Grenada: from pink gin to paradise

Polly Thomas trekked all round Grenada and as far as Carriacou to find the best beaches for sun, sand, sea and snorkelling

Grand Anse Beach. Photograph by Dexter LewisLevera Beach is overlooked by Sugar Loaf island. Photograph by Dexter LewisParadise Beach, Carriacou. Photograph by Dexter Lewis

Grenada has plenty of inviting places to cool your toes, but the beaches in the southwest are the most user-friendly, with calm, warm Caribbean waters, white sand, and plenty of facilities.

Further afield, the eastern coast is the place to head for bracing waves and brilliant beachcombing; and if you make the short journey to Carriacou, you’ll be rewarded with superb swathes of white sand and turquoise seas that easily rank among the best in the entire Caribbean.

Grenada’s southwest tip

The southwest has a string of fabulous beaches, all accessible from the road to the airport, and most with a sprinkling of hotels and restaurants overlooking the sand. Perhaps the best of these is the wonderfully named Pink Gin (also Pingouin on some maps). A gorgeous slip of limpid water and gleaming sand, with good snorkelling, it’s a picture-perfect kind of beach and a popular venue for weddings. It melds into the secluded Dr Grooms, offering more of the same but a little less in terms of resort development; to get to both, take the turnoff for the Beach House restaurant.

The next bay to the southwest holds Magazine Beach, another lovely place to swim, with gently shelving sands, a little bit of wave action, and rocks to climb at its southern end, as well as ravishing views along the southwest coast to St George’s. It’s a good place to be on Sundays, when the Aquarium restaurant puts on a barbecue with live music.

To get there, drive past the airport, following the road uphill and to the right; where it forks to the left, take the right-hand, unpaved path right onto the sand.

Grand Anse

A short hop from St George’s, the three-kilometre-long Grand Anse is Grenada’s busiest beach and the base of most of the island’s resort hotels, but it still has plenty of quiet stretches. One of the best is at Camerhogne Park, adjacent to the Spiceland Mall roundabout, where there’s ample parking and changing/shower facilities, plus a nearby bar, loungers for rent and plenty of shade under the sea grape trees. If you prefer a busier scene, the stretch adjacent to Coconuts restaurant, where there’s also space for car parking, is a forest of coloured umbrellas on cruise-ship days, with restaurant staff serving drinks to patrons right on their sun loungers.

Wherever you swim, though, there’s clean sand, gentle waves and clear, warm waters – as well as a birds-eye view of the coastline around to the capital.

Morne Rouge

Around the headland from Grand Anse, the sand here is even more powdery and the sea an even more startling shade of turquoise. With its shallow, calm waters and ample shade, Morne Rouge (also known as BBC Beach) is ideal for families, and has a decent beach bar and restaurant. On weekends, the brilliant Unwind bar is the place to be for barbecued chicken and fish meals – and you may even find yourself heading here after dark, as the island’s oldest nightclub, Fantasia, is just off the sand.

To get here, take the Marquis Complex turnoff from the main Grand Anse Road, just before the Spiceland roundabout; drive on past the Flamboyant Hotel, and the beach begins where the tarmac ends in front of Fantasia and Gem Beach Resort.

La Sagesse

A half-hour drive up the east coast from St George’s, La Sagesse is a fabulously remote alternative to the more touristy beaches. Backed by palms and coastal forest, the gentle horseshoe bay has black- and silver-sprinkled volcanic sand, calm waters and no through traffic, giving it a deliciously private feel. The oceanside hotel has a great restaurant, perfect for a lunch overlooking the water and a rum punch as the sun sets; and patrons are welcome to use the hotel’s beach loungers.

Bathway

Wind-whipped and rugged, Bathway is the most popular place to swim along the Atlantic (eastern) coastline, with a long swathe of coarse yellow sand and pounding waves held in check by a wall of coral a few metres from the shoreline. A string of bars serve up cold beers and chicken and chips, and families pack up their coolers and descend en masse at the weekends for a beach lime. A visitor centre has some basic info on local fauna and flora, and there are changing and showering facilities, too.

Levera

Right at the northeast tip and part of the Levera National Park, this is easily the most beautiful beach on Grenada, its completely undeveloped sweep of soft white sand overlooked by the conical hillock of Sugar Loaf Island. Thanks to the bumpy, unpaved access road, it’s more popular with the leatherback turtles who come here to lay eggs than it is with sunbathing visitors, though local families do come and make a day of it at the weekends. It’s not the best place for a gentle swim, given the crashing waves, but it is perfect for a picnic, a stroll up to the headland or a bit of beachcombing by the rocks, cooled all the while by the constant sea breezes.

Paradise Beach, Carriacou

For once, a beach that really lives up to its moniker. A ten-minute drive from the capital, Hillsborough, Paradise has everything you’d expect of a Caribbean beach: sand so white it hurts your eyes, ridiculously blue gin-clear water, and, to top it off, a view out to the tiny Sandy Island (another brilliant beach) with the craggy peaks of St Vincent’s Union Island as a final backdrop. And if that weren’t enough, a couple of great little beach bars dole out cold Caribs and fresh fish meals.
Caribbean Airlines now flies return services from Port of Spain to Grenada and New York on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Customers can book online at www.caribbean-airlines.com, call the airline toll-free at + 800 744 2225 or contact their travel agent to make bookings.