Grenada: Spice and chocolate galore

Grenada is made up of three islands: Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique with Grenada being the largest of the three with a total area of 131 square miles. Carriacou is tiny at 13 square miles with white sandy beaches and is home to the Carriacou Museum which depicts the fascinating history of Grenada.

Petite Martinique is just 586 acres and is relatively unknown and undiscovered. This island is the tip of a volcano rising to 756 feet above sea level. The 900 inhabitants here earn a living primarily through fishing and boat building. Grenada is known as Spice Isle as it exports vanilla, clove, cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg and mace with the latter two making up 20 percentof the world’s market. In medieval times, it was believed that nutmeg could ward off the plague. These trees were not indigenous to Grenada but were planted on the island during the Napoleonic wars by the British, who governed at the time.

Ancient history

Before Christopher Columbus, the Carib Indians had called it “Camerhogue”. Then Columbus who only sailed past the island in fact, called it ‘Concepcion’. Next the Spanish, who never even controlled the island, renamed it ‘Grenada’ because they loved it and it reminded them of their native country.

In 1877 Grenada became a Crown Colony, and in 1967 it became an associate state within the British Commonwealth before gaining independence in 1974. Despite the island’s long history of British rule, the island’s French heritage (both colonial and revolutionary) survives in its place names, its buildings and its strong Catholic tradition.

Today, Grenada relies on tourism as its main source of foreign exchange especially since the construction of an international airport in 1985. Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005) severely damaged the agricultural sector — particularly nutmeg and cocoa cultivation — which had been a key driver of economic growth. Strong performances in construction and manufacturing, together with the development of tourism and an offshore financial industry, have also contributed to growth.

One of the most amazing treasures to discover here is the underwater sculpture gallery built by artist and diver, Jason De Caires Taylor in 2006, after a hurricane wiped out much of the coral reef. Twenty-four feet down, the gallery serves as an artificial reef and safe haven for marine life. It was also built as an attraction for divers and to lessen the strain on the surviving coral reefs.

For chocoholics, a visit to the Chocolate Factory on the Belmont Estate is a must. They have more than 200 acres of organic cocoa farms in a cooperative which grows, ferments and processes its own chocolate.

To work off those calories, a stroll around the old part of the capital St George is worthy of a morning and then at the spectacular Seven Sister’s Falls is the perfect spot for a cool down.

 

FIONA SAWERS is a Partner at Move to Dominica, a relocation specialist, Editor of 100+ Things To Do in Dominica and a volunteer at St Luke’s Primary School, Pointe Michel.