Introduction to Grenada

 

Known as "The Spice of the Caribbean," visitors will be enticed by the sweet scents of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla wafting on the balmy breeze. In fact, there are more spices in Grenada per square mile than anywhere else on the planet. Nutmeg is the most abundant spice, and Grenada produces about a third of the world’s supply.

Grenada’s capital, St. George’s, is known as the most picturesque city in the Caribbean. Its horseshoe-shaped harbor is surrounded by a pastel rainbow of dockside warehouses and the red-tiled roofs of traditional shops and homes. Rich in English, French and West Indian history, St. George’s is filled with beautiful well-preserved examples of French and British Colonial architecture.

As for cuisine, visitors can indulge in some of the most exciting in the region, from native Grenadian fare, made from the fresh bountiful produce that is found in the bustling markets to some of the finest creations in international cuisine. West Indian cuisine is of course popular, with restaurants featuring creative local cuisine such as callaloo soup, a mélange of fresh local seafood, and meats prepared with a true West Indian flare.

This small nation consists of three islands: Grenada, Carriacou (pronounced Carry-a KOO), and Petite Martinique (pronounced Pitty Mar-ti-NEEK). Grenada is by far the largest of the three, with a width of twelve miles (18 km) and a length of twenty-one miles (34 km). Its 133 square miles are mountainous, volcanic terrain, reaching heights of over 2,750 feet atop Mount St. Catherine. This topography provides Grenada with one of the loveliest and most varied environments in the Caribbean, including crater lakes as well as a variety of plant and animal life. Dwarf forests high atop Mount St. Catherine descend to the montane rainforests of middle altitudes, which give way in turn to the dry forests of the lowlands. Those forests shift to mangrove at the coast, giving way to stunning white sand beaches, brilliant blue water and exquisite coral reefs.

Grenada’s smaller sister island, Carriacou, is hilly but not mountainous. With smoother terrain, Carriacou is an ideal destination for walking. It possesses fine sand beaches and natural harbors, as well as excellent views of the northern Grenadine islands.

Petite Martinique, the third and smallest island in the state, consists of little more than the tip of a volcanic cone poking through the water. It lies 2.5 miles off the northeast coast of Carriacou. It is only now being developed for visitors.

Location:
The three islands of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique are in the eastern Caribbean at the southern extremity of the Windward Islands, only 100 miles north of Venezuela. To the north lie St. Vincent and the Grenadines and to the south lie Trinidad and Tobago.

People:
Approximately 101,400 people inhabit Grenada, including the 8,000 inhabitants of Carriacou and the 600 residents of Petite Martinique. The nation’s citizens are primarily of African, East-Indian and European descent, with the largest proportion of the population, approximately 75%, of African descent. Grenada is an English-speaking nation.

Music:
With its African origins, Calypso is the music of the native Grenadian. Though the mini-buses now play reggae and pop, it is still the music of choice at Carnival time. Ex-tempore is an art form where the musician sings to a standard tune but has impromptu lyrics.

Activities:
While visitors may find it difficult to tear themselves away from the spectacular beaches and pristine waters, the island's tropical landscape also offers an array of fun and exciting inland activities and adventures.
With its lush and mountainous interior, Grenada, "The Spice of the Caribbean", is being steadily discovered by nature lovers of all types including hikers, mountain bikers, birdwatchers and waterfall buffs. Recreational sports enthusiasts will find the island offers an abundance of activities and facilities to keep them entertained. And for those looking to experience the true essence and character of Grenada, sightseeing and historical sites abound as well as unique shops and outstanding cuisine.

The Diving:
The state of Grenada offers locals and visitors a unique dive product, both topside and underwater. Slipping below the calm surface, diving enthusiasts are treated to some of the most breathtaking underwater scenery and abundant marine life in the Caribbean.
Grenada and its sister island of Carriacou make an ideal two centre diving destination. Both islands are known for spectacular walls and wrecks, with sharks, turtles, lobsters and giant moray eels gliding against the backdrop of soft coral forest, striking reefs and sponges.

Grenada:
Blessed with excellent weather, Grenada offers a wide variety of dive sites including the Bianca C. Known as the "Titanic of the Caribbean"; the Bianca C is the ideal challenge for technical wreck dives. Other famous wrecks are Shakem, Buccaneer and San Juan.

Carriacou:
Meaning "Island of Reefs", is famous for its beautiful coral gardens, especially the variety in soft corals and small critters like sea horses. Carriacou's newest wreck, the West Sider, is about 100 ft long and is accessible to all levels of certified divers. Travel from Grenada to Carriacou by ferry or plane.
Variety is the spice of life. From lazy drift dives to adventure diving, the pristine waters of Grenada and Carriacou are waiting to welcome you.

What to Expect in Grenada

BANKS:
Banking hours in Grenada are usually Monday to Thursday from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

CURRENCY:
The Eastern Caribbean Dollar, linked to the US Dollar, is the local currency. The exchange rate is fairly fixed at EC$2.70 for $1 USD. It is advisable to exchange currency at the banks, as the most favorable exchange rates may not be obtained elsewhere. Major credit cards are accepted by most hotels, car rental companies, and shops. Travelers cheques are accepted everywhere.

CLIMATE:
Average temperatures range from 75ºF to 85ºF (24ºC to 30ºC), tempered by the steady and cooling trade winds. The lowest temperatures occur between November and February. Due to Grenada’s remarkable topography, the island also experiences climate changes according to altitude. The driest season is between January and May. Even during the rainy season, from June to December, it rarely rains for more than an hour at a time and generally not every day.

DEPARTURE TAX:
Persons 13 years of age and older are required to pay EC$50. Departure tax for persons from 5 to 12 years of age is EC$25. Children under 5 years are exempted. This fee is usually incorporated into the airline ticket, but please check with your agent if you are unsure.

DRINKING WATER: 
Tap water is safe to drink, however bottled water is widely available.

DRIVING LICENSE:
To obtain a local driving permit, a bona fide driver's license must be presented at the traffic department at the Central Police Station on the Carenage. The cost is approximately $24 USD. Most car rental companies also issue local permits. There is a network of approximately 650 miles of paved roads and most of the main roads are in good condition. Please note that driving is on the LEFT.

ELECTRICITY:
Voltage is 220 volts - 50 cycles. Appliances rated at 110 volts (US standard) normally work satisfactorily with a transformer. Most hotels provide dual voltage shaver units, but an adaptor plug is necessary for small appliances.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS:
A valid passport and return or onward ticket is required for all visitors. A visa is not required from citizens of the US, Canada, UK, British Commonwealth, Caribbean countries
(except Cuba), most European countries, South Korea, and Japan.

TOURISM SEASONS:
With average temperatures range from 75ºF to 85ºF (24ºC to 30ºC), tempered by the steady and cooling trade winds, Grenada is a year-round destination. January to May is the dry season, but even during the rainy season, from June to December, it rarely rains for more than an hour at a time and generally not every day. November to May is Grenada’s “High season”, when hotels are usually booked and the prices are higher.

VACCINATIONS:
No vaccinations or preventative medications are required for travel to Grenada, unless you have been to a country prevalent with Yellow Fever within the 6 days prior to entering Grenada. We always suggest that you speak to your family physician for a personal recommendation.

WATER TEMPERATURES AND WETSUITS:
Water temperatures generally range between 78 – 80°F Most people find wearing a 1mm – 3mm wetsuit keeps them comfortable


 

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