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Beach bliss

Grenada: An ideal first time Caribbean retreat

Samantha Fowler January 14, 2014

For the most part, when you think of the Caribbean, you think sun drenched beaches and idyllic blue waters, and you wouldn’t be far wrong. However, I think it’s important to really emphasise the fact that each and every island is so very different, and for that very reason you should delve a little deeper to find the island best suited to you.  As a nation, we automatically think of the more well known islands of Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua as our go-to Caribbean hotspots. What we don’t realise is, that the Caribbean boasts over 28 nationalised islands each with their own individual characteristics and charm. For me, Grenada wasn’t somewhere in the Caribbean I’d considered before.  I mean, how different can it be? How different indeed!


Meandering through the winding roads, I came across small chocolate box houses with brightly coloured roofs and quaint little gardens with banana, cinnamon and pineapple trees. I even felt a slight sense of nostalgia on hearing it’s an island where the locals feel no need to lock their front doors.


On arrival at our hotel on Grande Anse Beach, the views were simply breathtaking. A stretch of golden sandy beach fringed by turquoise blue waters awaited me. As you look into the horizon, you can see the main town area as well as the mountain peaks and rainforests.


Whilst soaking up the rays of the sun, a welcome relief from the cold and rain back in England, we were approached by one or two beach vendors, selling handmade necklaces and bracelets. Whilst some tourists see them as a nuisance, I can’t help but feel admiration for these people who get up every day trying to make what little money they can in the name of survival.  I was more than happy to buy a few mementoes of my time in Grenada.


Although the island is little more than the size of the Isle of Wight, it is by no means small and there is plenty to explore.  Throughout the week we took part in a range of activities. One of my favourites has to be river tubing. Not for the faint hearted; you are submerged into a rubber ring and guided down the river by a group of gentleman who know the river like the back of their hands.  The position of the rocks and boulders on the way down, help guide your journey, gently coerced by the rapids. Admittedly though, relaxing at times, the current will leave you screaming in laughter as you spiral downwards, and occasionally find yourself temporarily stuck on a rock as I did!


On your drive up to where the river tubing is located you will really see the diversity of this beautiful island. Waterfalls, colourful plants, varied wildlife and people going about their daily duties at a leisurely pace, after all it can’t be easy in 30 degree heat, I struggled to simply get from the beach to the bar without wanting to melt!


 A must see was the nutmeg processing factory with a guided tour. When we think about factories in the UK we think huge processing plants with machinery and heavy duty equipment, not in Grenada! This small yet lucrative product is one of the country’s most important sources of income, all work is done by hand in a sparse building scattered with workers cracking and sorting these little gems by hand.  This is no different to the chocolate factory. To me, the brightly coloured walls reminded me of the Willy Wonka movie, I even expected to be greeted at the door by a short man with thick rim glasses and a top hat and I wasn’t far wrong! I’d say it was more the Caribbean version; a small yet energetic local, boasting a smile that could light a room and the atmosphere oozing wonderful smells of rich cocoa.  And a room is all that really made up this tiny little chocolate gem. The smell of pure cocoa is somewhat overwhelming when you enter which only encouraged me to explore the range of chocolate on offer, it was simply delectable!


For all of your souvenir requirements you need to head down to the market area in the centre of St Georges, the hustle and bustle of vendors each showcasing their produce. Don’t forget to haggle if you do a bit of a bulk buy as I did, they will automatically knock a bit off. It’s also great if you have friends or family who love to cook. Fresh Cocoa, turmeric, nutmeg and cinnamon all at a fantastic price and it gives back to the local community.


Now, onto the night life - If you’re looking to party hard, day and night, then Grenada is not the island for you but there are quite a few things to do in the evening. Grenada has a weekly fish fry in the fishing village of Gouyave. Stalls serving lobsters the size of your hand luggage, all types of fish and of course the accompaniments, including my ultimate favourite – Macaroni Pie. There are a few hot spots in terms of nightclubs. Our favourite was YOLO, playing a variety of music including chart music and the more local sounds of Reggae and Soca, it’s a real hot spot at the weekends, but be warned Caribbean nightlife doesn’t really get going til 1am so pace yourself, the drinks are strong!


So, should Grenada be part of your bucket list? Most definitely. Once you’ve visited will you want to return? I reckon so. The island is so easy to get around, when I return, I will be sure to hire a car and simply explore. Even though I crammed a lot into a week’s adventure this time, I still feel like there is so much more to see. The friendliness of the people and the beauty of the surroundings are second to none when it comes to a Caribbean adventure.