Next Stop: Grenada
You've seen the Caribbean's hot spots. Now it's time to explore an overlooked island with a surprising flavor all its own.
The Little Dipper's seven patio tables overlook a twinkling Caribbean. Tonight, the chef―who's also waiter and hostess―prepares Creole fish with vegetables. Although the small restaurant is one of the best in Grenada, it's the vista that stands out. Sailboats sway at anchor on Clarkes Court Bay, and lights blink on against dark green hills. The island's hidden treasure is its views―and not just from quaint seaside cafés.
Take the nearby resort of Laluna, on Portici Bay. With 16 hillside cottages huddled around a private cove beach, it overflows with scenic panoramas. Founded by a former fashion consultant from Italy, Laluna is chic, but not pretentious―a stylish retreat on one of the Caribbean's quietest islands. Eco-inspired rooms feature fabric-draped four-poster beds from Bali, individual plunge pools, and bamboo-topped verandas.
The most distant cottage sits 150 feet from the beach, making the resort a barefoot, lounging kind of place. Ultracasual dress code aside, Laluna takes meals seriously. Dinner comes prepared by an Italian chef who mingles his home country's techniques with Caribbean flavors. You can start with octopus salad with potatoes and chickpeas, then make your way down the menu to pappardelle with a nutmeg cream sauce.
It won't be the last time you see nutmeg on a menu here. Grenada provides a third of the world's supply of the spice, which can be sampled as a powder, syrup, or jam. Almost every visitor brings some home, usually in a small basket also packed with cloves, cinnamon, mace, bay leaves, and ginger. The country may not claim flashy casinos or high-rise resorts, but Grenada grows more spices per square mile than any other place on the globe.
It takes a lush climate, such as the rain forest at Grenada's center, to produce these flavors. Grand Etang National Park preserves the island's tropical flora and fauna. Visitors can book guides to lead them through terraced banana farms and forests of giant gommier trees, teak, and wild orchids. From a mountain peak, 90 percent of the island is visible, vivid green after a midday rain.
As one might expect, the cities here move at a sleepy, island pace. But the township of Gouyave on Grenada's western coast jumps to life on Fish Fridays, which are part street-food festival, part outdoor concert, and part extended-family gathering. Beginning late afternoon, the fishing village's streets and side passages fill with tables of seafood. Vendors sell sample-size servings of everything from lobster to jerked marlin to deep-fried fish cakes. Music lifts the spirit, as do the enthusiastic greetings of friends and relatives.
Visitors to Gouyave are a little reluctant to leave. But eventually they'll head back to Laluna, along a cliffside road illuminated by stars on a cloudless night―yet another unforgettable view.
Laluna's cliffside cottages start at $390. Rates do not include meals, but all snorkeling and kayaking is included; 866/452-5862 or laluna.com. Guided hikes from Henry's Safari Tours cost $40 to $55 per person. Denis Henry offers trips tailored to your experience level. His taxi tours are also the best on the island; 347/721-9271 or henrysafari.com. Reservations at Little Dipper on Clarkes Court Bay in Woburn can be made through Laluna, or by calling 473/444-5136. From Laluna, a round-trip taxi to Fish Fridays in Gouyave costs roughly $100. Food at the festival will run between $15 and $20 per person.