Grenada history weaves together cultures, centuries, and a spectacular setting, all scented by spice. Perhaps all you have really heard about the island is that the invasion of Grenada took place, but there's so much more to the story. This three-island nation located 100 miles off the coast of Venezuela, has long been known for its production of spices. Even today, only Indonesia leads Grenada in the production of nutmeg, and the cooling trade winds are often scented of spice. The Grenada geography and weather make the island well suited to growing nutmeg and other exotic plants.
Forged by volcanic activity, this mountainous island is an interesting place to explore. The weather changes according to the elevation; in general, temperatures average a pleasant 75 degrees and it rarely rains for more than an hour or so, even during the winter rainy season. July and August do tend to be a little warmer, but you don't find the dog days of summer here.
By the time Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the island was already home to the Carib and Arawak Peoples. One of the island's history museums, the Kalinago/Carib Village, preserves the culture of some of Grenada's first inhabitants. The arrival of the French many years later brought the inevitable culture clash. The museum is located at the site where several Native Caribs chose to leap to their death rather than submit to the French. It was the English, rather than the French, who ended up establishing the most successful colony on the island, receiving control under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
Grenada history changed course in 1843 when plantation owners returned from the East Indies with nutmeg seeds. They traveled halfway around the world to learn about extracting sugar and returned with the know-how and plants that would change the course of island history. Many of the buildings connected from the golden era of agriculture are still standing, continuing to take of advantage of the unique Grenada geography, rich volcanic soil, and year-round sunshine.
With a visit to the Dougaldston Spice Estate, you can connect the history and present of cultivating spices. Local farmers lead tours and give lectures, while visitors can do some shopping. The River Antonie Estate continues the tradition of growing sugar and continues to craft rum using freshly ground sugar and clear Grenadian water.
One of the most widely known chapters of Grenada history came much later, in the 1980s. The island nation, made up of Grenada, Petite Martinique, and Carriacou, received independence in 1974. Independence came with some unrest, and the U.S. Military arrived in 1983 when a coup threatened to bring a communist government to power. The safety and security of some 800 American students at a Grenada medical school was another prevailing factor.
The island was invaded on Oct. 25, 1983, by combined forces of America, Jamaican, and Caribbean nations aligned in the Regional Security System. The violence soon quelled and the previous constitution was put back into effect. After the Invasion of Grenada, the island recovered quickly, with the tourism infrastructure growing by leaps and bounds. A number of hotels and resorts were constructed along the beautiful beaches. Hurricane Ivan blew through in 2004, a rather rare event in the history of Grenada, spurring even more building and improvements. St. George's, the capital city, opened a state-of-the-art cruise terminal, and many of its historic buildings have been transformed into homes for boutiques and restaurants that are especially welcoming to visitors. Whether you come in by cruise or plane, you'll be close to some of the most beautiful elements of Grenada geography—the white sand beaches.