An Eco-Caribbean Vacation
Grenada, a small, Eastern Caribbean island, sits at the southern extremity of the Windward Islands. Despite its Caribbean location, Grenada is not primarily a beach destination. The mountainous island is home to an active undersea volcano, lush rainforests, scenic parks and exotic bird-watching locations.
The yellow in Grenada’s flag represents the island’s abundant sunshine and the green symbolizes its vegetation and agriculture. The red color celebrates the bravery and perseverance of its people. Grenada created its flag on February 7, 1974, when it gained independence from British rule. A nutmeg embellishes the left side of the flag, and pays homage to Grenada’s most important export.
The Isle of Spice
The reasoning behind Grenada’s distinction as the Isle of Spice becomes apparent the moment you step off the plane, when the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, pimento, saffron and ginger permeate the air. As one of the world’s major exporters of nutmeg, Grenada entices its visitors with the subtleties of spiced cuisine, adding flavors impossible to reproduce with chemical food additives. Visit Dot’s Plaza to purchase spices packed in hand-crafted baskets. They even sell pure vanilla, not the vanilla extract available at American supermarkets!
Grand Etang Lake & National Park
A labyrinth of linked trails surround the Grand Etang Lake, located in the central section of the island in the Saint Andrew Parish. The pathways meander through hot springs, waterfalls and a diverse selection of rainforest flora and fauna, including orchids, giant mahogany trees, tropical birds, monkeys, mongooses and lizards. A deep azure color distinguishes the lake, which is actually a volcanic crater filled with water. Grand Etang’s multiple elevations created a series of diverse ecological subsystems, explorable by hikes ranging from easy 15-minute walks to three-hour hikes. The 90-minute Ridge and Lake Circle trail explores the lake’s perimeter. Those wishing for a workout will love the Mt. Qua Qua Trail, with its steep, butt-toning sections. Experienced hikers take delight in the three-hour Seven Sisters Trail, which passes Lake Etang’s seven mountain waterfalls.
La Sagesse Nature Center
La Sagesse Nature Center hides on the Atlantic side of the island, about a 25 minute ride from the Point Salines International Airport. This anti-resort minimizes their publicity, creating an eco-travel experience that appeals to travelers who favor the natural resources of the island over its man-made attractions. There’s an ironic humor to its exclusivity. The grand manor house at La Sagesse once belonged to Lord Brownlow, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth. Brownlow owned La Sagesse banana plantation. He wanted the road to La Sagesse closed, so that he could prevent the people of Grenada from using the beach that surrounds the plantation. The populace eventually threw Lord Brownlow out of the country, and the road is now open to anyone. Finding La Sagesse, however, is a different story. Since it is less accessible to the main town of Saint George, it remains a quiet and peaceful island retreat. Guests chose between rooms at the manor house, in the adjacent cottage, or in a new building, which features oceanfront duplex suites. All of the rooms sit within 30 feet of the ocean, and have screened windows and ceiling fans. The beaches of La Sagesse Nature Center provide an optimal environment for coral reef snorkeling.
La Sagesse Nature Center’s restaurant serves an enticing menu of fish, pasta, seafood, chicken and vegetarian entree. They make their smoothies with local fresh fruit, and only serve fresh vegetables. Don’t miss the french toast served with nutmeg syrup, featured on their breakfast menu.
La Sagesse Nature Center hires private guides, who take you on nature walks throughout the area. Be sure to bring your camera. The salt pond at La Sagesse is home to a diversity of species such as the Caribbean Coot, the Brown Crested Flycatcher, the Northern Jacuna, the Green Backed and the Little Blue Heron. Mona Monkeys, brought over from Africa, roam through the forest. Your guide may also teach you how to enjoy the secret treats of the forest, such as edible berries. If you’re lucky, he may even introduce you to the joys of drinking coconut milk straight from the coconut! If you are not staying at La Sagesse Nature Center, you can book a package that includes a nature walk and lunch, or a nature walk and dinner. Contact La Sagesse at (473) 444-6484 for details. They can arrange transportation if necessary.