Our Day on Grenada - The Spice Island

Saint George's Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 11 › view all entries
Our first look at St. George's, Grenada

This day's port was St. George's, Grenada.  This is the Spice Island known for their nutmeg and other spices.  With no planned tour, a friend, my husband and I decided to hire a taxi and let the driver show us his island.  How hard is it to find someone reliable?  It is a process!

From where the ship is docked, passengers must pass through a building with a security check point (for returning passengers) and a small shopping mall.  Inside this mall, there are "taxi/tour brokers."  These gentlemen listen to what you would like to see, then work with a driver on price.  Once a deal is made, you meet the guide who you should review details of what you want to do and see.  We had approximately 3 1/2 hours before meeting our daughter and son-in-law.

Natives come to welcome us!
 

Our driver began by telling us a little about Grenada.  He showed us parts of the city, both modern and historic, before leaving the metro area for the sights of the island.  The first thing I noticed was the devastation Hurricane Ivan brought to the island in 2004.  There are homes without roofs that are uninhabited, churches with no roofs, blue tarps covering some buildings, and a lack of tall trees.  The storm stayed over the area for a long time with high winds and lots of rain.  Once the storm moved on, nearly all building sustained heavy damage.  A few have been rebuilt, others are still in the process, and there are many yet to have the first bit of renovation done.  Most all of the nutmeg trees were destroyed leaving many without a livelihood.

Hey there, fellow!
  We were told that new trees are hard to come by, and take awhile to establish.  Some farmers are just now working to replace their cash crop, but won't be able to reap benefits for a few years to come. 

On our travels away from the city into the center of the island, we were given our guide's prospective of the area.  He pointed out trees, fruits, and vegetables unique to this area.  We saw a very old banyan tree not damaged by the hurricane, several small shops selling spices, local animals, and beautiful flowers growing in the wild.  Our destination was the Grand Etang National Park.  Our stop was at the visitor's center and museum and Crater Lake.  The best view of the lake is just outside the visitor's center.

Cheeks full of banana
  There is an admission charge of $2.50 USD per person.  The center has a pictorial history of the area, and views all around one of the highest points in the park.  There are modern restrooms, a place to eat, local women dressed in brightly colored costumes (they will pose for pictures for a small fee), a local band playing tropical tunes, lots of beautiful flowers and vegetation, and several monkeys unique to the area.  These monkeys look for bananas brought by the tour guides.  Food will entice the creatures closer to the visitors.  Once a banana is scored, they peel, eat, and scamper off! 

During the drive back to the city, our guide stopped by one of the spice vendors.  There we were shown about the nutmeg.

The welcome center and museum at Grand Etang National Park
  Locals use all of the nutmeg.  The hard shell is used for packaging, but once was used for bowls.  Other parts are used, but the very inner "nut" is grated for the spice.  We also were shown and got to taste the chocolate "nut" and saffron.  For $25 USD, I purchased a basket full of spices grown and packaged by locals.  We were also treated to several pull off spots where there were beautiful views of the city of St. George and surrounding areas. 

One stop was in the Annadale area for a view of a waterfall.  Several women were dressed in colorful costumes with head gear made of fruits, vegetables, and flowers just waiting for visitors to pose with them for a picture and a small tip.  A short walk to the falls had several locals selling nutmeg strands to freshen your closets, spices packaged for cooking, and local jewelry and crafts from their tables.

Crater Lake in Grand Etang National Park
  Once in the area of the falls, we experienced the famous (?) Annadale Jumpers!  For just you (and everyone else around), the jumpers will climb to a spot high above the falls and jump into the pool below the falls.  They will ask your name before heading to the high point, and when they are ready, will call out to you to get your camera ready where they will perform the jump just for you.  When they come back to the viewing platform, they will pose for pictures with you - of course, all for a small tip.  This process goes on and on as long as there are visitors. 

From there we traveled to a high point overlooking the city.  A newer stadium has been built commissioned for the government by the Chinese.

Can I change my mind?
  This has been built to encourage growth since the hurricane, and in turn the Chinese have been given fishing rights surrounding the island.  There are so many still devastated by the hurricane and recovery seems to be happening very slowly.  Even government buildings are yet to be repaired.  Coming down from the high point, we were shown many of those buildings.  We also passed through St. George's tunnel.  This very narrow tunnel has stood the test of time and is a major street within the city. 

Our tour cost $60 for the three of us.  Our guide/driver was very knowledgable having lived his whole life on the island.  He had a nutmeg farm before the hurricane, and now acts as a tour guide and taxi driver.

He's on his way down!
 

To meet the others for the afternoon, we had to go back to the ship.  The security check point was very busy, but was able to keep up with the number of people passing through.  That morning, we had arranged for an afternoon trip to the rum distillery for the five of us.  We met a driver/guide and loaded his van for our trip to the distillery.  We passed through several different parts of the city, again listening to the guide relate interesting facts about the island.

The distillery is a short distance from town about 20 minutes.  Upon arrival, I thought the place had closed.  Instead, we were given a short tour from a long time worker of the plant.  To my knowledge he never did tell us his association with the company, but I have a feeling he was more than just a casual worker.

Old Water Wheel at the Rum Distillery
  We received a private tour for our group of five.  Starting with the old equipment behind the main building, we were shown the old water wheel, the area where the sugar cane was boiled and separated, the old still and newer equipment used in the rum making process.  Inside, a small museum displays items previously used in making rum and other old artifacts unique to the island.  Our tour concluded with a rum tasting and a chance to purchase our favorites.  A short, but very informative tour.

On our way back to the pier, our driver showed us the local fire department (my husband is a firefighter), and gave us some more information about Grenada and St. George's.  The fee was very reasonable at $10 per person, and we were back in plenty of time to board the ship.

The city of St. George's Grenada

A reflection of Grenada - definitely devastated from hurricane Ivan and another that closely followed.  An island in need of industry and tourism to return to the area to help the economy get back on their feet.  A very unique island with spices galore!  Worth a visit?  Oh my, YES!!!!!

PhinsAndGills says:
Great write up for my favorite island!
Posted on: Feb 04, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Our first look at St. Georges, Gr…
Our first look at St. George's, G…
Natives come to welcome us!
Natives come to welcome us!
Hey there, fellow!
Hey there, fellow!
Cheeks full of banana
Cheeks full of banana
The welcome center and museum at G…
The welcome center and museum at …
Crater Lake in Grand Etang Nationa…
Crater Lake in Grand Etang Nation…
Can I change my mind?
Can I change my mind?
Hes on his way down!
He's on his way down!
Old Water Wheel at the Rum Distill…
Old Water Wheel at the Rum Distil…
The city of St. Georges Grenada
The city of St. George's Grenada
The beautiful spice island
The beautiful spice island
The coveted banana from the tour g…
The coveted banana from the tour …
Tropical music entertains you at t…
Tropical music entertains you at …
Do you suppose they have headaches…
Do you suppose they have headache…
Overlook of the city of St. George…
Overlook of the city of St. Georg…
Fort George - one of many on the i…
Fort George - one of many on the …
Busy street of St. Georges, Grena…
Busy street of St. George's, Gren…
Annandale Waterfall
Annandale Waterfall
A willing Annandale Jumper
A willing Annandale Jumper
Posing with me after his jump.  Of…
Posing with me after his jump. O…
More interesting hats
More interesting hats
Some of the equipment used a long …
Some of the equipment used a long…
The Old Still
The Old "Still"
Newer still used in making rum
Newer still used in making rum
More of the city - notice the chur…
More of the city - notice the chu…
An old tunnel still used today in …
An old tunnel still used today in…
Our guide and taxi driver along wi…
Our guide and taxi driver along w…
Saint George's
photo by: PhinsAndGills