Island of Grenada
Grenada may bring to mind the island's invasion before anything else, but it seems unfair, as the tiny island of Grenada is one of the most scenic locations in the Caribbean. The spirit of the people is strong and alive, despite the violence laced throughout Grenada history. Not only human vs human, but human versus nature – Hurricane Ivan was just the latest obstacle facing the island. Previous to the intervention of American soldiers during the invasion of Grenada, there were several bloody battles over this tiny island. The original Carib inhabitants were first defeated by the French, but rather than concede to their subjugators, the fierce warriors through themselves of the Northern cliffs of the island. The French later gave way to the British in 1783, which began a long chapter of peace in Grenada history – a period eventually ended with the invasion of Grenada.
But ever since, tourists have begun to return to the island, entranced by the native beauty and friendly people. Not even Hurricane Ivan could destroy the island"s thriving tourist industry here, and now much of what was ruined has been patiently rebuilt, and the nation"s splendor is on full display no matter where you go. The capital city of St. Georges is a wonder – a West Indian city that appears little changed since colonial days. Its epicenter is the elegant harbor where ferries, schooners and other assorted watercraft lie, waiting to take eager passengers into the warm water beyond. Experienced and novice sailors alike congregate here year-round, and the main drag is populated with fine seaside restaurants, bars and hotels for both the budget conscious and wealthy alike. In fact, if you can find a listing for cheap flights to Grenada, the rest of your expenses are fairly small, even with stops at the famed rum distillery or the Island of Grenada National Museum.
Many of the extravagant gardens and secluded beaches are free to the public, or cost at most a dollar or two. The Levera National Park and Bird Sanctuary provide nesting seabirds and Arawak ruins, while the Grand Etang National Park and Forest Reserve contains most of the island's best hikes and sights. The former is located on the northeastern ridge of the island, and the latter is in the dead center – both are easily accessible by car or tour from St. George.
Nicknamed the Isle of Spice, Grenada history is mirrored in the countless spice plantations that clutter the inner part of the island. Though most visitors never make it this far, considering the wealth and beauty of so many Grenada beaches and national parks, there are still something to see. But, just like most Caribbean isles, the main draw here are the sun-strewn beaches, and there is hardly a Grenada beach that will disappoint. The most popular are found just south of St. George, particularly Grand Anse. Widely accepted, not only as the top Grenada beach, but as one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, Grand Anse renders all hyperbole moot. Exaggeration is certainly unnecessary - the warm sand and fragrant air speak for themselves.
Top image: ahisgett (flickr)