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Grenada (pronounced grih-NAY-duh) is a group of three larger islands (Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique) and several tiny islands in the Caribbean, or West Indies. It lies just north of Trinidad and Tobago, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It's known as the "Spice Isle", being a major source of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa. In 2022 the total population was 125,438, heavily concentrated in the southwest of Grenada main island.

Understand[edit]

Flag of Grenada, bearing a nutmeg

History[edit]

The Caribbean Plate is a tectonic structure stretching 2000 km east from the Pacific coast of Central America. For the last 80 million years it's been shifting east at 10 mm a year, compressing the Atlantic ocean floor beneath it, and this has thrown up an arc of volcanic islands along the boundary. Grenada arose maybe two million years ago, and volcanic activity continued on the main island until 12,000 years ago, blasting out the craters (now flooded) of St George's carenage, Grand Etang, Levera and St Antoine. Mount St Catherine the highest mountain is dormant but by no means extinct, with geothermal hot springs, and the wonderfully-named "Kick 'em Jenny" is an active underwater volcano ten miles north of main island.

The legacy of this is rugged terrain with mountains that draw clouds and rain, reasonably fertile volcanic soil, a great natural harbour, and lush scenery. Land animals were from time to time able to migrate here, and humans could island-hop along the chain from South America by canoe. The standard story is that the first settlers were Arawaks, then in the centuries before European contact they were attacked and subjugated by Caribs. But this doesn't square with the linguistic, genetic and cultural record, and the Spanish used "Arawak" to mean indigenous people friendly to them, while "Caribs" were hostile and therefore to be demonised and slaughtered.

The first European to sight Grenada was Christopher Columbus in 1498. He didn't land, but named it Concepción, which didn't catch on. The Andalusian city of Granada symbolised the ascendancy of Spain after its recapture from the Moors in 1492, and "La Granada" was how the island became shown on maps. However for the next 150 years its inhabitants repelled colonisation, until in 1649 the French got a grip, fortified the harbour and subdued the island. Legend holds that in 1652 the last of the Caribs leapt to their deaths from the cliffs, at the north point now called Sauteurs. The island was then a private possession, a piece of real estate to be traded, until 1674 when it was constituted as a French colony governed from Martinique. Grenada was profitable for its indigo, cotton and sugar, with a large African slave population imported to harvest these. In British eyes, it was far too good to be wasted on the French, and the power of their Royal Navy was growing.

Capital St. George's
Currency Eastern Caribbean dollar (XCD)
Population 114.2 thousand (2023)
Electricity 230 volt / 50 hertz (BS 1363)
Country code +1473
Time zone UTC−04:00, America/Grenada
Emergencies 911, +1-434 (emergency medical services), +1-724 (emergency medical services), +1-774 (emergency medical services)
Driving side left

Grenada like other Caribbean islands was then a pawn in wider conflicts. It was captured by the British during the Seven Years' War (1756–63), but during the American Revolutionary War, France joined the United States against Britain and recaptured Grenada in 1779. They hurriedly built forts against counter-attack, only to see these handed over when Grenada was re-assigned to Britain by the treaty of 1783. France then became roiled by revolution, and could never again exert colonial power in this section of the Caribbean. Its rhetoric was echoed by Julien Fédon, a mixed-race landowner who in 1795 launched a rebellion that lasted 15 months until crushed; his fate is unknown.

Grenada was a colony of Britain for almost the next 200 years, along with other islands in the loose entity known as the British Windward Islands Administration. Slavery was abolished in the 19th century, but the island remained under the thumb of (and governed for the benefit of) the colonists, with only token Grenadian electoral power and representation even after reforms in the 1920s. Universal adult suffrage came in 1951, when Eric Matthew Gairy and his Grenada United Labour Party swept to power. A "wind of change" gathered strength throughout the Empire, and Britain's response was to form a Federation of the West Indies with considerable home autonomy but with defence and other functions retained by the UK. The Federation proved quarrelsome and short-lived, and full independence came on 7 Feb 1974 with Gairy as the first prime minister.

Gairy's re-election in 1976 was considered by many to be fraudulent, and there was growing agitation and paramilitary activity by the "New Jewel Movement". This was led by a lawyer called Maurice Bishop, and proclaimed itself Marxist-Leninist. It seized power in a coup d'état in 1979 and sought assistance from Cuba, whose workers began building the present airport at Point Salines, which the US squealed might be used as a launchpad against America. The flashpoint was in 1983 when Bishop was overthrown by a hardline faction of his own party, and he and his colleagues were shot by firing squad. All this played into US President Ronald Reagan's worst nightmares of what a communist regime might do, he badly needed a quick win after the attack on the Marines base in Beirut, and he launched "Operation Urgent Fury". The invasion force of some 7600 soon routed the hardliners and Cubans, and next year a general election re-established democratic government.

The bonus was that Grenada acquired its modern airport, just in time to take advantage of larger aircraft bringing the island within range of middle-income tourists across Europe and North America. Grand Anse beach burgeoned into a hotel strip. The major set-back came in 2004: Grenada hadn't suffered a hurricane for 50 years then was devastated by "Ivan", then again by "Emily" in 2005. By then the global financial crisis was afflicting public and private finance, impeding re-construction, and there are still many gap sites and shells of wrecked buildings today.

Climate[edit]

St George's harbour, the Carenage

Grenada has a tropical, hot and humid climate that doesn't vary much year-round. Temperatures are always close to 27°C / 80°F, and the humidity is tempered by the refreshing trade winds. January to April are slightly drier and cooler, there's not much in it, and even during the rainy season it seldom rains for more than an hour at a time. The last hurricane was Emily in 2005.

Talk[edit]

Standard British English is the official language and universally understood. Between themselves, locals speak an English dialect which is rapid and hard to understand, mainly because outsiders aren't meant to - anyone in a public-facing role won't use it. Even in standard English however, the diction is often low and flat, almost a self-effacing mumble, which will take you a while to tune into. French persists only in place names and Creole has practically died out.

Culture[edit]

Grenada has the same problems of unemployment and economic downturn as other Caribbean nations yet the visitor is struck by how they shine above it. To a remarkable degree, they are law-abiding, courteous and with a strong work ethic. Away from the beach they dress conservatively; traders may solicit but rarely hustle. You'll be alright in town in shorts, shirt and trainers, but won't get served in beachwear.

Feb 7 is Independence Day, a public holiday with parades and ceremonies. As this is close to the usual date of Mardi Gras, the latter is not a big thing on Grenada.

Visitor information[edit]

Pure Grenada (+1 473 440 2001) is the tourist agency.

For local news read NOW Grenada, The New Today, Grenada Informer, Grenadian Voice and The Barnacle.

Islands[edit]

Map of Grenada
  Grenada
The largest island, with the nation's capital at St George's. Tourist facilities are a few miles south in Grand Anse.
  Carriacou
The second largest island, with Hillsborough the main town.
  Petite Martinique
The third largest island, with few tourist facilities.
  • Ronde is the largest of the string of islets between Carriacou and main island.
  • Kick 'em Jenny is an active undersea volcano 5 miles west of Ronde.


Get in[edit]

Visa policy of Grenada
  Grenada
  Visa-free - 6 months
  Visa-free - 3 months
  Visa-free - 2 months
  Visa-free - 1 month
  Conditional visa on arrival
  Visa required in advance

Entry requirements[edit]

You need a passport valid for at least six months and a return or onward ticket. As of 2019, and still applicable in Jan 2023, visas are not required from citizens of the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and its dependencies, British Commonwealth countries, Caribbean countries, Venezuela, Brazil, European Union countries and their dependencies, Norway, Japan, South Korea, India, Israel, China, Hong Kong, Macau and Russia.

Duty-free allowances: Personal items, one quart in total wines and spirits, half-pound tobacco or 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes. No restrictions on the amount of money that can be brought in. Restricted items are fruits, vegetables, meat, soil, illegal drugs, firearms and ammunition.

By plane[edit]

Maurice Bishop International Airport (GND IATA) is on the southwest tip of the main island of Grenada, 8 km from the capital. It's the principal point of arrival in Grenada, with long haul flights from North America and Europe, and inter-island short hops. See Grenada (island)#Get in for connections, airport facilities and onward transport.

Lauriston Airport (CRU IATA) is a small airstrip on the island of Carriacou. As well as daily flights from Maurice Bishop, it has direct flights from Saint Vincent, with connections from Barbados and other islands. See Carriacou#Get in for practicalities.

By boat[edit]

  • Cruise ships dock in St George's, and October to May there are usually a couple in port - there's room for five. See Grenada (island)#Get in for practicalities.
  • Carriacou has no dock for large ships, but these sometimes park offshore and bring passengers in by tender.
  • Osprey foot-passenger ferries ply between the islands of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
  • There are nowadays no ferries from other Caribbean nations, so even the short hop from the St Vincent archipelago involves flying.
  • Private vessels must clear immigration and customs at St George's or Prickly Bay on Grenada island, or at Hillsborough on Carriacou. Petite Martinique has no "Port of Entry".

Get around[edit]

Fort George

Minibuses are the staple public transport, see Grenada (island)#Get around. Eight routes fan out from St George's bus terminal next to the cruiser dock, very frequently along Route 1 to Grand Anse and Calliste. Route 9 crosses the top of the island between Grenville and Sauteurs. On Carriacou they radiate from Hillsborough and on tiny Petite Martinique you just walk.

A water taxi plies between St George's cruiser dock and Grand Anse beach.

Taxis carry an "H" on their licence plates. There are ranks at the bus terminal and airport, else just flag them on the street. Hiring a cab for the day is for most visitors a much better way to tour the island than self-drive, as the drivers know the poorly-signposted turn-offs, and the worst of the potholes, police traps and landslips.

Car rentals are available from a few international companies - the advantage of these is that they can issue a temporary Grenada driving permit on the spot, so you can drive straight off. There are also some two dozen local operators, but you may need to factor in a two-hour visit to the local police station to have your permit issued.

Cycling is not much fun on the busy narrow roads of the main island, with frequent gradients, humid tropical weather, and the stiff Atlantic breeze somehow always against you. It's less daunting on the quieter, smaller island of Carriacou.

See[edit]

Morne Rouge Beach
  • St. George's is an interesting old town, with the natural harbour of the carenage, Fort George on the knoll above it, and the historic Church Street district. But many buildings are dilapidated or still wrecked from the 2004 hurricane. The inland streets are steep so consider taking the little "tourist train".
  • Beaches: Grand Anse is the one in all the tourist brochures, a classic sweep of palm-fringed sand. But it's narrow, having suffered erosion, and waves may break right over it. All the water sports facilities are based here. Beyond the headland west are the much quieter BBC or Morne Rouge Beach, then Paradise Bay towards Sandals resort. Small sandy coves are found right round the island though the coast is mostly rugged, and the east is exposed to the Atlantic. Black beaches are made of volcanic sand, for instance Black Bay near Concord on the west coast.
  • Grand Etang is a crater lake and nature reserve mid-island, with Mona monkeys, birdlife and tropical flowers. Mount Qua Qua stands above it. Waterfalls tumble down the slopes: best known are Annandale west side, and Seven Sisters and Honeymoon Falls east side. Other crater lakes and parks are at Antoine to the northeast and Levera to the north.
  • Plantations: see below for rum distilleries. Spice plantations include Dougladston Estate and Gouyave Nutmeg Factory both near Gouyave, and Belmont to the north processes cocoa beans for chocolate. Carriacou has several atmospheric ruins.
  • Tibeau on the east coast of Carriacou has a macabre beach where an old cemetery is being washed away by the sea.

Do[edit]

Annandale waterfalls
"Idleness being a Vice contrary to the Spirit Of the Government, the Energy of the Government, being to watch over the happiness Of the Social Contract, It is therefore the Duty Of the Government to work at extirpating this odious Vice of Idleness."
- Revolutionary Ordinance of 1795
  • Scuba diving and snorkelling are on the reefs a mile or two west of Grenada island and Carriacou. Dive shacks are concentrated in Grand Anse and offer training, with the dive sites just a 5-10 minute boat ride away. The shallower reefs have soft coral within snorkelling depth and the usual cast of Caribbean critters. There's usually a current so dives are drifts. The signature dive is Bianca C, a 600-ft cruise ship which caught fire and sank in 1961, now lying in 90-160 ft depth.
  • Surfing: not on the sheltered west coast. Prickly Bay south of Grande Anse often has surfable waves, as do the exposed Atlantic beaches facing northeast.
West Indies cricket, with Grenada at 2nd Slip
  • Cricket: the National Stadium in St George's hosts the national team and often the combined West Indies team for "Test matches" - internationals. The domestic playing season is the drier months of Dec-May. Soccer and athletics are staged at the adjacent Kirani James stadium. NFL (American football) is not regularly played, but Grenada is seeking to boost sports tourism, for example by re-starting their rugby sevens tournament in 2022.
  • Hashing: running trails are set up at varied spots around the main island, usually on Saturday afternoon. Enjoy the brutal slopes, muddy footing and scratchy bush, then undo the damage with copious draughts of rum.
  • Sailing. Day sail charters are available from various companies; dingy tours are also possible by renting your own dingy.
  • Get married: you need your passport, birth certificate, evidence of single status, and a stay in Grenada of at least three working days. Specialist overseas wedding companies can arrange the whole show. But this isn't Reno, it's not a quickie-divorce centre, so if you have to dissolve an existing marriage to be free to re-marry, you should do so before arrival and have the documents to prove it. And yes, it will help a lot if one of you is male and the other female, as homosexual acts are still prohibited here.
  • Christmas: Celebrated as an ample public holiday by many Grenadians. One of its traditions includes a colorful masquerade performance and street parties that typify the festive season. The spirit of Christmas in Grenada makes it a perfect place to relax on the beach during Christmas Day.

Learn[edit]

St George's University, opened in 1977, is a private university with courses in medicine, veterinary medicine and other arts and sciences. As well as their undergrad and postgrad programmes they offer summer schools and short courses. Many US students study here and in 1983 their wellbeing was one of the reasons for the US invasion. The main campus is on Grand Anse beach, with another just east of the airport.

University of West Indies don't have a physical base on Grenada but their Open Campus supports distance learning.

Buy[edit]

Money[edit]

Exchange rates for Eastern Caribbean dollars

As of Jan 2024:

  • US$1 ≈ EC$2.7 (pegged)
  • €1 ≈ EC$3.0
  • UK£1 ≈ EC$3.4
  • CA$1 ≈ EC$2.0

Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com

The East Caribbean dollar, denoted as $ or EC$ (ISO currency code XCD), is the currency of Grenada and seven other Caribbean countries: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The EC dollar is subdivided into 100 cents. Banknotes circulate in denominations of 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars, and coins of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 cents and 1 dollar.

The EC dollar is pegged to the United States dollar at a fixed exchange rate of US$1 = EC$2.70. US dollar bills are universally accepted on Grenada but not coins; they might give change in EC cents or just round up the tab.

It is difficult to exchange EC$ outside the Caribbean and there is no exchange at the airport. So unless you're arriving from another EC$ country (which Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago are not) then bring enough US$ to last until you can reach a bank, bearing in mind that small businesses such as taxi drivers seldom take cards. And don't be left with any EC$ when you leave.

There are several banks in St George's and Grand Anse, with exchange desks open M-F 8AM-2PM.

Shopping[edit]

Market in St George's
  • Foodstuffs and spices: check your home country's customs regulations before buying foodstuffs - many imports are prohibited.
    • Spices are the main draw and are usually okay for import if fully-sealed. Nutmeg and vanilla are the chief offering, others are mace, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and turmeric.
    • Chocolate is high standard, if you can keep it cool until your return.
    • Rum, but beware the strength - an "export-strength" product may count as two bottles within your personal allowance.
  • Supermarkets in St George's and Grand Anse may undercut the "duty-free" offerings in the tourist-trappy mall by the cruiser terminal.

Eat[edit]

  • Fish and chicken are the staple offerings, well-seasoned with island spices.
  • Grand Anse hotels have the best dining and mostly cater to non-residents.
  • St George's is geared to quick lunches for people with business in town, and they close early.

Drink[edit]

River Antoine rum distillery
  • Water is always a good choice in the tropical heat. Tap water is safe and pleasant to drink, as it runs off the rain-lashed mountains and only needs to be lightly treated. Restaurants serve it on request without sulking. Bottled water is also available.
  • Rum is made at three distilleries on the main island, Clarke's Court and Westerhall to the south and River Antoine north, and tours are available. The other islands have no distilleries but cheerfully assist in consuming the main island's products. Beware very high strength rum served in local bars.
  • Breweries: there are two near Grande Anse.

Sleep[edit]

  • Grenada island accommodation is concentrated in Grand Anse near the airport. Rooms are expensive, but long-distance fly + stay packages cost little more. There's very little in the capital St George's.
  • Carriacou has small mid-range places, mostly in Hillsborough with a few southwest in Tyrell Bay.
  • Petite Martinique accommodation in 2023 has yet to re-open after Covid.

Stay safe[edit]

Mona monkey at Grand Etang

Grenada is a safe country and enjoys the lowest crime rate in the Caribbean region. Please keep it that way by safeguarding valuables and not flashing bling.

Beware of the sun. Grenada is only 12 degrees north of the equator and you can burn quickly even if it's cloudy and the breeze is keeping you cool. Seek the shade, use a parasol, wear a wide-brimmed hat and long clothing and slap on high-factor sun-block. Minimise outdoor activity from noon to 3 pm when there's maximum UV and heat.

Allow for the high humidity: it can top 90%, and anything above 60% is unpleasant. Drink plenty of water (the tap water is safe), though on humid days your sweat cannot evaporate quickly to keep your body cool.

Mosquitoes are more of a nuisance than a danger: it's rare for them to carry serious diseases such as malaria. You don't need anti-malarials, just standard anti-mozzy precautions - they get busy after sundown, so spray on a repellent before heading out for al fresco dining. Dengue Fever, Zika and Chikungunya Virus are likewise rare.

Your accommodation will know of local primary care doctors available to make house calls. There's a hospital in St George's, a smaller one at Mirabeau to the east and another on Carriacou. All treatment must be paid for, and anything serious might mean an airlift to the US mainland, so you must have adequate health insurance.

Connect[edit]

Almost everywhere on the three islands has 4G from Flow and Digicel, with only a few dead spots in the mountains. As of Jan 2023, 5G has not rolled out in Grenada.

Go next[edit]

  • By cruiser, you'll go wherever your itinerary is next heading, and by air you could soon be anywhere.
  • Saint Vincent is the nearest onward destination. It could be described as "unspoilt", meaning it has few visitor facilities.
  • Good choices for a future trip to this region are Barbados, Saint Lucia and Tobago.


This country travel guide to Grenada is a usable article. It has information about the country and for getting in, as well as links to several destinations. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.