Why Go To Grenada
If Old Man Winter has you dreaming of heating things up, consider a trip to the Spice Island. Grenada, a tiny island in the Caribbean known for its aromatic spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, is sure to warm you up with its steady temps in the 80s. And since December sits just between the rainy season and high tourism season, it’s the perfect time to catch some rays without the crowds or cost of the months to come. Spend your days lounging on Grand Anse Beach or sampling the island’s rich flavors at local markets or the House of Chocolate.
It isn’t the cost of the airfare or the caliber of the hotel that you’ll remember most about your trip to Grenada. It’s the kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, and greens that characterize St. George’s harbor (arguably the most beautiful in the Caribbean) and how they’re reflected in the cerulean water. It’s the sound of the waves lapping against Grand Anse’s soft sands that echoes in your ears long after the sun goes down. It’s the aroma of nutmeg and vanilla that wafts through Market Square and throughout the islands’ spice plantations. It’s the warm sensation you feel in your stomach and on your tongue after sampling the River Antoine Distillery’s 150-proof rum. Grenada isn’t just meant to be seen; it’s meant to be savored.
Americans have long overlooked Grenada (pronounced gre-NAY-da), opting for showier, resort-laden islands. But Yanks, take a hint from the Brits who have spent many a winter here: Grenada is worth visiting. Sure, this part of the Windward Islands doesn’t feature the sprawling all-inclusives or glitzy nightclubs of St. Lucia or Barbados; in fact, you may even be hard-pressed to find a fellow American here. But that’s the key to Grenada’s charm.
Best Months to Visit
The best time to visit Grenada is December. This single month is sandwiched between the departure of the rainy season and the arrival of the winter crowds, making this the best time of year to score both sunshine and sales. Like the rest of the Caribbean, Grenada experiences a surge in tourism from January through April, when the weather in the U.S. and the U.K. is at its gloomiest. You can expect both airfare and room rates to rise during this peak season. Summer and fall usher in regular rainfall and the constant threat of hurricanes, but if you’re willing to risk a bout of bad weather, you’ll find hotel rates discounted up to 40 percent.
Culture & Customs
Grenada – once governed by France and Britain – today stands as an independent Commonwealth of the U.K. and is known for its laid-back attitude. Despite past diplomatic conflicts (President Ronald Reagan invaded the islands in 1983 to quell a Marxist coup), Americans will feel more than welcome here. English is the official language and is commonly used by public officials and members of the tourism industry. Some locals speak Creole English, a mixture of several African dialects, English and French.
Grenada’s fusion of French, British, African and Caribbean cultures is due in part to its history of slavery. In the late 18th century, Britain began importing enslaved Africans to harvest crops across the island’s plantations, including the Belmont Estate. Between 1795 and 1796, a plantation owner named Julien Fedon – the son of a freed Black slave and a French jeweler – formed a revolution, during which half of Grenada’s 28,000 slaves openly fought for their freedom. Slavery in Grenada ended in 1834, though it took a few years for all slaves to be freed.
Visitors should feel relatively safe when exploring Grenada, although crimes against tourists – most notably robberies – do happen. To be safe, store your valuables in a secure place at the hotel and take taxis to avoid walking alone at night. If you’re planning to rent a car, keep your wits about you on the road; there is a lot of pedestrian traffic, and car accidents are common.
The official currency in Grenada is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD), which is equal to roughly 40 cents in U.S. dollars (USD). However, U.S. dollars are widely accepted; just don’t forget to check the currency being quoted before handing over your cash.
Getting Around Grenada
The best way to get around Grenada is by car. Unless you’re planning to spend all of your time in Grand Anse Beach or St. George’s, you’ll need your own set of wheels. Public minibuses do provide transportation around the main island, but service is fairly limited. You can rent a car at Maurice Bishop International Airport (GND)—formerly Point Salines International Airport—on the southwestern tip of Grenada Island or at one of the agencies located in St. George’s and around Grand Anse Beach. Taxis are also plentiful, but frequent use can leave a sizeable dent in your wallet.
Certain areas of Grenada are best explored on foot; St. George’s, for example, appeals to those who like to wander. However, if you want to see more of the islands, you will need another form of transportation.
Having your own set of wheels allows you to wander the main island at your own pace without a hired driver holding your purse strings. But you’ll need nerves of steel to tackle Grenada’s roads: Islanders are known for their risky blind turns, while pedestrians have a habit of crossing without looking both ways. Rental cars are available from kiosks at Maurice Bishop International Airport (GND) and from agencies located in St. George’s and Grand Anse Beach. In order to rent a car, you will need a valid driver’s license as well as a local permit, which you can purchase for $30 XCD (roughly $11 USD) from the Central Police Station in St. George’s or from some rental agencies. Also be aware that some companies will not allow you to rent a car in Grenada if you’re under 21 years old.
If you’re not open to renting a car, you should do just fine by hopping aboard one of Grenada’s reliable minibuses, as long as you don’t mind staying put on the weekends. Minibuses run from Melville Street in St. George’s to towns around Grenada Island, including Grand Anse Beach, Grenville, and Gouyave. However, minibuses only run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and there is no set timetable. One-way fares range from $2.50 XCD to $8 XCD (roughly $1 to $3 USD) depending on the distance traveled.
Finding a taxi in Grenada is not a difficult task, especially in St. George’s and Grand Anse. Rates are fixed, so you don’t have to worry about getting scammed. The ride from St. George’s to Grand Anse Beach, for example, will cost you $35 XCD (about $13 USD). Taxi fares on Carriacou are generally cheaper, though no matter where you are, relying on taxis as your primary form of transportation can get expensive.
For a more scenic ride between St. George’s and Grand Anse Beach, opt for a water taxi. These brightly colored boats shuttle passengers along Grenada Island’s southwest coast for around $10 XCD (approximately $4 USD) each way.
Osprey Lines Ltd. provides regular ferry service from Grenada Island to Carriacou and Petit Martinique. Ferries depart from St. George’s every morning at 9 a.m. and return every afternoon at 3:30 p.m. The trip from Grenada Island takes roughly two hours. A one-way trip from Grenada to Carriacou costs $80 XCD (around $30 USD) for adults; continuing on to Petit Martinique requires an extra $20 XCD (just over $7 USD).
You can also access Carriacou by plane from Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport (GND) to Carriacou’s Lauriston Airport (CRU). Planes fly out twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon, with tickets priced at $119 XCD ($44 USD) one-way and $235 XCD ($87 USD) roundtrip, on average. The flight takes approximately 20 minutes.
Entry & Exit Requirements
American citizens will need a valid passport to enter Grenada. A visa is not required for stays up to 90 days. For more information, visit the U.S. State Department website.
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