After spending 6 wonderful weeks on the self proclaimed ‘Isle of Spice’ here are a few tried and tested attractions that would definitely be worth a look if you visit the beautiful island of Grenada.
The carnival in Grenada is split over two days.
Day one is called J’Ouvert. Beginning in the early hours of the morning music starts pumping and the traditional Jab Jab or Devil Mas bands start parading themselves through the town. Revellers appear from the darkness of the night covered in tar, grease, mud or molasses and dance down the streets to Calypso, drums and steel bands wearing horned helmets and chains as they set out to scare onlookers with their grotesque and monstrous appearance. Be prepared if you join the crowds heading down the street, to be covered in dirt and grease and wear some old clothing.
Day two is the Pageant Mas and is filled with revellers gyrating to Calypso beats wearing flamboyant and extravagant costumes. The brightly coloured outfits consist of huge headdresses, feathers, wings and sequins and are worn by groups of individuals representing their parish.
The atmosphere of the carnival is electric and definitely a must see if you are in Grenada in August. One of the best festivals I have been to!
Seven Sisters Falls
Grenada is filled with an abundance of waterfalls, some well hidden but most easily reached either by car or a short hike. Located a few miles from the Grand Etang lake, the Seven Sisters was one of my favourite waterfalls. After paying a small entrance fee you will be handed a wooden stick to help you tackle the muddy and sometimes very slippery trails. We took a guide with us (optional) to help navigate us to the falls. The hike starts by heading through a plantation filled with cocoa, nutmeg and banana trees. The path continues through the rain forest down steep steps, over a small stream crossing until you finally reach the two cascading waterfalls. The falls drop into two pools where you can take a nice refreshing dip after a hot and sweaty 30 minute hike.
River Antoine Rum Distillery
Constructed in 1785, this privately owned rum distillery is the oldest functioning water propelled distillery making it unique to the Caribbean. As you walk around the site it is almost like going back in time to the colonial era, as both the machinery and rum production process go back to the 1800’s and have never been changed since.
The sugar cane is locally grown, hand cut and twice crushed. The cane crushing machine used to extract the juices is powered by a huge waterwheel powered by water channeled from the local river. The crushed stalks are then placed in an old railway truck and taken to be dumped in mounds around the building to dry out in the sun, a process called ‘Bagasse’ and later used as a fertiliser for the cane fields.
The cane juice is then filtered through wicker mats and ladled through large copper basins. As the juice goes from one basin to the next it gradually heats up and the syrup gets thicker in the process as the water evapourates. The juice is then transported from the boiler house to the fermentation room where it spends up to a week. The juice is left in large concrete tanks to ferment naturally and no yeast is needed. After this process the juice is ready to be distilled. Rum is then poured into large plastic coolers and later hand poured into bottles.
Rivers rum doesn’t export outside Grenada. It is so popular amongst the locals that they cannot even keep up with local demand. The strongest rum which this distillery produce is also so strong that it is not allowed on aeroplanes as it is considered a combustible liquid.
If you manage to head down to the distillery for a tour, be sure to ask for Elon. He is a great guide!
Located on the West coast of Grenada. Take a 2 mile drive down a narrow road off the main road up the valley through thick, overgrown vegetation as you pass by a few traditional style Caribbean homes and trees dripping with avocados and mangoes. The Concord falls are located on River Concord and are easily accessible from the road. The beautifully clear waters cascade down the side of the smooth rock face into the enchanting pool below where you can take a refreshing swim. There is also the opportunity to show off your cliff jumping skills as you launch yourself from the cliff side into the deep pool of water surrounded by lush greenery.
Hire a car and circumnavigate the island
Hiring a car on the island is a great way to see the island at your own pace. We paid $50US per day which we thought was pretty reasonable.
You can drive around the whole island in a day, but if you want to make a few stops along the way it’s best to break the journey up. Driving the coastal road takes you through many local fishing villages, through the town of Grenville (second largest town in Grenada) and by many beautiful beaches.
If you decide to head on the central route you drive along many winding, hilly roads and through the lush green rainforest.
The roads are well maintained and the drivers typically Caribbean (always in a hurry).
Be sure when hiring a car to always carry your documents with you (temporary license etc). We had an incident involving the police and misplaced the license and needed to pay a visit to the local police station the following morning!
Island tours are readily available, but if you want to explore the island off the beaten track, definitely hire your own vehicle.
Underwater sculpture park
Whether staying on land or visiting by boat, the underwater sculpture park is easy to get to. Either take a tour with the likes of Aquanauts or Dive Grenada or head to the area yourself by dinghy. The sculpture park located at Molinere Bay was created by British sculptor Jason deCaires in 2006 as an environmental sustainability project to create new areas for marine life to grow. Sculptures consist of ‘The Lost Correspondent’, ‘The Unstill Life’, ‘The Fall from Grace’ to ‘Vicissitudes’. The sculptures are situated at a maximum depth of 12 meters and are visited by snorkellers, scuba divers and glass bottom boats.
Located in the north east of Grenada are the River Sallee sulphur springs. These natural boiling springs are unique for both their geology and spiritual importance for the local residents. The springs are believed to be connected to the nearby active volcano, Kick em Jenny which replenishes the pools with fresh sulphur. After covering yourself in mud enriched in sulphur, you bake in the sun, rinse yourself off in the pools and then have a freshwater bucket shower from a well. After the treatment is finished treat your skin by lathering yourself in the homemade cocoa butter.
Located in the market square in downtown St. Georges, this bustling local market is open daily, however try visiting on a Saturday when it is at it’s busiest to get the full effect. For the best produce go early when the vendors are setting up shop, around 6am. This busy marketplace is full of brightly coloured fresh fruits and vegetables, delicious smelling spices from saffron to nutmeg, loud market vendors offering their deals of the day and local handmade crafts. From the ever so popular tomatoes, cucumbers, pineapples and peppers to the not so familiar tastes of the local okra, soursop, dasheen or sugar apples you will find a wonderful selection of the islands best grown produce. Remember to take small change with you and I would recommend asking a handful of vendors for their prices before diving straight into your first purchase, as some of the vendors make take advantage of you. Oh and don’t forget to try some of the local Grenadian chocolate.
Perched high on the hillside, Fort Frederick offers panoramic views of both the capital St. George and sweeping views of the ocean. The historical landmark was built by the French in 1779, but finished by the English when they took over in 1783 and is the islands best preserved fort. Constructed with it’s cannons facing inland rather than out to sea due to attackers coming from higher ground the fort was nicknamed the ‘backward facing fort’.
Hog Island Sunday BBQ
Hog Island is located off the south coast of Grenada. Every Sunday the usually quiet beach turns into a gathering of locals, cruisers and holidaymakers alike. From the BBQ you can try lobster, jerk chicken or lambie (stewed Conch) and grab a drink from the bar to try the local Clarke’s Court rum. There is usually a live band, lots of dancing and is a wonderful family day out with a great atmosphere.