Grenada

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Introduction to Grenada

Dubbed the 'Spice Island' because of its impressive production of nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, Grenada has a rugged mountainous interior of rainforests and waterfalls and an indented coastline with protected bays and secluded beaches.

Its capital, St George's, has one of the prettiest harbour settings in the Caribbean. Tourist infrastructure is still generally small-scale and locally owned and offers a good balance between comfort and price, making Grenada a great getaway for those who want to avoid the resort experience.

Full country name: Grenada

Area: 133 sq km

Population: 90,000

Capital City: Saint George's

People: African descent (82%), mixed descent (13%), European and East Indian (5%)

Language: English

Religion: Roman Catholic (60%), Protestant, Baha'i

Government: independent state within the British Commonwealth

Head of State: Governor General Daniel Williams (representing Queen Elizabeth II)

Head of Government: Prime Minister Keith C Mitchell

GDP: US$340 million

GDP per capita: US$3,500

Major Industries: Food and beverages, textiles, light assembly operations, tourism, construction.

Major Trading Partners: US, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Trinidad, Tobago

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Traveler Facts

Visas: Passports are not required of citizens of the US, Canada or the UK, as long as they have proof of citizenship. Citizens of other countries must have a valid passport.

Health risks: dengue fever, sunburn, diarrhoea, intestinal worms

Time Zone: GMT/UTC -4

Dialling Code: 473

Electricity: 230V ,50Hz

Weights & measures: Imperial



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Events

Grenada's biggest festival is Carnival, held on the second weekend in August. It includes calypso and steel band competitions, all sorts of costumed revelry, a pageant and a grand finale 'jump-up' on the following Tuesday. Many of Carnival's events are held at Queen's Park, on the north side of St George's. The Spice Island Billfish Tournament held in January attracts anglers from North America and the Caribbean keen to hook its six-figure first prize. Carriacou's four-day Carnival usually takes place in February. The Carriacou Regatta, a major sailing event featuring races to Grenada, Union Island and Bequia, is held in late July or early August. It's accompanied by additional sporting events and plenty of music and dancing.

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Best time to Visit

With warm weather and temperatures averaging 27C (80F) yearround, there really isn't a bad time to visit Grenada. The rain falls each month, though not every day, with a bit more during the rainy season between June and November. The second weekend in August is when to catch Carnival, the island's biggest and busiest event, so make sure to reserve in advance to enjoy the festivities. Winter is prime fishing season and, accordingly, the Spice Island Billfish Tournament, which draws anglers from around North America and the Caribbean, is held annually in January.



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Currency / Costs / Approx. Spending

Currency: Eastern Caribbean Dollar

Meals

Budget: US$5-10

Mid-range: US$10-25

High: US$25-35

Deluxe: US$35+

Lodging

Budget: US$30-100

Mid-range: US$100-200

High: US$200-500

Deluxe: US$500+

Grenada is not one of the Caribbean's flash islands, but it offers a degree of comfort while being friendly to budget travelers. If you stay in top-end lodging, eat at the island's best restaurants and rent a car for your whole stay, you can hit up to US$250 a day. Staying in medium-priced hotels, eating at moderately priced restaurants and mixing the public transport with taxis will cost around US$150 a day. Barebones budgeters can get by on around US$75 a day resting in modest accomodations, eating casually and relying solely on buses and a good pair of walking shoes.

US dollars are widely accepted by hotels, shops and restaurants, but you'll get a better deal if you purchase EC dollars at a bank and use the local currency. Major credit cards are accepted by most hotels and top-end restaurants as well as the larger car rental agencies. When you're catching taxis, make sure you know whether prices being quoted are in EC or US dollars.

An 8% tax and a 10% service charge are added to most hotel and restaurant bills. If no service charge is added, a 10% tip is generally expected.

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Attractions

St George's

The picturesque hillside town of St George's surrounds a deep horseshoe-shaped harbour and is widely regarded as one of the prettiest spots in the Caribbean. It has a charming setting, steep twisting streets and pastel-hued 19th-century Creole houses.

Many of these distinctive houses are roofed with red fishscale tiles brought over as ballast on ships from Europe. Cargo vessels, cruise ships and colourfully painted wooden schooners from Carriacou dock in the busy harbour, known as the Carenage.

Grand Anse

Grenada's main resort area is a lovely sweep of white sand fronted by turquoise water and backed by hills. Packed with hotels, bars, eateries and watersports, it's the essential Grenadian experience for many. If you want some peace and quiet, cross the peninsula of Quarantine Point (once a leper colony) to the picturesque Morne Rouge Bay.

Grand Etang Road

This road cuts across the mountainous centre of the island through the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, passing close to waterfalls and a number of hiking trails. While both torturously narrow and twisting, the road is lined with ferns, bamboo, heliconia and buttressed kapok trees.

Annandale Falls, close to the village of Constantine, is a 10m (30ft) waterfall in a grotto of lush vegetation with a swimmable pool beneath the falls. Nearby is the Grand Etang National Park, which has some grand views of the western coast, numerous hiking trails and a crater lake.

Sauteurs

This is the site of a tragic incident in the country's colonial history. In 1651, retreating Carib families leapt to their deaths rather than surrender to approaching French soldiers. Hence the largest town on Grenada's northern coast takes its name from the French word for 'jump'.

The exact site of the tragedy has since been dubbed Carib's Leap. From the ledge of the 40m (130ft) high coastal cliffs you can look down on the fishing boats along the village beach and see eroded rock formations and nearby islands, an ironically idyllic view considering the area's history.

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Sources: CIA FactBook, World FactBooks and numerous Travel and Destinations Guides.

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