and spice and everything nice, that’s what the idyllic island of Grenada is
made of.  From sugar cane waving into the fields…to cocoa beans
drying in the sun…to nutmeg and cinnamon assuaging our olfactory senses…little
wonder that Grenada is know as the Caribbean’s  ‘Isle of Spice’.
 The most southern of the Windward Islands, Grenada is located some 100
miles from Venezuela. This lush verdant island lies nestled between the
Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean.

A 4-piece steel band welcomed us as we
disembarked from our cruise ship in St. Georges, the picturesque capital of
Grenada established in the 18th century by the French.
 Departing the pier, we passed by the early 18th century
Sendall Tunnel that was built by the French under the rocky promontory topped
by Fort George.  Fort George, known as Fort Royal in the days of French
rule, still stands guard above the harbor.  It ancient cannons still
manage to fire salutes on special occasions.  

through the red-roofed city into the countryside, we were treated to incredible
sights and scenery courtesy of both man and Mother Nature.  Man gave us a
glimpse into the spice industry at the Dougaldston Estate, the spice plantation
and nutmeg processing station that gives Grenada its well-deserved appellation
`Isle of Spice’.  Here visitors are given an introduction to view the
processing of spices and to purchase sample packages right at the source. 
At Dougaldston, little has change in the production of spices since the 1800s.

the River Antoine Estate, home of the famous Rivers Royale Grenadian Rum, we
witnessed the natural production of the famous Rivers Rum from pure cane juice
just as it has been produced since 1785.  This distillery is the oldest
functioning water-propelled distillery in the Caribbean.  We also got to
sample the rum that has such a high alcohol content that it cannot be exported
from Grenada.  If you plan to taste the Rivers Rum, take along a fire
extinguisher for your mouth and stomach.

The Belmont Estate offers tours to its heritage museum,
cocoa fermentary, historic sugarcane garden, and old cemetery. Our lunch at the
Estate’s Plas Manjé Restaurant consisted of a delightfully simple,
aromatic buffet of true Grenadian plantation cuisine, skillfully blended with a
healthy dash of local spices and herbs.  It was a taste of traditional
Grenadian rural life at its best.
Mother Nature began her show for us in the tropical rain
forest of Grand Etang National Park, eight miles from the center of St.
George’s.  It is here, 2000 feet above sea level, that we viewed Grand
Etang Lake shimmering in a crater that dates back to the island’s volcanic
past.  The park’s interpretive center, called the Park Centre, features
displays of the island’s wildlife, forestry, and natural history, including
more than 20 different wood samples.

Grand Anse Bay, aquamarine waters lap against the three mile stretch of the
white sand Grand Anse Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the
Caribbean.  The stunning soft white sands of Grand Anse, just south of the
capital city of St. George’s and just 12 degrees north of the equator, has
attracted the majority of the hotels and resorts on the island.  In order
to make sure that the hotels are unobtrusive, law dictates that no hotel can be
more than 3 stories tall or exceed the height of the palm trees.

Gouyave, on the west coast of the island
in St. John’s Parish, is known as the town that never sleeps.  The
Fisherman’s Birthday Celebration, held annually on June 29, is the highlight of
the year in this colorful parish. The islanders bless the fishing boats and
nets.   Festivities include singing and dancing, and steelbands can
be heard into the wee hours of the night.  But you don’t have to wait
until June to celebrate in this small fishing town.   Every Friday
night there is a lively Fish Friday Festival in the town center. Hospitable
locals welcome tourists to this fishy extravaganza where you can eat every kind
of tasty fish imaginable.  

is treasure trove of bays and beaches, tropical rain forests and volcanic
crater lakes; it is spice factories and rum distilleries, simplicity and
luxury. To play on the words of the popular TV show…The Spice Is Right.

JANET STEINBERG is the winner of 43
national Travel Writer Awards and is a Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL
AUTHORITY in Cincinnati, Ohio