photo of Grenada

A diver encounters a shark off the coast of Grenada (Grenada Tourism Board)

What to do in Grenada

After a rainfall, the mountain slopes glisten so green that the early Spanish explorers named this land Grenada after the verdant hills of their homeland. The southern Grenadines—including Carriacou and Petite Martinique—are dependencies of Grenada.

Grand Anse Beach, the jewel of the island of Grenada, is a two-mile cove of white sand and calm turquoise waters. Home to many hotels, the beach bustles with vendors and visitors, but you won't feel boxed in, as by law no building rises higher than three stories, the proverbial height of a palm tree. In nearby Saint George's, the capital city, stroll the Carenage, a waterfront area of boutiques, boats, and cafes. Through an eclectic collection of artifacts, the Grenada National Museum relates the island's history of slaves, sugar mills, and whaling.

Save some time to hike in Grand Etang National Park. Unlike the often flat and dry south, the park lies in the lush, green, hilly island interior, home to the Mona monkeys. The reward for tackling the three- to four-hour Saint Margaret's trail is a view of the multiple cascades of the Seven Sisters waterfalls. With young kids, try the 15-minute Morne LeBaye Trail with its ferns, heliconia, bamboo, and other vegetation. Call ahead to the park's nature center if you want to reserve a guide.

Often called Spice Island, Grenada produces nutmeg, mace, cloves, and other herbs. At the Dougaldston Spice Plantation, in an old wooden building, you'll see flat beds filled with cocoa beans and cloves drying in the sun. At the Gouyave Processing Station, a guide walks you through the stages of producing nutmeg. While informative, one of these tours is more than enough for most kids.

Off the beaten path, Carriacou attracts divers and snorkelers to its unspoiled reefs, as well as day-trippers. Part of the fun is simply getting to Carriacou. Although planes make the short flight, most locals and tourists take the ferry. Pack a change of clothes if you want the upper deck's ocean breezes. Sometimes the six-foot seas turn the 23-mile crossing into a water park thrill ride, complete with drenching sea spray and drops worthy of a mini-roller coaster. If you tend to get motion sickness, pack the Dramamine.

Carriacou, a combination of beaches and hilly peaks, offers swimming and hiking. A great place to do both, Paradise Beach offers a mile-long cove of soft sands and calm seas shaded by trees. The calm waters off Sandy Island have some of the area's best snorkeling, especially for kids new to the sport.

To explore the island's lush interior, hike the trails of High North Peak, the island's tallest point at 995 feet. At Kido Ecological Research Station, a secluded facility on eight acres, visitors can participate in sea turtle monitoring and other volunteer eco-activities (accommodations are basic).

Tips: Humpback whales are in view off Grenada between January and March; pilot and sperm whales can be seen off Carriacou year-round.