Grenada (Photo:NAPA/Shutterstock)
2017 Top-Rated Southern Caribbean Destinations
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Grenada

To the uninitiated, the Southern Caribbean island of Grenada is better known for its political history than it is for being a vacation paradise. (U.S. troops intervened in a coup during President Reagan's administration, at the time a controversial volley in the Cold War.) But for the tourists pouring in to explore its numerous beaches or hike its mountainous rainforests via the island's increasing cruise business -- on a recent day, five ships were docked at the capital of St. George's -- such associations belong in the past.

So, too, does Hurricane Ivan, which damaged 90 percent of Grenada's buildings, destroyed 85 percent of its nutmeg trees, and left more than half the population homeless in September 2004. While you'll still see some lingering effects as you tour around the island (churches without roofs, homes still being rebuilt), St. George's is as colorful and charming as ever. Most restaurants, tourist attractions and hotels are back in business -- in many cases refurbished and looking even better than they did before.

Visitors can still bask in the sun on the wide, white-sand Grand Anse Beach, visit the Mona monkeys that live near Grand Etang National Park, or enjoy a lazy waterfront lunch along the horseshoe-shaped Carenage harbor. Take advantage of Grenada's topography and work up a sweat as you hike to one of the island's multi-tiered waterfalls; then, cool off with a relaxing swim in the chilled waters. Make sure to sample some of the diverse, wonderfully seasoned cuisine, befitting Grenada's "Isle of Spice" nickname. At St. George's market, you'll find ginger, cinnamon, mace, turmeric and nutmeg sharing space with coconuts, bananas and more exotic fruit, such as star-shaped carambola.

Grenada's famous nutmeg industry is still recovering from the 2004 hurricane; the trees take between seven and 15 years to mature enough to bear fruit. But interested visitors can still tour spice plantations and processing stations to learn about the hardy new varieties of nutmeg trees that are being planted -- varieties that will hopefully survive the next big storm. Or tour River Antoine Estate, a rum distillery that still uses a 19th-century water wheel to produce 152-proof liquor, considered too strong for visitors to bring home on a plane. Either way, the natural bounty of one of the Caribbean's friendliest islands will entice those searching for eco-tourism adventures or laze-the-day-away relaxation. Grenada truly has assets to fulfill both.

About Grenada


Pro

Lush botanical gardens, waterfalls and a wealth of spices make shopping and sightseeing a delight

Con

Grand Anse is a beautiful beach close to the cruise port; expect major crowding when multiple ships call

Bottom Line

Grenada is a lively Southern Caribbean port with history, shopping and sun


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Where You're Docked

Most ships dock at the Melville Street Cruise Terminal, which exits through the Esplanade Shopping Mall and then out into downtown St. George's. Other (mostly smaller) ships dock nearby at the Carenage, a horseshoe-shaped waterfront area with shops and restaurants.

Good to Know

The streets in St. George's are steep, with deep gutters running under very narrow sidewalks. Make sure you watch where you are going so you don't turn an ankle -- or worse.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Grenada's local currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar. You can use American dollars around the island, though you may receive change in the local currency. ATMs are plentiful in St. George's and other major tourist areas. For the latest exchange rates, please visit www.xe.com.

Language

English is the official language spoken in Grenada. You will also hear a French-African patios spoken by the locals.

Shopping

Stop by the raucous market in St. George's to buy a ubiquitous necklace made up of spices. Or pick up some nutmeg syrup; it tastes great on pancakes, over ice cream or in coffee.

Best Cocktail

Whether it's a Painkiller (rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut and orange juice) or punch made with potent, local Clarke's Court rum, most drinks in Grenada come topped with nutmeg, one of the island's major staples.


Grenada Awards

Cruisers' Choice Destination Awards

2017 Top-Rated Southern Caribbean Destinations