Like a rare moment lost in space, the atmosphere is hushed. Stand still and the sound of the crashing waves hitting the shoreline is the only thing that one can first hear. Lost in the solitude of enveloping calm, an awakening breeze gently floats by, leaving in its trail a long symphonic mating call brought on by the island’s own angle-wing katydid. Nearby, as leaves rustle in the undergrowth, precariously perched high on the swaying palm tree an owl hoots in intermittent intervals. In a move only orchestrated by nature and intricately woven by the winds, cirrus clouds divide in scattered directions, revealing the heavenly lit bright starry sky. A shooting star skirts across the galaxy floor, disturbed by the incessant buzzing of a greedy mosquito, intent on breaking the wishful embrace of lovers nearby.
Darkness ebbs away in the throes of dawn breaking through a torrential downpour of rain. Piercing through the sky, sun rays gently warm up the atmosphere slowly prising petals and leaves apart. A wing flutters, followed by the cock crowing and as the dewy earthy fragrance tinged with hints of spices wafts through the curtains signalling another start to island life, in a spell-bounded moment one is reminded that they have just awakened to the euphonious sounds of Grenada, the Spice Isle of the Caribbean.
Situated on the southerly tip of the Windward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean Sea, a 100 miles of north Venezuela, she is home to the lady in a boat with a red petticoat. Her simplicity beckons but it is her mesmerising natural beauty unspoilt in features and picturesque lush green topography draped across the island that tugs at your heart. Her joyful tears abundant in flow and scattered in various pools around the island, cascade through the roughly strewn rocks down to the lush green rainforests, which shield her secrets and the indented coves that bear her past struggles. Turquoise clad waters reflecting the colour of the sky, lovingly caress her uniquely white and soft sandy beaches as the mountainous range protects her core, the crater lakes.
Easy-going and with a moderate temperament that could easily charm anyone, she alludes her beauty through subtle hints of spices floating in the air, a welcoming sense of calmness and a simplicity that could be understood by everyone. Made up of three main islands and smaller offshore islands, Grenada offers more than sand, sea and the traditional sun experience and a stroll past the French and English inspired architecture reveals more from this beautiful island. Continuing west of the island hauntingly drawing you in, the Sendall tunnel plays a daring game to both vehicles and pedestrians crossing the 1894 construction. In the enchanting manner that is befitting of Grenada, the tunnel separates you from the magical old harbour bringing you to the modern docks housing cruise ships laden with tourists. It is however the historical significance of the bustling and intoxicating market area; a former slave market and public execution place in the 1800’s and the remains of the oldest standing sentinel structure in Grenada, Fort George that lends true character to this pulsating parish of Grenada.
St George’s the capital of Grenada could easily be mistaken for an amphitheatre. A picturesque town set in the horseshoe-shaped harbour of the Carenage; the bygone remnants of Georgian splendour reside amongst red roofed government houses and pastel coloured residential dwellings as lush green parks and ridges fan the once tumultuous capital city. Like the Sahel chameleon, capable of changing colour to suit its environment, Grenada never stays the same at any time of the day and it is this unspoilt beauty and enchanting views along the western coastline that draws heightened gasps of admiration and love.
Driving along the winding roads that snake around the intimidating indented coves it is hard not to be tempted and stop to sample the array of fruit lazily hanging from the branches. Banana, guava, mandarin, soursop, golden apple, star fruit, cashew, sugarcane, papaya, breadfruit, sugarapple and mango litter the streets in abundance whilst the fragrant smells of nutmeg, roasted corn and cinnamon waft by. A visit to Grenada is not just limited to just seeing breath-taking places and a plethora of activities and undiscovered secrets await any visitor that dares to lose themselves in the spell that has been cast by the Spice Isle. From a wide range of diverse events such as the Grenada Sailing Festival, the weekly Fish Friday held in the fishing town of Gouvaye to the two Carnivals just to name a few, Grenada offers a unique cultural experience that is unmatched. With fascinating views, the scenic beaches of Grenada are a pick and mix heaven and from the in-shore barrier reef that protects visitors in Bathway to the most famous beach; Grand Anse past the soft sandy birth place of the Leatherback turtle in Levera to the tranquil setting of La Sagesse, these are just a few of the gorgeous beaches that litter the island.
Places of interest are in abundance on this island and one is never short of exploring. Inviting aquatic activities in the Underwater Sculpture Park to the grand hiking trail of Grand Etang National Park, the things to do list never ends and each discovery opens a door to another. Wander deep into the rainforest where river fairies tell their tales of adventures past. In this part of the island, rainforests open up to waterfalls surrounded by the most exquisite flowers and whilst some waterfalls are undiscovered some are difficult to find or venture to, due to the terrain, yet still tempting to chance and visit. Travelling down the northern side directly at the top of the island bound towards the parish of St Patrick spell bounded by the family of mountains looming in the background it is hard to fathom that the slip road on the side leads to the only surviving slave pen ruin and plantation house eerily echoing the horrific memories of the slave trade. It is however the symphonic aroma of cocoa in Belmont Estate that plays havoc with your senses arousing all nerve endings and erasing all sad memories of a harsh historic past.
What is a visit to the island without a stop at one of the recommended bars, rum shop or a visit to the oldest rum factory in the Caribbean, after all intoxication is key in taking things to the next level? Whether you’re visiting for one day on a cruise stop or for a week or more which we highly recommend, there is plenty of time to get into the, ‘spirit’ of affairs without even going to the beach. Nicknamed fire water throughout the Caribbean, a sample of some of the locally produced rum is highly recommended. Located on the northern side of the island the Rivers rum factory is the oldest functioning water-propelled distillery not only in Grenada, but throughout the Caribbean and dates back to 1785. It is this location of a rum distillery in Grenada that offers around 1000 rum shops with at least one in every village. There is a saying that goes ‘there is a time and place’. Certainly not in the Spice Isle as whatever time in the day or night you can get rum. Grenadian rum shops are as much a part of the island as the pub is to Britain and usually painted in bright colours, these simple wooden shops sell rum in shots or small bottles whatever the quantity that tickles you fancy, along with island food cooked to order.
The beauty of Grenada lies in the fact that it is equally inviting and unspoilt and is no suprise that it holds the award for best country in the world. Idyllic, serene, beautiful and charming it is of no wonder that this forgotten paradise of the Caribbean is a lover’s playground, just waiting to be discovered and embraced.