The lush island of Grenada has 45 beaches and countless secluded coves. Crisscrossed by nature trails and laced with spice plantations, its mountainous interior consists mostly of nature preserve and rain forest. Independent since 1974, Grenada has developed a healthy tourism sector and a modern infrastructure, including a variety of hotels and resorts, good roads, up-to-date technology, and reliable utilities.
The nation of Grenada actually consists of three islands: Grenada, the largest, has a population of about 106,000; Carriacou (car-ree-a-coo), north of Grenada, has a population of just over 6,000; and Petite Martinique has a population of about 900. Carriacou and Petite Martinique are popular for day trips, fishing adventures, sailing destinations, or diving and snorkeling excursions, but most of the tourist activity is on the island of Grenada itself. People interested in a really quiet, get-away-from-it-all vacation will, however, appreciate the simple pleasures of Carriacou during an extended stay.
St. George’s, the capital, is a busy city with buildings and landmarks that date back centuries; its harbor is one of the most picturesque in the Caribbean. Grand Anse, south of the capital, boasts one of the region’s finest beaches.
Although Christopher Columbus never set foot on Grenada, he did cruise by in 1498, naming the island Concepción. Spanish sailors following in his wake renamed it Granada, after the city in the hills of their homeland. Adapted to Grenade by French colonists, the transformation of the name to Grenada was completed by the British in the 18th century.
Throughout the 17th century, Grenada was the scene of many bloody battles between the indigenous Carib people and the French. Rather than surrender to the Europeans after losing their last battle in 1651, the Caribs committed mass suicide by leaping off a cliff, now called Carib’s Leap or Leapers Hill, in Grenada’s northernmost town of Sauteurs (French for “jumper”). The French were later overwhelmed by the British in 1762, the beginning of a seesaw of power between the two nations. The Treaty of Versailles in 1783 ultimately granted Grenada to the British. Almost immediately, thousands of African slaves were brought in to work the sugar plantations (although slavery in Grenada actually began with the French colonization in 1650). An unsuccessful revolt in 1795, known as Fédon’s Rebellion, attempted to end slavery in Grenada and allow native French-speaking Grenadians the same dignity and respect enjoyed by British colonists. However, slavery on the island wasn’t finally abolished until 1834.
Forts begun by the French to protect St. George’s Harbour during their colonization of Grenada were later completed and used by the British during theirs. Today Ft. George and Ft. Frederick are two of the most visited sites in St. George’s. Besides their historical interest, the two locations have magnificent views of the harbor, the capital city itself, and the distant mountains and countryside. Not a single shot was fired from either fort for more than two centuries. In 1983, however, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and seven others were murdered at Ft. George during a coup d’état. That event triggered the request from Grenada’s governor-general and the heads of state of neighboring islands for U.S. troops to intervene, which they did on October 25, 1983. The insurrection came to an immediate halt, perpetrators were imprisoned, and peace was restored.
From that time forward, Grenada’s popularity as a vacation destination has increased with each decade, as travelers continue to seek welcoming, interesting, picturesque islands to visit. Most hotels, resorts, and restaurants in Grenada are family-owned and -run (mostly by Grenadians); their guests often become good friends. All Grenadians, in fact, have a well-deserved reputation for their friendliness, hospitality, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Nonstop flights to Grenada are available on American Airlines (Miami), Delta (Atlanta and New York), and JetBlue (New York). Regional flights between Grenada and Carriacou and between Grenada and neighboring islands operate several times each day.
On Grenada, taxis are always available for transportation between the airport and hotels. Fares to St. George’s are $20; to the hotels of Grand Anse and L’Anse aux Épines, $16. Rides taken between 6 pm and 6 am incur a $4 surcharge. On Carriacou, taxis meet every plane; the fare to Hillsborough is $8; to Bogles, $10; to Tyrell Bay, $12; to Windward, $15.
Having a car or jeep is a real convenience if you’re staying at a resort in a location other than Grand Anse, which has frequent minibus service. If you don’t have a car of your own, round-trip taxi rides can get expensive if you plan to leave the resort frequently for shopping, meals, or visiting other beaches. Driving is also a reasonable option if you want to explore the island on your own. Most of Grenada’s 650 miles (1,050 km) of paved roads are kept in fairly good condition—although they are steep, winding, and narrow beyond the Grand Anse area. Driving is on the left, British-style. You’ll find gas stations in St. George’s, Grand Anse, Grenville, Gouyave, and Sauteurs.
Renting a Car: To rent a car, you need a valid driver’s license and a temporary local permit (available at the Central Police Station on the Carenage in the capital city of St. George’s and at most car-rental firms), which costs $12 (EC$30). You can rent a car on Carriacou, even for just a few hours, but it’s easier to take taxis.
Some rental agencies impose a minimum age of 25. Rental cars, including four-wheel-drive vehicles, cost $75 to $85 a day or $475 to $500 a week with unlimited mileage—rates are slightly lower in the low season. In high season, there may be a three-day minimum rental. Rental agencies offer free pickup and drop-off at either the airport or your hotel.
The Cruise Ship Terminal, located on the north side of St. George’s, accommodates two large ships; up to four can anchor in the outer harbor. The terminal—which opens directly into the Esplanade Mall and the minibus terminus and is a block from Market Square—offers a full range of passenger facilities. You can easily tour the capital on foot, but be prepared to negotiate steep hills. If you don’t want to walk up and down through town, you can find a taxi ($3 or $4 each way) or a water taxi ($4 each way) right at the terminal to take you around to the Carenage. To explore areas beyond St. George’s, hiring a taxi or arranging a guided tour is more sensible than renting a car. Taxis are plentiful, and fixed rates to popular island destinations are posted at the terminal’s welcome center.
A taxi ride from the terminal to Grand Anse Beach will cost $20, but water taxis are a less expensive and more picturesque way to get there; the one-way fare is about $8 per person, depending on the number of passengers. Minibusses are the least expensive way to travel between St. George’s and Grand Anse; pay EC$1.50 (55¢) and hold on to your hat. They’re crowded with local people getting from here to there and often make quick stops and take turns at quite a clip. Still, it’s an inexpensive, fun, and safe way to travel around the island. If you want to rent a car and explore on your own, be prepared to pay $12 for a temporary driving permit (arranged by the car-rental agency) and about $75 to $85 for a day’s car rental.
The best way to travel between Grenada and Carriacou is by air; the high-speed ferry is the next-best choice, as long as you aren’t prone to motion sickness. The outbound voyage gets a little rough once you’ve cleared the island of Grenada. Reservations for the ferry aren’t necessary, but get to the wharf well before the departure time of 9 am in Grenada and 3:30 pm in Carriacou to be sure you don’t miss the boat.
Osprey Lines Ltd.. The high-speed ferry Osprey Shuttle (or its somewhat slower sister boat, Osprey Express) makes one round-trip voyage daily from Grenada to Carriacou and on to Petite Martinique. The trip takes 1½ to 2½ hours, depending on the boat. On either vessel, the fare from Grenada to Carriacou is $31 each way. For the 15-minute trip from Carriacou to Petite Martinique, the fare is $8 each way. The ferry departs Grenada from the Carenage in St. George’s Monday–Saturday at 9 am and Sunday at 8 am; the return trip leaves from the jetty in Hillsborough, Carriacou, at 3:30 pm.
On Grenada, taxis are plentiful, and rates are set. The trip between Grand Anse and St. George’s is $20. A $4 surcharge is added for rides taken between 6 pm and 6 am. Taxis can be hired at an hourly rate of $30, as well.
Water taxis are available along the Esplanade, near the port area. For about $8 (EC$20) a motorboat will transport you on a quick and picturesque cruise between St. George’s and the jetty at Grand Anse Beach. Water taxis are privately owned, unregulated, and don’t follow any particular schedule—so make arrangements for a pickup time if you need a return trip.
On Carriacou, the taxi fare from the jetty in Hillsborough to Belair is $10; to Prospect, Tyrell Bay, or Windward, $13. Carriacou minibus drivers will take up to four people on a 2½-hour full-island tour for $75 or a 1½-hour half-island tour for $40.
Grenada’s tourist accommodations are located, for the most part, in the southwestern part of the island—primarily on or near Grand Anse Beach or overlooking small bays along the island’s southern coast. Carriacou is a small island, and its hotels and guesthouses are primarily in or around Hillsborough.
Guesthouses: Small guesthouses predominate on Carriacou, where no property has more than 25 rooms.
Luxury Resorts: Grenada has a handful of luxurious inns and resorts, such as Spice Island Beach Resort on Grand Anse Beach, Sandals La Source in Pointe Salines, and Laluna in Morne Rouge.
Modest Resorts and Apartment Complexes: Most resorts and hotels on Grenada are small, and many are modest; that is part of their charm.
Grenada is a relatively safe island. Incidents affecting tourists mainly involve petty theft; worse crimes have occurred but are rare. To avoid trouble, stay away from remote beaches and always lock your hotel room or villa and your car. Don’t leave your valuables unattended in your room, on the beach, or in your car. Most hotel rooms are equipped with a safe for that purpose. Don’t flaunt expensive jewelry or lots of cash either on the beach or in town.
Dengue, chikungunya, and zika have all been reported throughout the Caribbean. We recommend that you protect yourself from these mosquito-borne illnesses by keeping your skin covered and/or wearing mosquito repellent. The mosquitoes that transmit these viruses are as active by day as they are by night. Use insect repellent. Mosquitoes emerge after heavy rains; on the beach, tiny sand flies begin to bite after 4 pm; and bugs are often a nuisance when hiking in the rain forest. Apply sun protection whenever you plan to be outdoors for any length of time. You can get sunburned just walking around town—even on cloudy days. Tap water in hotels and restaurants is perfectly safe to drink.
Comprehensive trip insurance is recommended for all vacations purchased through Vacays4U. Comprehensive policies typically cover trip cancellation and interruption, letting you cancel or cut your trip short because of illness, or, in some cases, acts of terrorism. Ask about insurance policies that cover evacuation and medical care. Some also cover you for trip delays because of bad weather or mechanical problems as well as for lost or delayed luggage.
Always read the fine print of your policy to make sure you’re covered for the risks that most concern you. Compare several policies to be sure you’re getting the best price and range of coverage available.