The Grenadian Spell
News for Adventurous Travelers, December 1996
The Grenadian Spell
It starts with a whiff of nutmeg on the tarmac. A few jungle pools and plates of lambie later, you may never go home.
Twelve degrees north latitude is a good address in the Caribbean. Well south of the path of hurricanes and most cruise ships, Grenada quietly remains a place where abundance is still in abundance. The 12-by-21-mile island so overflows with natural endowments–healthy coral reefs, solitary beaches, and mountainous rainforests–that you don’t care if the way to them is over roads
That bounty comes partly by design, partly by default. By government decree, no building on the island may rise higher than a palm tree, so development must defer to a natural scale. The national park service has preserved 3,800 rainforest acres near the center of the island, plus a choice strip of north-coast beach and mangrove swamp. And the islanders have survived quite well
Not to overstate the-place-that-time-forgot scenario. The phones work, you can drink the water, and Grenada has a number of fine, small resorts, with water sports enough to keep you soggy and windburned for weeks. But it’s all a bit like those nutmeg trees amid the rainforest: Nothing’s glaring, obtrusive, or obvious. There are far fewer resorts than thatch-roof rum bars. And
The Capital Zone
The largest and nicest of the Grand Anse resorts is the Renaissance Grenada (doubles, $193-$256; 809-444-4371), which has 186 rooms in a garden setting just back from the beach and is home to Sanvics Watersports, a full dive and rental shop that runs trips to Grenada’s best dive sites. Smaller but still full-service is Coyaba Beach Resort (doubles, $175; 800-742-4276 or
Divers could do two-a-days for a week and not exhaust Grenada’s dive sites: The water’s clear (visibility is 60-100 feet) and the coral is thriving. The reef just off Grand Anse is good for a warm-up; after that, commute by boat with one of the dive shops. Dive Grenada (809-444-1092) specializes in wreck sites, most notably the Bianca C, a 600-foot Italian passenger liner that burned off St. George’s in 1961. Molinere Reef is a popular reef dive, with both shallow coral for snorkelers and 40-foot valleys for divers, all abounding with small reef fish. Grand Anse won’t make boardsailors forsake Aruba, but ten-knot breezes blow in the afternoon, and boards are available from the water sports
St. George’s will seem pleasantly authentic after any time in the manipulated realm of the resorts. Market Square is the place to be on a Saturday, when vendors cram the aisles with everything Grenadian: nutmeg, cocoa, cinnamon and other spices, breadfruit, papayas, and sugarcane juice, sold by women clad in hues as diverse as their produce. Stick around St. George’s for a
A winding, 30-minute drive from St. George’s brings you to the fringe of the rainforest; look for a fork to the left and a small sign indicating Annandale Falls. A short drive and a short walk lead to the falls and a swimming hole. The main road crests in the heart of Grand Etang at park headquarters, where a visitor center inside an old colonial home dispenses trail maps.
Bagging waterfalls rather than peaks is more the tradition in Grenada, but you’ll probably need help to navigate the unsigned and unmapped maze of slick trails that lead to Grand Etang’s septet of cascades, called the Seven Sisters. The guides from Henry’s Safari Tours (809-444-5313) know the trails and the flora well; one will drive you to the trailhead (about a mile beyond
If seven’s not enough, ask your guide to lead you on to Honeymoon Falls. After a couple of hairy stream crossings (forget any notion of staying dry) and a 20-foot rock-climb right through the middle of one waterfall (the footholds are good, though rendered invisible by the steady flow), you reach Honeymoon, a 45-foot tumble that emerges from an aperture in a cliff and falls
Come lunchtime, head for Betty Mascoll’s Great House, also known as Morne Fendue, just two miles inland from the village of Sauteurs. The hilltop mansion is a little frayed around the edges, but it still wears Caribbean colonial charm like a thick perfume–and serves a mean buffet lunch (callaloo soup, chicken with pumpkin and tania, all the rum punch you dare drink, for about
When you’re ready to return south, loop down the east side of the island as far as Grenville and then cut southwest by way of Grand Etang. Along the way, you’ll pass the forlorn site of Pearls Airport, where cows graze beside the hulls of an Aeroflot transport and a Cubana passenger plane, moldering in the sun since 1983.
Guide Dennis Henry grew up in this part of the island and runs a somewhat autobiographical half-day motorboat tour ($60) to south-island sites off any tourist path. Ask him to take you to The Conchs, where divers have created mini lagoons out of millions of conch shells; little-known snorkeling reefs; and a solitary beach on Hog Island. See it while you can: Hog, and Mount
The fishing’s so good here that much of Grenada’s commercial catch goes to less fortunate Caribbean islands. About ten miles out are fecund currents that carry tuna, blue marlin, and dorado. Club Mariner can arrange a half-day charter for three anglers for $250.
To make a night (or a week) of the south island, stay at La Sagesse Nature Center, where expat Floridian Mike Meranksi has converted the manor house of an old estate owned by a second cousin of Queen Elizabeth into a beachfront lodging: three rooms in the main house, plus a new two-room cottage next door. (Doubles cost $80-$90; phone 809-444-6458, E-mail email@example.com)
Southern California-based Bob Howells is a longtime contributor to Outside.