Grenada: King of Creoles

Last updated at 11:02 27 September 2001


Mark was very muscular, very black and, with his bared chest and enormous gold medallion, he looked like a heavy-duty gangsta rapper. So when, on a lonely road in the foothills of Grenada's rainforest, he tried barging his way into the back of our hire car to give us "directions" to the nearest snack store, you'll perhaps understand why my wife and I exchanged nervous glances.

Sun and sea: 'Grenada remains one of those rare destinations - friendly, picturesque, refreshingly undeveloped'

"I'm quite sure we'll find it ourselves," I said, remembering the £1,500-worth of camera equipment on the back seat. But Mark was insistent. And we were too English to demur. So in he climbed and off we drove.

Twenty minutes later, Mark was gone. He'd led us to the shop, taken pains to ensure we didn't fall into any of those deep roadside gutters that are the pitfall of Grenadian driving and refused to let us put ourselves out by taking him back to where we'd found him - anywhere by the road would do. At about the point I'd expected him to demand some sort of hefty baksheesh, he wished us a nice day and said his friendly goodbye.

"The thing is, no one can quite believe it's for real," said the woman from the car hire company, an English expatriate who liked Grenadians so much that she married one. "Tourists keep asking me: 'What is it they're after?' And I have to tell them: 'They're not after anything. It's just the way Grenadians are.' "

Whether they will stay that way is another matter. The older ones will tell you that the younger generation is being corrupted by US hip-hop culture and the lawlessness, surliness and aggression prevalent on so many other Caribbean islands. But for the moment Grenada remains one of those rare destinations - friendly, picturesque, refreshingly undeveloped.

Grenada is good on waterfalls, some of them so paradisiacal that they could have come straight from a Bounty advert. Concord is lovely and Seven Sisters (or St Margaret's) even better, because it's a sweaty, half-hour scramble down steep rainforest trails (hummingbirds, bright green anole lizards, nutmeg trees . . .), which means that fair-weather tourists never quite make it there.

Getting there A seven-night stay at LaLuna with Caribtours (020 7751 0660; costs from £1,173 per person, based on two sharing a one-bedroom cottage with a plunge pool. The price includes return flights with British Airways, accommodation and private car transfers. Other accommodation includes the all-inclusive Spice Island Beach Resort at £1,474 per person, based on two sharing a garden-view suite with a whirlpool. Car hire costs about £50 a day from Y & R Rentals (001 473 444 4448). If you want to hire a guide, Mandoo Tours (001 473 440 1428) is excellent.

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