Over the last few years, I have spent a lot of time exploring the stunning islands in the Caribbean. It’s definitely one of my happy places. But on my recent trip to Grenada, I found an island that I fell more in love with every day. Here I share my top 16 favourite facts about Grenada and am convinced that when you visit, you will be bowled over too!”
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about Grenada when I decided to spend a month there earlier this year. For me, it was just another part of the Caribbean to explore. It was an opportunity to stretch my solo travel wings again after they had been severely clipped for a couple of years. And I’d never been there, which is always a plus point for me. And while I’m giving full disclosure I wanted to get to St Vincent and the Grenadines but without direct flights, I planned to head to Grenada and then find a way to these other islands.
But I never made it St Vincent. I ended up spending the whole month on Grenada and I completely fell in love with the island. From the lush, mountainous interior, to the endless beautiful beaches, the history and most of all, the people. Grenada feels a little more ‘undiscovered’ than many of the islands. It is relatively untouched by the impact of mass tourism, in contrast to St Lucia where I had travelled from.
Every day I spent there; this island captured a little bit more of my heart. I am convinced it will do the same for you. So, I’m sharing a few of the facts about Grenada that I discovered in an effort to encourage you to visit too.”
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16 Fascinating Facts about Grenada that will make you want to visit NOW!
1. Welcome to Spice Island!
Grenada is named Spice Island for good reason. It has a huge spice industry. Historically, nutmeg is the main export, but Hurricane Ivan decimated the crop in 2004 (more on that later). It is so important, that nutmeg even features on the national flag. However, it is not the only spice produced here. You can also find cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, bay leaves, and turmeric among its major produce.
A lesser-known fact about Grenada is that the nation is actually made up of three islands; Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. For a step back in time and a much less visited Caribbean experience, take the 2-hour fast ferry from St Georges to Hillsborough in Carriacou. Unfortunately, my plan to explore the island was scuppered by illness, meaning I spent two of my three days in bed. On my final day, I took a 2-hour tour of the island.
Most fascinating to me was learning about Shakespeare Mas. This occurs during Carnival and involves men dressing in colourful armour, while reciting Shakespeare speeches and whipping each other!”
3. It was decimated by a hurricane
Grenada is generally thought to be one of the safer islands in the Caribbean when it comes to hurricane season. However, in 2004, Hurricane Ivan ravaged the island. It was the first storm to hit in 50 years. It destroyed or damaged 90% of the buildings, including most of the precious nutmeg trees, leaving the islands economy devastated. Nutmeg trees are slow growers and they have taken a long time to recover. But it did lead to the islands fertile soil being cultivated for cocoa which is much faster growing. Cocoa has now replaced nutmeg as Grenada’s main agricultural export.
Grenada lays claim to the world’s first underwater sculpture park. It features over 70 sculptures spread across 800 square metres along the sea bed. The National Geographic loved it so much they have named the park in their 25 Wonders of the World. A visit here transports you into another world. For all you need to know about visiting the park, please check out my post all about my experience diving this underwater wonderland.
5. A divers dream
Another of the facts about Grenada you may not know is that it is home to the biggest shipwreck in the region. Experts say it is one of the top ten wreck dive sites in the world. So, do not miss this if you are a keen scuba diver. Bianca C was a luxury Italian cruise ship, often referred to as the Titanic of the Caribbean. One morning in October 1961, there was a major explosion in the boiler room of the ship. Residents saved nearly 700 passengers and crew in their fishing boats. The community also created a makeshift hospital to care for the injured and welcomed the survivors into their homes.
Only one person died in the end and the Bianca C sank two days later close to Grand Anse beach.”
Seeing any animal in their natural habitat is a thrill and a privilege. To see an endangered species, create more life is a true honour. Leatherback turtles are the fourth largest reptiles on earth and in this part of the world are Critically Endangered. The females will return to the exact beach they were born to lay their eggs. This means they swim over 10,000 miles to Levera Beach in Grenada to lay their eggs at night. To see them do this is an experience I will never forget. My blog post gives you all the details you need to do the same.
One the most fascinating facts about Grenada lies in Grand Etang National Park in the centre of the island. The lush park surrounds the centrepiece of Grand Etang Lake. They say that they have never actually found the deepest part of the lake and legend has it that therefore the lake is bottomless. There is also talk of a mermaid who lives in its depths and lures local men to their death…but all I saw was fish. And they were enormous!
Apart from the lake, Grand Etang is the place to come if you enjoy hiking. For those up for the challenge, climbing Mount Qua Qua offers some spectacular views across the rainforest. Or for something a little gentler you can take the trail around the lake (although be warned, I tried this and ended up getting stuck in the mud and turning back!). Apart from exploring the rainforest itself, the park is also home to some of Grenada’s most impressive flora and fauna.
If you’re lucky (or go with a guide), you may spot/get clambered on by one of the Mona monkeys which live there.”
As an island full of mountains, rivers and rainforests, Grenada is also home to 18 waterfalls, so no trip to the island is complete without a visit to at least one. The highest is Tufton Hall at 25 metres but this takes 3 hours to hike to. There are many that are much more accessible, depending on your level of fitness and determination. Take a dip or if you’re feeling brave, you can even climb up and jump from a number of them. For all the details, check out the links for my videos on Annandale, Mount Carmel, Concord and Seven Sisters Falls. And check out my Ultimate Guide to the Best Waterfalls in Grenada.
9. One of the waterfalls is gold!
On the subject of waterfalls, one of the facts about Grenada that you may not know is that it is also home to one that is not only gold but has both hot and cold water flowing into it. A hike to Golden Falls blew my mind. It is a challenging hike involving climbing up ropes, onto slippery ledges and balancing on beams. Then, you can only access this fascinating place by swinging in while clinging onto a rope and a tree. It was well worth the effort though as you can see from the photos and my video, soon to be released. Click HERE if you would like to do this hike too.
Ever fancied having an island all to yourself? That’s how it felt when I decided to walk one day to Hog Island. On a Sunday it’s the day for a party and BBQ at Rogers Beach Bar. However, if you go any other day of the week, you may find you are all alone. You can access the island via a road bridge from Secret Harbour, however, the island is only drivable with the sturdiest 4-wheel drive vehicles. Most people will arrive by boat. Apparently, there are water taxis that you can get from the ‘mainland’, but I would advise you to get one there and arrange your return. I walked, thinking it would be easy to get back by boat and it wasn’t!
Rogers may look very basic, but it is a labour of love as he brings everything over daily on his boat. I can vouch that the food here is delicious!”
River Antoine has been producing its unique brand of rum since 1785. It is the oldest functioning water-powered distillery in the Caribbean and uses the same techniques it has for two centuries. It is hard to find their rum anywhere outside Grenada and is not for the faint-hearted! You can take a tour of the distillery and taste their wares but unfortunately neither were operating when I visited (thanks Covid!). I did have a little exploration on my own though and it is unlike any distillery I have visited before! For an official tour, use THIS LINK.
As stated earlier, thanks to Hurricane Ivan cocoa is now the biggest agricultural export of Grenada. Belmont Estate is the perfect place to learn about how it is transformed into some of the best chocolate in the world. Here they grow, harvest, ferment, dry, age and process the beans with a huge amount of passion. They add some unique flavours to create a luxury brand of organic single-estate chocolate in small batches. This means that you can only buy Belmont Estate chocolate in Grenada. A tour of the estate for the full tree-to-bar experience will change the way you look, think about and taste chocolate. For all the details check out my video below.
13. A national dish with an unappealing name!
Another fact about Grenada is that its national dish is called Oildown and is much tastier and more nutritious than it sounds! The staple components of Oildown are breadfruit and coconut milk. It is best with meat, but you can ask for a vegetarian version (bear in mind that ‘meat’ may mean pigs nose/tail etc). The numerous ingredients including dumplings are layered in a pot which then sits on the hob (‘the fire’) for 30-40 minutes. The key is never to stir it and I can vouch for the fact that the love and flavour are all in the preparation.
If you want to sample Oildown for yourself then I recommend Home Hospitality which cooks and delivers for lunch every Friday. You will need to book. They also do roti cooking classes.
I was lucky enough to get a homecooked version and can certainly vouch for the love that goes into the dish!”
Back in the 1600s, the French ‘bought’ the island of Grenada from the indigenous Caribs. But not everyone on the island was happy about the transaction and the local population revolted. Eventually, the French cornered the rebels on top of a cliff in Sauteurs Bay. Instead of surrendering, the remaining Caribs jumped to their deaths off the cliff. This included men, women and children. There is a monument to the people on the edge of St Patrick’s Church cemetery in Sauteurs, a town named after them (‘jumpers’ in French).
15. The communists of the Caribbean
In 1979 a revolution occurred on the island and a bloodless coup ensued. Maurice Bishop, a London-trained lawyer became prime minister and headed up a new communist regime. He made links with Cuba and the USSR. When he was forced to share power with his childhood friend who was a harder-line communist, Bishop refused and was put on house arrest. He was a popular leader and his supporters released him and marched to Fort George. Maurice Bishop was executed here by firing squad along with 12 of his followers. Six days later, uneasy with another communist nation so close, the US deployed 12,000 marines to the island.
There is a very low-key plaque at Fort George to mark the site of Bishop’s death. If you visit, it also offers fantastic views across Grenada. It is one of three forts around St Georges (Frederick and Matthew are also worth a trip).
16. The friendliest people
With such a militant past you would be forgiven for thinking the Grenadian people were a feisty bunch. However, my final fact about Grenada is that they are among the friendliest and most generous people I have met anywhere on my travels. If I fell in love with Grenada, it was the people who made me do it!
For example, imagine that you are in a supermarket car park, in a panic as your rental car is refusing to start. Suddenly you sense a face in the window. When you look it’s a man holding his battery charger and offering to help. He has the same car and within a minute you are on your way again.
Next, you are alone at Welcome Stone, one of the best viewpoints in the north of the island. A family arrive who say cheerily that they have blocked your car so you can’t leave until they do. You chat and take photos until everyone is ready to leave. As you negotiate your car out of a tight spot, with help from them, they tell you to stop at the bottom of the hill for a drink. You do as you’re told, not sure where they meant. They arrive in a flurry of car horns, open the boot and offer you a cold beer. So, there you all stand on the side of the road, sharing a drink before saying goodbye and heading on your way.
I was in awe and told a few people there about my experiences. They shrugged, gave me a knowing look and said that’s just what people are like in Grenada. And with that, I fell in love even more!”
Where you stay will all depend on what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend. Accommodation on the beach is more expensive than a little further back but there are plenty of choices for any budget. I opted for mainly self-catering and based myself at Grand Anse Beach for much of my stay. At the Siesta Hotel, although the accommodation itself is a little dated, the staff are incomparable. I found them incredibly friendly, and they bent over backwards to make my time as good as possible. I also loved staying at Silver View Apartments. It was a little noisy as it sits just off the main road, but I enjoyed how well connected it was with buses and just a short walk from the beach.
For a more luxurious stay, then you could opt for Mount Cinnamon Resort. It has a great beach bar and a beautiful garden. Again, right on the beach is Coyaba Beach Resort. Alternatively check out the nearby Secret Harbour Boutique Hotel and Marina in Lance aux Epines, or Kalingo on gorgeous Morne Rouge beach.
To explore the north, I stayed at the Petite Anse Hotel. The hotel is family-run and was perfect for me. Although remote, it has a fantastic bar and restaurant overlooking the wild ocean and its own private beach.
For other options to fit your budget, check out the search box below:
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