Grenada: March 12 - April 12, 2019
Updated: May 14, 2019
A Caribbean getaway to The Spice Island.
1. Flights: Direct flights out of JFK on JetBlue, Toronto on Air Canada, London on Virgin Atlantic, otherwise you are connecting in MIA.
2. Currency Exchange: Grenada uses the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC) which is pegged to the US dollar at $2.7EC to 1 $US.
-ATM: the Grenda Co-operative Bank (Connex) ATM at Spice Land Mall is your safest bet for withdrawing EC dollars.
-there is a currency exchange in the departure lounge at the airport ($5 EC commission on a $50 EC conversion back to US dollars). Use it to convert any remaining EC after buying Duty Free rum.
Tip: take about $200 US in cash (or equivalent) with you to Grenada as a backup, but use your ATM card to withdraw EC dollars. Use your credit card as much as possible. You can convert the US cash (or equivelent) in an emergency or just use it directly (most places will take it at slightly disadvantageous exchange rate).
3. Lodgings: Stayed at an AirBnB in L'Anse Aux Epines (pronounced "lance ahh peens", its French for Cove of Pines, say it fast, like the locals). This location is mostly residential, but has a number of private apartments for rent and two small but pricey hotels (L'Anse Aux Epines Cottages and The Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel). This is an in-between location as far as a rental car is concerned, we had one (see below), but you could be able to get a away with using the local mini-vans and the St. George's shuttle bus which runs from L’Anse Aix Epines (home to a large student population) to the university.
4. Rum: You’re in the Caribbean so you need to try some:
- River Antoine Distillery: Eatablished in 1785 and still making rum the exact same way. Come for the short but very interesting tour (that includes the original waterwheel used to extract the sugarcane juice), stay for the free samples of firewater ersatz rum. I'd give the restaurant the go by, if your hungry drive into Grenville and eat at Good Eats (see below) or the Box Shop.
-Westerhall Dark Rum (7 Year Old): for $26 EC, this is pretty dam good rum. Maybe not as good as their 10XO Rum, but for the price, not bad at all.
-don’t buy rum at the duty free in MIA, JFK or GND (yes you can buy duty free at the airport after you land). There is better selection and cheaper prices at the IGA. When departing Grenada, Duty Free rum prices are a few dollars higher at the airport than at the IGA (Though for me convenience outweighed the price).
5. Food: The Real Value IGA at the Spiceland Mall is your best bet.
-Beer: Carib vs Stag: made by the same Grenada brewery and is the budweiser of Grenada. If you ask me, they taste the same. Identically priced throughout the island (@ $5-6 EC). I'm partial to Stag for obvious reasons.
Note: $0.25 EC deposit on all Carib, Stag and Ting bottles. Bring empties back to customer service, get a receipt, take receipt to cashier and it will be deducted from your grocery bill.
-BB's Crabback: Great views of St. George's Harbor (we saw two ships getting underway as we ate). Dinner for two with drinks = $81 US. Get the eponymous crabback for an appetizer (It's creamy crab meat stuffed back it the shell from whence it came). If it's Friday, get the Oil Down (see Misc below).
-Umbrella's: Possibly the most famous restaurant on Granada. Great location on Grand Anse Beach with good views from the second floor deck (that unfortunately include the Umbrella's parking lot, or should I say car park). Slow service and matching food. If I were you I would go next door to . . .
-Cummin' Up: A local beach shack that serves beer ($5 EC), rum punch and whatever their serving' that day, which for us was Jerk Chicken ($20 EC) and fresh fish ($20 EC). Slow service and good food. Cash only.
Note: If you're lookin' for some "relaxation" mon, then the local boys who frequent this place may be able to provide. The missus was able to get sample toke (of "Skywalker" imported directly for the US) which she thoroughly enjoyed. Cash only.
-Cuban Corner: located in Options, which is group of food shacks on True Blue Rd. I recommend the Pernil (Cuban Pork) with black beans & rice (try the green cilantro sauce - trust me on this one). They don’t sell beer, so buy some at the nearby Pita Palace.
-Sand Bar: cold beer and bbq chicken (but only if Patrick is at the grill).
-Patrick's Local Homestyle Cooking Restaurant: this place gets great reviews on Tripadvisor and I wanted to eat at a local place, so really wanted to give this place a great review, but I couldn’t. It’s not bad, but nothing special. Had the Ocean Gar which was rather bland. Maybe it was just a bad day.
-Rick’s Cafe (for pizza): Recommended by my Canadian friend Ron who spends 6 months out of 12 on the island every year. We had the OPA (Greek style veggie pizza). A little pricey at $60 EC, but not bad at all (though not as good as $1 US slice of NYC street pizza). Cash only.
-Andy’s Soup House: Very few restaurants recieve a five star TripAdvisor review, this is one of them. Everything about this place is superb: outstanding and efficient service, excellent food at very economical prices, served in beautiful surroundings. We had split-pea with pigtail soup, pumpkin soup, goat roti, three beers and three scoops of ice cream (the nutmeg is highly recommended) - a feast for only $79 EC. Cash only.
-La Plywood Beach Bar (Morne Rouge Beach): Possibly the best beach bar in Grenada. Great views, cold beer (2 for $5 US) and superb tacos*. Say hi to Levi the bartender and if your having a good time ask him for some of the under the counter (UTC) rum - potent but tasty (white lightening with island spices). Located well away from where the cruise ship lighters deposit their customers - get my drift?
*what makes this taco so good? The tortilla was perfectly prepared, pliable, but firm enough so you can get the taco filling easily into your taco hole.
-Good Food (Grenville): tasty and economical. We ordered cou cou (a corn based polenta) and mahi mahi.
7. Coffee: Not sure if the classic American coffee house exists in Grenada:
-Mocha Spokes (Container Park in True Blue): A good cup of coffee (or may I recommend a Caribbean Mocha) in a food court made out of . . . you guessed it . . . old shipping containers. After getting a cup of coffee, go to the bakery that is kitty corner to get a nosh/sweet.
-Rituals Coffeehouse: a compact storefront located on the campus of St George’s University (Founders Library). Good coffee, better pastries (try the Jam Cookie and the eclair stuffed with chocolate custard) and limited inside seating (though plenty outside in the courtyard). Great views of True Blue Bay nearby.
-Spice Island Coffee: Bare bones operation located just North of the Maurice Bishop Memorial Highway. Come early as by early afternoon they will be out of pastries. Bottom Line: Best coffee on the island and the worst pastries (when available). They sell an extensive inventory of beans from around the world.
*The Irony: after commenting on the local work ethic ("Can you count? Then count on yourself!"), the owner’s credit card gizmo didn’t work (and I had the distinct impression it wasn’t the first time). Bring cash just in case.
-Coyaba: Was at Grand Anse beach and felt like a coffee (Spice Isle Coffee was out of pastries), went here, recommend you don’t, nuff said.
-The Merry Bakery (Port Louis Marina): Bad coffee and excellent pastries (specifically cinnobons which are called Chelsea Rolls) and bread.
-Bella Milano: The best coffee shop on the island. Great coffee and delicious pastries (Bella Milano supplies pasties to Rituals). Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.
8. Scuba Diving:
-Eco Dive (Grand Anse, located on the grounds of the Coyoga Beach Resort): $76 for a one tank dive (all equipment included). $55 for snorkelers (which seems a little pricey, but that is the going rate on Grenada). We both snorkeled at Flamingo Reef and then I dove and my wife snorkeled the Sculpture Park. Flamingo Reef is a solid reef about 15 minutes North of Grand Anse beach (by boat). Good coral and fish (no turtles, wrays, sharks, octopus, etc to be seen though). The Sculpture Park was a bit underwhelming and little gimmicky - if I had to do it over, I'm not sure I would dive it. First time in my life the operator made me haul my own equipment to the boat and set it up myself (I certainly don't mind assembling the gear myself - it‘s a good refresher). The Divemaster was not that good at pointing out interesting aquatic life or explaining the dive site.
Note: if you are going to dive the Sculpture Park, then read up on the sculptures, it will make the dive more rewarding.
-ScubaTech (L’Anse Aix Epines Beach): didn't get a chance to dive with them, but they claim to dive everyday even if your are the only diver for that day's dive. A tiny bit pricier that Eco Dive.
-Grand Anse: This is the most famous beach in Grenada and one of the top 25 in the Caribbean. Pretty laid back when we were there. Most people have drink and burger at Umbrellas, but I recommend trying its next door neighbor Cummin' Up - see above.
-L'Anse Aux Epines: A sheltered beach, good for swimming and anchored sail boat watching. The sand has some blackness to it so it can get a little . . . hot . . . hot . . . hot. Great beach bar - the Sand Bar (see above).
-Port Louis Marina Beach: Park at the Port Louis Marina, have a coffee and pastry at The Merry Bakery (see above) and then walk to the end where the striated cliff face meets the water. There is a little beach protected by two jetties made of rocks. Swim to the end of the jetty for a spectacular view of downtown St. George’s.
-Morne Rouge: if it could do it over I would have stayed at this beach. Beautiful.
10. The Market held in Market Square every Friday and Saturday. Go through the Sendall Tunnel and make the first left and park, it may or may not cost $3.75 EC (with my wife at the wheel . . . ). Walk through the cruise ship terminal (and see how most people travel = a Subway sub + Duty Free Crap) into the center of town. A melange of locals selling fruits/vegetables/leather goods to locals + locals selling crap to cruise ship tourists (”hey! you looking for some nutmeg?“)
-House of Chocolate Museum: up Young Street from the market. Worth a brief visit.
11. The Seven Sisters Waterfall: According to TripAdvisor the best waterfall in Grenada:
-Try to get there early before the cruise ship riff raff arrive. When we went (@ 2:00 pm) we had the entire place to ourselves . . . for about 15 minutes, then came the masses.
-Drive in the entrance and bear right up the hill to a small parking lot where you will pay your entrance fee of $5 EC (cash only). Make sure you borrow a complimentary walking stick, it will be quite useful.
-if you want to jump off sister #2 into the pool below, make sure you hire a guide (so you know exactly where to jump). I just followed behind another group (w/ a guide),
-walk from entrance to the falls takes @ 30 minutes (downhill).
12. Lake Etang: Park on either side of the road, then proceed towards the visitor center on the hill (if you are short on time, bypass the visitor’s center). On the right behind the kiosks you may find some baby mona monkeys up in the trees (we did). Then proceed to the small ticket kiosk and buy your tickets ($2 US or $$2.35 EC). Then proceed down the road to the lake. Show your tickets to the guard and ask where the monkeys are to be seen (the guard actually “called” to the monkeys which came and played on my head). It’s a short five minute walk to the lake, which is quite peaceful.
-if security or a guide calls a monkeys for you, then the going rate is $5 EC.
-for obvious reasons, take bananas with you.
-this is not an all day thing, but is a perfect pit stop on the way to the northern section of the island/Grenville.
13. Rental Car: there is an extensive bus network, but a rental car may still be quite useful.
-I used Gabriels Car Rental @ $45/day for a 4x4 hardtop "jeep". Grenadian roads can be a tight and a little bumpy, so a compact 4x4 could be quite useful. Note: our rental was not an actual jeep but was a Daihatsu Terios (and it served us quite nicely).
-Gas costs @ $15 EC per gallon and is the same price at all gas stations (fixed by the government). Most stations only accept cash, though the Rubis at the Sugerhill Roundabout (The Lime) accepts credit card.
1. Grenada is pronounced like a hand grenade - "Gren aid a" BTW. "Gren nod a" is a place in Spain.
2. Oil Down is the national dish of Grenada. It is a stew of breadfruit, salted meat or chicken, coconut milk and spices. Generally served on Fridays.
3. The Grenada Flag (🇬🇩). The six stars are for the six parishes, with the middle star, encircled by a red disk, representing the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The symbol in the hoist represents a clove of nutmeg, one of the principal crops of Grenada.
4. Water: Whether the water from your tap is potable is debatable, but if I were you I'd boil it first. We were lucky enough to get mountain river water from a very kind family upstairs who had a business in Grenville.