If you’re looking for a true hidden gem to discover in the Caribbean Sea, then look no further than the island nation of Grenada, in the Windward Islands. Located in the West Indies, Grenada is known as the “Spice Island” of the Caribbean and remains an agricultural destination, where visitors can witness firsthand (and participate in the process) of nutmeg, cocoa, and rum. But there is more to Grenada than that—read on for the 12 best activities to take experience the rich culture and breathtaking nature of Grenada.
Sail Aboard a Traditional Caribbean Schooner
The Carriacou boat’s name derives from the island of Carriacou, which, alongside Petite Martinique, makes up the tri-island state of Grenada. Grenada is now the boat-building capital of the Caribbean, and the vessels retail for quite some money in places like St. Barth’s. Sail aboard the Jambalaya, a traditional wooden schooner, and enjoy an afternoon of snorkeling or a rum punch while watching the sun set in the Caribbean Sea
Grand Anse Beach is one of the top beaches in the Caribbean, with 2 miles of white sand nestled beneath the hillside of Spice Island Beach Resort and Mount Cinnamon Resort. We recommend enjoying dinner at the latter, and making a reservation at Savvy restaurant to listen to a steel drum band while looking down on the shores of Grand Anse from Mount Cinnamon. This celebrated beach is the most popular on Grenada owing to its gentle surf, beautiful wide swath of sand, and ample activities, including a diversity of watersports, restaurants, beach bars, and fine hotels.
Dive at the World’s First Underwater Sculpture Park
Among the 30-odd dive sites in the waters off Grenada are a variety of reefs and wrecks—the latter both accidental and manmade. British artist Jason de Caires Taylor's underwater sculpture park chronicles various aspects of the island's history. Though he would go on to build underwater parks throughout the world, this remains the first of its kind.
Hike in Grand Etang National Park
Like many Caribbean islands, Grenada has an interior that has remained relatively pristine thanks to its mountainous geography. That pristine nature is on full display at the Grand Etang National Park. This high-elevation rainforest reserve boasts a variety of hiking paths with outings led by expert guides who can point out the various flora and fauna as you pass through, from mahogany trees to Mona monkeys. Grand Etang Lake sits in an extinct volcanic crater and is a great spot for bird-watching. For a truly immersive experience, you can camp out overnight in several campgrounds within the park.
When you live on an island, you tend to eat a lot of fish, and Fridays tend to be fish dinner nights in the Caribbean owing to residents' strong Christian faith, which discourages meat consumption on Fridays. Put that all together with a dash of community spirit and a fun-loving attitude and you have the weekly fish fries that are popular throughout the Caribbean. The village of Gouyave is known as the fishing capital of Grenada and Gouyave Fish Fridays start at about 6 p.m. and run till after midnight, depending on the crowds. Just because you're at a fish fry doesn't necessarily mean the fish is only served fried;you can get your fresh fish, lobsters, conch, shrimp and other delicacies grilled, jerked, or even in fish-cake form from the many vendors who set up shop, plus of course plenty of beer and local rum, served up to the beat of local bands.
Enjoy a Rum Tasting at River Antoine Estate
For a truly local experience, visit River Antoine Estate for a rum tasting and a tour of the historic site. Rum is a Grenadian tradition, and this variety is so popular that the company never needs to export any of the product off-island. A must-visit for a truly authentic experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else.
Most plantations in the Caribbean have faded into history, so what makes Belmont Estate unique is that it still functions as an agricultural business, producing cocoa and nutmeg as well as entertaining tourists. Visitors to this 17th-century plantation can tour the organic farm and gardens, explore an on-site museum, and a cocoa-processing facility, meet farm animals at a petting zoo, dine at a cafe serving traditional island food like mutton and callaloo soup, and shop at a market for spices, crafts, and flowers.
The National Museum on Young Street in St. George’s is a must-visit for travelers eager to learn more about the island’s history. Grenada's tiny National Museum is housed in a former French barracks building at Fort George, built in 1704, and includes standing exhibits on the island's early inhabitants, slavery, the plantation economy, as well as some material on local animal and plant life. It's far from extensive but it's well worth the low price of admission to learn a little about Grenada's rich history.
Mount Hartman Dove Sanctuary
Less than 100 Grenada Doves survive in the wild, all within this small preserve, part of the Mount Hartman Estate. Also known as the Pea Dove or Well's Dove, the Grenada Dove (Leptotila wellsi) is the national bird of Grenada. The park was established in 1996 with the express mission of protecting the remaining dove population, although the land has been periodically threatened by development. The doves roost in thorny, dry-scrub vegetation and guides can help you spot one of these rare birds in their last remaining natural habitat.
Swim in the Annandale Waterfalls
Follow a short, garden-like trail to Grenada's most popular waterfall, just outside St. George. The 30-foot falls can sometimes be crowded with vendors and performers flocking here to solicit the tourists, but the local color also can sometimes include amateur cliff-divers, a thrill to watch (if not participate). If you want to enjoy a quiet swim in the pool below the falls, time your visit for when there are no cruise ships in port.
This diverse cultural center includes a theater where you can experience dance and drama as well as live music (including steel pan and calypso performances), an open-air restaurant, and a Grenada heritage museum. The heritage museum at the Spice Basket is the only museum in the world that’s dedicated to cricket, featuring a special exhibit on the history of West Indies cricket.
Process Nutmeg in Gouyave
Head to Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station to learn more about Grenada’s agricultural roots. Prior to Hurricane Ivan in 2004, nutmeg was the top export crop in Grenada, but the storm destroyed many of the nutmeg trees on the island. Still, while cocoa is now number-one, the Spice Island still produces a prodigious amount of nutmeg. For just a dollar you can visit this working factory where nutmegs are collected, processed and packaged. It's a hands-on experience where you have the opportunity to help sort the nutmeg used as a spice from that destined to become medicine or cosmetics. And, of course, there's a gift shop where you can buy some nutmeg (and related souvenirs) to take home from your vacation.