With Dr Felicity Nicholson
Before you go
The only immunisation requirement for visitors to Grenada over one year of age is a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you are arriving from a yellow fever infected area. The vaccine is not suitable for everyone so this should be discussed with a health care professional experienced in giving it. Grenada doesn’t have malaria and the water is usually safe to drink, however, it is still wise to drink bottled water and avoid ice. It is recommended that standard vaccinations such as tetanus, diphtheria and polio, which comes as an all-in-one vaccine (Revaxis), are up to date, and travellers may also wish to consider protecting themselves from hepatitis A.
Medical insurance is usually a good idea, particularly if you will be participating in activities such as hiking or scuba-diving.
Rabies is endemic in Grenada but is only usually a problem for those staying for extended periods or working with animals. It may be present in any warm-blooded mammal and is spread through the transfer of saliva from a bite, a scratch or a lick over broken skin. It is more commonly found in the mongoose population. You will see this animal quite often in rural areas – it was introduced here and has no natural predators – but it is a shy creature and will usually run away. Beware of those that are not shy, that stand their ground or demonstrate aggressive behaviour. If you are likely to be living or working in rural areas for a long period you should consider getting a pre-exposure rabies vaccine which consists of three doses given over a minimum of 21 days. Whether or not you have had the vaccine you should scrub the wound with soap and running water, apply an antiseptic and get yourself to medical help as soon as possible. Visitors requiring health care in Grenada are required to pay upfront for treatment. Medical insurance is usually a good idea, particularly if you will be participating in activities such as hiking or scuba-diving.
Travel clinics and health information
A full list of current travel clinic websites worldwide is available on www.istm.org. For other journey preparation information, consult www.travelhealthpro.org.uk (UK) or http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ (US). Information about various medications may be found on www.netdoctor.co.uk/travel. All advice found online should be used in conjunction with expert advice received prior to or during travel.
Grenada is a safe country for visitors and precautions you should take when visiting Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique are no different from those you would take travelling anywhere else in the world. It is usually very safe to walk around, both by day and by night.
Most people are very friendly and helpful. There are few reported incidents of visitors experiencing crime though you should apply common sense precautions such as not flaunting wealth openly, dressing conservatively, and avoiding conflict.
If approached by people asking for money, either give them a dollar or two, or politely decline and walk on. Do not lose your temper or decide to give someone a lecture. It is simply not worth it and it will ruin your day. It is not uncommon for locals to admonish people they see hounding visitors for money. If you do find yourself in a threatening situation your focus should be on getting through it as peacefully as possible and not fighting back.
(Photo: You should take the same precautions here as you would take travelling anywhere else in the world: keep an eye on valuables on the beach and apply common sense in all situations and you will have an enjoyable trip © Paul Crask)
Inevitably as a visitor you will attract attention – whatever your gender. You are the subject of possible friendship, a link to the world beyond the confines of life on the islands, and a potential source of income – however short term. This attention should not, however, be misinterpreted as a threat. As mentioned, Grenada is a very safe place and women travelling alone need only take the same, common sense precautions they would at home.
Certainly women travellers are generally more vulnerable to theft or unwanted attention than men, but this should not prevent you from exploring and enjoying the freedom of these beautiful islands. If you can, you should avoid going to remote places alone, both by day and by night, try to dress as conservatively as your taste in fashion will allow, and do not sunbathe topless. You could consider carrying a flashlight at night and trying to blend in as much as you can. Wearing similar clothing to local people is one way of doing this, as is not wearing ostentatious jewellery.
If you do attract unwanted attention from amorous men, be as polite and good humoured as possible in the way you express your wish to be left alone. Try to extract yourself from the situation as quickly as you can, avoid conflict, resist becoming angry and do not try to humiliate or belittle those you feel are harassing you. Some recommend wearing dark sunglasses as this helps you to avoid eye contact and may also enhance your confidence.
Travellers with a disability
Grenada is not especially disabled-traveller friendly. Many hotels do not make special provision for wheelchair access, some are located on steep slopes and have lots of steps, and public buses are predominantly the small minibus type. Nevertheless, with a little research and planning, it is possible to work your way around these obstacles.
Several of the hotels along Grand Anse Beach have hotel rooms and self-catering facilities on ground-floor level, and access to the resorts themselves is flat and just a short distance from the main road. The Grenada Grand Beach Resort, the Coyaba Beach Resort and the Spice Island Beach Resort are three examples.
The Calabash at L’Anse Aux Epines is also a good option, as is Lance Epines Cottages. In terms of sightseeing, there are many private bus- and taxi-tour operators and your hotel may also be able to arrange something specific to your needs.
(Photo: Certain sites may pose accessibility difficulties because of steps or lack of slopes, but with a little research and planning, it is possible to work your way around these obstacles; pictured: St George’s Roman Catholic Church © Paul Crask)
In addition to driving tours, sites and attractions that are accessible by wheelchair include: River Antoine Rum Distillery (most parts), Belmont Estate (there is a slope, but the immediate area around the boucan, drying sheds and museum should all be fine), Concord Waterfall (viewing the first waterfall), Annandale Waterfall (the path is flat and paved most of the way) and Gouyave Fish Friday (though the streets are narrow and can be crowded). Boarding and disembarking the Osprey ferry between Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique is certainly not wheelchair friendly; indeed anyone with significant manoeuvrability challenges will probably find this very difficult.
Travelling with children
Travelling with children is certainly not a problem in Grenada and most hotels and self-catering accommodations welcome families. Nice beaches with calm waters include Morne Rouge, L’Anse Aux Epines and Paradise Beach on Carriacou. The Grenada Grand Beach Resort is located on Grand Anse Beach and has excellent facilities for family holidays including a large ‘fantasy pool’, man-made waterfalls and a wide selection of adventure packages such as snorkelling, boating and kayaking.
Children will enjoy the natural waterfalls at Concord and Annandale, both of which are easily accessible, and the Belmont Estate should provide lots of interest for cocoa and chocolate lovers. Other outdoor activities that are fun for families include river tubing (check minimum age limits with operators), turtle watching and hiking – the St Margaret’s Falls (sometimes referred to as the Seven Sisters Falls) is a good pick and an adventure you are sure to talk about into the evening.
If you are travelling with infants you will find baby products in the Spiceland Mall in Grand Anse as well as the pharmacies in St George’s. As they are imported, they can be quite expensive, however, so you will need to balance cost with convenience when planning your trip and deciding what to bring with you from home.
The Roman Catholic church is the predominant religion on the islands and so majority views on homosexuality are in accord with church doctrine. Like many of the Caribbean islands, homosexuality in Grenada has not been decriminalised though in recent times there has been increasing international pressure to do so with aid funding tied to human rights. Grenada’s homosexuals are therefore forced to maintain a low profile and are unable to express their sexuality openly and without prejudice. However you choose to deal with this is your choice, of course. But you should be aware that overt displays of your sexuality will certainly draw attention, and responses will be unpredictable in nature.