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First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

Sheffield, England
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First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

My wife and I will be staying at the Coyaba Beach Hotel from 13 to 27 May. Whilst we mave been to the Caribbean many times (Barbados x 20+, Tobago x 3 and Antigua x 3), this will be our first visit to Grenada and we are looking for advice from seasoned travellers/destination experts:

Which currency should we take from the UK (normally take US$)?

Whilst we are staying All Inclusive, we intend to get out and about and would like recommendations for lunchtime/evening dining.

We are planning to hire a car for some of our stay (3 or 7 days) - which rental company do you recommend? What are the likely costs?

We are looking for things to do, including a catamaran trip (which company/length and type of trip/roughly how much?), hiking (again, advice on company, duration, price and what type of footware would you recommend - trainers or walking boots?), plus any advice on other things to see and do.

Duty free shopping - where to go/what to buy?

Is the water safe to drink throughout the island?

Scuba diving - recommended dive shop(s)?

Advice on any or all of the above would be most welcome. Many thanks in advance.

Phil

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1. Re: First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

Although this is our first trip, I have explored all my options!! I feel like I've been there already. I found that Azar car rentals offered me the best price for a 7 day rental. $420USD including license, taxes and CDW.

Although you have been to Tobago, we plan on the Yannis Catamaran trip through Caribbean Horizons. Check it out. It's all day and includes airfare to Union Island for $320USD per person. You can also choose the Scaramouche sailboat instead of the catamaran.

Have fun planning! I am..;..

Barb

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2. Re: First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

Hello,

I lived in Grenada for years. GREAT country. no need to worry about anything like crime etc. Great weather and beaches. I'd say bring US $. It converts to around $2.75 EC. I havent been there in a few years so i'm not sure re scuba diving etc but for shopping go to "The Carenage" and Grand Anse Mall. The water is safe to drink. Everything's pretty all natural... low pollution. For hiking try the waterfalls and Grand Etang Lake. Standard hiking boots or rain boots with good grip will be fine. As with most countries, there tends to be lots of moquitoes near the water so bring repellant. For food, there's Rick's Cafe in Grand Anse and Sugar and Spice Ice cream. The ice cream is all natural and very flavourful. The coconut and nutmeg flavours are good.

ENJOY!

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3. Re: First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

US$ is widely accepted in Grenada. You can also bring your ATM card and withdraw cash from any of the bank ATMs which will dispense ECs. You do get a better conversion rate when paying in EC.

For car rental, we have used Reggie's, Y&R, and Azar's. Of the 3, we really like Azar. Sam Azar is a pleasure to deal with, prompt service, no hassle, and he offers really good pricing. His cars are not new by any means, but they have served us well and we don't have to worry about the little dings and such like with a newer car.

For hiking, Telfor Bedeau is the hiking man of Grenada. He has hiked thousands of miles on the island and is highly regarded. He does not drive (he only walks!) but will arrange to meet up with you somewhere if you have your own transport. He does not have a website, but does have a telephone.

Definitely take an island tour as you will learn a lot from your guide, not only of the places you are visiting, but also get an insight into life as a Grenadian. Then if you want to go back to some of the places you visited, you can easily do so when you have your rental car.

A daytrip to the Tobago Cays is a treat. It is pricey (roughly US$320 per person) but oh what a day! You fly on an 8-seater plane to Union Island, board either a schooner (Scaramouche used in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie) or catamaran (Yannis Day Sail) and sail off with stops at Palm Island, Mayreau, and the Tobago Cays for snorkeling. At the end of the day you fly back to Grenada. The views from the plane are fantastic!

Grenada is not a big duty free shopping destination. There are some duty free shops at the cruise ship terminal in St. George's. However, seeing as how it is the isle of spice, your best bet for souveniers are fresh spices (nutmeg, cinammon bark, cloves), Grenada Company chocolate bars (if you like dark chocolate), and nutmeg syrups and jams.

As spice0 said, the water is safe to drink. We have been coming the past 3 years and drink the tap water with no problems at all.

Have a fantastic visit! May is a great time to go!

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4. Re: First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

Sorry, I forgot about the restaurants. Coyaba is centrally located to other restaurants in the Grand Anse area. Right across the street is Spiceland Mall where there is a grocery store (grocery store is the best place to buy chocolate bars, nutmeg syrups & jams). There is a smoothie place at the mall called Native Juices and the smoothies are quite yummy!

Across from there is Le Marquis shopping centre where there are a few restaurants. La Boulangerie has good pastries for breakfast and they also have pizza & pasta; there is Carib Sushi if you are craving for some of that; Gibson's is a good place to grab a takeout for breakfast or lunch; Le Chateau has good, solid food (we like their grilled fish entree).

Over at "Wall Street" which is across from Le Marquis is a building with a big Carlsberg letters painted on its roof. That gets great reviews for their rotis.

Another good place for very local food for lunch is the ladies at the SGU campus on Grand Anse.

The Aquarium restaurant is the place to be for BBQ on Sundays. You will need a car to get there.

I would be remiss if I don't mention my favorite place to dine, which is Boots Cuisine. Great local food served in the patio of a private home. Boots & his wife Ruby are wonderful hosts. Reservations are a must for dinner as they are only open when they are expecting guests. Also it is cash only.

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5. Re: First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

A mix of both US$ and EC$ would be good - I would recommend more EC$ as the exchange rate will vary - unless you have it changed at one of the banks. Re Scuba Diving - Coyaba has a dive shop (Eco Dive) based at the hotel who should be able to take care of your needs and give you some advice as well. Some other restaurants to try in the City are: Ocean Grill, BB's and Deyna's (Deyna's is a lunch cafe serving local dishes). Other things to do include a trip to Belmont Estate - a spice estate that is still fully operational - they also have a great restaurant serving local cuisine - reservations have to be made in advance for lunch; Fish Friday - a food festival in the fishing village of Gouyave - takes place from 6pm every Friday and river tubing is also very entertaining. Have a great holiday.

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6. Re: First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

Also in St George BB's Crabshack is great for lunch or dinner.

Head to Dodgy Dock for Happy Hour or dinner. Nightly Themed entertainment. Beautiful sunsets on the dock and delious drinks...Grenadian Fizz.. Check their website.

Try Nutmeg ice cream it is glorious.

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7. Re: First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

You got some great suggestions from SuziMas and Canadasunny53!

One other activity since you will be there in May is to go turtle watching as it is turtle nesting season. Tours are scheduled by the different tour companies in conjunction with Ocean Spiritis Organization who oversee the tours. Each tour company is assigned a certain date and they all take turns so the tours are conducted in a very eco-responsible manner. Ocean Spirits have not yet done the tour schedules, but I will post it as soon as I get it from them. Check back here later in the month.

Sheffield, England
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8. Re: First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

Many thanks to all who have replied to my post.

There are some great suggestions, probably more than we will be able to fit in in just two weeks! However, if anyone else has other ideas, we would be most grateful.

Thanks again.

Phil

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9. Re: First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

I just came back from Grenada last week after the most amazing three week stay at Blue Horizons, just down the way from Coyaba, and walked past the frontage of your lovely hotel every day on Grand Anse beach. I suspect you are going to have the most wonderful holiday.

I took US$ and Euros. Grenada has a fixed rate of exchange with the US$ to Eastern Caribbean $ (2.6 more or less) while other rates fluctuate. Travellers Cheques seemed to have a slightly better rate of exchange - perhaps you could speak to the hotel on that subject before you go just to be sure?

Re eating out, it depends on what food you love, but at the Grand Anse roundabout, a short walk from your hotel, there is the most WONDERFUL Japanese restaurant where I ate twice. It depends on your budget, but also I recommend Lazy Dayz - their Chicken Rotis are sublime. The Nutmeg has recently re-opened in St George's which is a 10 minute fantastic Reggae bus ride and was reasonably priced with lovely views over St Louis Bay..

Further afield, but 150% worth the effort, is Petite Anse Hotel in St Patricks owned by Philip and Annie Clift. Jamie the chef cooks up an absolute storm and smiles the whole time. If you could work it so that you stayed a night with them, you would be able to have a fantastic dinner, the best breakfast ever with home made bread and home made sausages, before heading off around the north ... The views from their restaurant and rooms over the Grenadines are breathtaking. Definitely a well worth day or two out - couple it with a trip to the Belmont Estate & the Rum Distillery perhaps? More on that later.

I spent a lot of time hanging out at the Spice & Craft Market on Grand Anse beach next to Lazy Dayz too - they sell real local food there including chicken rotis for a bargain 8EC$ and will fill you up for the day if you want a lower budget day. You can see I have a bit of a "thing" going for Chicken Rotis!

Re car hire, I didn't do that, but met people who did. The rate seems to be 100US$ a day in the south, while people I know in the north rented for longer periods of time and were offered excellent deals. You are perhaps best off talking to your hotel and expect to pay around the 100US mark. It is possible that the prices will be a bit lower as technically it's off season but I wouldn't like to say for definite.

There are Catamaran trips available, but I didn't do that. I did see them though! Rum Runner is probably the most well known Catamaran in the Caribbean! They moor in St George's from where you catch the boat and have an absolutely delightful crew for whom nothing is too much trouble. They were utterly charming when I walked past their boat a few nights into my stay.

I did go out on a boat - it was with Vachel and Twaint who captain a white boat with blue awning frequently moored on Grand Anse beach called "Highland Fling". You can find Twaint in one of the bars within the Craft and Spice market on the left as you go in - he works as a "walking waiter" when the cruise ships are in and is absolutely charming - they both are - honest as the day is long and will take you out wherever you want to go on a per hour basis. I would ask if there is no cruise ship for someone to get in touch with Vachel or Twaint for you if you fancied a fantastic, private, romantic experience of the island.

Re hikes, again sorry I didn't do it (not much good am I!). Your hotel will give you their recommended guides who are registered with tourism and have therefore will likely have done "the knowledge" so to speak. Trainers were ok for the walking I did, as were plastic water sandals. I guess it depends on how deeply into the jungle you want to go. In the rainy season (starts in June) trainers could be more slippery but the Caribbean has experienced a drought this year so walking could be easier. I would ask the hotel again if I were you to get an update nearer the time.

Re shopping : Three amazing shops that are absolute MUST SEES are "Tikal" owned by the amazing Jean, who is a legend in herself; "Art Fabrik", the stunning batik shop opposite whose clothes are all locally designed and crafted, and the extraordinary and eco-tourism dedicated Belmont Estate in the north above Grenville where the co-operative shop on-site sells the most exquisite work from islanders crafted wherever possible with island produce.

The Craft and Spice Market on Grand Anse beach has some absolute treasures of locally made paintings, clothes that have been handpainted etc .... It is an absolute testament to the heart of the locals that in spite of the horrors of Hurricane Ivan, they have picked themselves up so spectacularly well and their creativity continues to overflow - you can see it in their art. I don't know if it is duty free anymore, but I paid the duty with a happy heart as it all goes to help the island!

Raskassa's Art Shop just south of Grenville is an extraordinary experience. He is a genuine Rasta from what I was able to understand, and is a passionate artist. His work festoons the interior and exterior of his home in a way that was jaw dropping. Every nook and cranny is overflowing with paintings, jewellery and carvings. It was beyond my tiny budget but I could easily have walked away with dozens of his amazing canvasses.

Closer to St George´s, Freddy Paul's art work is breathtaking. You can find him in St George's if you walk with FoodFayre on your right and the market on your left straight up the hill - 100yds on the left just after a little stall seling all sorts on the road. Well worth the visit - he is the most humble, beautiful soul.

The market is an ABSOLUTE must. Especially if you can find the Girls' Corner! Veronica, Yvonne and Rosemarie were three women with whom I developed a wonderful love. They sell fruits, vegetables, spices and smiles. Their water coconuts are sublime! Please, tell them Amanda sends all her love from Spain - I hope they remember me.... I think I told them my name.

Lastly, although I personally didn't go there (apparently I'm the odd one for not finding it!) - the cruise ship terminal has a lot of shops in it. I never found it! That probably says more about me than it does about them.

I drank island water, but the majority that I drank each day I boiled first just to be safe.

Scuba diving - Phil at Dive Grenada right down the south end of Grand Anse is the President of Grenada's Dive Association. He is PASSIONATE about his theme. He has been key in reinstating the amazing underwater sculpture park near Gouyave (Fish Friday Fame). I meant to go, Phil and I had an amazing conversation - I couldn't recommend him more for being informed, clear, and efficient. I would feel 1000% safe in his hands and will take my son there to learn how to scuba in June. Saying that, I do know there are other dive schools near to your hotel, I simply didn't speak with them.

I hope you have the most wonderful time. It is a VERY special island.

Amanda

Amanda@amanda-hamilton.com

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10. Re: First Visit to Grenada - Advice Please

Also just back...And also stayed at BH...and loved it. We rented a car from Azars. I can highly recommend him. 4wd @ $45 a day. Being from the U.S., we brought USD and had no problems w/ $ at markets, bars, vendors, ect. As an experienced diver, I walked GE beach checking out the dive shops. When I talked w/ Eco Dive, I knew they knew. I was very impressed and dove w/ them lots...including the not to be missed Bianca C. We luv a lunch, and had great times at De Big Fish, La Sagesse, Jenny's, De Big Fish, and did I mention De Big Fish?

Other than that, hike the falls, skip Friday Fish Fry, soak up the sun, & have a great time!