What makes Grenada so exceptional is not easily translated into words or even captured in pictures. Structures aren't set up around the island for "cheesy" tourist photo ops. Even the most populated areas of the island still have a low-key, chill energy. There’s something so quaint and untouched about it, unlike any other island I’ve been to. An understated and simple beauty.
Discovering Grenada is almost like discovering an amazing boutique that your peers don’t know about, or restaurant that cooks food just like your late great-grandmother used to make, or a soul-inspiring music artist that you don't want to become mainstream because of the fear of them watering down the product or raising prices unnecessarily. You want it to remain just the way it is: preserved, peaceful, perfect. It’s the kind of place you don’t want just anybody to visit or know about; only the people who you know can appreciate vibes. That’s the best way to describe Grenada, a vibe. Grenada is the reason two people fall in love, or how strangers who feel like they’ve known each other for decades become best friends. It’s that unexplainable "thing" that can't be encapsulated but just is, and you can't deny it when you feel it. As soon as you arrive, you feel the island loving you back.
Here are 9 reasons why I quickly fell in love with Grenada.
Grenada is Easy
Coming from New York City where everything is stressful and a hustle, my favorite type of vacation is one that puts me at ease. As soon as you touch down in Grenada, you feel it. The airport and customs was quick and easy. Very downplayed compared to many other islands, where as soon as you land, vendors are hounding you about booking a tour or excursion with them, or taxis are fighting for your business. I’ve even experienced islands requesting an unannounced entrance fee after an already chaotic customs line. Not Grenada. You walk up and handle your paperwork and you leave. I was already impressed by the simplicity.
The car brought us to our hotel. We dropped our bags and walked to Umbrellas bar, which is right on Grand Anse beach. I was immediately sucked into the kick-back energy. We had a few glasses of rum punch and some amazing wings. The beach view from Umbrellas had me distracted though. As everyone was talking and bonding, all I could do was look off into the clear, sea foam colored water and houses on the lush green hills.
I realized we didn't put on beach attire to go to Umbrellas, but something about Grenada makes you feel free and that everything is good. I made my way down to the beach, took off my clothes and went right into the water in my underwear. This was totally unlike my character, but it just felt right. Everyone followed suit.
As dusk became dawn, I swam in the calm waters of Grand Anse Beach. Every star seemed to be visible in the sky. The lights from the houses on the hills of the south coast of the island behind us made the experience absolutely enchanted. It was island life to the max. Already.
The water was so clear that even in the night with just the moonlight’s assistance, you could look down and see your feet while waist-deep in the water. Quite the beach experience! Maybe my favorite ever in life. We walked back onto the powdery sand, put back on our clothes and walked back to our hotel.
By day two, our biggest decision was whether to go to Grand Anse Beach, BBC Beach or Magazine Beach. We were in love. What’s even better? There is a rule in Grenada that buildings along the coast can’t be built up higher than the average coconut tree, so as to not obscure the view of the natural landscape of the island’s coasts. This adds to the low-key and untainted vibe of the island, because nothing seems too touristy and nothing is an eye sore.
Notes: There are 9 black sand beaches and 45 white sand beaches in Grenada. I feel like I barely scratched the surface!
To close out our first night we went to a Mardi Gras themed party at a very nice home in an upper-middle class area of Grenada. Luckily we had some local friends to drive us around; otherwise I would absolutely have hired a driver.
The landscape of Grenada is mostly composed of hills. You can go from sea level to 800 meters above sea level in under 5 minutes driving. You can look down and see communities in valleys. It’s a really cool experience…from the passenger seat! Ha! I’m a great driver in the U.S., but the way local Grenadians handle the terrain is unmatched. They have speed and fearlessness, but also courtesy and common sense. They double honk and flash their headlights to communicate with each other when turning corners they can’t see around. It’s a driving language that I will leave up to them.
(This photo happens to be purple because of the tint of the car window, but I LOVE the way it came out. Beautiful mistakes.)
The beautiful part of Grenada being so hilly is the views. There are so many peaks that overlook different parts of the island. During the day you see the signature red-top houses on the hills, and at night the lights on the hills make it a very romantic drive.
Note: The hills make for interesting and challenging hiking excursions. If you choose to go hiking, go with a guide. 60-70% of the land on Grenada is privately owned, even though much of that land is doesn’t have buildings on it, but rather is left for crops. So you could be considering trespassing or picking someone’s fruit when hiking, in someone’s private land not realizing because it seems like just open land.
One of the many nicknames for Grenada is Greenz. Partially because of the name shortening but also because the island is immensely green. At any point on the island, you look around and you are surrounded by lush green trees and grass.
And of course lots of green lands means that Grenada is great for natural vegetation. Grenada exports a lot of produce around the world, including its main export, nutmeg. Grenada is the second largest exporter of nutmeg in the world, which says a lot for such a relatively small island. We visited the Gouyave Nutmeg Factory for a quick tour and the scent that you get is so pure. I’ll never forget that smell. I even bought some nutmeg jam to take home.
Notes: For the true “green” experience, you should be sure to visit the preserved rainforest where if you’re lucky, you can see a mona monkey come out and play for a bit.
Did you know that nutmeg spray is also used to heal joint and muscle pain? You can find it in local markets in Grenada.
Party scene and drinks
We went to quite a few parties around Grenada and they were all so much fun. From open fields to fetes in restaurants, boat parties to private house parties in the hills, you can easily get your party fix in Grenada. Be sure to ask local, young people who live in town where to party. That will give you the best experience.
For the parties that we attended, the music was heavily soca & dancehall with a splash of hip-hop and EDM. At the time of my visit, a Grenadian soca song “No Behaviour/Shell Down” was a huge hit and made it’s way pretty big on the Caribbean scene in New York City, so I was excited to hear it at every party and take in the sense of high pride from local Grenadians. It actually became my favorite song of the summer. Congrats to Bigred & Melo!
Drinks are very affordable most places, nearly half the cost of parties in New York. Be sure to try local Grenadian rum when visiting the island, like Clark’s Court and River’s Rum.
Note: We did a local tour around River’s Rum distillery and saw the full process. River’s Rum still makes their rum the old fashioned way with no modernized technology. The result is a very clean tasting and VERY potent rum, some versions of which are not available in the U.S. because the percentage of alcohol is too high.
If you love Caribbean food and seafood then you will love the dining experiences in Grenada. I ate ‘til my heart’s content all over. Roti, lobster, crab, fishcakes. Be sure to check out my post on the best meals I had while in Grenada (coming soon.)
Because so much fruit is grown on the island, be sure to indulge in fresh mango, guava, avocado, guinnep, breadfruit, banana, plantain and other fruits that are easily accessed around the island.
Note: If you have the opportunity, be sure to ask around to see where you can get the national dish – Oil Down.
The people of Grenada are warm and welcoming. Most West Indians know what it means to “lime.” For non-Caribbean people, liming is just hanging out or just enjoying the vibe. Grenada is like the epitome of liming. You can sit on the beach by yourself, and a perfect stranger could start talking to you and you end up chatting for hours. Not in a forced way, but in such a way that you are never alone in Grenada unless you want to be. The crime rate is significantly lower than other islands. You feel safe and you are able to let your guard down (obviously within reason.) People in Grenada have respect for other people, life, their surroundings, the police – all of which makes Grenada a great destination to travel solo if that’s your thing. That can’t be said for everywhere in the Caribbean, or many places around the world for that matter.
Grenada has easily one of my favorite snorkeling experiences, EVER! Thanks to Seafaris Powerboat Adventure Tours, I was able to check off one of the top experiences on my travel bucket list – The Underwater Sculpture Park.
We snorkeled from the Vicissitudes better known as the Ring of Children (pictured here) to the newly structured Nutmeg Lady, to many other underwater sculptures, lots of exotic fish and other sea creatures. It felt like l swam in an aquarium. As a beginner/intermediate swimmer, our guide Albert Christopher made me feel extremely comfortable and safe as well. Huge plus! For the expert swimmers, you can dive down to each location as well.
I know I’ve mentioned it before but Grenada has some of the best views I’ve ever taken in. There are so many places you can go to just take in scenery. As we were driving around, it literally felt like every turn made you want to release a sigh of happiness.
We checked out Concord Waterfall which was beautiful. Again simple, natural, stunning beauty. Other notable waterfalls include Annandale Falls, and Mt. Carmel Waterfall.
Grand Etang lake is a tranquil getaway that would be perfect for a secluded date, family picnic, or just a solo trip to center your thoughts.
Note: grab some bread to toss breadcrumbs into the water to watch the koy fish scurry to the top.
One of my other favorite locations were the waterfronts that are referred to as The Lagoon and The Carenage. Grenada is huge on yacht life, so you get to see some sexy yachts and boats, have some great meals along the waterfront, and just soak in the French and English influence.
A HUGE THANK YOU to the Grenada Tourism Authority for helping me make this experience everything that it was. Nisha McIntyre & Roger Augustine, you have given me the true Grenada experience in my short trip.
Grenada, I will be back, SOON! And I already have an agenda which includes visiting the sister island of Carriacou (part of the country of Grenada,) more FOOD, the aquarium, immersing myself more in the yacht culture, finding some tamarind balls to eat – a childhood favorite treat that I missed this time around – and of course, LIMING on the beach.