Last year a good friend of mine asked if we wanted to go on a joint vacation. Married just a few months before us, this was to be a joint 10th anniversary trip, so I wanted to find a unique spot. I was excited when Grenada – a tiny island we’d never considered – popped up in my searches.

Picture of harbor.St George’s harbor

Celebrating in Grenada

I didn’t really find tickets to Grenada, they found me. When I’m looking for a new place to visit, I enter flexible dates into Google Flights and see what pops up. Since we were going in March, I did narrow down my search to the Caribbean and Central America.

Picture of beach.Grand Anse Beach is one of the best we’ve ever seen

I want to explore more of the Caribbean while it’s easy for us. We live in CT and flights from NYC to the Caribbean are cheap and plentiful. When a deal for direct flights to Grenada popped up for $350 round trip, we jumped at the chance.

A stunning island, Grenada has views galore

Travelling with friends, we wanted to rent a nice party house. This isn’t a very touristy island, and most tourists are concentrated on the west side around St George’s and the beautiful Grand Anse Beach. The southeast side of the island is more laid back, and has some excellent options for scenic villas.

While we were willing to stay in slightly more expensive places, most of them were already booked up for the first part of our trip. After looking around, the best we could find was a $70/night apartament – at least we knew it would be cheap.

Picture of hills.View from our first Airbnb in Grenada

We weren’t expecting much at that price (only $35/night per couple,) but the place turned out awesome. It was a 2 bedroom apartament in a duplex, and our host who lived on site gave us tons of great tips on local places. This apartament had a relaxing shared pool and great views overlooking sugar cane fields and the Caribbean. When we left, we were wondering if we weren’t wasting money on the second place.

At $200/night, the second place we stayed was a bit pricier than our usual accommodations. A private villa with a private pool, this place is located on the tip of a peninsula so we had mind blowing views in all directions.

Views from the pool:

Picture of pool view.

Views from our bed:

Picture of ocean view.

Even views from our shower.

Picture of ocean view.

This place was worth every penny – the perfect spot to relax at the end of the day enjoying an ice cold Carib while the sun goes down.

Picture of pool view.

Driving in Grenada

Unlike Costa Rica, pretty much all of the roads in Grenada are paved. The problem is, they’re also very windy, very narrow, and steep. In many places, two cars can hardly fit by each other, and there is no room to move over. Rather than having a shoulder, most roads are lined with a storm drain that has a 90 degree drop-off.

This leaves you holding your breath as you squeeze between the oncoming traffic racing around blind turns and a drop-off that will incapacitate any car that ventures too far over. Oh, and they drive on the left side of the road…

Picture of driving in Grenada.Keep to the left!

It’s hard to believe the white knuckle ride you get without ever exceeding 25 mph, but driving is well worth it. The views around the island are extraordinary. The landscape is very hilly, which means there are incredible views of the ocean and forested valleys around every heart pounding turn.

Picture of Westerhall hill.

Touring the Spice Isle

When it comes to flora, this is an exciting little island. Known for their spices, the coastal roads are lined with stands drying and selling fresh cinnamon bark. As an avid gardener and home chef, I was excited to tour a local spice garden. Here they grew plants I’d never seen such as nutmeg, cloves, turmeric, vanilla, cinnamon, and slew of foul smelling medicinal herbs that I’d never even heard of.

Picture of nutmeg.Nutmeg, fresh from the tree

Tree to bar chocolate in Grenada

While I’m not big into sweets, I do enjoy dark chocolate. There are several estates on the island that have been growing and processing cocoa beans for centuries. We visited Belmont Estates where you can see and taste the entire process from cocoa tree to chocolate bars.

The cocoa beans grow on a tree inside of a pod. When ripe, workers chop them open and extract the pulp and seeds. You can actually eat the pulp which has a really nice tangy sweet and sour flavor. They then fermented this mixture of seeds and pulp to develop flavor and help separate the cocoa beans.

Picture of cocoa pods.Cocoa pods

Once fermented, the farmers dry the seeds using solar dryers. These aren’t much different from the greenhouse I built. Made of clear plastic walls, they simply trap the suns heat, and allow humidity to escape through vents.

Picture of chocolate dryer.

After drying, the beans are ready for roasting which transforms them into the into nibs that are crushed and compressed to make chocolate bars. While this last process used to be done abroad, many of the farms are now making their own organic chocolate bars to sell.

After tasting the pulp from the fruit, the roasted nibs, and then finally sampling the resulting chocolate bar, I walked away with a whole new appreciation. This complex process reminded me of making beer. Maybe it was the fact that the process involves fermentation, or maybe I just have a one track mind…

Grenada has some incredible beaches

Grenada has some of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen. Grand Anse Beach and Magazine Beach are both white sand with crystal clear blue waters. With a laid back atmosphere, these were perfect spots to spend several hours just floating around.

When it comes to snorkeling, Grenada is working on improving reefs and have a underwater sculpture park for snorkelers to explore.

Picture of magazine beach.Magazine Beach

Snorkeling in Grenada

There are tours that will take you to the sculpture park, but it’s not too far from shore – about a 40 minute swim. So we drove out to the beach at Dragon Bay and started snorkeling our way toward the sculpture park.

Half way there, we encountered one of the trippiest experiences ever… Barely realizing what was happening, we swam inside a massive bait ball.

Surrounded by thousands and thousands of medium sized bait fish, there was nothing else we could see. Then these fish all started swimming at my face, faster and faster, inches away but somehow never touching me. I thought I was about to enter hyperspace when the water instantly cleared. Right in front of me were a dozen big jacks – I was being used as a human shield.

Later that night, when I finally had a beer in hand, I took some time appreciate the fact that I didn’t make the leap from hyperspace to staring down the gullet of a giant tiger shark.

This ball of fish followed us all the way to the dive spot, and then diverged paths from us as we approached the tour boats. We only got to see them because we were cheap and swam out on our own. The underwater sculpture park was also really cool.

How much did this trip to Grenada cost us?

As usual, flights were free… Last summer, I had my friends sign up for a Chase Sapphire card. Meanwhile, I signed up for a Citi Thank You card. We were able to cover all 4 tickets with our credit card sign up bonuses.

We paid $39/day to rent a small SUV from our first Airbnb host. In total we spent about $1400 on lodging and car rental.

Picture of pool.This might have been the sweetest place we’ve had yet

Most tours of the spice gardens and chocolate growing only cost $2-5 per person.

With all the fresh local spices available, the food in Grenada is like nothing I’ve ever had. The flavors were simply incredible, and even at nice restaurants, prices were quite reasonable. A plate of stewed chicken with all the sides cost about $6 at our favorite local spot.

Picture of stewed chicken.The flavors are incredible

We ate out at least once each day, drank as many Caribs as we could handle, and went on some pretty sweet tours around the island. In total we spent about $1k on food, booze, and entertainment. That makes for about $2400 total or $600 per person for an 8-day island getaway.

Grenada is a gem in the Caribbean

We were looking for a special place to celebrate a special occasion, and Grenada exceeded our expectations. It’s such a scenic island with so many unique and interesting hidden spots to explore. Touring the island is an adventure, and the beautiful white sand beaches provide the utmost relaxation. There aren’t many tourists to contend with and Grenadians are warm and inviting. Now if I can just get back there for some more stewed chicken with pumpkin and callaloo…