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The Spice Isle: Making the most of a cruise stopover in Grenada


It's official -- the cruise season in Grenada has begun. Actually, the first day of the season fell on a day when I was there recently. I might've missed the influx because I was across the island during most of their 12-hour stay, but I saw the big boat sail in during my breakfast, and sail away during my dinner.

Ideally, you'd want several days on the island where you could see waterfalls in the inland mountains, leatherback turtles off the northern beaches, and French and British influences in the capital town of St. George's. But if you plan it right, you can see some amazing things in the short amount of time.

Get out on the water:
I know. You might be thinking that the last thing you want after being on a cruise ship is to get on another boat. But a Grenada Seafaris boat isn't just any boat. When it powers at full-speed, it's a fun wind-in-your-face ride. And it stops for snorkeling at the underwater sculpture park, designed by Jason de Caires Taylor. The 2.5-hour tour also includes off-coast stops up the west coast and discussions about conservation and local marine life.
Enjoy the market in St. George's:
Meandering through the two-block stretch of market in St. George's is my kind of Saturday morning. It's actually on every day, but Saturday is the most bustling.

One portion focuses on products and catering to tourists, selling spices, T-shirts, and hats. The other portion sells produce, mostly to locals: yams, onions, okra, oranges. My favorite finds seem to be exotic items in abundance: a cart piled high with young coconuts (and a floorful of tops that were chopped off), and overwhelming bundles of plantains.

I'd recommend taking the time (and eschewing any shyness) to talk with the vendors -- that's how I learned how to ripen the cherry-sized governor plums (roll them around in your palm for half a minute). Get to the market early to avoid the crowds and heat.

Let an expert show you around:
After arriving in a new port, it can take a half-day to orient yourself. In the same amount of time, you can let a guide drive you to some of the must-see sights.

Several tour guides -- including Mandoo Toursand Sunsation Tours -- are available with great half-day itineraries that hit these hot spots:

Concord Falls -- A medium-sized waterfall and pool that makes a good choice for a swim
Dougaldston Spice Estate -- An historic plantation/museum where cocoa and spices are grown and processed
Grand Etang -- A national park in the inland mountains of the island that's home to a rain forest, hiking trails, and lake

Walk the island's longest beach:
The two-mile white-sand Grand Anse Beach offers up plenty of opportunities to enjoy the waterfront, whether you're dipping your toes in the Caribbean-blue water, sitting on the sidelines of a game of beach soccer, or watching the sun set just behind Quarantine Point. If you make your way down the beach, you can check out one of the hotels along the stretch or see the work of craft artisans at the vendor market.

It's easy to get to from St. George's. Just catch the #1 bus (small, private minibuses, really) in either direction for EC$2.50 (US$1).

Alison Brick traveled through Grenada on a trip sponsored by the Grenada Board of Tourism. That said, she could write about anything that struck her fancy. (And it just so happens that these are the things that struck her fancy.) You can read more from her The Spice Isle: Grenada series here.

Filed under: Arts and Culture, Learning, Food and Drink, Grenada, Caribbean

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