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Caribbean Beat Magazine

Grenada Grace

Despite its long and turbulent history, Grenada is a peaceful and serene island, a place of infinite charm; its friendly people and beautiful beaches make it a wonderful place to live, and perfect for a holiday. Jeremy Taylor reports on the special blend that is Grenada, Isle of Spice

  • Photo by Mike Toy
  • Boat-building on Petite Martinique. Photo by Jim Rudin
  • Detail from Art Fabrik batik. Photo courtesy Art Fabrik
  • Hillsborough, Carriacou. Photo by Davon Baker
  • Detail from Art Fabrik batik. Photo courtesy Art Fabrik
  • Photo by LaSource
  • Photo by LaSource
  • Rex Grenadian Resort. Photo by Chris Huxley
  • Morne Rouge Bay. Photo by Sean Drakes
  • Morne Fendue Plantation House. Photograph by Chris Huxley
  • Photo by Jean Renwick/Sunnyside Gardens
  • Traditional carnival characters. Photo by Chris Huxley
  • Grenada Sailing Festival. Photo courtesy Grenada Sailing Festival
  • Memories of revolution. Photo by Ian Blaikie
  • View from Fort George. Photo by Chris Huxley
  • Gouyave, in St John, is a village famous for its fishing traditions, and a large nutmeg processing plant. Photo by Mike Toy
  • Mace is one of the by-products of Grenada’s world-famous nutmeg. Photo by Sean Drakes
  • Grenada’s world-famous nutmeg. Photo by Sean Drakes
  • Lower Concorde Falls. Photo by Sean Drakes
  • Lake Antoine. Chris Huxley/Grenada Board of Tourism
  • Simple Song on the Carenage. Photo by Sean Drakes
  • Grenada National Stadium, St George’s. Courtesy GNS
  • Beach at Great River Bay, Atlantic coast. Photo by Mike Toy
  • Arawak Island Perfume headquarters, St George’s. Photo by Chris Huxley
  • Arturo Sandoval at Fort Jeudy, Spice Jazz Festival 1998. Photo by Chris Huxley
  • Arturo Tappin at the Grenada Spice Jazz Festival, 1998. Photo by Chris Huxley
  • LaSource. Photo by Chris Huxley
  • Ketch La Cativa under sail at Grand Anse Bay. Photo by Mike Toy
  • Ketch La Cativa under sail at Grand Anse Bay. Photo by Mike Toy
  • Dining room at LaSource, Pt Salines. Photo courtesy LaSource
  • Ananas (Variegatus). Photograph by Ian Blaikie/Sunsation Tours
  • Shampo ginger (Zingiber). Photograph by Ian Blaikie/Sunsation Tours
  • Main building at the La Sagesse Nature Centre. Photo by Chris Huxley
  • Photo by Mike Toy
  • St George’s Catholic Church. Photo by Sean Drakes
  • St George’s Anglican Church. Photo by Sean Drakes
  • Spicy souvenirs. Photo by Sean Drakes
  • Saturday morning at St George’s Market. Photo by Mike Toy
  • Government House, St George’s. Photo by Angus Thompson
  • Windmill. Photo courtesy Grenada Board of Tourism
  • St George’s climbs the hillside above the Carenage. Photo by Mike Toy

Up here, on the ramparts of Fort George, you can see everything.

The little town of St George’s spreads up the hill above the harbour, its sturdy red-roofed stone buildings basking in the sun. Warehouses and shops cluster around the waterfront of the Carenage; across the harbour, beyond the cruise ship pier and the docks, the lagoon is planted thick with the masts of yachts. To the south, the island’s southern peninsula stretches away with its beaches and restaurants and hotels.

The sun is barely creeping above the frame of steep green hills when a white cruise liner, the Black Watch, squeezes its way into the harbour. It towers like an iceberg above the small craft of the Carenage. Laughing Grenadian vendors lay out jars of spices and syrup, home-made preserves, home-made craft, straw sunhats. Soon the ship disgorges hundreds of curious elderly passengers; they prowl cautiously along the waterfront, peering into the small restaurants and gift shops and craft shops.

On the radio, the morning call-ins are starting. Each host knows the callers by voice and by name. “So what we talking ’bout this morning?” “I can’t even remember now, you confuse and confuffle my brain . . . ” Behind the faded red walls of the waterfront fire station, polished fire engines startle some of the cruise visitors by suddenly testing their sirens and flashing lights. The double-hulled Osprey Express gets ready to cast off on its daily trip to the sister island of Carriacou, oozing sturdy maritime confidence. Across the Carenage, Grenada’s best-known fun-boats, Rhum Runner I and II, are being scrubbed down for the day’s party cruises; the Christ of the Deep — a statue given to Grenada in gratitude after an Italian cruise liner, the Bianca C, caught fire and sank off St George’s in 1961, many of its passengers rescued by Grenadians — stretches out its arms to the blue sky and blesses the sea and all its users.

There’s nowhere to park this morning because of the taxis jostling for cruise-ship custom. “Leave it right here,” says a policeman, pointing to a sharp corner where parking could scarcely be safe, let alone legal. “I’ll look after it for you.” He’s elegant in the dignified royal blue and red uniform of Grenada’s police, but is relaxing and laughing now with the vendors near the cruise ship dock. (The imperious white-helmeted police who used to direct traffic from wooden booths at the town’s more perilous intersections have been replaced by traffic lights.)

Fort George itself squats on a spur reaching out into the blue Caribbean, its earliest walls nearly three centuries old. It was built in the days when Grenada was French and the enemy was British; if you look up at its looming bulk from the Carenage, you see at once that anyone commanding Fort George also commanded the harbour and the town that grew up around it. Its tired stones have seen plenty of action — British and French squabbling over this strategic island, the raising of the independence flag, the coming and going of revolution. These days, it is the headquarters of the police, who are apparently unfazed by the aura of history that hangs over them. Police uniforms hang drying in the breeze, the smell of breakfast comes from the canteen.

The Carenage — the inner harbour where once boats were hauled out of the water to be “careened” — is one half of Grenada’s capital, St George’s. To reach the other half, you circle the waterfront, past the inter-island schooners tied up beside traders’ warehouses, and plunge into a tunnel driven through the rock by the British in 1894. You emerge blinking on the Esplanade, where queues of restless taxis hustle for business, enveloped in thunderous dancehall music and Bob Marley flags; it’s difficult even to see the ocean here. Crowded narrow streets lead directly to Market Square, in session daily as a vendors’ paradise and taxi stand, but reaching a commercial and social climax on Saturday mornings.


Twenty-one miles long by 12 wide, Grenada lies near the southern end of the long Caribbean island chain. Its rugged forested hills run the length of the island, reaching 2,756ft at Mount St Catherine in the north. The earliest Spanish explorers, not knowing that it already had a name (Camerhogne), called the island Concepción, but the name didn’t stick — the hills reminded homesick sailors of Granada in Spain, so they named it after that. When the French arrived they adapted the name to La Grenade, and the British gave it the final twist to today’s Grenada.

Until 1650, the island was left more or less alone by the big powers prowling the Caribbean. But in that year a French expedition from Martinique bought land on the island from its Carib inhabitants, for a modest consideration of glass beads, metal knives and hatchets. This led to a long struggle between French and Caribs that ended with the latter’s extinction — the last survivors leaped off the northern cliffs now known as Sauteurs, or Caribs’ Leap, rather than submit to the French. So the story goes.

Having successfully exterminated its previous occupants, the French settlers sold the island to an absentee French count, then to the French West India Company, before it was formally annexed by France in 1674. After that, the French had to battle with the English for possession, and Grenada was finally ceded to Britain in 1783. After a century and a half of fighting, Grenada remained British until its independence in 1974.

Grenada has an old-time flavour to it. Yes, the youngsters have their three-quarter pants and trendy haircuts and big sneakers, and the radio is crammed with the latest Jamaican dancehall and Trinidadian soca. But the island’s 100,000 people, most of them descended from Africa, are mostly farming and fishing people. They have retained a sense of community that’s died out in many parts of the Caribbean. People know each other in this island village, drivers still give people lifts, people wave when you greet them from a car. The tourist business is still small, and the hotels are comfortable and personal in style.

And if you have any nagging anxieties about Grenada’s political traumas in the 1970s and early 1980s, forget them. The 1979-1983 “revolution” under Maurice Bishop, and the 1983 American-led invasion (“intervention” is the politically correct term), are still a talking point in Grenada, but that’s all. The island’s peace and tranquillity and traditional ways have long since returned. As for its hospitality, that never wavered.


So here they come, the cruise passengers in their shorts and shades and sunhats. They’ve heard that Grenada has spectacular beaches, and they’re thinking of the calm warm water of Grand Anse. They know Grenada is famous for its sailing and diving; and that its lively summer Carnival heads a calendar which includes international regattas and a jazz festival. And of course they’ve read that this is the Caribbean’s “spice island”: nutmeg and mace, cinnamon and coriander, ginger and cloves. The old planters in colonial days used to sprinkle nutmeg on their rum punches on a Sunday morning, importing the plants from the East (one of Grenada’s estates is still called Penang); it sounds good, a Caribbean rum punch sprinkled with fresh nutmeg.

The taxi drivers jostle for business. There are tours around St George’s, to the National Museum and the Library on the other side of the harbour, up to the lookout points of Fort George, through the Sendall Tunnel to look at the market, up the steep hill past the parliament building and the courts to the Roman Catholic Cathedral, then to St George’s Anglican Church and to the Scottish Presbyterian Church near the fort, all handsome 19th-century buildings heavy with that dark dignity in which the Victorians liked to pray, even in tropical colonies.

Other tours will be going further afield, to the sugar factories and rum distilleries, where visitors will see the good use to which Grenada puts its sugar cane, or the factories where nutmeg is processed. Some of the drivers will head over the mountains to the Grand Etang lake and the second town of Grenville. Many will head straight to the beaches at Grand Anse and Morne Rouge, the resort area of L’Anse aux Epines, the windswept bare headland of Fort Jeudy or the nature centre at La Sagesse on the south coast. One or other of Grenada’s waterfalls is part of most these tours. If there’s time, a few taxis will be going all the way up north to Lake Antoine and the Boiling Springs, Sauteurs and Bathway Beach.

There are 80 gardening fans on the Black Watch today: they have been keenly visiting tropical gardens in every port of call. Off they go to St Paul’s, headed for Bay Gardens and Laura’s Spice and Herb Gardens, and a special tour of Sunnyside and Joydon where, after wandering around some of the loveliest gardens in the island, 600 to 900 feet up, they will be entertained on the balcony with freshly-made fruit juices and home-made jams and jellies. The driver might show them St George’s Botanical Gardens if he’s brave, though there is little left of them — they are little more than the front lawn for a grand new government ministerial office building on the outskirts of town.

Independent-minded visitors rent their own cars to explore Grenada. Self-reliance adds to the interest: you’re bound to meet more Grenadians, as you stop along the way to ask directions or figure out where you are.

But there are actually good reasons for joining a tour. You easily get lost in Grenada, even though it is so small. There are hardly any road signs (except in one area of the north-east); the available road maps are not always easy to interpret; and away from the main routes (and sometimes on them too) the roads are so exhausted that it’s a good idea to let someone else’s vehicle take the strain. (Not that this deters the island’s taxis — mostly minibuses, green and red and yellow, which hurtle along the roads, drivers hunched over the wheel, honking the horn at possible customers and oncoming traffic.) Besides, if you turn up at some of Grenada’s attractions on your own, there’s a good chance that there’ll be nobody available to show you around; they may even be closed.

So off they go, the Black Watch’s regiment, and the Carenage slowly gets back to its daily business. The radio finishes its morning instruction on food and nutrition, today’s subject being hypoglycaemia, and takes more calls. “So everything good, gyul? Yuh wash today? I have plenty ting to wash, I go sen dem for you.”


Cruise passengers represent about two-thirds of Grenada’s annual tourist arrivals. But they don’t fill the hotels and restaurants. According to the new Director of Tourism William Joseph, whose office looks out on visiting cruise ships at berth, “stayover” arrivals are growing as Grenada gradually explores new markets and becomes less dependent on its traditional source of vacationers, North America.

Grenada has about 1,700 guest rooms right now. It plans to add about 230 more with a new and ambitious hotel/resort project managed by Ritz Carlton, on Hog Island and the adjoining coast, which will be linked by a new bridge. It’s a large and attractive site — 240 acres on the mainland, 87 on the island. After some delays, the project got back on track late last year with new US investors, and should be finished in 2002. Hog Island itself will host a hotel and about 50 villas, while on the mainland there will be a golf course, villas for sale, a marina, and a sanctuary for the indigenous Grenada Dove (this is one of only two places on the island where it nests and breeds).

Another major resort development is starting up in Grand Anse, on the site of the old Silver Sands hotel: this is a five-star 104-suite development involving German investment. With luck, and with various other smaller projects, Grenada should be getting close to its current target of 3,000 rooms by 2002. William Joseph is also keen for visitors to stay in Grenadian homes — there are some extremely beautiful homes around the island, many of them built by nationals coming back to the island after long periods overseas: just drive around middle-class areas like Westerhall Point to see the potential.

Expect to see developments in the island’s yachting and sailing in the next few years. Mr Joseph wants to simplify the regulations which govern this sector, find new investment for Grenada Yacht Services in St George’s, cut costs for boats and provide better support facilities in everything from marinas to customs and immigration. The sailing business is already big — Grenada is one of the Caribbean’s yachting and chartering centres, with several major international events in addition to a crowded calendar of local racing. The biggest of them all is the Grenada Sailing Festival at the end of January, when daily races, using several courses off the south coast, culminate with evening partying sponsored by the likes of Mount Gay and Heineken. A parallel festival features Grenada’s colourful workboats, which race right through the weekend. Carriacou has its own regatta, just as festive, on the first weekend in August.

Mr Joseph also wants to develop Grenada’s eco and cultural attractions — the waterfalls, lakes and trails, and the Spice Jazz Festival, which celebrates island food and music at the same time, thus appealing to anyone who likes to combine one pleasure with another. This year’s open-air, beachside event runs from June 9 to 11 and headlines South African singer Lorraine Klaasen, American vibist Roy Ayers and saxist Ed Calle alongside several top Caribbean jazz artists — St Lucian guitarist Boo Hinkson, Trinidadian pannist Liam Teague, Jamaica’s Dean Fraser and Grenada’s own Kingsley Ettienne.

Music is everywhere in Grenada; Trinidadians don’t like to be reminded of this, but their most famous calypsonian of all time, the “calypso king of the world”, the Mighty Sparrow, was born a Grenadian.


On Grand Anse beach, it’s quiet this Sunday morning. The water is a perfect blue, deepening and darkening half a mile from the shore, slightly ruffled by the breeze. The little waves scarcely have the energy to break. Visitors are stretched out on recliners under sea-grape and palm, reading, snoozing; tanning in the sun, floating or swimming lazily in the water. A couple of early sailboats are picking up an offshore breeze. A few early vendors are setting up in the new vendors’ market.

Across the bay, St George’s looks as if it’s still asleep, so small beneath the high green mountains, even its looming fortress like a toy. A young boy is having his hair cut under a tree; a hopeful vendor stops to weave two palm-frond sunhats for an elderly American couple. A jet-skier races past the beach, crouched over his machine, posed to show off lean and tensed muscles, leaving a huge plume of water behind him. Two white gulls are wheeling, wings and tails tipped with grey: one dives like a stone, swallows, shakes the water off its wings as it climbs again. A brown gull skims the water looking for lunch. A white sand crab pops out of a hole, black eyes on stalks to see what’s new.

As the morning lazes on, the beach slowly fills up: the breeze stiffens a little, the waves run up the sand with something more like determination, locals stand in the water with glasses in their hands, chatting. The temperature is well into the 90s. A diving party sets off to the site of the 600-foot, 18,000-ton Bianca C, the Caribbean’s largest wreck, which lies offshore in 160 feet of water. One young visitor is having her hair braided and beaded; a panside in the beachside restaurant plays Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

“He always say if he was older he goin’ to marry me,” laughs a voice on the radio. “O-my-gosh look at this. A four-year-old child want to marry me this morning! Hi there sweetie child, what can I do for you this mornin’?”

This is what they come for. Warm water silky on your skin, soft white sand under your feet, so different from hard, cold city sidewalks. Hot healing sun. The shooshing of lazy waves.


Over in the Grenada Yacht Club on the edge of town, Harry Gibson and Coleman Redhead are planning a weekend lime to Calivigny Island. They are also tossing around ideas about this year’s Power Boats Regatta.

The Yacht Club is equipped with the bare essentials — a bar and pool tables — and is open to the water and the breeze. Coleman, assistant food and beverage manager at the Rex Grenadian, is President of the Grenada Power Boats Association. Harry is Barbadian, but chose Grenada to settle in after travelling the islands for years. Partly for business opportunities, but also — “well, just look,” he says. The light glitters on the water outside, reflected on the hulls of the yachts.

Grenada doesn’t actually have any racing power boats, as distinct from leisure boats; but the idea is to develop the Power Boats Regatta into a big event to equal the annual Sailing Festival. It’s being held this year over the Easter weekend, with racing days on Saturday and Sunday and full-throttle partying afterwards.

The first Regatta, in 1998, went well, covering its costs and arousing a lot of enthusiasm: “they loved the water, the circuits and the hospitality,” says Harry. The hospitality I can understand. The waters Coleman explains to me (“just enough chop, not too much”). But what’s special about the circuits? The talk turns at once to the benefits of doglegs over sausages, doughnuts over triangles, and whether the circuit should go up the west coast to Gouyave. I get lost.

Rolf Hoschtialek from Concepts Marketing, the company helping to manage the Regatta, joins us (his Austrian father, a long-time Grenada resident, runs Rudolf’s restaurant on the Carenage). They’re expecting 20-25 racers from Trinidad this year, he says, plus boats from Florida, St Vincent and Antigua, with up to 3,000 spectators on Grand Anse beach.

The only reason the Regatta wasn’t held last year is that the West Indies were playing Australia in a one-day international at the new stadium in Queen’s Park — the first time the stadium was being used (the West Indies lost) — and no other imaginable event could have lured Grenadians away from their cricket.


Nearly 2,000 feet up in the centre of the island, the Grand Etang lake is absolutely quiet. An almost imperceptible breeze stirs the water. Not a sound, except an occasional birdcall, a repeated plaintive cry from the far side of the lake, and tiny waves ruffling the reeds along the bank and lapping against the small wooden jetty. The stillness is almost eerie. Beside one of the deserted picnic huts lie the remains of a cooking fire; a sign among the trees points the way to a hiking trail around the lake shore.

It’s an almost perfect crater, 36 acres in all, its sides steep and thickly wooded, with a marshy area at the western end. To the north, the sunlit slopes of Mount Qua Qua, its summit for once free of cloud, looks like a quick and easy climb (not necessarily so, breathless hikers will tell you).

A few miles to the north-east is another crater lake, Lake Antoine — much lower in altitude, almost at sea level, 16 acres in extent and 100 feet deep, its lava a million and a half years old. Here you look down on the lake from the top of the crater rim; the serrated outlines of Carriacou and its surrounding islands spike the horizon.

Grenada, like many of its sisters in the eastern Caribbean, is volcanic, the product of a process which stretched over millions of years and ended only about 10,000 years ago. The Carenage itself, in St George’s, is an ancient crater. Apart from the dramatic crater lakes, there are sulphur springs — one is easily accessible, near the village of River Salee.

As you come down from the Grand Etang towards Grenville and the east coast, the looming bulk that rears up in front of you is Mount St Catherine, a not-yet-extinct volcano. Offshore, the underwater volcano called Kick ’em Jenny is very active, and will form a new island when it finally breaks the surface — the Osprey Express to Carriacou skirts this area, and locals can tell you exactly when you’ll start to feel the water “kicking”. Grenada’s sister islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique are the tips of volcanic peaks 26 to 36 million years old.

It is this volcanism that has created Grenada’s dramatic mountain landscape, its steep sharp peaks, its swift rivers and rain forest and waterfalls — Concorde and Annandale, Seven Sisters and Mount Carmel. Just above the crater lake, the Grand Etang Forest Reserve and National Park runs an Interpretation Centre to explain all this, to recommend guides for the longer trails, and dispense good advice about hiking in the Park (there are a couple of gift shops too). Lake Antoine, part of the Levera-Bathway National Park, also has a visitor centre, on Bathway Beach.

Take the Centre’s advice: some trails are very easy — a 15-minute walk from the Grand Etang Centre itself, a stroll to the Beausejour lookout nearby — while others are long and challenging, like the one to Fedon’s Camp, the historic mountain hideout where angry Julien Fedon led his rebellion against the British in 1795.


The cliff falls vertically into the sea, at least 100 feet. The drop is so sudden you have to hold on gingerly to look over. Below, the waves roll gently in; you can see the sandy shallow bottom, stones and boulders far below. Behind, the cemetery of St Patrick’s Catholic Church dozes in the sun.

Leapers’ Hill, or Caribs’ Leap: it was here, in 1651, that the last of Grenada’s early settlers — “Amerindians”, relatives of the North American “Indians”, who had moved up the island chain from South America — died. With the French behind them, driving them to extermination, they preferred to leap into the sea from this cliff rather than face humiliation and death at the hands of their European scourges.

Amerindians had been in Grenada for 1,600 years or so, since the time of Jesus Christ: first a tribe called Siboney, then the Arawaks, and finally, towards the end of the first millennium, the more abrasive Caribs, who were in control of the island when the wandering Cristóbal Colón passed by in 1498. For a while, nobody troubled them: there were attempts at European settlement in 1609 and 1639, but it was not until 1650 that the French came in earnest, buying off the Caribs with trinkets.

For a while relations were amicable. But the Caribs realised that the French trinkets were not quite as valuable as they had been led to believe, certainly not sufficient to buy their island. Too late, they understood that the French saw themselves as owners and rulers of Camerhogne, whether the Caribs liked it or not. Relations soured, protest was met with violence, and the Amerindians disappeared into history.

Literally. None survived. The only traces you can find now are scattered drawings and remains, like the petroglyphs at Mount Rich, not far from this melancholy cliff in the little town called Sauteurs (the jumpers). The jumpers’ bones have long since turned to dust and sand. The little cemetery at the top of the cliff has no memorial to the Caribs.

To the west, another of Grenada’s finest beaches reaches into the distance along the curve of Sauteurs Bay. Behind it, in the town’s market, several old ladies in white, heads tied in white scarves, are ringing the bell, urgently summoning the spirit.


If you weren’t quite sure what a nutmeg looks like, you’ll know by the time you leave Grenada. The image is everywhere: small yellow fruit sliced open to show a deep red membrane (which becomes a by-product, mace) around the nutmeg seed. You can see the whole process — drying, grading, separation of the mace, packing for export — in both Gouyave and Grenville. Once you recognise the nutmeg trees you’ll see them everywhere, along with banana and cocoa.

And you’ll know the taste of nutmeg too, because Grenada uses its spices to produce distinctive jams and jellies, syrups and dips. In many of the restaurants you will find seafood and meat served with unusual sauces — nutmeg, mango, passion fruit. Menus like to play with local names and traditions: Rootsy Reggae Soup, Soca Boca, Market Basket, Saga Boy Steak, Sweetman, Big Popo, Chun Chun (the policeman’s nightstick), or (my favourite) Thai Me Conch Down.

Grenada’s restaurants tend to be open-air or open to the breeze, rather than air-conditioned. Many of them are on the beach, or on the hillsides above, with grand views of town and ocean. There are nearly 100 across the island, if you count everything from the classiest to the most casual. Seafood is usually a good buy. Homeliness is the keynote, rather than metropolitan polish and ambience, and many serve up some musical accompaniment such as a solo pannist with a drummer reminding us about Island in the Sun. With good reason for once: it was in Grenada that parts of that classic Harry Belafonte movie were shot.


You’ll hear about the “revolution” too, of course. Not from the brochures and guides, perhaps, but because every Grenadian over 30 has something heartfelt to say about it. If you spend any time in Grenada, you can’t escape it: this is such a vivid and urgent part of Grenada’s recent experience that many more years will be needed before it all fades safely into history.

After all, the runway you land on when you arrive in Grenada, at Point Salines, was built with Cuban help. The first thing you see when you leave the airport is a double-arched memorial to servicemen who fought and died in “Operation Urgent Fury” in 1983; it also records Grenada’s gratitude to the American and Caribbean intervention forces. President Ronald Reagan himself unveiled this shrine in 1986. In the courtyard of Fort George, near the policemen’s basketball hoop, is a modest plaque recording the place where Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and several government and party colleagues were shot. October 25 in Grenada is Thanksgiving Day, a public holiday to mark the 1983 operation.

Opposite Fort George, on one of the most desirable sites in the Caribbean, are the burned-out ruins of Bishop’s one-time headquarters, Butler House, still as they were left in 1983. Up on Richmond Hill above St George’s, Bishop’s nemesis Bernard Coard and 16 others are still in jail, their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment. When the possibility of release was floated late last year, two of the group appeared on television to apologise for the events of 1983. But popular feeling was incensed: Why these people have to go on TV like some film star? Is not time for them yet! Let them stay there! If they get out they won’t get past Market Square!

The whole affair sits there under the surface in Grenada’s consciousness, like a dream that is vivid still but which nobody can quite interpret.

Between 1979 and 1983, Grenada conducted a controversial experiment in radical social and political change, just as France and England and America had done in their day. For several years before 1979, the political climate had been tense and thuggish; independence had come in 1974 in the midst of a widespread strike; the father of opposition leader Maurice Bishop had been slain. In 1979, rumour had it that Bishop and his colleagues were to be slain too; they responded with a bloodless coup which was greeted with a good deal of popular relief, mixed with natural concern.

Maurice Bishop’s “revolution” carried many Grenadians with it to begin with. It was full of idealism, and carried a buzz of urgency and excitement; Bishop himself remained personally popular till the end. But anxiety grew as elections were deferred, press freedom was restricted, and the government moved closer to Cuba and other Soviet-bloc countries. The United States began to exert the sort of pressure that is hard for an island only 21 miles long to resist.

In 1983, everything collapsed: the government split, Bishop was put under house arrest and then executed at Fort George, and the Americans put together an intervention force to “rescue” Grenada — and especially a handful of US citizens — from the violent remnants of the collapsed revolution. (The US citizens were students at an offshore medical school, which now has a handsome campus at True Blue, and another right on the beach at Grand Anse.) Grenada, terrified by the course which events had taken, responded to the rescue with gratitude and relief.

The operation dominated world headlines for a couple of weeks, and was followed by a flurry of books. But much of this story has still to be told. “Grenada has nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about,” as one prominent Grenadian put it. “We are pragmatic people. We needed change, but we became deeply concerned over the direction that change was taking. Things spun out of control, and we welcomed American intervention. That’s it.”


Fort Frederick stands at the very top of the Richmond Hill ridge, behind St George’s, looking down on the town and its approaches more than 700 feet below. It also looks backwards into the hills — in 1779, the French had taken the British by surprise by attacking St George’s from behind, and the British were not going to be made fools of twice; they turned some of Frederick’s guns inland, towards the hills.

These hilltop fortresses, with their ramparts and their cannon and their dark dank underground tunnels, are in disrepair now, attractive mostly as lookout points. Where St Kitts has restored Brimstone Hill and Puerto Rico has made El Morro an unmissable landmark, Grenada has preferred to leave its colonial fortresses alone. The revolutionary government of 1979-83 used Fort Frederick as a base for its mobile forces, but nobody uses it now. And perhaps that’s right. To turn colonial ruins — forts, sugar mills, waterwheels — into restaurants and theme parks and heritage sites with a romantic ambiance is perhaps to sentimentalise the pain of history. Life goes on.

The sun goes down in a blaze of yellow and orange over Grand Anse beach. People are packing up and brushing the sand off their feet. The vendors’ stalls are empty. The St George’s traffic has thinned out. The frogs are singing (the loudest thing in Grenada is the sound of frogs after sunset). The sky is darker than you will find in any city.

The Black Watch’s passengers are back on board, ready to to celebrate Grenada over dinner: those beaches, that rain forest, those gardens, the charm of St George’s, did you manage to get a good view of the Bianca C, and why don’t we come back next year and do a sailing trip? The liner pulls out into the harbour, swinging carefully around in the narrow space, and slowly, gently, gets under way. Lights blazing, it heads out through the narrow harbour entrance into the twilight and the darkening sea.



Grenada At A Glance


  • BWIA Express serves Grenada from Trinidad and Barbados, connecting with BWIA’s international services to and from New York, Washington, Miami, Toronto and London, and with BWIA Caribbean services (Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, St Maarten, Tobago, Guyana, Caracas)


  • Point Salines International, 5 miles/9 km from St George’s (Carriacou: Lauriston). Served by taxis, with fixed fares to most destinations
  • Departure tax EC$50
  • Passports and onward tickets required by all entrants (though citizens of UK, US and Canada may enter with identity document with photo instead of passport)


133 square miles (344 sq. km), about twice the size of the District of Columbia; 21 miles long, 12 wide. Rugged mountainous interior with narrow coastal plain


Tropical, with average temperature of 27°C (81°F). Rainy season June to December; January to March are generally the coolest months


East Caribbean dollar (approx. 2.67 to US$). Major credit cards are widely accepted


Mount St Catherine, 2,756ft (840 metres)


English, with traces of patois




98,000 (approx. 6,000 in Carriacou and Petite Martinique); about 38% aged 15 or under


58% Roman Catholic, 14% Anglican; several Protestant churches


8% government tax at hotels and restaurants; 10% service charge


Atlantic Standard Time (EST+1, GMT-4)


  • Electricity 220v/50 cycles
  • Telecommunications include international direct dialling, USA Direct, Home Direct, credit card calling, phonecards, cell-phone and pagers; international access code 473




  • Spice Island Billfish Tournament
  • LaSource Grenada Sailing Festival


  • Independence Day (7th)
  • True Blue Bay Resort Pursuit Race


  • International cricket: West Indies Board XI v Zimbabwe (4th–6th)
  • Carriacou Carnival (6th–7th)
  • Grenada Yacht Club Race (12th)
  • St Patrick’s Day Fiesta (Sauteurs, 12th–18th)
  • Grenada Triathlon (18th–19th)


  • International cricket: West Indies v Pakistan (8th), West Indies v Zimbabwe (9th)
  • Grenada Power Boat Regatta (19th–24th)
  • Carifta Games (22nd–24th)
  • Petite Martinique Regatta (23rd–24th)
  • Kite Flying Competitions (24th)
  • St Mark’s Fiesta (Victoria, 16th–22nd)


  • Grenada Yacht Club Race (7th)


  • Grenada Spice Jazz Festival (9th–11th)
  • Whitsuntide Games (10th–11th)
  • Carriacou Maroon Jazz Festival
  • Grenada Yacht Club Race (14th)
  • Fisherman’s Birthday Celebrations (29th)


  • Venezuela Independence Day Yacht Race (2nd)
  • LaSource Yacht Race (16th)
  • Carriacou Regatta (July 30th–August 7th)


  • Rainbow City Festival (Grenville, 6th–7th)
  • Grenada Carnival (11th–15th)
  • Showcase 2000 Trade Show (17th–20th)


  • Tree-planting programme
  • Grenada Yacht Club Race (17th)


  • Agricultural Trade and Industry Exposition
  • Grenada Yacht Club Race (15th)
  • Thanksgiving Day (25th)


  • Clarks Court Extempore Competition
  • Grenada Yacht Club Race (5th)
  • Island Fantasy Flower Show (11th–13th)
  • End of Hurricane Season Yacht Race (31st)


  • Carriacou Parang Festival (15th-17th)
  • Christmas Day, Boxing Day (25th–26th)



  • First settled by Amerindians — Siboney, Arawaks, then Caribs; island known as Camerhogne
  • Columbus (1498) named island Concepción. Later sailors renamed it Granada after Spanish city, transformed to La Grenade by French and Grenada by British
  • Fierce Carib defence prevented colonial settlement by English (1609) and French (1638). French more successful with sweet talk and trinkets 1650, but relations turned sour and Caribs were exterminated, the last survivors leaping over cliffs at Sauteurs
  • French domination 1650–c.1750, though keenly contested by British. Fast development into slave plantation society (tobacco and sugar, then cocoa, cotton, coffee). French dislodged by British during Seven Years War, island ceded to Britain by Treaty of Paris 1763. French regained control 1779, but Treaty of Versailles 1783 confirmed British possession
  • Slave plantation system intensified. Nutmeg introduced after decline of sugar; also cocoa. Slave revolt 1795 (Julien Fedon, “free coloured” Grenadian). Grenada part of Windward group 1833, Crown Colony 1877, seat of British Windward Islands government 1885-1958
  • Part of West Indies Federation 1958-62, Associated State 1967, independent 1974. Politics dominated by Eric Gairy and Herbert Blaize
  • New Jewel Movement “revolution” 1979-83 (Prime Minister: Maurice Bishop); social reform, new airport; culminated in internal power struggle and executions followed by US invasion
  • Elections resumed 1984. New National Party 1984 (Herbert Blaize, 14 seats), National Democratic Congress 1990 (Nicholas Brathwaite, 7 seats), New National Party 1995 (Keith Mitchell, 8 seats) and 1999 (Keith Mitchell, 15 seats)
  • Monarchy within the Commonwealth; 2 houses of parliament (House of Representatives 15 seats, Senate 13 seats); 5-year mandates; independent judiciary. Other parties include DLP (Francis Alexis), MBPM (Terrence Marryshow), NDC (George Brizan), TNP (Ben Jones)



  • Mainly agriculture and tourism, with some light manufacturing and financial services
  • Steady GDP growth (3.5% 1996, 4.5% 1997, 5.8% 1998; East Caribbean Central Bank forecast 4.5% for 1999. Low inflation (1.7% 1998). Preferential trade under CBI, Caribcan, Lomé, Caricom
  • Agriculture: spices, cocoa, fish, and approximately one third of the world’s nutmeg
  • Tourism: 115,794 visitors in 1998 (110,748 in 1997). Substantial cruise ship arrivals (265,875 in 1998). 1,700 guest rooms, aiming for 2,600. Plans for international yachting centre
  • Financial services: legislation in place for offshore banking, international trust services, international insurance. International Business and Finance Corporation regulates offshore sector. Approx. 875 registered companies, 21 offshore banks
  • Manufacturing: Trade Centre promotes manufacturing — chemicals, paints and varnish, beers and beverages, rum (three distilleries), tobacco, clothing, flour and bakery products, paper products, animal feeds. Industrial parks at Frequente and Seamoon
  • Financial environment: five commercial banks; hotel incentives; corporation tax 30%; no personal tax below EC$60,000
  • Grenada Industrial Development Corporation, Frequente Industrial Park, tel. 444-1035/9, fax 444-4828; e-mail: gidc@caribsurf.com; Chamber of Industry and Commerce, De Caul Building, Mt Gay, St George’s, tel. 440-2937, 440-4485, fax 440-4110




There are about 45 great beaches; best in the south-west are Grand Anse, Morne Rouge, Lance aux Epines; in the north-east Levera, Bathway


Good bird watching, with over 150 resident species and another 100 more migrants. The Grenada Dove is endemic; hummingbirds, yellow-billed cuckoo, red-necked pigeon, ruddy quail-dove, wading and shore birds; hook-billed kite found only at Levera


Holidays: January 1, February 7 (Independence), Good Friday, Easter Monday, May 1 (Labour Day), Whit Monday, Corpus Christi, Emancipation Day (1st Monday in August), Carnival Monday and Tuesday, October 25 (Thanksgiving Day), Christmas Day, Boxing Day


The Grenada Grand Beach Resort at Grand Anse has a conference centre overlooking its mini golf course, with seven meeting rooms and the latest facilities. Easily adaptable for large or small groups, this is the largest facility in Grenada. There are several other attractive meeting spaces, including those at the Rex Grenadian, the Flamboyant, and the Trade Centre at Grand Anse


Self-drive rentals in St George’s and at the airport. Drive on the left. A local driving permit is required (unless you hold a valid international driving permit), available from rental companies and police (EC$30)


  • A National Parks system is being developed. Grand Etang National Park (8 miles from St George’s) has an Interpretation Centre (open 8.30–4.00, US$1), and hiking trails ranging from easy (15 minutes to Morne Labarge) to arduous (Concorde Falls 3hrs, Fedon’s Camp 3.5hrs). Crater lakes at Grand Etang and Lake Antoine. Levera-Bathway National Park, 200 acres, covers mangrove swamp, beaches, forts, wildlife
  • High forest receives c.150ins of rain annually. Turtles nest on beaches near Levera
  • La Sagesse, protected seascape area on the south coast, has beaches, mangrove, salt pond, reefs and historical sites
  • Marquis Island and La Baye Rock (off south-east coast) are nesting grounds
  • Wildlife includes frogs, lizards, iguana, armadillo, manicou, Mona monkeys, mongoose. Humpback whales migrate December/April (whale-watching tours)
  • Other eco-sites include Bay Gardens (Morne Delice, flowers and trees), Mt St Catherine, and several attractive waterfalls — Marquis (Mt Carmel) Falls, Annandale Falls, Concorde Falls, Seven Sisters Falls, Victoria Waterfall


Local specialities include lambi (conch), callaloo, souse, pepperpot, pumpkin pie, oildown, seafood, goat, wild meat, nutmeg jelly/jam, ice-creams, rum punch, seamoss, beers (Carib, Guinness), rum (Clarke’s Court, River Antoine, Westerhall Plantation)


Grenada is well equipped with comfortable and luxury hotels and resorts, guest-houses and apartments. The Board of Tourism publishes a useful brochure for budget travellers, Intimate Inns of Grenada. A selected list:

  • St George’s: Tropicana Inn
  • Grand Anse: Allamanda Beach Resort & Spa, Blue Horizons, Coyaba, Grenada Grand Beach Resort, South Winds Holiday Cottages, Spice Island Beach Resort, Wave Crest Holiday Apartments
  • Morne Rouge: Cinnamon Hill, Flamboyant, Gem Holiday Beach Resort, Grand View, Mariposa Beach Resort
  • Point Salines: LaSource, Rex Grenadian
  • Lance aux Epines: Calabash, Coral Cove, Lance aux Epines Cottages, Secret Harbour, 12 Degrees North
  • South coast: La Sagesse Nature Resort

Many thanks to Wave Crest Holiday Apartments at Grand Anse (tel./fax 444-4116) for assistance with accommodation during preparation of this profile of Grenada


Three working days’ residence is required before applying for a licence; allow two days for paperwork (unless there are special circumstances). Documents required: passports, birth certificates, proof of single status, parental consent if under 21 (all documents in English). Several hotels offer wedding and honeymoon packages


  • No daily papers. Weeklies include Grenada Today, Grenadian Voice, Grenada Informer
  • Radio includes GBN, Spice Capital, City Sounds FM. TV includes GBN-TV, Grenada Cablevision, Lighthouse TV (religious), MTV


Centred around larger hotels and a handful of discos and clubs (Dynamite Disco, Fantazia 2000, Le Sucrier, Island View, Casablanca)


Real estate agents will help with purchase and rentals. Non-citizens are liable for 10% tax under the Aliens’ Landholding Act. Allow three months for paperwork. Required for licence: police clearance from home country, bank and character references. There are many foreign residents, especially from UK, US and Europe. Villa rentals and long-term home rentals available


Dining out in Grenada is casual and comfortable in style, mostly in open-air or fan-cooled restaurants. There are plenty of local specialities and local twists to international recipes. Seafood is abundant and usually a good choice. Here is a selection:

St George’s

Carenage Café

In the middle of the Carenage, friendly relaxed café-style food and drinks

Mamma’s 440-1459

Halfway to Grand Anse, a favourite for good creole cuisine, including seafood and wild meat like armadillo

Rudolf’s 440-2241

A Grenada institution, right on the Carenage, varied menu with seafood specialities

Tropicana 440-1586

Casual atmosphere, at Tanteen on the road to Grand Anse

Wig and Pen 440-8438

Popular pub-style restaurant, favoured by lawyers and professionals, air-conditione

Grand Anse/Morne Rouge/Point Salines

Aquarium Beach Club 444-1410

Beachfront restaurant with plenty of character at Point Salines, near LaSource. Good Grenadian recipes and seafood

Beachside Terrace 444-4247

At the Flamboyant Hotel near Grand Anse. Lobster, seafood, chicken; Monday crab-racing, entertainment

Boatyard Restaurant and Bar 444-4662

Popular open-air restaurant in Lance aux Epines, open all day. Charcoal grill, seafood, chicken, steaks, pasta, Mexican

Brown Sugar 444-2374

Hillside restaurant near Grand Anse, great views. Pan music, good Grenadian cooking with a contemporary accent, enterprising recipes

Canboulay 444-4401

On the hillside above Grand Anse, fine views, interesting recipes, pan music

Coconut Beach 444-4644

On Grand Anse beach (literally), good French creole cuisine with a Grenadian twist, varied seafood menu plus steaks and chicken

La Belle Creole 444-4316

At Blue Horizons Cottage Hotel, Grand Anse. Varied menu, friendly service

La Boulangerie

At Marquis Shopping Centre, Grand Anse. Great for casual meals or morning coffee

La Dolce Vita 444-3456

At Cinnamon Hill Hotel, Morne Rouge. Italian emphasis, with lobster spaghetti, ravioli, lasagne, seafood

Pirates’ Cove 444-2342

At the Grand View Inn, Morne Rouge: spectacular view, great creole and seafood dishes in a relaxed atmosphere

Sur La Mer 444-4224

At Gem Beach Resort, Morne Rouge, overlooking the beach

The Beach House 444-4455

On the beach near the Rex Grenadian at Point Salines; “new Caribbean” menu with good seafood and steaks, and a special menu for kids

Lance aux Epines


Chinese food in a comfortable setting

Cicely’s 444-4334

At the Calabash Hotel, probably Grenada’s classiest restaurant, with excellent menu and service, discreet entertainment

Red Crab 444-4424

Well-established restaurant serving international and local style dishes including seafood, steak, veal


La Sagesse Nature Centre

Attractive open-air dining beside the beach


Best buys include batik, screen-printing, handicraft (wood, leather), jewellery, spices and spice products, music, and rum. Most of the shopping is in St George’s (the Carenage, and a few streets around Market Square); and at the Grand Anse Shopping Centre and the nearby Marquis Shopping Centre. Yellow Poui Art Gallery (Cross Street) has lovely original paintings, prints and local sculpture — a serious collection, representing over 50 artists, 60% of them Grenadian, including sculptor Stanley Contain. Art Grenada (Grand Anse Shopping Centre) also has interesting pieces, including sculptor Wayne Snagg, painters Susan Mains and Canute Calliste

  • Art: Art Grenada, Yellow Poui Art Gallery
  • Books: St George’s Bookshop, Sea Change
  • Duty-free: Duty Free Caribbean, Gittens Duty Free
  • Gifts, fabrics, craftwork: Arawak Island, Art Fabrik Batik Shop, Figleaf, Frangipani, Ganzee, Gifts Remembered, Imagine, Grenada Craft Centre, Tikal’s
  • Internet café: Galaxy Internet Café, Cyberbar and Grill (Ross Point)
  • Jewellery: Colombian Emeralds, Lisa’s


Grenada is well equipped with sports facilities and is now developing specialised sports tourism. The brand new EC$62m National Stadium at Queen’s Park will be hosting international cricket against Pakistan and Zimbabwe during March and April, and the Carifta Games in April (see Calendar). It will also accommodate international football and big cultural events. The island’s sporting action includes:

  • Cricket: the most popular land sport, January to June
  • Cruises: Carib Cats, Carriacou Islander, Catch the Spirit, Rhum Runner I and II, Starwind I and II, Suvetar
  • Diving: there are excellent dive sites around the island, including reefs, wrecks (the Bianca C is the largest wreck in the Caribbean), wall dives, drifts. Among the best sites are Boss Reef, Grandmal Point, Dragon Bay, Flamingo Bay, Happy Valley, Windmill Shallows, Channel Reef, Red Buoy, Whibble Reef, Spice Island Reef, Molinere Reef. Other wrecks include SS Orinoco off La Sagesse Point, and Veronica L. There are dive shops at several Grand Anse and Lance aux Epines hotels
  • Fishing: there’s great deep-sea fishing around Grenada. Several operators offer day charters and fishing trips with equipment provided: check Bezo Charters, Evans Fishing Charters, Reel Affair or Catch the Spirit. The Game Fishing Tournament is held in late January
  • Football (soccer): widely played, July to December
  • Golf: there’s a 9-hole course at Grenada Golf and Country Club, above Grand Anse
  • Health clubs: several are open to visitors
  • Hiking: excellent trails, especially in Grand Etang National Park; also Mt St Catherine, Mt Maitland (1,712ft), Mt Sinai (2,306ft), Mt Qua Qua
  • Riding: horseback riding available
  • Sailing: outstanding, both around Grenada and up the Grenadines; good harbours and marinas, plenty of charters. The biggest Grenada Regattas are in January (Sailing Festival, being held next year from January 26 to 30) and November (End of Hurricane Season); Carriacou Regatta (1st weekend in August)
  • Tennis: at larger hotels. Public courts at Grand Anse and Tanteen
  • Triathlon: held annually, this year in March (swim, cycle, run)
  • Volleyball: growing in popularity. Courts at Aquarium Beach Club
  • Watersports: windsurfing, water-skiing, parasailing, sailboats, sunfish, speedboat trips, snorkelling, sailing trips; mainly at Grand Anse and Lance aux Epines


Private taxis, buses, public taxis and minibuses. Water taxis from Carenage to Grand Anse. Schooners and ferry to Carriacou as well as air service


  • St George’s: Carenage (with Christ of the Deep statue), National Museum (1704), National Library, Financial Complex, Fort George (1705–1710), Marryshow House, Fort Frederick (1791), St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (or Scots’ Kirk) (1830), St George’s Anglican Church (1825), Roman Catholic Cathedral (1884, tower 1818), York House (Supreme Court and Parliament) (1780), Queen’s Park Stadium
  • St Paul’s: Bay Gardens, Morne Gazo (lookout and trails), Laura’s Spice and Herb Garden, De La Grenade Industries (rum, liqueurs, spice products), Camerhogne Art Gallery, Sunnyside/Joydon (outstanding private gardens, arrange through Sunsation Tours, 444-1594)
  • Grand Anse: beach, restaurants, shopping, golf course
  • Gouyave: Nutmeg Processing Station, Dougaldston Estate (spice plantation)
  • South coast: Lance aux Epines/Prickly Bay, True Blue, Grenada Sugar Factory (Woodlands), Clarke’s Court Distillery, Westerhall Point, Fort Jeudy, La Sagesse Nature Centre, La Sagesse Natural Works (old sugar/rum factory)
  • West: Concorde Falls
  • North: Sauteurs, Caribs’ Leap, Mount Rich Amerindian petroglyphs
  • Grand Etang: National Park, crater lake, Annandale Falls, Seven Sisters Falls
  • Grenville: River Antoine Distillery, Sulphur Springs, Bathway Beach, Lake Antoine, Dunfermline Rum Distillery, Nutmeg Processing Station








Grenada is more than Grenada: it’s also Carriacou and Petite Martinique, two sister islands lying north of Grenada itself. They are the southernmost of the chain of Grenadine islands that stretches between Grenada and St Vincent. Both are easily accessible, and should be part of any Grenada exploration. Catch the Osprey Express from St George’s in the morning, or a short flight from Point Salines airport.

Carriacou (13 square miles, population 5,000) lies 23 miles north-east of Grenada, and is an island with its own very distinctive character and traditions. A strong African heritage shows up in its Big Drum dances and Tombstone Feasts, and there are French and Scottish influences as well.

There is a long tradition of boat-building, centred at Windward (and now at Tyrrell Bay), which gave rise to the Carriacou Regatta, now a large and very festive event in early August (rivalled only by the island’s own pre-Lenten Carnival). There is an attractive museum in the capital, Hillsborough (population 600), which tells the island’s story. Carriacou’s most famous artist is Canute Calliste, whose work is much sought after.

Carriacou is an island of green hills and fine sandy beaches: there’s excellent diving and walking, great sea views, and several attractive offshore islands like Sandy Island.

Two and a half miles north-east of Carriacou is the even smaller island of Petite Martinique (not to be confused with the French island of Martinique, much further north). It is only 486 acres in area, with a dramatic central hill, and a population of about 800, mostly involved in boats and fishing.


  • Carriacou: Ade’s Dream Guest House (443-7317); Alexis Luxury Apartment Hotel (443-7179); Bayalean Point Cottages (443-7984); Boyles Round House (443-7841); Caribee Inn (443-7380); Cassada Bay Resort (443-7494); Peace Haven Guest House (443-7475); Silver Beach Resort (443-7337)
  • Petite Martinique: Miracle Mart Guest House (443-9007); Sea Side View Holiday Cottages (443-9007)


  • Carriacou: Cassada Bay Resort, Paradise Inn, Poivre et Sel (French cuisine), Silver Beach Resort, The Caribee Inn
  • Petite Martinique: Palm Beach Restaurant and Bar