Grenada isn’t nicknamed the Spice Isle for nothing – its breezes are generously scented with the cloves, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg that flourish on its hillsides. This lovely island, perched on the southeastern corner of the Caribbean, still has a slightly bantam, frontier feel, an authenticity that makes it a great pick for travelers who don’t want a beachy vacation trimmed with duty-free purchases and casino forays. A Reagan-led military incursion 27 years ago now seems ancient history, and the island offers Americans a warm reception; but then, it always has.
Grenada possesses a surfeit of modestly priced accommodations, many located on or near Grand Anse, the island’s main beach. Most restaurants and water sports are found in the south too, which helps minimize transportation costs. You can explore much of the rest of the island via minibus – the farthest distance costs under $3, making this a cheap scenic tour. Even getting there becomes more affordable this June with Delta’s launch of weekly nonstop service from New York-JFK.
Be sure to allow at least a day to explore the island’s northern reaches – there are small hidden coves tucked around the scalloped coastline, while the ruffled interior beckons with hiking opportunities. A stroll through St. George’s, Grenada’s supremely picturesque red-roofed capital, reveals a spectacular harbor ringing the steep inner slopes of an extinct, submerged volcanic crater. Grand Anse, the island’s two-mile-long sweep of white sand, is home to the 37-room, family-managed Siesta Hotel. Resting about 300 yards from the beach, this well-run bargain offers simply furnished but attractive and clean air-conditioned rooms, ranging from standard hotel-style units to studios and apartments. All have a phone, minifridge, safe and small balcony. A pool and informal restaurant and bar round out the facilities. Check directly with owner Nima Anvar for discounts on extended stays.
A sprawling view of Grand Anse is the key attraction of the 68-room Flamboyant Hotel & Villas, named after the famed flowering tree and set at the southwestern end of the beach. Choose from standard hotel rooms or suites with kitchenettes – decor is straightforward tropical, and each room has a coffee maker, a minibar and a balcony facing the sea. Amenities include a restaurant, a pool, and free use of snorkel equipment and kayaks; Grand Anse is a two-minute stroll downhill (another fine beach, Morne Rouge, is five minutes away). The Flamboyant has good discounts for singles and special offers on stays of four nights or longer.
A couple of miles east of Grand Anse is Lance aux Epines, a quiet residential area punctuated with foreign embassies and a few upscale inns. Coral Cove is a low-key 11-unit complex with friendly, long-standing management. Least expensive are five cottages situated on a grassy, breezy hillside overlooking a calm Atlantic bay; each has a full kitchen and living-dining room, though no air conditioning. For those who want to spread out, there are both one- and two-bedroom Spanish-style apartments in a two-story building, all with air conditioning. You’ll find a tennis court and swimming pool, and the beach is fair for sunning; a jetty leads to swimming and snorkeling. Send a shopping list ahead of your arrival, and your fridge will be stocked at check-in.
Tucked into an Atlantic cove, sheltering a quiet beach trimmed with sea-grape trees, Lance aux Epines Cottages is another well-established family-run inn. The 11 accommodations are found within a two-story building set back from the beach or in lawn-wrapped one-story cottages; all of the one- and two-bedroom units are spacious (the smallest is 900 square feet) and have full kitchens. There are few on-site facilities beyond the front desk, but six restaurants and a dive shop are within walking distance. The rates include light laundry service on request, and a cook can be arranged to prepare inexpensive meals in your room.