As Caribbean cruise stops go, gentle-paced Grenada gets just about everything right. Its historic capital, St George’s, a jumble of red-roofed buildings rising up above a natural harbour, is a strong contender for the region’s prettiest port. A gorgeous beach, Grand Anse, lies a short bus, taxi or water taxi ride away from St George’s.
The island’s mountainous and rainforest-covered interior is easily accessible, with waterfalls to discover and manageable trails to hike. And while Grenada doesn’t really have any must-see sights, it does have some absorbing attractions related to its produce – of nutmeg, cocoa and rum. A further USP is an intriguing underwater sculpture park.
Cruise port location
Cruise ships dock at St George’s, in the south-west of the island. The Melville Street Cruise Terminal is right alongside the centre of town.
Can I walk to any places of interest?
From the cruise terminal you walk out through the Esplanade Mall into downtown St George’s. It’s three minutes’ walk to the market, and about six minutes on foot, via Young Street, to the pretty Carenage and inner harbour. Bear in mind that the town is hilly. You need transport to get anywhere beyond St George’s.
At 135 square miles, Grenada is just a little smaller than the Isle of Wight. The roads are mostly slow and windy: from St George’s up to Sauteurs in the north-east corner takes about an hour 15 minutes.
To explore, sign up for a group cruise-ship excursion or take a taxi – whether a point-to-point trip or island tour. Taxi drivers can make good guides, and you’ll get more flexibility and a more personalised experience than on a cruise-organised excursion – and it may work out cheaper. Taxis are not metered. Establish fares in advance (rates for tours are negotiable), and check whether the price is per person or trip, and in East Caribbean or US dollars.
From the cruise terminal to Grand Anse Beach is about 15 minutes’ drive. As well as hopping in a taxi, you could squeeze in one of the colourful public minibuses. The bus terminal in St George’s is a couple of minutes’ walk north of the cruise terminal. Services to Grand Anse are very frequent, and the fare is EC$2.50 (70p) each way. Water taxis also operate between the cruise terminal and Grand Anse Beach, for US$10 (£7.50) return per person.
Best beaches for cruise-ship visitors
Justifiably the most popular beach on Grenada, Grand Anse is a two-mile-long curve of soft white sand shaded by sea grapes, palms and almond trees; the sea is usually calm, and there are watersports outlets. Cruise-ship passengers generally congregate at the northern end – the southern section is much quieter.
Morne Rouge Beach, in the next bay south, is also gorgeous and very sheltered. If you want a magical, undeveloped beach with just a few other tourists, head to La Sagesse on the south coast, about 30 minutes’ drive from St George’s. La Sagesse hotel has a simple but inviting beachside bar/restaurant.
What can I do in four hours or less?
Potter around St George’s, taking in the market, the Carenage (the pretty inner harbour), Fort George (great views) and the little national museum. Allow a couple of hours; you don’t need a guide.
The cruise lines offer various highlights tours of Grenada lasting around four hours. These usually take in the Grand Etang National Park and Forest Reserve – the heart of the island’s wild, mountainous and rainforested interior, with a scenic lake to view (filling the crater of an extinct volcano) and mona monkeys to say hello to.
Other sights on the tours can include: Annandale Falls, the most easily accessible of the island’s waterfalls; Fort Frederick, an impressive fortification built by the British in the 18th century high above St George’s; and the fascinating working nutmeg processing station at Gouyave on the north-west-coast.
If you want to be active, take a guided hike. A good, widely-offered option is from near Grand Etang through the jungle to Seven Sisters Falls, where you can cool off in the pools. Or try the new zipwire obstacle course at the falls, or ride the currents down the Balthazar River in a rubber tube.
You could also snorkel over the eerie statues in the Underwater Sculpture Park at Molinere Bay, around three miles up the coast from St George’s. Cruise lines offer excursions here, or book with Grenada Safaris for a small-group tour on a powerboat with pick-up or drop-off by the cruise ship.
What can I do in eight hours or less?
Set aside a full day to explore, and as well as the sights covered above, you will have time to get up to north-eastern Grenada and visit River Antoine Rum Distillery (one of the oldest in the Caribbean) and Belmont Estate. The prime crop at this agritourism centre is cocoa, and you can learn all about the process from cocoa tree to chocolate bar, including visiting the estate’s new chocolate factory; it’s also a good lunch stop. You can also get a tour of the Grenada Chocolate Company’s quaint little factory just up the road at Hermitage.
Full-day catamaran boat trips with lunch take in not only the underwater sculpture park but also spend time at other reefs and on a beach, some go round to the indented bays on the south-west coast.
Eat and drink
In St George’s, best lunch spots are on the Carenage: the graffiti-covered BB’s Crabback is good for Caribbean specialities such as curried goat, or try the smart Sails or simpler Nutmeg.
On Grand Anse, Umbrellas is the best and liveliest beach bar, and does good food. Also recommended for lunch is The Aquarium, a casual restaurant hidden away behind lovely Magazine Beach in the far southwest.
The main island-brewed beer is Carib lager. Or sample the West Indies Beer Company’s potent real ales from its microbrewery bar The Brewery, at Lance Aux Epines.
Don’t leave the island without…
Buying spice – Grenada is known as the Spice Isle. You’ll find island-grown nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cloves, and much else besides, all neatly packaged to take home, in St George’s Market (the fruit and veg area is liveliest on Saturday morning), and at the craft market behind Grand Anse Beach, near the northern end.
Back in St George’s on Young Street, the House of Chocolate has a café/mini-museum/shop for all things chocolate related, and Art Fabrik sells lovely, locally-made batik. For other souvenirs, look no further than the Esplanade Mall, by the cruise-ship terminal.
Need to know
Flight time from the UK
It takes around 10 and a half hours from London.
Grenada is one of the safest Caribbean islands. However, still take care when exploring, especially at isolated beaches or beauty spots.
Its official currency is the East Caribbean (EC) dollar. US dollars are also almost always accepted, but you may be given change in EC dollars. US$1 is worth EC$2.70 – the exchange rate is fixed. ATMs issue EC dollars.
Best time to go
Almost all cruise ships visit Grenada between November and April. Mid-December to April is high season, when the island is busiest, though Grenada rarely gets that busy – for one thing, it doesn’t receive as many cruise ships as some other Caribbean islands.
The driest months tend to be February to April. The Caribbean hurricane season officially runs June to November, but most storms happen between August and October.
Annual events include a music festival in April, a chocolate festival in May, and Spicemas, Grenada’s full-on, colourful carnival, in August.