Grenada

Grenada is a country in the Caribbean consisting of seven islands with the largest also called Grenada. Over the course of its history it has been a French and later a British colony and remains part of the Commonwealth. The only widely spoken languages on the islands are English and a Grenadine patois based on English. Outside of the Caribbean the country is often known as the “Island of Spice” on account of its being one of the world’s largest exporters of tropical spices such as nutmeg and mace.

Climate

Grenada has a tropical climate which means it experiences two seasons. The rainy season is hot but, as its name implies, quite rainy. The dry season is cooler and sunnier making Grenada’s weather ideal for tourists for half of the months in any given year. The rainy season lasts from June to December but it does not usually rain every day during the rainy season and when it does the rain does not generally last very long. For tourists it is perhaps better to think of June to December as the “hot and rainy season.” The coolest and driest months are from January to April when the temperature is usually warm but not baking hot, usually settling in the mid 20’s celsius.

It is also important to remember that Grenada is situated just on the edge of a hurricane belt. Although the country only suffers from serious hurricane damage roughly once in every twenty years when it does that damage can be devastating. As such, when planning a visit during rainy season it is important to double check that no hurricanes are expected.

Getting around the island

The most popular mode of transportation in Granada is probably the bus. A Grenadian “bus” is generally a licensed minibus which holds around 17 people and contains much of the paraphernalia of a bus but with a very different shape than what many British people will be used to. There is a bus terminal which many of these are based out of in the centre of the capital (St. George’s). The average price of a bus journey is probably EC $6 or roughly £1.50 GBP.

There are also a number of independent and publicly run taxi firms. Currently the standard fare from Grenada Airport to St. George’s is EC $30 and you can generally expect trips around the city to cost less than EC $45.

Many of the major car rental companies operate garages on the island and as with a great number of Commonwealth Grenadian drivers drive on the left hand side of the road so most British drivers will have very little difficulty adapting. If you have a UK driver’s license you will automatically qualify for a temporary Grenadian license which you can obtain from a police station for $30 East Caribbean Dollars. At the time of writing (July 2012) this equates to just over £7 GBP.

Grenada has a very mountainous countryside and all care must be taken with sharp bends and narrow roads when touring the islands. It is advisable to beep your horn when taking a blind corner and to drive with due care and attention. Within towns the pedestrian (pavement) area of roads is usually either narrow or non existent and so, again, corners must be taken more slowly than you may be used to.

Things to do

Water Sports – The island is well known for its water-based activities including diving and snorkelling. In fact, it has been called “The Diving Capital of the Eastern Caribbean.” Part of this reputation will stem from the presence of the Bianca C Shipwreck, the largest in the surrounding ocean, a cruiseliner which met its end in the early 1960s. Within a fifteen minute boat trip of the island are also corall reefs and various examples of maritime archaeology that it is possible to explore.

Gouyave – Gouyave is known as a bit of a party town and it comes alive in particular on its weekly Fish Friday celebration. This is a traditional outdoor fish fry of the kind common on many Caribbean islands with live music and dancing. By British standards the food and drink is incredibly cheap and the atmosphere is vibrant with plenty of stallholders selling fresh fish and locals out for a party.

Sailing – The island is packed full of opportunities to rent a sailing boat for a day, rent a days sailing trip with someone else to do the sailing and to rent a dingy and take it out into the ocean. With some of the most beautiful cost lines in the Eastern Caribbean no trip to Grenada would be complete without taking a boat out to gawp at them. Trips are generally affordable but with the sheer number of different companies  that exist on the island it is important to shop around.

Things to consume

Grenada Chocolate – Grenada chocolate is a dark, naturally produced form of locally made chocolate famous around the world for its high quality and flavouring. It is possible to buy this all around Grenada for far less than it would cost to buy it as an export. Well worth trying and, if you like it, taking some home.

Vanilla – You can buy real vanilla extract or dried pods all around for a fraction of the prices that they are sold for elsewhere. The flavours of vanilla bought so soon after picking are stronger and differ slightly from the vanilla that you are more used to finding in shops. Remember when buying herbs or other plant life that they must be sold in a sealed container in order to bring them back to the UK and that some herbs are restricted. Make sure to check the rules before purchasing.

Nutmeg – Grenada’s biggest export, nutmeg is to be found in abundance in all of the weekly markets and in a great deal of foods that you buy on the island. You can buy it in the form of jam, syrup and even ointments (Nutmed).