What to See and Do and Love About Grenada, the Spice Island

Grenada crunches when you walk on it, kind of like when you walk on bubble wrap. Much of the island nation is covered in shells from nutmeg nuts that they crunch and pop when you walk. It’s just one of the many fun things to love about this West Indies nation.

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Where is Grenada

Grenada is pretty far south and east in the Caribbean. The northern coast of Venezuela is about 100 miles away. Because of its location, Grenada has rarely been troubled with hurricanes, although Hurricane Ivan apparently didn’t get that message. He smashed up the place pretty good in 2004. There are seven islands that make up the nation of Grenada and each one offers a unique experience in Caribbean living.

It’s because of its location, the winds, the rain and the soil condition that the main island of Grenada has earned the aromatic title of The Spice Island. 

This image is the colorful port of St. George's in Grenada, Island of the Spices

Island of the Spices

This image is of burlap bags filled with nutmeg nuts grown on the island of Grenada.Grenada is called the Spice Island because of the high quality and sheer volume of nutmeg and other spices grown here. Approximately 20 percent of the world’s nutmeg comes from Grenada; the rest comes from Indonesia. For those who bake and know your spices, they will tell you that this 20 percent is the highest quality in the world. It’s much more fragrant and flavorful than Indonesian nutmeg.

A row of spice jars for sale at the Spice Market in St. George's Grenada, the Spice Island.Again, the internet gods need to create a scratch and sniff app because that would help so much in telling this story. One of the places that will overload your olfactory senses is the St. George’s Spice Market. It’s a colorful and aromatic destination on the grounds of what was once the slave market in St. George’s.

I like the market because there is no haggling and all of the prices are the same. Your toughest decisions are what quantities and how many different spices you want. And what treats you buy.

This image is of bags of spices available for sale at the St. George's Spice market.Grenada owes its spicy reputation to a blight that pretty much wiped out the nutmeg crop in Indonesia in the 1840s. So British sailors brought nutmeg to Grenada, where the terroir at 1700 feet is just perfect. The remaining six islands of Grenada are not high enough above sea level and other Caribbean islands don’t have the necessary environmental factors to make good nutmeg.

Grenada once had a lot of coffee trees, but Hurricane Janet in 1955 wiped out most of those. That’s when farmers began planting other spices like paprika, curry, cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, ginger and cloves. Mace is another spice from Grenada, but it comes from the nutmeg shells, so that’s a given. And those nutmeg shells are used in landscaping and mulching, thus the crunching when you walk.

Cacao and Chocolate from Grenada

The Chocolate House in St. George's Grenada explains the history of cacao production on the Island of Grenada.Cacao isn’t as big of a crop, but yep, little groves of trees, often surrounded by cinnamon trees and cumin plants, dot the island.

Cacao is the raw form of cocoa, which is then turned into chocolate. Learn all about the process at the House of Chocolate on St. George’s. Cacao is not a huge crop in Grenada, but there’s still enough to keep four chocolate companies in business. I’m told that they used to ship their cacao beans to the U.S. for processing, but then discovered how much fun they could have doing it at home. I don’t blame them one bit.

Experience the Taste of Grenada At Home



Clarke’s Rum, Grenada’s Local Rum

This image shows a display of Clarke's Court Rum made on Grenada, the Spice Island.Every Caribbean island worth its coconuts has its own rum label and on Grenada that label is Clarke’s Court Rum. It’s been a presence on the island since 1937. While I never understand the barrels and tubes and processes of any distillery and beer tour I’ve ever taken, I liked the one at Clarke’s Rum, in part, because some of the original equipment from the 30s is still in use.

For those who like to debate where rum should be made using sugar or molasses, I’ll just throw this out there: Clarke’s Court Rum uses molasses, much of it imported from Cuba.

Bottles of White Ball by Clarke's Rum in GrenadaCarnival is a huge celebration in Grenada, as it is in most Caribbean nations, so Clarke’s Court creates a special blend for the season called Pure Jab. Jab Jab is a traditional dance during carnival.

So when we were offered tiny itsy bitsy samples, I chose Pure Jab. Holy Moly! The sample wasn’t even a tablespoon full and I choked and gagged and couldn’t breathe for an hour.

Pure Jab is not even the most potent of their brands. For a real kick in the pants, try White Ball. That’s a cricket ball on the label and at 75% proof, it’s so flammable that the airlines won’t let you bring it on board. I don’t recommend it.

Best Bar on Grenada

This image shows a friendly fellow named Charlie in the doorway of his bar on Grand Maurer Road in Grenada.

To sample a little rum or any beverage, adult or otherwise, I recommend a drive out of St. George’s along Grand Maurer Road. I don’t even know the name of the bar, but the owner is Charlie. You’ll know it when you see it. Seriously, you can’t miss it.

Charlie was having a problem with run-off and mud slides from the hill across the road. Every time it would rain, he would get mountains of mud and debris in his bar. And this was his solution.

"A View to Chill" one of the colorful signs at a bar on Grenada, the island of the spices.

It’s not a look that would work in most neighborhoods, but it works in Grenada, this wonderfully colorful, flavorful and aromatic island of spices. And when you are finished exploring the spices, take a ferry over to the island of Carriacou – one of seven that make up this island nation.

Tip: Sandals Resort has a location in St. George’s Grenada.

Resources for Your Trip to Grenada