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Doing the Town: St. George’s, Grenada

Writer : Caribbean E-Magazine on Thursday, October 25, 2012 | 9:50 AM

Travel writer Jody Hanson and local Anne Clift teamed up to bring you this one day walking guide to St. George’s. Follow their tracks and you will feel like a local by the end of the day.

Why Grenada?
St. George’s – the capital of Grenada – may not roll off the tip of your tongue as a destination when you think about the Caribbean, but this island is about to take off. Why? Because it has practically everything – except a lot of direct flights, but any extra effort to get there is well worth it.

Kirani James winning an Olympic gold in the 400m – a first for the island with a population of only 103,930 – did Grenada proud. And that sort of publicity that you couldn’t buy is going to attract tourists. So if you want to beat the invading hoards, book your trip immediately. No, not next month – now. Got it?

Long known for its spices, this 21 by 12 mile island was first colonized by the Spanish. It then yo-yoed between the British and the French before becoming independent in 1974. Nutmeg leads the spice pack and is found in everything from ice-cream to rum to liniment to sooth your aches and pains. But cloves, ginger, cinnamon, mace and allspice are also in the line-up, which explains why Grenada truly is the “spice island.”

In Grenada, contemporary history in measured in terms of pre-and-post-Ivan. This 12-hour-level-3 hurricane on September 17, 2004 wreaked havoc. And everyone has an Ivan story. “We had to make out way down the hill to the church and it was hard to move my mother because she is in a wheel-chair. There were no leaves left on the trees,” sighed Jenny, “and no birds.” But rather than being down and dusted, the island spirit prevailed and - like the nutmeg trees - is making a comeback. And as Grenada reinvents itself, it is poised to be “the” next hot-spot destination for the savvy traveller. And just remember that you read it here first.

In addition to sun, smiles, sand, surf and spice, this people-friendly island has a love affair with reggae and the music pulsates from all available mini-taxis, restaurants, bars and shops. The tranquil pace on the island generates a charm that allows you to slow down and, well, smell the spices.

A Day Trip Around St. George’s
Known as The Town to the locals, St. George’s is a place where walking is the primary form of transportation. Check the maps – one of the centre of town and the other heading south.

Really you can start and finish your day trip anywhere you want, but here is a suggested itinerary. Begin at the Grenada National Museum on the corner of Young and Monckton Streets. Here you can check out the displays of pre-Columbian, colonial, independence and post -independence displays.

When you emerge from the somewhat dimly lit museum turn left and head for Tikal. This shop was opened by the charming and energetic Jeanne Fisher – whose exact age is a badly kept state secret – in 1959. About 85 per cent of the arts and crafts are locally made, with the remainder coming in from surrounding countries like Haiti to help support the people there. If you want some original art, check Sandra Fisher’s paintings. She is Jean’s daughter and her work is distinct and influenced by the island.

Foodies will want to pick up a copy of Wendy Hartland’s Great Grenada Recipes. Dark chocolate lovers beware: You will drool over Mott Green’s organic concoction, but try not to drip on the island soaps or the malachite and amber jewellery in the display cases. The Grenada Chocolate Company just keeps winning awards and accumulating accolades. And the chocolate bars make a perfect easy-to-pack gift for those unfortunates who were left back at home.

Then pop across the street to the Grenada Arts Council and check out the local talent. It is a struggling operation, so leave a donation in the jar at the entrance.

Double back and head for the Sendall Tunnel. Dug out and reinforced in 1894, the Tunnel Sendall links the two side of the Town, namely the Carenage and the Bay Town. Rumour has it that this narrow tunnel – one lane of traffic with pedestrians hugging the left-side wall– is the largest flat stretch of land on the hilly island.

Once through the Tunnel, head for the Espanade Mall. This duty-free shopping paradise backs onto the cruise ship dock. And when a couple of ships dock at the same time the entire area becomes totally foreigner-infested. To get a discount you have to present your ticket with a 48-hour turnaround time. If you get a touch lost or confused about where to go to find something, check in at the Duty Free Caribbean and ask to speak to Shirley. She will get you sorted.

Time for lunch so head for BBs Crabback. The seafood in this family-run-location-perfect-on-the-water-front restaurant is so fresh it makes you wonder if they have somebody in a boat just outside. Check out the special of the day with Anna or Brian if you are hungry. Or decide on something from the menu if you want a smaller meal. A personal recommendation – which originated with Anna – is the sizzlar lambi, succulent spiced conch.

A cheap and cheerful choice is Creole Shack, upstairs in Andall’s Supermarket. This is where the locals eat lunch, so the line-ups at noon-ish can be intimidating. Traditional Caribbean dishes – such as dashee, oil down (the officinal national dish) or roti - are on offer so you can point at what you want and the server will add it to your plate. There is a bar so you can pick up a Carib or a Stag to swig with your meal.

The television for the sports bar is next to the buffet downstairs, but you can escape to the upstairs deck with an ocean vantage-point. Karaoke abounds on Friday and Saturday nights for those so inclined.

Head south along — either along the beach or on the road — and stroll around the Port Louis Marina.  Sit at the outdoor café overlooking the harbour and watch the boats float around.

If you want a hit of modern shopping, stop at the Spiceland Mall. No surprises there as it is one of those places that could be anywhere in the world. Yawn.

Time for dinner. Chances are you are at Grand Anse Beach where 90 per cent of the visitors stay. So chill out, take a shower to wash off the sweat of the walk and enjoy a rum cocktail. What?  You don’t have any rum and fizzy?  Tisk, tisk you should have picked up some your earlier walk. No problem as there is a run shop about every ten paces. More on that later.

Splash out and try local cuisine that lives up to international standards and head for Oliver’s at the Spice Island Beach Resort. Reservations are recommended and dress is “elegantly casual evening attire.” The menu changes daily, but always includes two appetizers, two soups, five entrées — one of which is a vegetarian selection — and four desserts. During the peak season there is a buffet dinner on Friday nights. A local band plays four or five times per week during the peak-season and three evenings in low-season.

Insider tips and other suggestions:
For those who want to swot up on their history of the island read Grenada: A History of Its People by Beverly Steele.

The party-hearty can take a Rhum Runner cruise.  Dance, drink, eat is the main theme, complete with a steel band and a beach stop.

If you are doing the town on Saturday, a must-visit place is the Grand Anse Craft & Spice Market.

The hail and hearty head up the hill to Fort George, 175 steep feet above sea level. Donations to the historic site are tax deductible for Americans.

The National Cricket Stadium may appeal to sports enthusiasts. If you are so inclined, head north on Halifax Street from the centre of town and check it out.

Side-Trips Close to Town
Le Phare Bleu Marina & Boutique Resort at Calivigny Bay 8001. A bit of a jaunt, but well worth it. If you are tired, check out the Pool Bar Restaurant as it is a touch early for the Lighthouse Ship Restaurant. This place caters to events – such as wedding, graduations and the like – so there may be some action. According to Lynn – who manages the operation for the Swiss couple who own it – Le Phare is “like a little village. It has everything – restaurants, a mini-market, a hotel and place where you can moor your yacht.”

Stop in for a drink and a snack in the mid-afternoon and enjoy the ambience.

Transportation for going further afield
Travel like the locals and flag down a taxi-van. This hop-on-hop-off option is cheap, efficient and a good way to meet the locals. Drivers have even been known to reverse the vehicle for a block or so to pick up passengers.

Rent a car. There is no shortage of choices and types of vehicles. Vista Rentals offers a new fleet and complimentary mobile phone with each rental:

Contact Justin Louison at Exotic Discovery Taxi & Tours
Home Telephone: 1-473-443-5056
Mobile: 1-473-403-7184

Day Trips from St. George’s

Petite Anse
Head for this idyllic resort on the wind-swept north shore of the island to truly get away from it all. Allow an hour to an hour and a half to get there and enjoy the scenery along the way. The three road options include going up the west coast road, heading across the middle Grand Etang or taking the long way around the east coast. Go up one way and come back another for variety.


Tucked away down a winding dirt road is an opportunity to indulge in isolated paradise. This charming places runs on the personality and charm of Phillip and Anne Clift, the British couple who carved the resort out of the tropical rainforest.

What is there to do at Petite Anse? Swim in the pool. Sit and do nothing – such a precious indulgence. Go for a walk. Stroll back and forth on the sheltered beach. Explore Sauteurs, a nearby village. Have Max the chef whip you up one of his famous rotis for lunch or dinner. In summary, just get away and relax at a resort where the motto is “no shirt, no shoes, and no problem.”

Bathway Beach
“Don’t go out beyond the protective reef,” warns Miss Johns, a teacher at the St. Victoria Special Education School, “because people disappear there. The body may or may not be washed up on shore” And the tone of her voice conveys the seriousness of being so foolish as to venture out of the safe area and chills your blood a few degrees.

The locals all know this beach and it is packed with picnicking families on the weekends and everyone on the island for holidays and festivals. But the tourists tend to stay in the area around the Grand Anse Beach so, chances are, you may be the only foreigner.

Photo credit:

Agnes’s Rum Shop
Rum – which comes in mild, medium and knock-off-the-top-of-your-head – is the tipple of choice in the Caribbean and Grenada is no exception. And it is ubiquitous. Saunter into any little shop that sells cigarettes, sugar, toothbrushes and bread and there will be bottles stashed under the counter. Buy a 1/8 or a ¼ or go for broke and get the whole bottle. It is mixed with locally made fizzy drinks and slides down very easily. Just be sure it doesn’t return to whack you on the back of the head.

Agnes runs a rather non-descript shop along with her daughter Jenny, quoted earlier. The store used to be on the other side of the road, but Ivan nudged it across the way, so they took it as a sign from the heavens and left it there.

If you can’t find Agnes’s little shop on the road between Bathway Beach and Sauteurs, stop at any of the other similar places along the way. Beer, for those who prefer it, is also on offer.

Head for the hills
Hikers, bikers and trekkers can head for the Gran Etang Forest Reserve and the many waterfalls. I don’t “do” nature so there are no recommendations.

Jody Hanson is an insufferable travel junkie who has visited 102 countries. On an island hopping junket in the Caribbean in July 2012 she had the opportunity to spend a week in Grenada. There she had the fortune to meet the remarkable Anne Clift, who has lived on the island since 2007.

To say everyone knows Anne – remember the population is only 103,930 – is not an exaggeration. A trained nurse, she regularly stitches wounds, dresses cuts, takes temperatures, reads blood pressures, monitors blood sugar levels and doles out medications to many of the locals who cannot afford even basic medical care. Driving down the road she is greeted with waves and a chorus of people calling out Misssss Annieeeee. Her reception comes a close second to Kirani’s victory parade.

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