Grenada – The Caribbeans Spice Island
Once an out-of-the-way island, Grenada is gaining in popularity as a cruise port of call. The capital of St. George is considered by many as one of the Caribbean’s most picturesque towns wrapping around a half-moon shaped harbor. Called the spice island it is also a great place to shop for nutmeg and other spices.
Where the Ship Docks – St. George has a well equipped cruise pier and terminal located below Fort St. George and attached to the Esplanade shopping mall.
Getting around the island usually requires a taxi, water taxi or renting a car. Rental cars are available in St. George but you will need to pay about EC$30 for a temporary drivers license.
Taxis – Taxi fares are reasonably inexpensive with a trip around town costing less than EC$11 or US$4 or out to Grand Anse Beach for EC$27 or US$10.
Money – Grenada is part of a group of islands that form a common market and use the Eastern Caribbean Dollar with EC$2.67 equal to one US Dollar. US Dollars and credit cards are normally accepted.
Beaches – Grenada has an abundance of great beaches but the most popular is Grand Anse Beach not far from the pier in St. George.
The Rain Forest – This island is blessed with some of the richest rain forests in the Caribbean offering a number of nature trails and spectacular waterfalls to visit.
Grenada National Museum – St. George features artifacts and exhibits covering the original natives, slavery, the plantation economy and the islands whaling economy.
Spices – Known as the spice island you can find many of opportunities to buy spices at really remarkable prices. If you have the time take a tour of a spice plantation or nutmeg sorting house. One of the most popular spices grown on the island is nutmeg.
Underwater Sculpture Garden – Take a snorkeling or scuba trip and dive into Grenadas unique submerged sculptures by Jason Taylor.
Christopher Columbus discovered Grenada in 1498. At the time the island was already inhabited by the Carib Indians, who displaced the peaceful Arawaks who where the original inhabitants. Columbus named the island Concepcion. Later, Spanish sailors claiming it reminded them of Andalusia, named it Granada. The French renamed it La Grenade, and the British changed it to Grenada.
Defending the island the Caribs prevented settlement by Europeans until the mid 17th century. The French were the first to claim and settle the island but were soon challenged by the British. Fort George and Fort Frederick overlooking St. George’s harbor, were built during that conflict. Under the Treaty of Versailles in 1783, the island was finally ceded to the British. Shortly after that the British imported slaves from Africa and established sugar plantations.
In 1795 there was a slave revolt led by Julian Fedon, a black planter, that took control of Grenada. While it was eventually put down by the British, soon after slavery was abolished in England in 1834.
In 1877, Grenada became a Crown Colony, and in 1967 it became an associate state within the British Commonwealth before gaining independence in 1974. In 1979, with the support of Cuba, the government was overthrown and a socialist/communist state was established in Grenada. Four years later, at the request of the Eastern Caribbean States and Jamaica, the United States invaded militarily with a “rescue mission,” that expelled the Cubans, restored order, and in December of 1984 a new election re-established the democratic government.
The Cruise Port of Roseau, Dominica
Dominica – The Caribbean’s Nature Island
The rainforests of this tiny nation are what draw visitors to this island along with some incredible snorkeling and diving sites. Dominica is home to numerous hiking trails, many leading to the islands beautiful waterfalls.
Geologically Dominica is one of the most recently formed Caribbean islands. Created by volcanos rising from the sea millions of years ago, this island lies on the line between two opposing tectonic plates. Even today there are a number of steaming springs and fumaroles dotting the islands landscape. The volcanic forces that created Dominica explain why this island, smaller than Manhattan, has mountains reaching almost to 5,000 feet. It’s those mountains that pull moisture from the northeast trade winds with heavy rainfall contributing to its many flowing streams and beautiful waterfalls.
Dominica is probably the safest island in the Caribbean with tourist-targeted crime being very rare with locals being generally friendly and more than willing to help you.
Where Your Ship Docks
Cruise ships dock at a pier right at the capital of Roseau, located on the western side of the island. Taxis are common but public facilities are not readily available. Walking off the ship will find you in the center of town within a block or two.
Getting Around Dominica.
The easiest and often the least expensive way to get around the Roseau area is by taxi and some drivers will negotiate a price for an island tour. To see more of Dominica you should book a cruise tour or rent a car, as the major sights and destinations are fairly spread out. Rental cars and taxi services are available in downtown Roseau and while there are local minivan bus services that are cheap and run regularly along the coastal routes between Roseau and both Scotts Head and Portsmouth, figuring out routes and times can be a challenge. Also bus service is reduced after business hours with almost none on Sundays.
Dominica uses the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$) as its official currency. The currency is also shared with Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and Anguilla, and all are members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. U.S. Dollars are widely accepted along with major credit cards.
OFFICIAL DOMINICA TOURIST SITE Dominica is a place for adventures. With volcanic peaks, lush rainforests, rugged coastlines and sparkling waterfalls, which is why it is called the nature island. If you are looking for tropical beaches, they are few and far between. The islands geological history has left most of its shoreline rugged and often beaches are covered in rocks rather than sand. The big attraction here is to explore some of the worlds most interesting rainforest trails with many well maintained and marked.
Other attractions include Fort Shirley, part of the Cabrits National Park and located on a scenic peninsula just north of Portsmouth. This fortress is most famously known for a revolt by African slave soldiers in 1802, an event which would lead to freeing of all British slave soldiers in 1807.
Dominica is home to one of the last remaining native populations in the Caribbean** the Kalinago Indians, the descendants of the island’s original people who were known as Carib Indians throughout the Caribbean. The Kalinago are some of the best rainforest guides and offer a number of tours as well as programs demonstrating their way of living and culture.
The first European records about Dominica were dated in November 1493, when Christopher Columbus spotted the island, charted it but did not land. Early European contact found Dominica inhabited by the Arawak Indians. Dominica became a French colony from 1715 until the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, and then became a British colony from 1763 to 1978. It became an independent nation in 1978.
**The Kuna Indians of Panama’s San Blas Islands are the other native group, but their roots can be traced back to natives living in Central America.