for visitors based in St George’s.
Grenada Island’s buses are mini-vans that hold between 15 and 20 passengers, and run from a small bus terminal in St George’s Melville Street to designated urban bus stops and around the island’s rural coastline. Outside town, buses stop anywhere a passenger want to alight or get on. Bus journeys here are a lively experience featuring a fresh breeze, Caribbean music and friendly locals. Generally, mini-bus travel is comfortable and inexpensive. Carriacou also has a mini-bus service which runs between 09:00 and 17:00 daily.
Renting a car here is straightforward, with several international car rental agencies established at the airport and local car rental agencies in St George’s. Renting is comparatively expensive, less so if a group is sharing the cost, but is the most convenient way to see the unspoilt mountainous interiors of the islands as well as to search out isolated beaches. Grenada drives on the left. US, Canadian and British driving licences are accepted but the mandatory local permit costs EC$30.
The capital city of Grenada Island, St George’s, is the West Indies’ most charming harbour town, with its inner harbour the caldera of an ancient volcano. Once a British colony and now a Crown Dependency, the town’s steep, narrow streets hold Georgian buildings, pretty homes with wrought iron balconies and 18th century warehouses. Bougainvillea bloom everywhere and brilliantly coloured flowering trees add to the charm of the streetscapes.
Ancient Fort George with its cells and guardrooms lies at the end of Church Street, protecting the bay, and the town’s 18th century Anglican church sits at the Market Square end of the street. The Carenage, the promenade around the inner port, is great for an evening stroll and the Grenada National Museum tells of the islands’ slave-owning colonial history and the native culture it sparked. Fort Frederic sits on a headland, with a spectacular views of both harbours.
The islands are heaven for ecotourists, with unspoilt interiors of great natural beauty, and are known as the Spice Islands for their nutmeg, mace, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. To the west of St George’s, the spice plantations and fishing villages lead to Gouyave town, the heart of the spice industry.
Levera National Park is a haven for hikers, as are Grand Etang National Park and its Forest Preserve. Grenville is the second largest town, with a vibrant street market, and the River Antoine Rum Distillery is the oldest in the world.
Hillsborough is the capital of Carriacou, a ferry trip or short hop by plane from St George’s. It’s as beautiful as Grenada, but far less touristy, and island life goes on as it has for centuries in the town and villages. Belair National Park has ruins of plantation buildings and several well-preserved windmills as well as hiking trails and a variety of bird and wildlife, including iguanas and turtles. Snorkelling and diving spots here are magnificent.
Grenada boasts a surprising number of manmade and natural landmarks, both in its towns and volcanic hinterlands. Visitors based in St George’s are well-placed to tour the island or take a boat or plane daytrip to nearby Carriacou. One of Grenada’s most famous attractions is Grenada’s main beach, Grand Anse Beach, three kilometres of pearl-white sand edged by azure waters. Protected from currents and strong winds, Grande Anse is a regular in the world’s top 10 beaches list.
The Belmont Estate is just an hour’s spectacular drive from the capital and is a totally authentic 17th century plantation, still fully functioning in the traditional manner. Its organic cocoa beans are the ingredient for the world’s most delicious dark chocolate. Grenada’s rugged interior is a land of rushing rivers and waterfalls, with Mount Carmel Waterfall the tallest and the Seven Sisters Waterfalls set on the edge of the Grand Etang Nature reserve. Honeymoon Waterfall, set in the dense rainforest, is close by.
The high cliffs of Carib’s Leap hold a tragic story from the island’s past, as they’re where the last remaining Carib Indians leapt to their deaths to avoid enslavement by the French colonial conquerors. The village of Harvey Vale is known for its ancient Amerindian Well containing health-giving mineral waters, believed to have been used in traditional Carib healing rituals. For more about the troubled history of the islands in colonial times, the museums in St George’s and Hillsborough make for an interesting visit.
Evening entertainment in Grenada is divided into events and watering holes in the resort hotels and local bars which feature the islands’ iconic musical and dance traditions of calypso, reggae, folk dancing, steel bands and limbo dancing. Both styles of venue present similar shows, with the difference in the environment, the audience and of course, the prices.
Grenada’s favourite nightspot is Fantazia 2001 on Mourne Rouge Beach, with its air-conditioning, fabulous light shows and state-of-the-art sound equipment operated by hot DJs. Live shows take place on weekends and the scene gets livelier as late evening becomes early morning.
For late-late night owls, Club Banana’s lively Friday and Saturday night disco stays open until 04:00 and is a popular choice for its diverse music styles. For sports fans who can’t bear to miss a match, the Owl Sports Pub and the Beachside Terrace both have wide-screen TVs showing football and cricket in conjunction with two happy hours, one in the early evening and the other between 11:00 and midnight.
Culture vultures should head for the Marryshow Folk Theatre for its Grenadian, European and American drama and folk music and iconic West Indian interpretive folk dance performances.
Open-air beach bars are a favourite for night-time fun on the island, with a good choice along the resort beaches offering live music and the occasional impromptu party. Pubs cater for all tastes, from conversation over a beer and a plate of pub grub Grenada-style to more boisterous evenings.
Carriacou Island is the perfect place for those wanting to get away from noisy dance clubs, casinos and suchlike, with its romantic beach bars peopled with like-minded souls happy to sunset-watch while sipping a rum cocktail and listening to local music. Occasional performances by West Indian musicians are a highlight.
Inspired over the centuries by a rich mix of traditional recipes, French and British colonial cuisine, and the gastronomy of other Caribbean islands, the indigenous dishes here are lively, spicy and prepared with the freshest of local produce.
Whether you’re dining in a resort hotel’s elegant eatery or in a bistro or beach bar, outdoor café or roadside barbecue, a taste thrill awaits. In St George’s and the resort hotels, there’s a good choice of international as well as local cuisine, and many of the bars serve delicious local snacks.
A don’t-miss foodie experience is the fishing town of Gouyave’s Fish Friday, an outdoor event featuring a huge traditional market full of stalls selling Grenadian seafood and fresh fish dishes. Side orders include breadfruit chips, local rum and beer, and traditional music tops the event.
The national dish, found on most menus, is the unattractively-named oildown, a rich and tasty combination of salted pigs’ tails, breadfruit, dasheen, onions, carrots, celery, bananas, green figs and peppers stewed in coconut milk. Served with dumplings, it often features chicken, mackerel or crab.
Roast pork Grenadian style is another treat, with the meat rubbed with a mix of shallots, bay leaves, allspice, ginger, slat and pepper, and served with an orange juice, brown sugar, ginger, allspice and bay leaf sauce along with a salad of sweet corn kernels and black beans.
A true taste of Grenada is nutmeg ice cream, cooling on steamy, hot days and available from street vendors as well as in eateries. Jerk chicken wings make great snacks, and sweet potatoes are a staple food on the islands. A favourite dessert is sweet potato pudding, made with coconut milk, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon, and oven-baked for an hour.
Grenada’s beaches are some of the loveliest in the Caribbean, with the star attraction, Grande Anse Beach, fronting the charming capital of St George’s.
Close by is less-crowded and equally beautiful Morne Rouge Bay, while a choice of more secluded spots are found on the less-touristy north shores of the island. The beaches to the north have black, volcanic sands, with Levera Beach offering great views of the Grenadine Islands and Bathway Beach boasting a natural fresh-water lagoon. After a visit to the Concord Waterfalls, an afternoon relaxing on secluded Black Bay Beach is perfect.
Grenada is one of the world’s most romantic settings for a wedding, with a choice between scenic beauty and unusual sites for your ceremony. Options include beaches, ancient forts and glorious waterfalls, and couples only need to stay on the islands for three days to be able to get married here. Carriacou Island is far less crowded than the main island, with remote beachside hideaways surrounded by forests the ideal places for a honeymoon, and sunset-watching from a hired yacht or a tiny beachside café makes for lifetime memories.
The laid-back ambience of these child-friendly islands is perfect for a family holiday. Sandy beaches, shallow waters and seaside activities in the resort areas are among the appeals. All-inclusive resorts offer great family deals, including family suites, kids’ clubs, children’s swimming pools, organised activities and supervised play areas, giving parents time to relax. For older children, the waters are safe for snorkelling and scuba diving, and the island’s beautiful interior is great for family treks.
Watery adventures are the highlight on Grenada, from river tubing in the interior along the Balthazar River’s spectacular course to a boat trip to the swirling seas topping the active underwater volcano of Kick ’em Jenny, just eight kilometres offshore from St George’s. The coral reefs here surround the island, giving some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving in the Caribbean, especially in Moliniere Bay where the reefs are just three metres from the surface and hold underwater canyons. Dive sites include wrecks and reef walls, and underwater visibility is up to 35m.