Jan 17, 2011

Travel guide: Grenada

By: Jennifer Weatherhead

Author: Elle Canada

Jan 17, 2011

Travel guide: Grenada

By: Jennifer Weatherhead
Grenada is truly a gem in the Caribbean, and if you don’t believe me yet, read on and you'll find out why an excursion to this sunny island is well worth your precious vacation days. I travelled to the island with a population of 100,000 in late November -- just after the rainy season, and my first day was filled with rain (no big surprise for a tropical destination), but trust me, that really doesn't make a difference on this island -- there's so much to see and do that my four days didn’t seem like nearly enough.

The food alone is enough to keep you tucked away under shelter from rain. Grenada is known as the Spice Island of the Caribbean because of its large exportation of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and allspice … not to mention the amazing cocoa that they produce. And those spices are prevalent in most local foods, from sweet nutmeg ice cream, to spinach stuffed chicken topped with a creamy nutmeg sauce. Much of the island suffered extensive damage from a hurricane in 2004 -- a storm that wiped out most of the island's nutmeg trees and left the island with a 40% unemployment rate. But you'll be hard pressed to find more welcoming people anywhere in the Caribbean -- with a very low crime rate, it's safe to stroll around, people are super friendly and always willing to give a tip, share a great food secret or help with directions. Not sold yet? Keep reading!

Where to stay:
There are loads of hotels on the island, so it might be hard to pick just one. But here are two options -- one for the ultimate in luxury and one for it's quaint charm and unbelievable service.

Spice Island Beach Resort
If the height of luxury is what you're looking for during your beach vacation, then Spice Island should be your number one spot. Frequented by celebrities and part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, most guests don't stay at this stunning property once -- they come back again and again. The family-run resort has spacious rooms that come with private entrances to the gorgeous sandy beach and suits with private pools as well. Top it off with amazing dining and a spa and you'll have all the luxuries of home, but a much more impressive view.

True Blue Bay Resort
If charm is more your thing, and you still don’t want to sacrifice comfort and luxury, the True Blue Bay Resort will make the ideal spot to relax. It doesn’t have a beachfront, but looks over a quaint bay filled with sailboats and the perfect view of a Caribbean sunset. Rooms have unique and special touches, and makes you feel like you're staying with a family friend rather than at a resort. And be sure to dine at the hotel's restaurant, Dodgy Dock, for not only great local food, but also to catch owners Russ and Magdelena having a drink or bite to eat.

What to do (even on a rainy day!) in Grenada on the next page ...

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What to do:

You can sit and chill on the beach, take a boat ride around the island, snorkel, or if you happen to get a rainy day or two (like I did on my visit), there are plenty of non-water options to explore on this mountainous island.

Take a cooking class at BB's Crab Back
There's nothing better than enjoying a local dish while travelling in my books. Ok, well maybe one thing -- getting to cook that dish with fresh ingredients with a local chef. A cooking class at BB's Crab Back will have you in the sweltering galley kitchen (hey, it is the Caribbean, it's hot!) with owner and chef Brian and he'll share all his cooking secrets. Then you get to enjoy your creations in the dining room -- trust me; their baby back crab is probably the best crab dish you'll ever eat.

Take an island tour
Rain or shine; an island tour should be high on your to-do list in Grenada. You'll drive up and down the mountainous roads and make pit stops at waterfalls, spice markets, cocoa production plants, historic monuments, towns and even a stop at the local distillery for some extremely strong (150 proof) rum. The guides are super friendly and knowledgeable and it's the best way to see the whole island in a day.

Go on a hike
If you're lucky enough to score a guided hike with a local named Telfor, or even get the chance to see him for a couple of minutes, you need to jump at this chance. Telfor hikes the steep peaks of the island on a daily basis -- and he's even hiked the highest mountain on the island, Mount Saint Catherine, twice on his 71st birthday -- yes, he is 71-years-old, and fitter than most 20-somethings. And he has a 20-year-old girlfriend -- a true character. Telfor knows his way around the mountains, so aside from his fascinating life story (which he will fill you in on during the hike), he can point out cocoa plants, unique flowers, nutmeg trees and much more along the trail. Your final stop will be at one of the island's Seven Sisters waterfalls -- a refreshing and cool spot after and hour or so of hiking.

Where to spa and tips on the next page ... grenada2.jpg

Get a spa treatment

Most resorts have on-site spas and after a day of eating and relaxing, what could be better than a pampering session? A great spot to try out is LaSource Resort ( and their Oasis spa. The relaxing and comfy rooms will put you at ease and a must try is the Restorative Facial or the Silk and Smooth exfoliation to soothe skin that has been on the beach all day.

Bring an ample amount of bug spray. Mosquitoes love me, and by love I mean they devour me, even with bug repellent. I left the island with about 75 bug bites, mainly due to the rain that brought out more than usual. But bug spray is highly recommended.

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Travel guide: Grenada