Unwind in Grenada

| January 24, 2012

As someone who can burn cornflakes, starting my Caribbean holiday with a cookery lesson had disaster written all over it – especially for the lovely chefs Esther and Omega.

But their patience and good ­humour – and their tasty ways with fresh marlin – ensured I had a ­fantastic experience.

“We’ll show you how to take a taste of Grenada home with you,” said Omega on a sun-drenched deck at the True Blue Bay resort as she helped me rustle up a delicious fish curry with local spices, vegetables and fruit. “And we know you’ll never forget our beautiful, bountiful island once you go back to ­Britain.”

Landing on the lush green paradise that is Grenada, after a nine-hour flight with Monarch, all thoughts of Blighty were instantly banished.

A 10-minute drive brought us to the family-run True Blue Bay ­Boutique Resort, set in a tranquil inlet of the same name. There’s plenty to do here, from yoga sessions alongside the Caribbean to ­snorkelling, diving, kayaking, sailing (the hotel has its own marina) and unwinding in the spa… as well as those cookery ­lessons.

If that leaves you exhausted, you can simply relax with a cocktail on one of your two private balconies before dining at the ocean-side ­restaurant, which serves heavenly food straight from the sea.

Dubbed the Island of Spice, ­Grenada prides itself on being the friendliest and safest of the ­Caribbean isles. It has more than 45 beaches, including the world-­renowned Grand Anse Bay, a stunning two-mile stretch of ­golden sand.

We hired a car and took the winding, ­coastal road to the Belmont ­Estate, a 17th Century plantation where we discovered how chocolate goes from tree to wrapper using traditional methods.

Road signs are few and far between, but driving is easy – they do it on the same side of the road as the UK and the island is only 21 miles long, so it’s impossible to stray too far off course. And if you do lose your way, the friendly locals will point you in the right direction.

We drove back down the middle of the ­island through the beautiful Grand Etang ­Forest Reserve, stopping off at the Grand Etang Lake which fills a crater of an extinct ­volcano. The best time to do this is early morning when a mist hangs over the water. There are dazzling tropical birds, frogs and lizards and vibrant flowers as well as dense rainforest. It’s great for hikers – but take strong mosquito repellant.

We had lunch at Aggie’s ­charming green shack on ­picturesque Bathway Beach… try the lobster followed by lambi, a tasty conch curry. Nearby Levera Beach is so blissfully quiet we felt like ­Robinson Crusoe.

As night fell we took a Carib Cats catamaran to Gouyave, a small town on the west coast, where each Friday night the streets come alive with stalls cooking fresh fish.

The air is filled with the heady scent of nutmeg, the island’s famous spice. Once picked, the seeds are placed in water – those that sink (a sign of quality) are dried and used for spice. If they float they are used for soap or as a surprisingly ­effective ­mosquito repellant. Further south, the capital St George’s is a ­colourful jumble of Georgian buildings in a horseshoe shape around the ­harbour and fort.

Inspired by my cooking ­lesson, I bought fresh bay, ­turmeric, cloves and ­cinnamon at the Saturday spice market.

The town’s ­museum has some ­remarkable oddities including a bath ­belonging to Napoleon’s ­Josephine.

It’s impossible not to eat (and drink) well on ­Grenada… often in ­almost ridiculously ­romantic settings.

La Sagesse, a colonial house on the south east coast is remote and almost deserted. And sitting above ­powdery sand lined with coconut trees it looks as if it came straight out of a Bounty ad.

There’s plenty of sightseeing below the waterline, too. With around 15 sunken vessels, Grenada is regarded as the wreck diving capital of the Caribbean. It is also home to a protected marine park just north of St George where there is good reef diving. In Molinere Bay there’s even an underwater sculpture park.

Expats Howard and Suzanne Clarke, who left Britain to “live the dream” run boat trips. Check out Grenada Seafaris (www.grenadaseafaris.com)

Back on land on my final day we headed to one of the many stunning old estate houses, Morne Fendue Plantation Great House, in the heart of the rainforest. Owner Dr Jean Thompson gave us an ­impromptu tour revealing a fascinating history which ­included visits by Queen ­Victoria, Princess Margaret and Prince Philip. A short drive away is the Concorde Waterfall, owned by Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton’s family.

It was hard to leave this charming Caribbean isle but in the words of True Blue Bay’s chef Omega: “We never say goodbye here – we know you always want to come back.

(Source http://www.mirror.co.uk/advice/travel/news/2012/01/24/caribbean-unwind-in-grenada-115875-23708225/)

Category: Grenada News

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