Life on a tropical island…
In January of 2012, my husband and I (Becca) moved from California to Grenada in the West Indies where my husband attended St. George’s University medical school for two years (we’ve since moved back to California). I put together the guide below in hopes that others visiting or moving to Grenada would be able to benefit from some of the resources we found helpful. This guide was accurate as of December 2013, when we said good-bye to Grenada. If anyone has any updates or other tips and resources to offer, please do share it in the comments!
We had never even visited a Caribbean island before, so moving to Grenada was a drastic change for us. Luckily, we were following the footsteps of many SGU students and families who had moved here before us, so we were able to garner tons of tips and resources from them. As a food-lover, I have also been on the hunt for the best places to get local, organic produce and hard-to-get items on the island like pork belly, jackfruit, and prawns. I’m constantly finding new sources and discovering new places to visit and try, so check back often for updates.
- Visiting Grenada: General Travel Tips, What To Expect, Souvenirs
- Eating in Grenada: Local Grocery Stores, Local Markets/Resources, Favorite Restaurants, What Foods To Bring
- Things To Do: Beaches, Hiking, Sightseeing, Activities, Volunteer Opportunities
Significant Others of SGU – a fantastic guide and must-read if you are planning on moving to Grenada. It contains all the info you’ll need to know before you arrive, when you arrive, and after you arrive. Even if you’re not an SO (significant other) or affiliated with SGU, this website has invaluable information that will make your trip and transition much easier.
Grenada Guide – a personal blog and Grenada guide written by my good friend Kat. She has really helpful info on her blog, including a great overview of Grenada, a local business directory, a restaurant guide with menus, and a list of things to do around the island.
Grenada’s Official Tourism Website – Find lots of great general information about the island as well as resources for planning your trip.
Grenada Transportation – a great website listing some of the different ways to get around the island. Includes rates, bus routes, and hours.
SGU Marketplace – an online marketplace to buy and sell used goods. Everyday items cost much more here than in the US, so there’s always a market for secondhand items. Oftentimes, you’ll find better quality items at lower prices than what you’d find at the local grocery or hardware store.
SGU Bus Schedule – a free bus service for students and SOs of SGU.
Many of the places that I’m mentioning below are located in downtown St. George’s. The downtown area can be quite tricky to navigate if you’re not familiar with the area, so I put together a map to point out all of my favorite places downtown. Feel free to use it as a guide on your next trip there and be sure to check out highlights like the Creole Shack and the Sweet Traditions Bakery. Download a printable version here.
General Travel Tips
Best time to visit: 80-85 degrees year-round, December – April is cooler and more dry, June- November is the rainy season, which it makes it more hot and humid.
Before you arrive: bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent with DEET, hat, umbrella, hiking shoes
IPhone apps: Talkatone allows you to make and receive calls for free to and from American numbers whenever you have wifi. My husband and I use this to communicate with our friends and family back home.
Best way to get around: SGU buses for students and SOs, local buses, taxis, renting a car (you’ll need a driver’s license, which you can get very quickly by registering at the local police station)
What to expect:
1) Everybody speaks English, and they are all generally pretty friendly. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or directions. Just avoid people who look sketchy (you’ll know when you see them.)
2) Everything moves at a much slower pace here. Be prepared to wait in lines at grocery stores for long periods of time while the cashier slowly rings up the items. Be patient and friendly. Customer service is pretty much nonexistent here, so be proactively friendly, and you will be treated the same.
3) The only thing that doesn’t move slow here are the buses. These mini-buses or “reggae” buses fit anywhere from 14-20 people, depending on how many people you can cram into a row. Each row technically has 3 seats (2 stationery and 1 fold-down), but I’ve seen them cram 5 people into a row before. Oh, and don’t worry about seat-belts for each passenger; none of the buses here have them in the back.
Bus fare shouldn’t cost more than 2.50EC if you are travelling within Grand Anse and downtown. Some drivers may try to charge you more if you don’t know the rate. Refer here to bus fare rates.
4) I generally feel much safer in Grenada than I do in the US. Guns are against the law here, so violent crime is very rare. There are petty thefts occasionally, but just be smart about putting your things away and not leaving expensive items in plain sight.
Spices! – Grenada is known as the Isle of Spice because it produces tons of different spices that we use everyday. Pick up some local spices or a spice necklace (a natural air freshener) for your friends back home. The most common spices found and produced here are nutmeg, cinnamon, bay leaves, turmeric, ginger powder, cloves, and vanilla.
Grenada Organic Dark Chocolate – So yummy. Even if you don’t get a chance to visit the Belmont Estate where all the cocoa is processed for the Grenada Chocolate Company’s dark chocolate, make sure you pick up a few (or a dozen :) chocolate bars on your way home. My favorites are the 60% cocoa with sea salt and the 60% cocoa with cocoa nibs. You can find them at any grocery store or gift shop.
Rum – There are tons of rum distilleries in the Caribbean, and even a few in Grenada, so rum is inexpensive here. Pick up a few bottles in fun flavors like coconut, spiced rum, or rum punch to take home with you.
Seashells – Seashells make awesome souvenirs, especially if you spend time combing the beach yourself! You can find sand dollars, starfish, sea urchin, sea glass, and a variety of different seashells on many of the beaches in Grenada.
EATING IN GRENADA
One of the biggest challenges of living in Grenada is finding ways to cook and eat healthy, affordable meals. Groceries here tend to be very costly (most locals devote about 50% of their income to food/groceries), particularly imported items from America and other parts of the world. As a result, I’ve done my best to use a blend of local foods (like produce, spices, eggs, meats, seafoods and staples like flour and rice), foods I bring from home (Asian dried goods, Asian condiments, nuts), and imported foods (milk, deli meats, cheeses). Planning ahead by bringing a few items from home and splurging now and then on pricier imported goods allow me to make practically any dish that I want here, whether it’s Vietnamese (with local sugar cane!), Korean, Chinese, Italian, or local Caribbean food.
Local Grocery Stores:
IGA: IGA is very similar to any small grocery store you might find in America. This is where most SGU students and foreigners get their groceries. They carry many well-known American and international brands, but expect to pay about double (or more) for all your groceries. You can save money by buying local products (such as local beef and pork, instead of imported) in-store. They usually get shipments in on Thursdays, so they are always fully stocked by Friday. Get there on Friday if you want fresh milk and dairy (they usually run out by about Monday or so, but always have boxed milk in stock.) There is also a deli and food counter where you can purchase hot food and baked goods. Located in Spiceland Mall in Grand Anse. You can get there by local bus (1) or SGU Grand Anse bus (A).
Food Fair – This is a local grocery store that caters to both locals and foreigners. They also carry many American/international brands at premium prices, but have a much larger selection of local produce. They have a limited selection of fresh meat (usually only chicken) and do not carry fresh milk. Their prices are similar to IGA, but they often have more local products that tend to be more inexpensive. No deli or prepared food offered here. You can get there by local bus (1) or SGU Mont Toute bus (C).
Foodland – Foodland is like a larger version of Food Fair with a deli, hot food/baked goods counter, and fresh meat. They also carry a larger selection of frozen local meats (including goat, possum, and lamb) and seafood. The prices are similar to Food Fair prices. Foodland is located across from Port Louie or downtown by the Spice Market. I prefer going to the Port Louie location because it is usually far less crowded. You can get to both locations by local bus (1).
Ck’s Cash & Carry (Bulk) – CK’s is like the Costco of Grenada. You can find many items in bulk here, but you don’t necessarily have to buy them in bulk (pay attention to prices, it’s not always cheaper to buy in bulk). They offer all sorts of canned and dried goods, beverages, frozen foods and meats, and household items. Prices are usually better than IGA for most items. CK’s is located by the Sugar Mill Roundabout, next to the Rubis gas station (formerly Texaco). Get there by local bus (1) or SGU Grand Anse bus (A) or SGU Mont Toute bus (C).
Meat & Meet Market – If you’re looking for a nice cut of meat for a roast, lamb chops, or sushi-grade tuna for a special meal, Meat & Meet is the place to get it. The Meat & Meet is a butcher shop/steakhouse owned by a charming French-Canadian couple. All their meat is local, organic and cut in-house. They offer everything from steak tartare to pork belly to house-smoked bacon. Their prices tend to be higher than the fresh meat at IGA, but is less expensive than the absurd prices that IGA charges for frozen, imported meat (like lamb chops and beef tenderloin). They have two locations – their main branch in Whisper Cove Marina or their satellite location at the True Blue Pharmacy in True Blue (by SGU campus). You can call the Whisper Cove location to request your specific cuts of meat, and they will deliver to the True Blue location for easier pickup. Get to the True Blue location by SGU bus (any of them) or take the local bus (1) downtown and switch to local bus (2) to get to Woburn where Whisper Cove Marina is.
Wednesday Farmer’s Market – My go-to place for cheap, local vegetables. The funny thing about Grenada is that for the most part, everybody sells their produce, vegetables, and meat for the exact same price. It doesn’t matter which market you go to; everything will be the same price 90% of the time. That is, with the exception of this farmer’s market! I’ve found the best prices here for things like bananas (2EC/bunch — that’s less than $1), coconuts, beans, tomatoes, and cabbage. I try to plan out my meals and cooking schedules around this bi-weekly market trip. Side note: this is the only place on the island where I’ve seen jackfruit for sale! Look for the Belmont Estate table, where you can order jackfruits for 1EC/lb (!!!). The market is located right behind the IGA near the Grenada Trade Center. Get there by local bus (1) or SGU Grand Anse school bus (A).
Spice & Vegetable Market – A trip to Grenada is not complete without a trip to the spice market downtown. Here, you’ll find plenty of inexpensive souvenirs like local spices, handmade jewelry and other craft items. If you’re looking for spices, make sure to ask for Rhonda at the spice market and tell her Becca sent you. The spice market is also the place to get your fruits and vegetables if you didn’t make it to the Wednesday Farmer’s Market. You can find more variety and more vendors here at the spice market, but prices can sometimes be the same as the IGA grocery store. I only buy things here that I can’t find at IGA, like local fruits, herbs, and dried spices. Take local bus (1) all the way to the main bus terminal and ask a local to point you in the direction of the spice market.
Fish Market – One of my favorite things to eat in Grenada is fresh seafood. The fish market is open every day except Sunday, but I try to avoid going on Mondays (since Sunday isn’t a fishing day, most of the fish on Monday is from Saturday!). The varieties of fish offered vary from day to day, but can include red snapper (my favorite), tuna, sailfish, kingfish, mahi-mahi, shark, and cavali. Prices range from 5EC – 8EC/lb. I’ve also found sea snails, sea turtle, and prawns at the fish market before too. All the vendors sell the fish for the same prices, but I always like to go to Ms. Marine in the left back corner. Tell her Becca sent you. :) After you pay for your fish from the vendor, you can get it cleaned and filleted by any of the men standing by the sinks in the back right. Ask for Lazarus — he always does a good job cleaning and is one of the few who can take the skin off the fillets too. Remember to tip about 2EC per fish cleaned. The fish market is located right next to the main bus terminal, so just take a local bus (1) to the end and ask a local for the fish market. Contact: Ms. Marine 418-9642 (call ahead if you want to know what the catch of the day is)
Meat Market – A fair warning: the meat market is not for the faint of heart. Located diagonally across from the fish market, you’ll find the meat market stocked with hanging carcasses of beef, pork, and lamb. You can get extraordinary deals here, but the meat quality is hit or miss. If you have an eye for picking out cuts of beef and know which cuts are good just by looking at them, you’re in luck! You can pick out your own cut of meat, and have it chopped to size here. You can get bone-in beef here for 8EC/lb or plain beef bones (for making pho!) for 5EC/lb. I usually go to Simon in the back left corner. The meat market is located downtown across the street and to the left of the main bus terminal. Get there by local bus (1).
Lobster – I usually get my lobster directly from a local fisherman named David. I call him the day before I want the lobster, I tell him how many pounds I want, and I pick it up the next day still squirming. He is located in Calliste, along the road to the airport. You can pick up the lobster from his home or he can meet you on SGU campus. Contact David: 419-2717 and tell him Becca sent you.
Prawns – I’ve been getting prawns lately from Frederick at the Fish Market. Shrimp is extremely expensive in Grenada (30+EC/lb), and I didn’t even know there was fresh shrimp available here until very recently. It’s still pretty pricey (25EC/lb), but at least it’s fresh and you can get them with the heads still on. FYI, they call them crayfish here! Contact Frederick: ###-#### and tell him Becca sent you. Pick up from the fish market.
Eggs – I love the local, organic eggs in Grenada. They just taste…eggier. The best place to get eggs in Grenada is on SGU campus on Tuesdays by the old bus stop. Get a dozen for 7EC or a tray of 30 for 17EC. Also, you can return the trays for an extra egg the next time! Michael only comes to campus during the school year so if you need eggs during school breaks, you can contact him: 415-6812. If you can find enough people who need eggs (or if you buy enough), he can bring them to campus for you during breaks. If you’re not affiliated with SGU, the next best place to get eggs is at the Wednesday market for 8EC/dozen. Oh, and they have white eggs at the Wednesday market if you happen to need white ones for dying Easter eggs (they’re brown everywhere else). :)
Wall Street food vendors – Grenada’s food truck scene, open on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It doesn’t start until after 9, but opens until the wee hours of the morning. You’ll find vendors selling grilled chicken, pork ribs, fried chicken, fries, local soups, burgers, and coconut water. My favorites: hot wings from the Hot Boys truck, a cheeseburger with bacon from G Burger, and seaturtle soup/lambie + seacat soup from Mora, the soup lady! Located at Wall Street (across from Spiceland Mall, where all the banks are). Get there by local bus (1) or SGU Grand Anse school bus (A).
The Creole Shack – My favorite spot for cheap, fast, local food. Everything is always seasoned well, and made fresh. The Creole Shack serves their food cafeteria-style, so you can grab a tray and pick and choose your meal. My favorites include their macaroni pie and the braised oxtail. Located downtown, right next to the main bus terminal. Head into the grocery store to the right of the terminal and go up to the second floor. Get there by local bus (1).
Dodgy Dock – We go to Dodgy Dock for the weekly Wednesday wing nights: 1EC/wing in honey garlic, spicy, or regular. The limit is 5 each time, so eat quickly and get back in line for more. Only on Wednesdays from 9-10. They also have beer specials to go with the wings, usually 10EC for 3 beers. Take the SGU True Blue Inn school bus (D) or take a taxi.
Whisper Cove Marina (Meat & Meet) – Aside from being a butcher shop and bakery, Whisper Cove serves up some fantastic food. It’s our favorite burger on the island because the meat is so fresh, we get them rare. It goes perfectly with their homemade mayo too. We’ve also had their Montreal smoked meat sandwich and their Thursday night roast chicken specials. One of my favorite places on the island. :) Take the local bus (1) downtown and switch to local bus (2) to get to Woburn where Whisper Cove Marina is. You can also take a taxi, or if you go for the Thursday night special, they can arrange for shuttle pick-up.
The Merry Baker – Build-a-burger-Fridays at The Merry Baker is always a fun way to end the week. For 10EC, you get a fresh baked bun, unlimited toppings, and a fish or beef patty straight from the grill. One of the best deals for a burger on the island! Get there by local bus (1) and ask to be dropped off at Port Louie.
Foods To Bring WIth You:
Ethnic foods are really hard to find in Grenada, particularly specialty Asian items. For the products that are available on the island, there’s only one brand that makes all the “ethnic” and “Asian” ingredients – Roland. Roland makes everything from soy sauce to nori seaweed to toothpicks. Personally, I’d rather use products from brands that I know and trust. That’s why I usually bring boxes filled with dry ingredients, condiments, and sauces every time I travel to Grenada. Here’s my list of foods that I bring, including Asian ingredients that you can’t find in Grenada and also many non-Asian foods that simply cost too much to buy here. Ingredients with an *asterisk next to them mean that they’re available on the island, but may come at a premium or are really scarce.
Noodles – *flat rice noodles (pho), round rice noodles (bun), bean thread noodles, *soba noodles, favorite instant noodle brands like Shin Ramyun, Mama Tom Yum, Ricey Pho, Nissin’s Chut Chin Yut Ding 出前一丁 Tonkatsu Flavor. :) I think noodles might take up half the space in my luggage every time I come…
Spring Roll Wrappers – small ones for spring rolls (cha gio), large ones for summer rolls (goi cuon)
*Flying Lion Fish Sauce
*Lee Kum Kee Premium Oyster Sauce
Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce
Huy Fong Foods Chili Garlic Sauce
Kaffir Lime Leaves – dried
Tom Yum Soup Powder
Dried Shitake Mushrooms
Korean Red Pepper Powder
Korean Black Bean Sauce
Non-Asian (mostly from Costco)
Organic Peanut Butter
White Cheddar Cheez-Its
THINGS TO DO
Even though Grenada is quite tiny (12 mi. x 21 mi.), there are 45 beaches on this island! Every beach has its unique characteristics and personality, so visit a few to find your favorite. :) Check out this interactive map to see where all the beaches are located.
Grand Anse Beach – If you only have time for one beach in Grenada, this one is it. Grand Anse beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Grenada, and Frommer’s even calls it one of the best in the Caribbean. You’ll find long stretches of fine, white sand, crystal clear water, tons of tourists and locals laying out in the sun. Grand Anse is located right on the bus route, so it’s easy to get to by both SGU Grand Anse school bus (A) or by local bus (#1).
Magazine Beach – Magazine Beach is where we like to go for a day of barbecue and snorkeling. It’s much quieter than Grand Anse, so it’s perfect for large groups and parties. There are also reefs close by, so you don’t have to venture too far out to see tons of sealife. This beach is located close to the airport and is accessible by taxi or SGU Point Saline/Frequente Bus (E).
La Sagesse – If you’re looking for a more secluded beach, this is it. It’s every bit as picturesque as Grand Anse, but it’s slightly more out of the way for tourists and locals. You can get there by taxi.
Morne Rouge Beach (BBC Beach) – This is a great beach for families, and you’ll often find tons of tourists and locals here as well. The water is quite shallow for a nice stretch off the shore, so it’s perfect for families with young children. Watch out for sea urchin in the waters though! If you find any, ask a local how to break them open to taste the savory flesh (they call them sea eggs). Get there by taxi or take the SGU Grand View Inn bus (A) and get off at the top at Grand View Inn. Ask a local to point you in the direction of BBC beach.
Pandy Beach (Seaglass Beach) – This beach is a beachcomber’s dream! It’s not the prettiest or cleanest beach, so I wouldn’t recommend it for laying out or picnicking. However, you’ll find the best assortment of sea urchin shells, colorful seaglass, and other various sea shells along the beach. Perfect for souvenirs! Take the local bus (1) and ask to be dropped off at Pandy Beach. This beach also connects to…
Port Louis Beach – I’m not sure if this beach has a name at all, but it’s our favorite so far! It’s super tiny, but there are two umbrellas and a few beach chairs here all the time. It’s usually empty, so you can enjoy the view and sea breeze in peace and quiet. This beach also has mountains of coral that you can dig through for crafts and souvenirs. It can be accessed from Port Louis or from Pandy Beach. From Pandy Beach, walk to the end of the beach on the right hand side, and continue making your way over the rocks and water’s edge. Keep walking until you reach the secluded Port Louis Beach! From Port Louis, follow the docks all the way to the left, cross the grass field, and follow the path to the beach.
Conch Graveyard – This is another beach for anyone looking for conch shells! This is where the local fisherman harvest conchs, so you’ll find their discards here in piles just along the shoreline. Feel free to grab any for decoration in Grenada, but be careful not to bring any back to the US with you — they’re illegal to take into the country. To get there by foot, take the path behind SGU that leads to the airport. Ask a local to point you in the direction of the conch graveyard. Take a friend or two because this path can be pretty secluded.
The central and northern parts of the island still contain plenty of undeveloped rainforest areas, so you don’t have to travel too far from St. George’s to find some awesome hiking trails. Many of the trails and waterfalls often have local guides who are more than happy to guide you through the forest for a minimal fee/tip.
Annandale Falls and Grand Etang Lake – Annandale Falls is probably the easiest of the waterfalls in Grenada to get to. It’s also the closest to St. George’s. It’s great for families with young children or elderly, since you can drive there by car and walk just a few minutes to see a great view of the falls. There are always local “jumpers” there that will jump off the waterfall for a small tip. Also, bring some bananas to lure the monkeys out of the forest. They’ll grab them right out of your hand!
Mt. Carmel Waterfall & Slides – Mt. Carmel has two waterfalls, one that is the highest in Grenada and a second smaller series of waterfalls that you can slide down. The waterfalls are just a moderate, 20-minute hike in. Make sure to bring a swimsuit so you can slip and slide down the rocks.
Concord Falls – Concord Falls consists of three different waterfalls. The first one can be seen right at the entrance, while the second and third require about a 45-minute hike. Bring water shoes if you plan on hiking to the second falls because you’ll be crossing a few streams to get there!
Hog Island – Hog Island is located in Woburn Bay and is accessible through Wit’s End Road/Mt. Hartman Drive in Lance Aux Epines. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the island, and then after you get there, you can follow a trail all the way around the island as well. The island is pretty empty, save for one “squatter” who now has claims to the island. He owns and operates a bar (read: shack) that’s pretty popular with the yachties and cruisers on Sundays when they all gather around the dock in their boats to drink and listen to live music!
The Belmont Estate – This is one of my favorite tourist destinations in Grenada. It’s a 17th century plantation that has since converted itself into an organic farm, cocoa processing plant, goat dairy farm, petting zoo (with a talking parrot named Rainbow!) and art cooperative. Every time I visit Belmont, I make sure to get there in time for the lunch buffet and then I spend a few hours just wandering the property and exploring the cocoa plant, gardens, and farms.
River Antoine Estate Rum Factory – a rum distillery that uses a river-run water wheel to power its cane press. See the process from start to finish, walk over mountains of crushed sugar cane, and sample different rums.
Downtown St. George’s – Even if you’re not planning to buy any food or trinkets from the Spice Market, Fish Market, or Meat Market, it’s worth a trip downtown just to immerse yourself in the local culture. Walk down cobblestone streets, browse through souvenir shops, and try out some local juices and baked goods that you’ll see vendors selling on the streets.
Fort George – Fort George is located right at the edge of downtown. It’s a bit of a climb to get to the fort, but the views are well worth it! You get a spectacular 360 degree view of the ocean, the Carenage, and the entire downtown area. You can do paid tours on the weekday or just go on a weekend when it’s open to the public for free.
Fort Matthew Bar – Another one of my favorite spots on the island. Fort Matthew is a fort turned insane asylum turned bar. During the day, the fort is open for tours, and at night, part of the fort becomes a bar that is open to the public. It’s a great place for getting drinks and hanging out with friends. You can also explore the underground tunnels and cells, and also be sure to check out the night view of the city (I’d recommend doing the exploring first and the drinking afterward!). Opens nightly at 4.
Other islands nearby: Carriacou, Sandy Island, Grenadines, Tobago Cays – Grenada is close to several other small islands that are worth visiting if you get a chance. Check out Grenada’s tourism website for more info.
Snorkeling – Grab a mask and snorkel and head down to the closest beach for some snorkel fun. You’ll find sealife at every beach in Grenada, but my favorite one for snorkeling is Magazine Beach. Don’t have a snorkel set? Take a short walk over to the Rex Resort and rent some gear from the dive shop.
Scuba Diving – If you’re serious about getting up close and personal with sealife in Grenada, then scuba diving is the way to go. There are several diving schools around the island that offer scuba diving training classes and certification. I’ve heard it’s much less expensive to get certified here than back home in the US!
Turtle-watching – In late March and April, you can venture to Levera Beach on the northern tip of the island to watch Leatherback sea turtles lay eggs! The Leatherback sea turtles are protected, so make sure to make the appropriate arrangements before you make your trip up there. Check out this site for more info.
Sailing – Charter a local sailboat to sail around the island or to visit nearby islands. Many of them have special deals that include food and drinks. Here’s a great one that I took on a short sailing trip to the Underwater Statue Garden on the northern side of the island.
Tortoise/Crab Racing at The Owl – Place your bets every Monday or Friday night to win the jackpot!
Cooking Classes at Dodgy Dock – Learn how to make local foods every Thursday at 3 pm.
You don’t have to live in Grenada for very long before realizing that it’s pretty different from the US, culturally, geographically, and socio-economically. Over 30% of the country lives in poverty, and the country lacks the resources to provide adequate social services and care for many of the poor and marginalized in the country. Here are a few local organizations that welcome volunteers and friendly faces.