Grenada

Capital St. George's
Currency East Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Population 106,303 (2014)
Country code +1-473
Time zone UTC-4

Grenada is a group of three larger islands (Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique) and several tiny islands in the Caribbean, or West Indies. It lies just northeast of Trinidad and Tobago, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is famous for spices and is known as the "Spice Isle", being a major source of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa.

For a tourist introduction, try The Grenada Board of Tourism, PO Box 293, St. George’s, Grenada. Tel: +1 473 440-2279, fax: +1 473 440-6637, gbt@spiceisle.com.

Understand

History

Christopher Columbus discovered Grenada in 1498. The island was already inhabited by the Carib Indians, who had migrated from the South American mainland, killing or enslaving the peaceful Arawaks who were already inhabitants there. The Amerindians called their island Camerhogue, but Columbus renamed it Concepción. However, passing Spanish sailors found its lush green hills so evocative of Andalusia that they rejected this name in favour of Granada.

Over the centuries, although control of the island passed from France to Britain (and briefly back to France again), the name endured with just the slightest of alterations, changing from "Granada" to "La Grenade" to "Grenada".

The French were the first to settle Grenada. Legend holds that in 1652 the last of the defending Caribs rather than be ruled by the French, threw themselves into the sea from a spot that was christened Le Morne des Sauteurs, and is known today as Leapers' Hill and Carib's Leap.

Exploited first for indigo (hence the name of an area "True Blue"), and later for sugar production, the island prospered and, like many others in the Caribbean, attracted the attention of the British. Captured by Admiral George Rodney in 1762, near the end of the European Seven Years' War (1756–63), Grenada reverted to French rule from 1779 until 1783 when the island was restored to Britain by the Treaty of Versailles.

The inhabitants' loyalties remained divided between the two European powers for many years, as illustrated by Fedon's Rebellion of 1795. In the course of this violent episode, a group of rebels under the command of the mulatto General Julien Fedon, and inspired by the rhetoric of the French Revolution wreaked havoc on the island and its British settlers in an unsuccessful attempt to reunite with France.

From 1784 until its independence in 1974, Grenada was a colony of the British Empire, passing through various stages of colonial status and multiple associations with other regional states. In 1967, Grenada became an "Associated State of Great Britain" within the British Commonwealth. With this, the island nation gained control of its internal affairs, while the government of Britain continued to control external matters.

Early in the twentieth century, it produced one of the region's outstanding leaders, T. Albert Marryshow. His Representative Government Association, which inspired similar movements in other Windward Islands states and in Trinidad, did much to encourage the liberalization of British rule in the Caribbean.

It is ironic that the achievement in 1950 of universal adult suffrage, long a goal of Marryshow's, led directly to his displacement in Grenadian political life by a new figure, Eric Matthew Gairy. Whereas Marryshow had been a man of the middle class, Gairy and his Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) appealed to the lower class, the peasantry. Suddenly empowered by the vote, Gairy's supporters swept him to the leadership of the Legislative Council in 1951; he dominated the island's politics for almost three decades.

The most successful electoral challenge to Gairy between 1951 and 1979 was posed by Herbert Blaize's Grenada National Party (GNP) in 1961, mainly on the issue of union with Trinidad and Tobago (the "unitary state" proposal). Again reflecting the Grenadian penchant for looking outward for support and viability, the GNP campaigned on a platform urging acceptance of the Trinidadian offer of union. Although Blaize's party won the election, it subsequently lost a large measure of prestige and credibility when Trinidad failed to follow through on the proposal. The GNP's fall from grace paved the way for the return of Gairy, who has never tired of the role of political saviour of his country. Complete independence was achieved in 1974, with significant opposition, under the leadership of the late Sir Eric Gairy -- a charismatic and controversial figure who had been in the public eye since the early 1950s.

In 1979, after a coup d'état, an attempt was made to set up what the U.S. and other regional governments viewed at the time as a communist state in Grenada. Four years later, at the request of the Governor General, the United States (with some window dressing from Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean States) intervened militarily. Launching their now famous "rescue mission", the allied forces restored order, and in December of 1984 a general election re-established democratic government.

The last couple of decades have been a peaceful, democratic, fruitful and normal existence, with many new buildings and vastly improved infrastructure.

Climate

Average temperatures range from 24°C (75°F) to 30°C (87°F), tempered by the steady and cooling trade winds. The lowest temperatures occur between January and April. The driest season is between January and May. Even during the rainy season, from June to December, it rarely rains for more than an hour at a time and generally not every day.

Islands

Map of Grenada
Grenada
By far the largest island, where most of the nation's people live
Carriacou
The second largest island, home to the town of Hillsborough
Petit Martinique
A distant third-largest island, limited tourist facilities.

Cities

Get in

A valid passport and return or onward ticket is required. Visas are not required from citizens of the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and its dependencies, British Commonwealth countries, Caribbean countries (except Cuba), Venezuela, European Union countries and their dependencies, Norway, Japan, Israel and Russia.

Duty Free Allowances - Personal items, one quart in total wines and spirits, half-pound tobacco or 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes. No restrictions on the amount of money that can be brought in. Restricted items are fruits, vegetables, meat, soil, illegal drugs, firearms and ammunition.

By plane

Maurice Bishop International Airport (IATA: GND) is on the main island of Grenada, located on a peninsula in the extreme southwest corner in the Point Salines area. It is about 4 miles from the capital of St. George's. Delta (New York JFK, Atlanta), British Airways, American Eagle, American Airlines, Monarch, Air Canada (winter season), Virgin Atlantic (UK), Liat, Caribbean Airlines, Condor (Germany - winter season), Air Transat (Toronto - infrequent?) and Conviasa (VE)(from Porlamar, Margarita) provide direct service to Grenada; connections can be made on Liat via Trinidad and Barbados, and also from Barbados via SVG Airlines.

By boat

Grenada Cruise Ship Terminal

Private moorings for yachts are available all around the island.

Get around

The town centre has several hilly, narrow streets. Drivers are very careful but personal care must be taken as some streets have very narrow or no sidewalks.

The town also has the most picturesque horse-shoe harbour in the Caribbean with restaurants, shops and supermarkets. During the winter Cruise Ship season (between November and May) a cute little tourist train, Grenada Discovery Train, runs a hop-on/hop-off service through the town that also includes entrance to the major tourist sites in town, look under the "BUY" section here for more information on this service.

Travel in and around the city St. George's is by taxis, minibuses or hired cars. Hailing a taxi is similar to other parts of the world - hold out a hand and beckon to the driver. Taxis carry an 'H' on their licence plates. The independently owned, but government licensed, cars and vans will stop and ask if one wants a ride. Some standard fares include EC$30 from the airport to St. George's and EC$25-$40 for trips from most hotels to the various dining spots around the city.

Buses in Grenada are the standardized form of transportation. They are mini-vans that hold between 15-19 people, and they have route numbers and signs on them. In the centre of town (Melville Street), there is a bus terminal and in and around the town there are designated bus stops, however, once you leave town, you can signal a stop by either knocking on the side of the bus or pressing the stop button. Conductors and drivers are always very friendly, so do not hesitate to ask them where you should stop. Bus fares vary between EC$2.50-10.00 depending on the distance. They are lively trips, with great music and a nice breeze.

Car rentals are available, with rates of US$50-75 per day. With a valid license from your home country you will qualify for a temporary Grenada license which can be obtained from any police station for a fee of EC$30. Drive on the left and make frequent use of the car's horn when coming around the numerous blind corners in the mountains.

Water taxis are another means of getting around - between the Cruise Terminal, Grand Anse Beach and the Carenage.

Talk

Standard (British) English is the official language of Grenada and is widely spoken, however an English-based Creole language (not referred to as such by locals) is the dominant tongue of most Grenadian people and can be difficult for people outside of the Caribbean region to understand. French Patois used to be the dialect language spoken within Grenada, but it only remains within the older generations and in scattered pockets. Most Grenadians only know a few words.

See

There is so much to see in Grenada ... historic forts, lakes, waterfalls, spice estates - some of them still operational today, spice gardens, floral gardens (Grenada won its 7th Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in London in 2009), rum distilleries (with generous samples), plantation houses, Amerindian petroglyphs, etc.

Note: Some of the sites noted below may be closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Check in-advance.

Morne Rouge Beach

Do

Buy

Grenada produces many amazing products. Rum, Chocolate, Honey, Jams and Jellies, Spices, Clothing and Art. Many are award winning. Support the local economy when on the island and buy local goodies to bring back home.

Nutmeg is Grenada's cash crop, so be sure to bring some home in some form - whole, jam, jelly, syrup, Nutmed (medicinal ointment). In addition, you can purchase nutmeg flavored ice cream, which has an unusual flavor that is difficult to find elsewhere. Due to Hurricane Ivan in September of 2004, over 90% of Grenada's nutmeg crop was destroyed, but thankfully, you'll now see an abundance around the market, town, and tourist shops. Other fine spices include mace, cinnamon, ginger cloves, vanilla, tumeric....

To bring herbs/spices back to the U.S. (and several other countries), they need to be within properly sealed containers. Most responsible sellers offer them packaged - check to be sure.

Real vanilla is a steal in the markets, sometimes it can be found for as little as $1US for a 1/2 litre bottle. The concentration of the fluid does vary, but in its pure form there is a noticeable (and very pleasant) difference from the vanilla extract that most North Americans are used to. You might also look for dried vanilla beans (in pod)...an essential to a full range of kitchen herbs/spices.

Locally grown and produced chocolate is gaining a good reputation. You can find excellent bars of varying cocoa percentage at the cooperative store, nearby Belmont Plantation, grocers, and the cruise terminal.

Rum Grenada makes some of the best Rum. You will understand what 'good' rum is when you try Rum made in Grenada, and may even become a convert when you 'sip a good rum'!

Grenada Chocolate one of the best in the world. Dark, organic chocolate. Look for it's beautiful, brightly colored packaging.

The large cruise ship pier outside the main harbor offers a small, enclosed, "duty-free" mall. It has several shops (and food outlets) offering both local items and those typically for cruise passengers. Prices on local products may be at a premium to stores elsewhere on the island. Just a block away, you'll find the spice market with stalls run by families and growers.

Eat

Seasonal live Caribbean music Tues, Fri, Sat. Exotic tropical cocktails $$.

Drink

Grenada is known for its rum distilleries. The three largest companies are Clarke's Court, Westerhall Estate and River Antoine. All three offer educational tours that demonstrate the sugar production for rum. They are all located on different parts of the island.

In many bars, take care with drinks made with "under the counter" ingredients, e.g., highly-overproof rums for "locals" often used in "Pain Killers". They can overwhelm the most experienced drinkers. Fruit juices they use are made from locally grown fruits such as mango, papaya, carambola (five fingers fruit). A few "watering holes" (often with food service) include...

Sleep

See each island's article for accommodation listings.

Stay safe

Grenada is a safe country and enjoys the lowest crime rate in the entire Caribbean Region. The tropical sun and high humidity deserve your great respect. So take bottled water on outings. There may be more danger for pedestrians on narrow sidewalks and streets than from crime.

Stay healthy

There is a General Hospital in St.George's, a smaller hospital at Mirabeau on the east coast and one in Carriacou. A small private hospital in St. Paul, clinics and doctors are available. House-calls can be made.

Drinking water is chlorinated in most places; if in doubt about safety/potability, ask the seller or server.

Dialysis is now available on the island. A company called Island Health Services has opened the first dialysis unit. Fresenius has been operating for almost a year now. If regularly dependent on dialysis, ensure in-advance that the type(s) offered meet your needs.

Have fun, but use a condom! Local slogan - "Don't be a fool, wrap your tool!"

Respect

Although Grenada is a West Indian island in the Caribbean, Grenadians do not spend the majority of their time "liming" on the beach. They are very serious about their jobs and many workplaces require specially-tailored suits. Though work remains, they rightly take well-deserved pride in widespread repairs to massive damage from hurricane Ivan.

St. George's Town is a place of commerce with the many banks, businesses, and governmental offices. Do not confuse it for the beach. It is often seen as rude or disrespectful for people to walk around Grenada inappropriately dressed, especially if you are dressed for the beach and you are not on it (Grenada just recently passed and is starting to enforce an indecent exposure law that bans bathing suits in non-beach areas as well as saggy pants that reveal underwear). Do not confuse the laid-back attitude for lazy, as Grenadians have a very formal and conservative attitude about their lifestyle and workplace.

Connect

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