Grenada and Carriacou are the complete holiday destination, boasting a host of attractions and activities to keep you occupied when you are not exploring beneath the surface.
For the adventurous, the lush interior offers many hiking trails, ranging from gently undulating, family-friendly paths to rugged, off-the-beaten-track explorations. The rainforest around the Grand Etang Forest Reserve is one of the most-popular areas on the island, and the thick vegetation surrounding Grand Etang Lake – a 30-acre body of water sitting in the crater of an extinct volcano – is home to a wide variety of animals, including the playful Mona monkey (Grenada is its only home outside of West Africa). The 450-acre Levera National Park has an extensive mangrove swamp that is considered one of the most-important wildlife habitats on the island, and between March and August, you have the chance to witness leatherback turtles laying their eggs, or see the newly born youngsters making their way to the sea.
To explore the island using other modes of transport, you can venture off on a jeep safari or a self-drive guided buggy tour, which will deliver you to some out-of-the-way places, or use pedal power to explore on a bicycle. Of course, there are a multitude of seasoned drivers offering minibus tours of the islands, who will be able to regal you with all manner of facts, figures and interesting information. Why not tie a tour in with a river tubing adventure? Blasting down river in a blow-up ring is fun for all of the family!
There are lots of opportunities to delve into the rich history of the islands as well. At the Belmont Estate, a 300-year-old working plantation spread across 400 acres, you can see firsthand the centuries-old practice of processing cocoa and producing some of the region’s best chocolate, while on the River Antoine Estate – a privately owned rum distillery dating back to 1785 – you can marvel at the oldest functioning water-propelled distillery in the western hemisphere. On Carriacou, the Belair National Park is home to various old English and French ruins, along with pristine windmills, attesting to the island’s industrial heritage. To really head into the past, check out the petroglyphs, well-carved images embedded into rocks at several points around the western and northern coasts of Grenada, which are from the Amerindian era around 1,000AD.
The Gouyave nutmeg processing station, one of the largest factories on Grenada, gives you an insight into how workers choose, grade and package the nutmegs, an export that helped gain Grenada its nickname of ‘the Spice Island’ (it is the second largest producer of nutmeg in the world).
In St George’s – the capital of Grenada – you can tour around Fort George, Fort Matthew and Fort Frederick, which were all established in the 18th century and offer stunning panoramic views of the town. You can also see the Christ of the Deep statue, which was commissioned by the Italian Costa Steamship Line in appreciation for the rescue of the passengers and crew off the Bianca C cruise liner when it sank in 1961, and wander around the Carenage, a picturesque harbour that is a hub of trade and tourism.
If you can’t get enough of that inviting, warm, blue water, then there are plenty of surface watersports on offer. You can chill out and relax on a sailing catamaran cruise, taking in the stunning island scenery, or if that isn’t fast enough for you, why not try a high-speed RIB safari? If you want to explore under your own power, many places offer rental of Hobie Cat catamarans, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, and for the kids – and the young-at-heart! – you can always go for a blast on a ringo towed behind a speedboat, or try your hand at flyboarding.
The native inhabitants of the islands are very welcoming and friendly, so make sure you also take time to interact with the locals. There are plenty of events throughout the year on both Grenada and Carriacou, from colourful carnivals, sailing regattas, fishing tournaments, music festivals and even events dedicated to that tasty island delicacy, chocolate!
And let’s not forget that Grenada and Carriacou are the perfect place to just kick back, relax and let the islands whisk away the trials and tribulations of daily life back home. Nothing beats chilling out on one of any number of beaches with an ice-cold cocktail and soaking up the island vibes. Heh, if it was good enough for Captain Jack Sparrow – Anse La Roche Beach on Carriacou was featured in the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie – it is good enough for you! Now, where’s the rum…