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Grenada: The Spice Isle

Spice up your life at this gorgeous Caribbean island.

As the sun dips down in a tangerine sky, I drop my sandals under a sea grape tree and head to the shore for a sunset stroll, a tropical rum punch my only companion. Before me Grand Anse Beach, a brilliant white crescent on Grenada’s southwest coast, stretches for three miles, bordered on one side by the Caribbean Sea, on the other by small businesses, empty lots, and the occasional resort.

Gorgeous any time of day, Grand Anse Beach at sunset is a painting in motion, a changing panorama of scenes, the colors swirling and subsiding like a forgotten dream.

To the north, surrounding the lush green peaks of the Grand Etang Forest Preserve, clouds float like ornaments. To the south, the sun slides down the sky amid a cascade of colors, a waterfall in slow motion. On the edge of the horizon a catamaran gently motors toward Grenada’s capital, St. George’s, whose horseshoe-shaped harbor twinkles with lights from merry restaurants that promise the conviviality sailors need after a long day on the water.

Around me the sea and sky shimmer in the waning sunlight. Silver waves break on the beach, providing a rhythmic beat, like the ticking of a cosmic clock winding down, counting the minutes of my last day in Grenada, reminding me that tomorrow I will board a plane and make the long journey home. I’m determined to milk this day, savor every sensory experience I can.

Sunset on Grand Anse Beach

A Sensual Stroll Through Silky Waters of the Caribbean Sea

The silky waters of the Caribbean Sea wash over my feet as I walk along the shore. The clear water beckons, but I’m not suited for a swim. Instead, I watch others bathe in the calm seawater. Surprisingly the beach is full of people—a few tourists, like me, but mostly native Grenadians, boys and girls playing soccer in the sand, old women neck deep in the water, couples intertwined as the sun displays its last burst of fireworks. A slow breeze rises up and ripples the water, ruffling my hair. I smile at the sensual pleasure of the moment.

I turn around and walk toward the place in the sky where the sun used to be. It’s gone now, having surrendered to the dusk, leaving in its wake a peachy-green glow, a fading memory of the day. The swimmers are shadows now, dark profiles edged against the glimmering sea. Reflecting the glow of the sky, the sea, like me, seems to want to hold on to the final moments of the day as long as it can, a last hurrah before it too will dim, and night will take over this small corner of the Caribbean.

The scene around me is clear and beautiful, and all at once I feel a kinship with this place. It’s as if I finally understand the magic here, what the islanders mean when they say they will never leave. Why would you when a world with this much splendor waits outside your front door? Maybe I’ll go native, I think as I take another swallow of my rum punch. I’ll sneak up into the hills during the night, get lost in the rainforest, sleep under the nutmeg trees, and dream about a life of enchantment here on the Spice Isle.

Dark descends quickly, and I remember I still have to pack. I feel drained, as if I’ve been under a spell. What’s in this drink? I wonder. It tastes of local rum, strong and flavorful, complemented by tangy fruit juices and topped off by tiny bits of ground nutmeg that echo in my mouth.

But something else is at work here. It’s almost as if this drink has sharpened my senses somehow, given me clarity and wisdom—not the normal dulling effects you associate with a potent libation. It must be the nutmeg. All I know is every rum punch I drink for the rest of my life will contain this pungent spice—and remind me of my sunset stroll on Grenada’s Grand Anse Beach.

Stay in Spice Island Beach Resort: Tranquil & Luxurious

Dine on the Sea’s Bounty at Oliver’s Restaurant

Grenada, a lush Caribbean island just a hundred miles off the Venezuelan coast, is known worldwide for its spice production. In fact, Grenada is home to more spice trees per square mile than any other place in the world. From cinnamon to nutmeg, allspice to bay leaves, the local vegetation fairly exudes an exotic aroma.

Some say the spice industry is the primary reason Grenada remains one of the most pristine Caribbean countries. Thanks to the income generated by its spice harvests, Grenada hasn’t sold its soul to the mega-resorts. Instead of wall-to-wall chain hotels towering above the sea, here you’ll find cozy small to mid-sized properties that emphasize a low-key, quality experience.

Located on Grand Anse Beach, Spice Island Beach Resort, where I’m staying, is an elite boutique property that’s arguably the nicest on the island. With 64 lavish suites, the resort defines unpretentious luxury in a warm, friendly environment. Add to that its Mediterranean ambience—gleaming white stucco structures surrounded by colorful landscaped gardens—and you have a setting that resembles paradise.

My suite features its own private plunge pool, patio, and garden—perfect for couples or people like me who relish privacy. Beachfront suites offer spacious patios and inviting hammocks and are just steps away from the shore. All the accommodations at Spice Island Beach Resort are custom furnished in classic Far East style—dark woods, sleek lines, and understated elegance.

I find it hard to choose between hanging out in my peaceful suite or lounging beside my plunge pool, so I take turns doing both. When I need a change of scenery, I head to the beach for a swim and to work on my tan.

Spice Island Beach Resort is an all-inclusive property and features two restaurants, both of which overlook the Caribbean Sea. Oliver’s is a fine dining venue, where breakfast and dinner are served, and the Sea and Surf Terrace & Bar serves lunch as well as a Sunday BBQ buffet. For breakfast try the pancakes—with nutmeg syrup, of course. For lunch, a fresh salad or a hearty sandwich are among the options.

Dinner, an elegant affair with fine linen and silver table settings, highlights creative island cuisine with an emphasis on fresh-caught bounty from the sea. One unique local product you should try is callaloo, a spinach-like vegetable rich in iron. It’s served in omelets, soups, and steamed as a side dish. Some say callaloo is the secret to a long life. All I know is I feel healthy every time I eat it!

Grenadians without a doubt are some of the world’s warmest, friendliest people. Once a British colony, Grenada is an English-speaking country, and the islanders display the exquisitely polite manners that the British are known for. Other British influences are also evident: driving on the left side of the road, for example, and a school system that mirrors the U.K.’s, including uniforms for schoolchildren. Grenadians have a special affinity for Americans and recall with great appreciation the U.S. “intervention” in 1983, when American troops helped restore order after a coup attempt by a radical communist faction.

Grenada Offers Unique History and Culture

Don’t Miss a Visit To Grenada Chocolate Company

Grenada offers a variety of adventurous activities to keep visitors busy. From hiking to snorkeling to exploring the unique history and culture of the island, you won’t get bored during your visit. Tour operators will arrange excursions from one end of the island to the other and can customize a trip based on your interests.

Here’s list of some must-do activities to enjoy when you visit Grenada:

Take a dip in a waterfall.

Grenada’s most famous waterfalls are the Seven Sisters. We hiked to numbers five and six, and while the trail was steep and slippery in parts (remember, you’re in the rainforest), the stunning view at the end is worth the effort. While you’re there, take a cool dip in the mineral-rich waters and enjoy the sensual experience of being in one of the sweetest places on earth. If you’re lucky, a fearless islander will display his bravado, scamper up the rocks, and dive from the top of the waterfall into the pool below.

Snorkle among the coral reefs.

Another world awaits under the sea, and the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean offer the perfect setting for viewing tropical fish, colorful coral, and unique sea life. Don’t forget your sunscreen! 

Visit a rum distillery.

Grenada’s rum is renowned for its smooth taste and unique vanilla, honey, and spice flavors. One taste and you’ll understand!

Tour a spice plantation.

In Grenada spices are dried in the sun the old-fashioned way—on wooden platforms, where fresh air and the sun’s rays produce spices that some say are the world’s finest.

Visit the Grenada Chocolate Factory.

Nestled in a cozy neighborhood sits a cottage industry that produces a chocolate to rival the finest in Europe. I recommend the dark chocolate with 71% cocoa. Like a sipping rum, this chocolate is meant to be savored in small amounts.

Ride an inner tube through the jungle.

Grenada’s newest adventure activity promises an exhilarating ride under a tropical canopy amid the swirling currents of the river.

After your adventures end, head back to the beach, find a soft spot in the sand, and watch the sun slide down in a tangerine sky. Sip on a rum punch and savor the intoxicating tastes—the sweet juicy flavors of orange, pineapple, lime, and grenadine; smooth local rum with its unique earthy flavor; and finally the secret ingredient, freshly grated nutmeg. Floating on top, it’s the first taste to touch your tongue. Everything else filters through it.

A visit to Grenada reminds us to spice it up. Just as a vacation helps us reconnect with the loveliness of life, adding spice to our everyday existence gives us a reason to pause and savor the flavors. Cheers!

For more information about visiting Grenada, go to www.grenadagrenadines.com.

 Also check out:

• Spice Island Beach Resort - www.spiceislandbeachresort.com

• Coyaba Beach Resort - www.coyaba.com

• Blue Horizons Garden Resort - www.grenadabluehorizons.com

• Laluna Grenada - www.laluna.com

• Olivier’s - www.spiceislandbeachresort.com

• The Nutmeg - thenutmeg.restaurantsnapshot.com/

• Aquanauts Grenada - Located on Grand Anse Beach, this tour operator offers snorkel and dive trips. www.aquanautgrenada.com

• Grenada Chocolate Company - www.grenadachocolate.com

• Westerhall Rums - www.westerhallrums.com

This story was previously published in Tidewater Women.

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and co-publisher of Tidewater Family and Tidewater Women magazines. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com

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