St. Georges Travel Guide
St. Georges Local History
Before the arrival of Europeans, Carib Indians who had driven the more peaceful Arawaks from the island inhabited Grenada. Columbus landed on Grenada in 1498 during his third voyage to the new world. He named the island "Concepcion." The origin of the name "Grenada" is obscure, but it is likely that Spanish sailors renamed the island for the city of Granada. By the beginning of the 18th century, the name "Grenada," or "la Grenade" in French, was in common use.
Partly because of the Caribs, Grenada remained un-colonized for more than 100 years after its discovery; early English efforts to settle the island were unsuccessful. In 1650, a French company founded by Cardinal Richelieu purchased Grenada from the English and established a small settlement. After several skirmishes with the Caribs, the French brought in reinforcements from Martinique and defeated the Caribs, the last of whom leaped into the sea rather than surrender.
The island remained under French control until its capture by the British in 1762, during the Seven Years' War. The Treaty of Paris formally ceded Grenada to Great Britain in 1763. Although the French regained control in 1779, the Treaty of Versailles restored the island to Britain in 1783. Although Britain was hard-pressed to overcome a pro-French revolt in 1795, Grenada remained British for the remainder of the colonial period.
During the 18th century, Grenada's economy underwent an important transition. Like much of the rest of the West Indies it was originally settled to cultivate sugar, which was grown on estates using slave labor. But natural disasters paved the way for the introduction of other crops. In 1782, Sir Joseph Banks, the botanical adviser to King George III, introduced nutmeg to Grenada. The island's soil was ideal for growing the spice, and because Grenada was a closer source of spices for Europe than the Dutch East Indies the island assumed a new importance to European traders.
The collapse of the sugar estates and the introduction of nutmeg and cocoa encouraged the development of smaller landholdings, and the island developed a land-owning yeoman farmer class. Slavery was outlawed in 1834. In 1833, Grenada became part of the British Windward Islands Administration. The governor of the Windward Islands administered the island for the rest of the colonial period. In 1958, the Windward Islands Administration was dissolved, and Grenada joined the Federation of the West Indies. After that federation collapsed in 1962, the British Government tried to form a small federation out of its remaining dependencies in the Eastern Caribbean.
Following the failure of this second effort, the British and the islands developed the concept of associated statehood. Under the Associated Statehood Act of 1967, Grenada was granted full autonomy over its internal affairs in March 1967. Full independence was granted on February 7, 1974.
After obtaining independence, Grenada adopted a modified Westminster parliamentary system based on the British model, with a governor general appointed by and representing the British monarch (head of state) and a prime minister who is both leader of the majority party and the head of government. Sir Eric Gairy was Grenada's first Prime Minister.
On March 13, 1979, the New Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education, and Liberation Movement (New Jewel Movement--NJM), ousted Gairy in a nearly bloodless coup and established a People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) headed by Maurice Bishop, who became Prime Minister. His Marxist-Leninist government established close ties with Cuba, the Soviet Union, and other communist bloc countries.
In October 1983, a power struggle within the government resulted in the arrest and subsequent murder of Bishop and several members of his Cabinet by elements of the People's Revolutionary Army (PRA).
Following a breakdown in civil order, a U.S.-Caribbean force landed on Grenada on October 25, 1983 in response to an appeal from the Governor General and to a request for assistance from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. U.S. citizens were evacuated, and order was restored.
An advisory council named by the Governor General administered the country until general elections were held in December 1984. The New National Party (NNP) led by Herbert Blaize won 14 out of 15 seats in free and fair elections and formed a democratic government. Grenada's constitution had been suspended in 1979 by the PRG, but it was restored after the 1984 elections.
The NNP continued in power until 1989 but with a reduced majority. Five NNP parliamentary members, including two Cabinet ministers, left the party in 1986-87 and formed the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which became the official opposition.
In August 1989, Prime Minister Blaize broke with the NNP to form another new party, The National Party (TNP), from the ranks of the NNP. This split in the NNP resulted in the formation of a minority government until constitutionally scheduled elections in March 1990. Prime Minister Blaize died in December 1989 and was succeeded as Prime Minister by Ben Jones until after the elections.
The NDC emerged from the 1990 elections as the strongest party, winning seven of the 15 available seats. Nicholas Brathwaite added two TNP members and one member of the Grenada United Labor Party (GULP) to create a 10-seat majority coalition. The Governor General appointed him to be Prime Minister.
In parliamentary elections on June 20, 1995, the NNP won eight seats and formed a government headed by Keith Mitchell. The NNP maintained and affirmed its hold on power when it took all 15 parliamentary seats in the January 1999 elections.
General elections were held in November 2003; the NNP won 8 of the 15 seats, holding on to power with a much-reduced majority. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by Tillman Thomas won 7 seats and is now the official opposition.
St. Georges Attractions
St. Georges Shopping
Everybody who visits Grenada goes home with a basket of spices, better than any you are likely to find in your local supermarket. Wherever you go, you will be besieged by spice vendors. These hand-woven panniers of palm leaf or straw are full of items grown on the island, including the inevitable nutmeg, as well as mace, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, vanilla, and ginger. Grenada is no grand merchandise mart of the Caribbean like St. Thomas and St. Maarten, but you may locate some local handcrafts, gifts, and even art. If you like to attend Caribbean markets, head for Market Square at the foot of Young Street in St. George's. The market is at its liveliest on Saturday morning, but is also open Monday to Friday. It is best to go between 8am and noon. An array of handcrafts is for sale, but fresh spices are more plentiful.
Heading down the east coast of Grenada, you reach Grenville, the island's second city. If you pass through on a Saturday morning, you can enjoy the hubbub of the native produce market. There is also a fish market along the waterfront, and a nutmeg factory here welcomes visitors. From Grenville, you can cut inland into the heart of Grenada. Here you are in a world of luxuriant foliage, and you pass along nutmeg, banana, and cocoa plantations.
The best buys in Grenada are batik and screen printed textiles, locally made handicraft, leather craft, and wood carvings. Attractive jewelry is sold by Spice Island Jewelry. Spices, locally-made jams, jellies, and syrups, especially nutmeg, local fresh fruits and vegetables are other good buys. Grenada also offers fine duty-free bargains. Gittens Duty Free Shops have an excellent selection of duty free perfumes and cosmetics, both on the Carenage and at their newly expanded shop at the airport. Jewelry, crystal, and other gifts are available at Bon Voyage, on the Carenage and at the airport. Colombian Emeralds at the airport offers a fine selection of quality duty free jewelry. Duty free liquor is available at the airport.
St. Georges Parks & Gardens
Levera National Park - Opened in 1994, this 180-hectare (450-acre) park has several white-sand beaches for swimming and snorkeling. Keep in mind that the surf is rough here where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean. The park is also a hiker's paradise, although you should go hiking here only if you have already hiked Grand Etang National Park and Forest Preserve, which is lusher and of far greater interest. Levera Park contains a mangrove swamp, a lake, and a bird sanctuary, where you might see a rare tropical parrot. Offshore are coral reefs and sea grass beds. The park's interpretative center is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 4pm. Tel: 473/442-1018.
Grand Etang National Park and Forest Preserve - Grenada's lushness and beauty make it one of the best Caribbean islands for hiking. Visitors who only have time for one hiking experience on Grenada, should make this location their priority. For sheer scenic beauty, the number-one choice on the island is the Lake Circle Trail, which makes a 30-minute circuit along Grand Etang Lake, the crater of an extinct volcano amidst a forest preserve and bird sanctuary.
You are likely to see the yellow-billed cuckoo and the emerald-throated hummingbird. The park is also a playground for Mona monkeys. The Morne LeBaye Trail is another easy hike, beginning at the park's forest center and offering a view of the 693m Mount Sinai and the east coast. You can also take more elaborate hikes, perhaps to the peak of Mount Qua at 712m.
Trails can be slippery after a rainfall (especially between June and November), so wear good hiking shoes and carry plenty of water with you. The park's Grand Etang Interpretation (Nature) Centre is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm, featuring a video about the park. Admission is $1. Tel: 473/440-6160.
Botanical Gardens - Situated just five minutes drive to the southeast of St. George, these pristine, tranquil gardens offer an enchanting introduction to the natural plants and flowers of Grenada and of the Caribbean generally.
Bay Gardens - The Bay Gardens, with their winding paths and careful cultivation, offer a fine example of the European impulse to tame and order the paradisical vegetation of the tropics. With over 3,000 species of plants, the Bay Gardens provide a lifetime's introduction to the flora of Grenada--indeed, of the entire Caribbean. The gardens are located behind St. George's, in the suburb of St. Paul's.
St. Georges Beaches
Grand Anse Beach - The granddaddy of the best of the 45 beaches on Grenada are the Grand Anse. It offers 3km of sugar-white sand fronting a sheltered bay. This beach is really beautiful and many of the major resort hotels are situated here. Many visitors never leave this part of the island. Protected from strong winds and currents, the waters here are relatively safe, making Grand Anse a family favourite. The clear, gentle waters are populated with schools of rainbow-hued fish, and palms and sea-grape trees offer shade to visitors.
Water sports on offer include water-skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, and scuba diving. There is a multitude of vendors in this area, peddling coral jewelry, local crafts, and the inevitable T-shirts. For the hungry, there is numerous food and drink stands, or you can enjoy lunch at one of the nearby resorts.
Morne Rouge Beach - The beach at Morne Rouge Bay is less frequented by visitors, but just as desirable. With its white sands bordering clear waters, this beautiful beach is noted for its calm waters and some of the best snorkeling in Grenada. Morne Rouge Beach is situated about 2km south of Grand Anse Bay.
Pink Gin Beach - This beach with its most interesting name, lies near the airport at Point Salinas. The beach is bordering two large resorts, La Source and Rex Grenadian. This is also a beach of white sand and clear waters, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Unfortunately no one seems to know why it is called Pink Gin Beach. Visitors will also find a restaurant and kayak rentals here. This is a good family vacation beach, and visitors of all ages will enjoy its facilities.
La Sagesse Beach - This beach is also located on the southern coast of Grenada, and it is part of La Sagesse Nature Center. This especially powdery strip of white sand is a lovely, tranquil area. Visitors not spending time on the beach can enjoy nature walks in most directions. A small restaurant opens onto the beach, and offers some of the freshest seafood dishes in this area. Visitors preferring more turbulent waters can visit the nearby Pearl's Beach, located north of Grenville on the Atlantic coast. The light gray sand stretches for miles and is lined with palm trees. Visitors will practically have the beach to themselves.
Levera Beach - This beach is part of Levera National Park, and is located at the northeastern tip of the island. It is one of the most beautiful beaches on Grenada, and visitors to the area should make this a priority stop. Its sands front the Atlantic, which most often means rough waters. Many locals come here for Sunday picnics, and it is a good place to enjoy some terrific views. The sea at this beach are not recommended for swimming, but the more adventurous visitor can try their hand at surfing or boarding.
St. Georges Restaurants and Bars
There are a number of excellent restaurants on the island. Fresh fish such as kingfish, tuna and dolphin (also known as dorado, not the mammal) simply fried with seasonings and herbs and served with a side salad gives you a hearty lunch. For dinner, try the local delicacies of stewed or curried wild meat, with rice and peas. A generous portion of yam, green banana, sweet potatoe, fried breadfruit and dasheen are served as vegetables on the side.
St. Georges Restaurants
Coconut Beach Restaurant - Set directly on the beach, this informal restaurant occupies a purple-and-green clapboard house. You can watch the staff working in the exposed kitchen, from the dining room. The kitchen specializes in various kinds of lobster, including the classic version served with garlic butter, and an imaginative stir-fry with ginger chile. Almost anything here is a taste sensation and prepared with fresh conch. Fish predominates, including a catch of the day served with mango chutney. Chicken and meats are also savoury, especially breast of chicken cooked in local herbs and lime juice. Expect lunch platters EC$15-EC$25 (US$5.55-US$9.25); main courses EC$20-EC$80 (US$7.40-US$30), and reservations are recommended. The restaurant is located on Grand Anse Beach, about 8km north of St. George's. Tel: 473/444-4644.
Morne Fendue - This plantation house was built in 1912. It is made of carefully chiseled river rocks held together with a mixture of lime and molasses. Miss Mascoll died in 1998, but her loyal staff carries on her tradition. The lunch menu is likely to include yam and sweet-potato casserole, curried chicken with lots of hot spices, and a hot pot of pork and oxtail. All food are freshly prepared and the staff need time to prepare for your arrival, so it is imperative to give them a call to let them know you are coming by. The fixed price lunch menu is EC$45 (US$17). This lovely little spot is located in St. Patrick's, 40km north of St. George's. Tel: 473/442-9330.
Rudolf's - This longtime favourite is very popular with the locals, and offers excellent value for your money. The restaurant does a busy lunch business, with ceiling fans to cool patrons off at midday. It is also known as a good spot for lethal rum drinks in the late afternoon. Here visitors will find a menu that is the most extensive on the island. The food is well prepared, and the steaks are the best in the capital, especially the 16-ounce T-bone. Praise-worthy are the flying fish and mahi-mahi, prepared in several different ways. Make sure to try the grilled swordfish in a mushroom sauce. They also serve a very tasty roasted chicken, and a classic wiener schnitzel. Main courses cost $10 to $26, and reservations are recommended. The restaurant is recommended on Cinnamon Hill Morne Rouge, St. George's. Tel: 473/440-2241.
The Nutmeg - The Nutmeg is a rendezvous point for the yachting set, and is situated right on the harbour. With its informal atmosphere, the Nutmeg is suitable for a snack or full-fledged dinner. The drinks are very good. Be sure to try one of the Grenadian rum punches made with Angostura bitters, grated nutmeg, rum, lime juice, and syrup. There is always fresh fish, and usually callaloo or pumpkin soup, plus potato croquettes. Lambi (that ubiquitous conch) is done very well here. The Nutmeg has a small wine list, including some California, German, and Italian selections, or visitors can drop in just for a beer to enjoy the sea view. Expect prices of main courses from EC$16-EC$70 (US$5.90-US$26). The Nutmeg is situated on the Carenage, St. George's. Tel: 473/440-2539.
St. Georges Bars & Clubs
Aquarium Beach Club & Restaurant - One of the most favourite and popular bars in the area is the Aquarium Beach Club & Restaurant. They also serve some of the most delectable food on the Island. Visitors can enjoy a spectacular view of the lights of St. George's Harbour here at night, seen from the sprawl of decks, open to the trade winds. This bar is located at Point Salines. Tel: 473/444-1410.
Marryshow Folk Theatre - For those seeking culture, the 250-seat theatre offers performances of Grenadian, American, and European folk music, drama, and West Indian interpretative folk dance. Check with the theater or the tourist office to see what is on. Tickets cost EC$20 to EC$40 (US$7.40-$15). The Marryshow Folk Theatre is located on Herbert Blaize Street near Bain Alley, St. George's. Tel: 473/440-2451.
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