Grenada: Things to do

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Flag of Grenada  , Saint George,
Sunday, February 20, 2011

1. Grand Anse Beach: I'm pretty sure no one has been to Grenada without going to Grand Anse beach.  It was "the" beach talked about online and in guide books, which usually means I will hate it. I expected big crowds, too many beach chairs and tons of vendors everywhere. What I learned about Grenada is that nothing is "that" touristy; the beach was always busy, but some areas of it were almost deserted...in a good way. The first trip to the beach, I asked the bus driver to drop me off my by the Catholic church, where I got a chair ($5US) and pina coladas at Lazy Days.  I got fidgety and ended up walking the entire beach, which was an easy 30 minute walk.  I visited dive shops and checked out all the fancy pants resorts I had seen online. I ended up coming back other days and found a spot I liked even more. Right across from the Spiceland Mall, there is a public entrance to the beach. Just look for signs for Umbrellas and Eco Divers. Follow this road and at the end of it, you'll meet Clarence, a friendly man that offers a beach chair for much less money ($10 EC). He has drinks for sale from his cooler and is even willing to help you with your sunscreen application if you so need.  =)  I ended up visiting Clarence about 3 times during my trip. I always take my money in a waterproof pack when I get in the water, but my bag was safe on the beach. The people that sold their wares on the beach were friendly and did not bother you if you weren't interested. Look for a man selling loofas; I got 5 for $10EC, which is much cheaper than anything at the gift shop. I also bought some great spice gift sets from the lady selling sarongs for $10EC as well. This spot was much more calm and relaxing than the busier areas down at the end.

2. Eat at Boots: This was by far, the best meal I had in Grenada. Boots is a restaurant located in Woodlands that is run by an entire family out of the side of their home. The man of the house, Boots, is the chef. The wife and daughter run the dining room, and the son drives you to and from the restaurant (for an additional $50EC). Each night they offer a 4 course meal for $80EC. The soup, appetizer and dessert are set, but you get a choice between 3 entrees.  I got a mean rum punch made by Mrs. Ruby. The starters were a delicious pumpkin soup and a crayfish eggplant wrap (my favorite) that was phenomenal.  I chose fried lambie (conch) in a sorrel sauce as my entree and it did not disappoint.  It was served will sweet potato ball, assorted ground provisions and veggies and pigeon peas.  Dessert was ice cream with sorrel/breadfruit bread.  Needless to say, I was stuffed....but oh so happy.  Boots will come out during the meal to check on you. You can tell that he really loves to cook, and the entire family was as friendly as could be.  Reservations are essential for dinner, but I had no problem getting in the same day. This is a fine dining experience with a down home feel. You'll love it.

3. Take the local bus around Grenada:   Usually when you take the bus to Grand Anse or to the center of St. Georges, it costs $2.50EC, but if you go the entire route, it can cost more....but it never goes above $6EC, which makes taking the local bus the most affordable way to travel around Grenada, especially is you are traveling alone.  This is how it works:  Each bus has a route number on the front windshield. Each bus has a driver and a sort of conductor that sits in the back. The conductors job is to find riders, and the drivers job is to drive like a crazy person.  I couldn't walk 2 minutes without being offered a bus ride, so believe me, it isn't hard to figure it out. When you get on, just tell the conductor where you want to go. You can pay him as you ride or at the end....I watched the locals and they did both.  There seems to be a few designated bus stops on the road, but I never had a problem catching a bus from anywhere on the street. Once they pull over, you find a spot in one of the tiny seats in the back. Believe me, even if you think you can't fit, they are going to find room for you. I swear there were 25 people in the bus one day after work.  The roads are very windy and narrow in Grenada, but these people drive for a living, so try not to be too scared. I loved riding with the locals and highly recommend doing this at least once on your trip. This would not be an ideal way for a large group or for people that like to have tour guides...but if you want to see how Grenadians travel around their country, then this is it. Besides going all over St. Georges, I traveled the country bu bus one day. Starting at St. Anns, I went to Grenville. Then from Grenville to the River Antoine Rum Distillery. Then I went back to Tivoli, then up to Sauteres. Then I took the bus back from Sauteres to St. Georges. At each stop, I got out, ventured around, grabbed a beer and met locals....great time.  Also, another quick thing about the bus: the guides say they don't run at night, but I never had a problem catching the #1 bus in the evening....so I took to/from dinner many nights...much cheaper than a cab!

4. River Antoine Rum Distillery: This was probably the most "touristy" thing I did, but I love my rum and took the recommendation of some new friends I made to visit this distillery in particular. I took the local bus, and he actually took my straight there for $5EC,  but even if they drop you at the junction, it's an easy 7 minute walk. They offer tours for $5EC, and mine started off with just me....but some other folks ended up joining.  It is a controlled by a water wheel and is fascinating to watch the entire process from start to finish. They even let you have a tasting at the end!  Everyone was hard at work, but they weren't too busy to say hello, let me take pics and answer my questions about the process.  Definitely recommended.

5. Go to Carriacou: Posts on tripadvisor advised that since I was only in Grenada for 1 week, that I should not bother going to Carriacou. Boy am I glad I didn't listen to them!  I loved Carriacou and I am so glad I took the time to spend one night there and see a little bit of this neighboring island.  Carriacou is very different from Grenada- it is very chill and quiet...very untouched and unspoiled.  No big resorts here. Everyone left me to myself, but if I wanted to join them for a drink, I was accepted with open arms.  I took the ferry which is about $62US/rt.  The ride there was extremely rocky; people were getting sick. So take some medicine if you get motion sickness and sit towards the back (of course, I sat in the very front.)  They have the same bus system on Carriacou, but it costs $3.50EC instead. I went past Paradise Beach and got off Tyrells Bay, where I stayed the night at Scraper's for $100EC. The room had a private kitchen and bath. The beach was across the street, and there were many restaurants and bars within walking distance. I also walked to Paradise Beach from here, but I wasn't as impressed...maybe it was a bit stirred up the day I visited. However, the best store I visited was here...called Fidel Productions.  Highly recommended.

6. Fish Friday: Every Friday, the fishing village of Gouyave hosts a party. Individual booths are set up where you can sample many different seafood dishes cooked by locals. This is where you need to bring your friends, as I didn't have enought room in my stomach to try everything I wanted to. Also, if I could turn back time, I would have tried to arrive later, say around 930. This is when the locals start coming out, the dorky tourists leave and the party really gets started. I went too early with everyone else, and I didn't want to leave when my ride was heading out. Most people went for the lobster, which is a steal at $50EC, but my lobster in Carriacou was so much better. My favorite dish was the fish kebabs, which was the first stand. Definitely come to this, but come on the later side and stay and party...you'll be able to find a ride home.

7. Buy food goodies to take home:  Grenada is known as the Spice Island, so by all means, you're going to need to bring some spices home with you. If you go into St. Georges, you'll be offered a lot of options, but I couldn't help but thinking I was getting the "cruise ship" prices.  I ended up going to local grocery stores for some common spices, and I bought nutmeg and other local spices from a lady at the beach. I don't care where you get them, just make sure to get them.  And stock up on Baron's pepper sauce.....delicious. And of course, get your 2 bottles of rum at the duty free. You can't get the 75% alcohol rum you've been drinking all week in Grenada though, so enjoy the fire while you can.

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