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Grenada may not top your list of must-see Caribbean islands, but it should. Less than an hour’s flight from Barbados to the northeast, this tiny and largely unspoiled “spice island” of about 100,000 people takes pride in the fact that they are unique from other places in the West Indies.

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For sure the vibe is different. You won’t see a bunch of big name hoteliers, for example. You also won’t find a lot of “traditional” nightlife either. Mostly the locals like to “lime,” a.k.a. hang out and have get-togethers on the beach where cooking, conversation and consuming rum are the order of the day—and night. You can expect favorite foods like rice and peas, curried goat and fried flying fish. The national dish, oil down, is a thick stew of salted fish or meat, breadfruit, dumplings, leafy callaloo leaves, and root vegetables and it will fill your belly so much you may not want to eat until late the next day.

Grand Anse Beach | Flickr CC: Andrew Moore

Grand Anse Beach | Flickr CC: Andrew Moore

The pace is slow, so chill. Nobody is in a hurry and neither should you be. Grenada is about the water, the bays, the boisterous Atlantic Ocean on one side and the calm, Caribbean Sea on the other. You’ll find, pink, white and black sand on the island, plus plenty of great beach options like Grand Anse, Morne Rogue, La Sagesse, Magazine and Lavera, among others. Swim, snorkel, kayak, paddle board, river tube, or just relax on the beach, bothering only to raise a glass of rum punch or an icy cold Carib Lager. An underwater volcano makes for ideal conditions for a variety of marine life and fishing.

But the good times aren’t limited to the beach. The capital city, St. George’s, is home to the Spice Market, where you’ll see first-hand, all that flavors the island. For an insider’s view, go to the Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station where you can watch workers choose, grade and package nutmeg. Then there are centuries-old Fort Matthew and Fort Frederick. If you’re feeling adventurous, jump in the Concord Waterfall. Grand Etang National Park includes a nature park and Grand Etang Lake. Rum lover or not, you might like to visit the River Antoine Rum Distillery. It is the oldest continuously operating rum distillery in the Western Hemisphere. Your jaw will drop at how they are still using equipment from another era, without the latest technology, and still produce what is no doubt the locals’ most loved rum. The Grenada Chocolate Company, meanwhile, is praised for its award-winning dark chocolate; be sure to find out why.

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Much of Grenada’s beauty comes from its tropical locale. The landscape is lush, and the biodiversity of plants are said to be the largest in the Caribbean. Ninety percent of their food is grown locally. Farm-to-table was a way of life in Grenada, long before it was fashionable elsewhere. Two words describe every meal here—fresh and fabulous. Don’t expect anything ordinary. Everything has a Grenadian spin, mostly in the spices used including nutmeg, turmeric, cinnamon and mace that are grown on the Belmont Estate and elsewhere on the island. When you see wild meat on the menu, it’s no joke. Rabbit, armadillo, possum and iguana are all local delicacies.

Eat at “cook shops,” which are little huts with good grub, as well as an array of restaurants. Truth is, you probably can’t go wrong. Some favorites include BB’s Crabback, The Beach House Restaurant, and Umbrella’s Beach Bar, and you don’t want to leave the island without having “tapas” at Patrick’s Local Home Style Restaurant in St George’s. While you can do vegetarian and vegan, meat lovers will go gaga for cod fish cakes, gingered pork, creole fish, lamb in creole sauce and stirfried rabbit. Of course, there’s oil down, as well as rice, fried plantains and more.

Photo courtesy of Mount Cinnamon Grenada

Photo courtesy of Mount Cinnamon Grenada

Given all the great outdoor life in Grenada, it’s easy to make lodging a secondary thought, but do consider a great boutique hotel or seaside resort like Mount Cinnamon Grenada. Small, with just a couple dozen hacienda suites and villas with views of the Caribbean Sea and Grand Anse Beach, Mount Cinnamon feels beachy with its splashes of blues, greens, berry-reds, pinks and tangerine in its guest rooms, while the food at restaurant Savvy’s is top notch. Try the pan-seared bay scallops, pumpkin and herb risotto, with parmesan cheese or curried shrimp, fragrant basmati rice with sautéed veggies. Take advantage of the spa services. Rumor has it they have some of the best spa staff on the island. The service is not only attentive, but beyond friendly. They go out of their way to interact with guests. You’ll joke, laugh, share stories and miss them afterward, along with all the beauty that is Grenada.

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Tagged: Caribbean

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Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl is a writer and editor, specializing in travel, personal finance, business and career topics. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Money, DailyFinance.com, Forbes.com, ABCNews.com, Upscale Magazine, Essence, Black Enterprise and others.

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