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
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.
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.
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. Its
surface 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 what the magic
is 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 and 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.
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
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. Flat screen TV’s, Italian porcelain
tiles, and designer bathroom fixtures round out the stunning décor. 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
Island Beach Resort is an allinclusive property and features two
restaurants, both of which overlook the Caribbean Sea. Olivier’s is a
fine dining venue, where breakfast and dinner are served, and the Sea
and Surf Bar serves lunch and tea in the afternoon. Breakfast offerings
include fresh fruit, pastries, breads, and cooked-to-order eggs,
waffles, and pancakes (with nutmeg syrup, of course). For lunch, try a
fresh salad or a hearty sandwich. 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!
The Grenadians without a doubt are some of the world’s warmest,
friendliest people. Having once been 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
remember with great appreciation the U.S. "intervention” in 1983, when
American troops helped restore order after a coup attempt by a radical
2004 Hurricane Ivan roared across Grenada, damaging or destroying
ninety percent of the structures on the island. The tourism industry
began to rebuild quickly, and many resort properties, including Spice
Island Beach Resort, were restored with numerous improvements. In fact,
the island’s mantra since Hurricane Ivan has been "Build Back Better.”
Today the beaches are beautiful once again, and in the mountains nature
is recovering nicely. The spice industry, particularly the nutmeg
trees, took a serious hit from Ivan, but experts are confident the
harvests will soon be back up to par. In the meantime, the island is
expanding some of its other crops, such as bananas and cocoa beans.
Swirling Currents and Stunning Views 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, be sure and take a cool
dip in the mineral-rich waters and enjoy the sensual experience of
being in what must surely be 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.
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
oldfashioned way—on wooden platforms, where fresh air and the sun’s
rays produce spices that some say are the world’s finest.
the Grenada Chocolate Factory – Nestled in a cozy neighborhood sits a
cottage industry that produces a chocolate to rival the finest in
- 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.
Grenadian Rum Punch
- (serves 1)
- 1/2 oz lime
- 1 oz orange juice
- 1 oz pineapple juice
- 1/2 oz grenadine
- 2 oz light rum
- 3 or 4 ice cubes
- grated nutmeg
Combine the juices, grenadine, rum, and ice cubes in a cocktail
shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a small glass with ice.
Sprinkle plenty of nutmeg to taste on top.
Recipe supplied by Grenada Board of Tourism
If You Go
For more information about visiting Grenada, go to www.grenadagrenandines.com
What To Do
photos by Pegy Sijswerda
Peggy Sijswerda is editor and publisher of Tidewater Women and lives in Virginia Beach with her husband and three sons.