The three main islands that make up the nation state of Grenada include Grenada (pronounced Gray-nay-da) itself, Carriacou (the largest of the Grenadines (pronounced Carry-a-koo), and Petit Martinique (pronounced Pitty Mar-ti-neek). Grenada has approximately 100,000 residents.
The “Spice Island,” Grenada is an independent, three-island nation (the other two islands are Carriacou, the largest of The Grenadines, and Petite Martinique). Grenada has more spices per square mile than any other place in the world: cloves, cinnamon, mace, cocoa, tonka beans, ginger, and a third of the world’s supply of nutmeg. “Drop a few seeds anywhere,” the locals will tell you, “and you have an instant garden.” The interior is like a jungle of palms, oleander, bougainvillea, purple and red hibiscus, crimson anthurium, bananas, breadfruit, ferns, and palms.
This sleepy island has friendly people, a lush interior that includes Grant Etang National Park, and the lovely and popular white sands of Grand Anse Beach. Crisscrossed by nature trails and filled with dozens of secluded coves and sandy beaches, Grenada has moved beyond the turbulence of the 1980s. It’s not necessarily for the serious party person and definitely not for those seeking action at the casino. Instead, it attracts visitors who like snorkeling, sailing, fishing, and doing nothing more invigorating than lolling on a beach under the sun.
Banks— Banks in St. George’s, the capital, include First Caribbean International Bank, at Church and Halifax streets (tel. 473/440-3232); Scotiabank, on Halifax Street (tel. 473/440-3274); the National Commercial Bank (NCB), at Halifax and Hillsborough streets (tel. 473/440-3566); the Royal Bank of Trinidad & Tobago (RBTT), at Halifax and Cross streets (tel. 473/440-3521); and the Grenada Cooperative Bank, on Church Street (tel. 473/440-2111). Most have ATMs. Hours are usually Monday through Thursday from 8am to 3pm and Friday from 8am to 5pm.
Currency— The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$), approximately EC$2.70 to US$1 (EC$1 = US37¢). Always determine which dollars, EC or U.S., you’re talking about when someone on Grenada quotes you a price. Unless otherwise specified, rates in this chapter are quoted in U.S. dollars.
Documents— A valid passport is required of U.S., British, and Canadian citizens entering Grenada, plus a return or ongoing ticket.
Electricity— Electricity is 220-240-volt AC (50 cycles), so transformers and adapters will be needed for U.S.-made appliances.
Embassies & High Commissions— The U.S. Embassy is located at L’Anse aux Epines Salines, St. George’s (tel. 473/444-1173). The British High Commission is on Church Street, St. George’s (tel. 473/440-3536).
Emergencies— Dial tel. 911 for police, fire, or an ambulance.
Hospital— St. George’s General Hospital located on Grandetang Road, St. George’s (tel. 473/440-2051), has an X-ray department and operating room. Private doctors and nurses are available on call.
Language— English is commonly spoken. Creole English, a mixture of several African dialects, English, and French, is spoken informally by most.
Pharmacies— Try Gittens Pharmacy, Halifax Street, St. George’s (tel. 473/440-2165), open weekdays from 8am to 6pm (5pm Thurs), and Saturday from 8am to 3pm.
Post Office— The general post office, at the Pier, St. George’s, is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 3:30pm.
Safety— Generally, personal security is not an issue , but common sense should be applied particularly after dark. Don’t leave valuables unattended at the beach. Be cautious when walking after dark, or take a taxi. Report a stolen or lost passport immediately to the local police and the embassy.
Taxes— A 10% VAT (value-added tax) is imposed on food and beverages, and there’s an 8% room tax. You’ll pay a departure tax of US$20 when you leave.
Telephone— The area code for all of Grenada is 473. You can call to or from Grenada as you would to or from any other area code in North America. Public phone and fax services are available at the Carenage offices of Grenada Cable & Wireless in St. George’s (tel. 473/440-1000 for all Grentel offices). The office is open Monday to Thursday from 8am to 4:30pm, and Friday from 8am to 3:30pm.
Time— Grenada is on Atlantic Standard Time year-round, which means it’s usually 1 hour ahead of the U.S. East Coast — except during daylight saving time, when the clocks are the same.
Tipping— A 10% service charge is added to most restaurant and hotel bills. No additional tip is expected.
Water— Stick to bottled water.
Weather— Grenada has two distinct seasons: dry and rainy. The dry season is from January to May; the rest of the year is the rainy season, although the rainfall doesn’t last long. The average temperature is 80°F (27°C). Because of constant trade winds, there’s little humidity.