Grenada is known as the Spice Island of the Caribbean, famous for its nutmeg. In 1979 it gained international recognition for its socialist revolution, with iconic images of marijuana-smoking dreadlocked soldiers holding AK47s. That all ended with the US invasion of 1983. Grenada’s culture is based on African and French traditions as well as British – it was a British colony until 1974.
Grenada has a tiny landmass of 350 square kilometres, similar to that of Malta. The island nation is located at the south east of the Caribbean sea, just north of Trinidad & Tobago, and that of mainland Venezuela. As of 2015, Grenada had a population of just over 100,000 people.
In 2013, Grenada welcomed 110,000 international tourists. Tourism used to be a very low-key affair; with mainly small-scale locally owned resorts, until the devastation of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 led to the selling of national parks and an ill-considered rush towards unregulated foreign developments.
However, Grenada (including its sister isles, Carriacou and Petite Martinique) is still a lure for nature lovers. There’s snorkelling and diving off white sand beaches, cooling down in the rainforest around the Grand Etang crater lake, and hiking up waterfalls and hot springs. Such energetic activities can be pursued when not strolling around the pretty capital of St George’s, with its 18th-century buildings and forts.
There are spice plantations to visit, and the River Antoine rum distillery (whose rum is too strong to be carried on a plane!) and the colourful market square, where Dorothy Dandridge did the limbo in the Movie ‘Island in the Sun.’
Carriacou and Petite Martinique have a closer connection to their African past, with their tombstone feasts and Big Drum Nation Dancing, which perpetuate the dancers’ ties to their specific tribal lineages. Boat building, using traditional techniques, and unique wedding rituals particularly define tiny Petite Martinique.
What really makes Grenada special is the geniality of its people. It’s still relatively unspoiled, crime free and has a heart-warming sense of community.