There’s the Caribbean of all-inclusive resorts, frozen cocktails, and sunset catamaran tours on repeat, and then there’s Grenada. Closer to Venezuela than Florida, this small archipelago—the larger Grenada, along with Carriacou and Petite Martinique to the north—is a veritable Spice Isle, where cocoa and nutmeg plantations outnumber resorts, waterfalls and untamed coastlines are ripe for exploration, and a different kind of vacation awaits intrepid travelers. Bring your bathing suit, casual clothes, and hiking boots and prepare to fall in love with one of the Caribbean’s friendliest and most unspoiled destinations.
When’s the best time to go to Grenada?
Just 100 miles off the coast of Venezuela, on the southern lip of the hurricane belt, Grenada is a good place to visit any time of year. Temperatures are generally steady and tropical, hovering in the mid-80s and tempered by the northeast trade winds. There are really only two times to consider when planning your trip to Grenada—dry season and rainy season—and believe it or not, each has its distinct appeal. Dry season (November to April) brings hot, humid weather that’s perfect for the beach, while rainy season (May to October) is when Grenada’s many flowers and tropical fruits are at their best—the mangoes, in season from June to September, will ruin you for all others.
In general, mid-December to mid-April is the busiest time in Grenada—and when the island sees the least rainfall. Go in February or March to catch some of the best festivals or between late March and early April to witness the spectacle of nesting sea turtles on the island’s north coast. May to early June is considered shoulder season and proves a great time to experience the island like a local, while August brings party people to Saint George’s for annual carnival celebrations.
How to get around Grenada
Travelers to Grenada arrive through the island’s only airport, Maurice Bishop, located about five miles north of Saint George’s. From there, you can catch a cab to your hotel for a fixed rate set by the government. Private taxis are also available for transport around the island, and many drivers double as tour guides if you’re looking to hire someone for a day trip or multi-day tour. Just ask your hotel concierge to recommend trusted drivers, and be sure to negotiate rates before agreeing to a ride so there’s no confusion when it comes time to pay.
That being said, as long as you feel comfortable driving on the left side, renting a car will help you make the most of your stay. Visitors must obtain a local license, but you can easily get one through your car rental agency for around $25 after showing your home driver’s license. Also be aware that coastal roads can be winding and guardrails aren’t always present.
Grenada’s public mini buses are efficient if crowded, should you want to try traveling the local way. Routes start at the main bus terminal in Saint George’s and cover most of the island, costing anywhere from EC$1 and EC$4.50 (US 40 cents to US$1.70). Drivers accept cash only; avoid using U.S. dollars and try to pay in small denominations.
There are also brightly colored wooden water taxis that operate between Saint George’s and Grand Anse Beach. Be sure to bring a change of clothing, as rides can be wet.
Can’t miss things to do in Grenada
- Those visiting Grenada for relaxation should head straight for Grand Anse Beach, which stretches for nearly two miles and boasts clear, calm waters. For something more active, certified scuba divers should check out the Bianca C wreck—a former Italian cruise ship, nicknamed the “Titanic of the Caribbean,” that sank in Saint George’s harbor in 1961.
- Grenada is known as the Spice Isle for its abundant nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cacao. To get a real feel for the island, tour a spice plantation or factory during your stay. Belmont Estate is a good place to start.
- Grenada is famous for its waterfalls, with Concord Falls being among the best. Located on the island’s west coast, the series of three waterfalls includes one cascade that’s easy to reach by car, no hiking boots required.
- Food-obsessed travelers will want to make a reservation at Rhodes at Calabash, one of Grenada’s top fine-dining restaurants, where cured mahi mahi and poached lobster are served in white-linen surrounds.
- Party people should plan to visit Grenada in August, when the island’s annual carnival, called Spicemas, takes over the streets of Saint George’s with music, parades, and all-out pageantry. One of the region’s biggest summertime bashes, the event celebrates Grenada’s rich African, French, British, and Caribbean heritage.
Food and drink to try in Grenada
On Grenada, everything grows. From the breakfast buffet at your hotel to the open-air markets along the road, expect to find the freshest fruit and vegetables all year round. Spices like nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa are also everywhere—consider stocking up on the dried variety as a souvenir with a real sense of place.
Don’t leave Grenada without trying the national dish, oil down. A melting pot of a meal, it features breadfruit, callaloo, bananas, plantains, chicken, salted pig parts (snout is a favorite), coconut milk, turmeric, and more, and is typically prepared over an open fire in social settings to feed a crowd. Find it at the market in Saint George’s and small restaurants like Deyna’s Tasty Foods, which caters largely to locals.
If you’re visiting Grenada during the Christmas season, a slice of black cake is a must. Said to be a relative of British plum pudding, the dense dessert is made with ground fruit soaked in cherry brandy, plus nuts, bitters, and fragrant island spices for a festive take on rum cake.
Tipping is optional in Grenada, but if you appreciate the service at a restaurant, leave around 10 percent of your bill.
Culture in Grenada
A mix of African, Caribbean, and Amerindian cultures, Grenada is best experienced through its many festivals. Major events like Spicemas are a great way to dive into the pulse of the place, but also consider visiting for smaller celebrations like the River Sallee Sakara festival, which takes place on the first Friday after Easter and honors the island’s African roots with food, dancing, and drumming.
Also worth experiencing is Grenada’s Emancipation Day. The public holiday is celebrated on the first Friday of August as part of the lead up to Spicemas and includes a speech by the prime minister, followed by fireworks.
Known as the “Spice Island,” Grenada literally blooms with enticing flavors and natural amenities. Nutmeg is the national calling card, but cinnamon, cloves and mace have also been grown here for centuries. Some visitors swear you can smell the sweet aroma the moment you touch the island’s powdered shores. Formed by volcanic activity off the coast of what is now Venezuela, the lush southern Caribbean island nation is the embodiment of the region’s classic offerings. Pristine white-sand beaches stretch along its coast, as do more fantastical black sand strands. And the isle’s interior is robust with untouched natural wonders—crystalline water falls, rich jungle flora and misted mountains—that are the makings of paradise, found. Unlike neighboring destinations this island nation has remained blissfully under developed thanks in large part to its far-flung location and rather tumultuous history that saw the rich land passed among colonial holders and a more recent series of coups.
Local travel tips for Grenada
- Bathing suits are for the beach. Locals never wear them on the streets or in shops, and neither should you.
- Greet everyone you meet with a familiar “good morning,” “good afternoon,” or “hello.” Friendless is the fabric of Grenadian culture.
- When buying spices in the market, always negotiate the price.
- Visitors from the United States to Grenada must have a passport valid for at least six months from their date of departure to visit the island.
- English is the official language, though many people also speak English or French Creole.
- The currency is the East Caribbean dollar (EC). U.S. dollars are accepted.
- Electricity is 220 volts, and sockets are type G (three rectangular pins in a triangle pattern).
- Driving in Grenada is on the left side of the road.
- It’s customary to tip tour guides for such things as guided walks, scuba diving, and the like.