The scent of nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon perfumes the air in sleepy Grenada, nicknamed the "Spice Island" for its fertile spice plantations. The largest of the three-island independent nation of Grenada (including Carriacou and Petit Martinique) tempts visitors with waterfalls, rainforests, and white-sand beaches. Devastated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the nutmeg crop is back in full flower, as is the island interior -- a riot of blooms, from hibiscus to bougainvillea to frangipangi. The 18th-century harbor capital, St. George's, is one of the prettiest in the West Indies.
Beaches -- Some visitors never leave the sugary sands of Grand Anse, the two-mile stretch of beach near St. George's, which has watersports, craft vendors, and ice cream. La Sagesse has a tranquil olive-green horseshoe cove, and at Magazine Beach flickering schools of silver fish reward beachside snorkelers -- both beaches have good restaurants. In the northeast, where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean, wild Levera is often deserted and fronts a miniature offshore cay, the moss-backed, cone-shaped Sugar Island.
Things To Do -- Renting a car is an excellent way to explore the island's plantation houses and distilleries. Watch sugar cane being crushed the old-fashioned way, by water-powered machinery, at the pungent River Antoine Rum Distillery in St. Andrew's. The idyllic Belmont Estate in the green hills of St. Patrick's is suffused with the scent of fermenting cocoa beans; learn how chocolate is made, and try cocoa tea. Stock up on spices to take home at St. George's Market Square.
Eating & Drinking -- Grenada's national dish is the "oil down": meat and vegetables lovingly simmered in spices and coconut milk over a fire in one enormous pot. Savory stuffed crabs and hot roti (filled pancakes) are mouth-watering island specialties. Don't miss the nutmeg ice cream at the Aquarium, a laid-back treat under the palms on beautiful Magazine Beach. Make friends over an icy Carib beer -- but if you really want to get the party started, order a colorful rum punch.
Nature -- Watch as daredevil divers entertain tourists at Annandale Waterfalls near St. George's; the blissful walk through the steamy flower-filled rainforest to the higher falls at Concord or the Seven Sisters feels as rewarding as a dip in the sparkling water. Hike the trails of the Grand Etang National Park to see unexpected vistas of the coastline, kaleidoscopic bird life, and the extinct volcano's crater lake. Experienced divers explore the "Titanic of the Caribbean," the coral-encrusted sunken remains of the passenger ship Bianca C.
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