ST. GEORGE’S GRENADA — When Americans talk about Caribbean getaways, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic or the Bahamas are at the top of the list — you hardly hear anyone mention the islands of Grenada.
But Grenada has set out to change that.
In February, the country’s ministry of tourism unveiled a new destination brand, “Pure Grenada: The Spice of the Caribbean.” This brand was designed to market and promote Grenada as a destination “off-the-beaten path” and a haven for the selective travel explorer.
“This campaign is allowing us to distinguish Grenada and for Grenada to become top of mind,” CEO of Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), Rudy Grant told theGrio.
Grenada’s new tourism authority boasts of the island’s niche markets that include diving, yachting, romance and adventure. These niche markets allow any visitor to the island to create a custom experience that can only be described with one word — pure.
“When we look at niches in the tourism sector, we believe that pure properly applies,” Grant said. “Whether you are talking about diving, pure diving. If you are talking about romance, pure romance. Grenada is one of the few places in the world where within 24 hours you can get married, so we are stressing our pure romance. Pure fun! There are a number of activities, number of niches where ‘Pure Grenada’ properly represents what we have to offer.”
So what exactly does the “The Spice of the Caribbean” have to offer? Below are some of my most memorable experiences upon a recent trip to the island.
Grenada is a picturesque tri-island state located in the eastern Caribbean and is the most southerly of the Windward Islands. The main island of Grenada and its sister islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, are 133 square miles and have a population of less than 110,000 residents. A short 20-minute flight or a ferry ride of about two hours is all it takes to get from Grenada to its sister islands. The islands are just north of Trinidad and Tobago and south of St. Vincent, and the Grenadines and are widely known for captivating cultural traditions and unspoiled beauty — and each island has its own distinct culture and communities. Whether it’s the beaches, the fine dining or the world famous Spicemas carnival on the main island of Grenada — there is something for everyone.
Grenada is known as the “Spice Isle” of the Caribbean because of the abundance of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger grown there, but the flavors extend far beyond food. Grenadians are vibrant and friendly people who love to socialize with visitors. Many enjoy “liming”(hanging out) on the island’s beaches like the popular Grand Anse or La Sagesse, where they often cook and share stories with tourists as the pulsating rhythms of Soca and Calypso music play in the background.
In Beaulieu village valley, just three miles from the capital, is one of Grenada’s newest attractions, Spice Basket — often called the “Home of Grenada’s Culture.”
A visit to this cultural center excites all the senses. You can smell and taste organic Grenadian chocolate and local rums, hear the rhythms of steel pan music, see theatrical performances and touch memorabilia at two museums including High Five, the first and only West Indies Cricket Heritage Center. The Spice Basket also hosts a weekly heritage night where everything it has to offer can be experienced throughout an evening.
Visitors enjoy experiencing the traditions of Grenada, especially during carnival in July and August when the island gets its greatest number of tourists.
From the Calypso, Soca and steel pan music competitions to the street parades of Jouvert featuring the “Jab Jab” to revelers who paint themselves black from head to toe, wear helmets adorned with plastic horns and march through the streets to the beat of their own drums — there is always something exciting to see.
Many Grenadians say it is a must-see celebration and one that Grenada’s SpiceMas Corporation boasts has “the best Jouvert in the world.” The celebration continues through mid-August when carnival bands called “pretty mas” or “fancy mas” bands dance through the streets in colorful costumes, culminating in Grenada’s largest cultural festival.
Forget the tour bus! Grenada offers many other ways to see the island.
Try a bike tour of the island like the ones offered at Mocha Spoke, a bike café in St. George’s where you can have breakfast and then go on a bike tour of Grenada.
“It is a really nice way to see places where you wouldn’t normally go in a vehicle because you’re on off-road bikes,” Mocha Spoke Co-Owner, Marc DeCaul said. Some of those places include the Annandale Waterfalls and the Grand Etang lake and forest reserve. Oh and don’t worry, no need to have professional cycling experience to enjoy this tour, but be prepared for a workout.
If you love the water, there are more than 50 dive sites around Grenada and its sister islands to explore. One of the most popular is the underwater sculpture park — the first in the world. Sport fishing, annual sailing festivals and regattas also draw many to the island.
“Grenada is one of the few destinations where you can walk from a white sand beach and within minutes go into a rainforest,” said Grenada Tourism CEO, Rudy Grant.
Grenada offers a range of accommodations from budget rentals to five star all-inclusive luxury hotels.
The island strives to provide a custom tourism experience that not only is exciting but also sustains the culture, heritage and environment of Grenada and its sister islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
“We are Pure Grenada because we want to celebrate and preserve this culture,” Minister of Tourism Hon. Alexandra Otway-Noel recently said during the first ever symposium on coastal tourism in the Caribbean.
Grenadians want to celebrate and share their culture with you, so the next time you are planning an island getaway, think about adding a slice of spice to your travel plans and visit “Pure Grenada: The Spice of the Caribbean.”
Melissa Noel is a freelance multimedia journalist based in the New York area. Follow Melissa on Twitter @noelknowswell.