To read the previous post “Setting Off”: click here
I am now lying on a beach recliner under a large blue and white umbrella on the famous Grand Anse Beach on the “spice island” of Grenada. Sounds of a steel band record playing in a bar/ restaurant is drifting across the beach. This is just glorious.
The sea is just phenomenal – a mixture of greens and blues, transparent and deliciously cool. The scene in front of me is wonderful as the beach is close to the St. George harbor area and I can see 2 ships docked. The ships are the P&O “Arcadia” that we are on and the “Ocean Village”. This ship is also part of the P&O Group (who are ultimately owned by Carnival). “Ocean Village” is their “value” brand that has stripped back on the usual trimmings and ceremony associated with cruising. The ship actually used to be the P&O “Arcadia” before being converted into “Ocean Village”, so on fact old and new are berthed next too each other. The new one is significantly larger than the old.
To get to Grand Anse beach you catch a water taxi from St George harbor. You get off the ship, which berths at a long concrete quay that sticks out to sea, and go through a large duty free shopping complex, which has a large selection of shops from alcohol, clothes and spices. You have to also pass through this shopping complex to get out into the town.
The water taxis cost US$3 per person and holds around 20 people. The trip to Grand Anse beach takes about 20 minutes.
VIDEO OF ARCADIA FROM THE WATER TAXI TO GRAND ANSE BEACH
The Grand Anse beach is rated by many people as one of the nicest beaches in the Caribbean. It is about 2 miles long and all along the beach are sections where you can hire beach chairs and umbrellas for about US$20. It looks like the beach has been divided up into various “lots” where someone has the right to sell chairs and umbrellas for that section as well as drinks. So there is some friendly banter as you go along the beach to try and get you to stop and sit where they have their section.
There are a lot of vendors on the beach when ships are in selling drinks, large sea shells, spices, jewelry and then are also roaming guitar players who will stop and make up a song about you. The vendors are all good-natured and a friendly “no thanks” and they move on without giving you any hassle.
People also selling skiing, banana boat rides and rings also come on by. I am not sure how much they charge, as we didn’t try any of them out.
Behind the beach are hills covered in lush dense trees and houses dotted all over them.
Lying on the beach is peaceful, which even though it gets very busy, as it is so long it does not feel crowded and you still feel you have the place pretty much to yourself as you can find a spot where the closest people are feet rather than inches away from you.
The population of Grenada is just 103000. Based on the peaceful feeling of the beach and people we met, I was surprised at how volatile the recent history of the island since the 1970s had been.
Queen Elizabeth II is still the monarch of the island, although it has been independent from the UK since 1974. The government after independence had been very authoritative and there was a coup in 1979. The Prime Minister (Maurice Bishop) after the coup was initially very popular, but he refused to call elections and had Marxist leanings and close ties to Cuba that made Grenada’s neighbors nervous. There was a power struggle, another coup by a Pro-Soviet/ Cuba group and he and others were executed in 1983 at Fort George. Six days after the coup the USA invaded saying they were protecting US citizens, but the general view I that they were really more concerned about an anti-USA, pro-communist triangle forming between Cuba, Nicaragua and Grenada at the time. Either way, things seem to have been much calmer. Other than the thumping from hurricanes in the late 1990s which destroyed vast amounts of the houses and there are still signs of rebuilding. The storms were large and talking to the people it seems that the devastation was great, with even the roofs of the supposed safe areas (Churches) being ripped off.
I should also mention getting to the ship. When we landed in Barbados we got straight off the plane and onto busses to the ship. We did not go through immigration or customs and our cases were taken straight to the ship. Check in was very slick and within minutes it seemed of getting to the docks we were in our lovely cabin (B59, Florence Suite).
VIDEO OF OUR CABIN B59 (FLORENCE SUITE)
7:18 pm Saturday 24 March (Grenada)
We are back in the cabin after a good day (so far!). We left the beach after many dips in the fabulous sea before catching a water taxi back to the ship. We had lunch, a dip in the open-air pool at the back of the ship before heading off to walk around St George harbor area. We are moored on the new quay and found that ships used to moor in a harbor, which is not far away, but more of a natural bay. “The World”, a residential ship that cruises all around the world, was moored in this old harbor area today but it seems that most ships use the new quay now.
If you go through the mall of shops (where more are being built) and go down the road and through a tunnel built in the late 1890s through the hill you get to the old harbor area. This is a very pretty area with lots of quaint buildings (many still being restored after the hurricanes Emily and Ivan). There is still some evidence of damage visible like the huge Catholic Church you can see on the hill with the roof gone. Knowing that Grenada had been hit by hurricanes, it is quite remarkable how fast and well they have rebuilt.
To view the many photos I took of Grenada and the Grand Anse beach: click here
To read the next instalment of the journey: click here