The wild side of the Spice Isle: Most people go to the Caribbean island of Grenada for its beaches – but the hiking is spectacular too
- Tom Chesshyre hikes up Mount St Catherine, Grenada’s highest mountain
- Scroll down to the bottom for a guide to the best holiday hikes in the Caribbean
- READ MORE: Jaw-dropping private islands that you can rent around the world
Up above, a mona monkey clatters in a treetop in search of small yellow fruit (nicknamed ‘monkey apples’). A mongoose scuttles across the path.
A hummingbird with a shiny green head and a curious hooked beak flickers by.
‘That was a rufous-breasted hermit,’ says my guide Simon Green, fount of all knowledge on Grenadian wildlife. ‘Extremely rare. You don’t see them in the lowlands.’
We are almost at the top of Mount St Catherine, Grenada’s highest mountain (2,757ft), an active but safe volcano, without a soul in sight — and nature is coming out to play. Earlier, down on Grand Anse Beach, tourists and locals alike had been taking their constitutionals before breakfast, enjoying the soft sand and rising sun. But mine is a different kind of walk altogether, more of a clamber in places as the rocky path rises beneath the jungle’s canopy.
Most people visiting the Caribbean stick to its gentle waters, but a growing number of eco-tourist initiatives have sprung up, many offering guided walks into the more remote corners of the interiors of some of our favourite holiday islands.
Idyllic: After a morning spent on Grand Anse Beach (pictured), Tom Chesshyre explores the wild side of Grenada, hiking through the island’s interior
Tom hikes up Mount St Catherine (pictured in the background), Grenada’s highest mountain at 2,757ft
Simon Green’s Hidden Treasures Hikes in Grenada is one of the best. The journey up and down Mount St Catherine takes about five hours and covers around seven miles.
You start at a farm with pigs, goats and chickens — as well as all sorts of fruit and veg, plus cinnamon and nutmeg, of course. Grenada is, after all, known as the Spice Isle. Along the way as the trail rises, Simon stops to pick fruit from wild plants, which is how I get to try ‘wax apples’ (a delicious crunchy fruit with a rose/apple taste), ‘mammy apples’ (a bit like peaches) and succulent guava. Clumps of bamboo occupy the lower reaches as well as aromatic frankincense trees, huge hardwood trees and long dangling vines (as though Tarzan lives near by).
It has not always been so green and gorgeous in these parts. ‘After Hurricane Ivan in 2004 all the vegetation was gone,’ says Simon. ‘Just a few trunks remained. It was heartbreaking.’ But this rare event — Grenada is below the usual ‘hurricane belt’, hence being a favoured mooring place of yachts — was soon righted as plants grew back. ‘The resilience of nature is amazing,’ he says.
So are the views from the summit of Mount St Catherine, with the whole island (21 miles long and 15 miles wide) spread out below and its sister islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique in the distance.
The landscape around Mount St Catherine, seen from the coast. The journey up and down the peak takes about five hours and covers around seven miles. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons
A hummingbird with a curious hooked beak flickers past during Tom’s hike (file photo)
Tom sees tourists and locals ‘enjoying the soft sand and rising sun’ on Grand Anse Beach (above)
Tom stays at Mount Cinnamon hotel (pictured) on Grand Anse beach
Nine nights at Mount Cinnamon hotel on Grand Anse beach from £2,602 pp B&B with flights (virginholidays.co.uk). For more information, visit puregrenada.com. Mount St Catherine hikes from £150 pp based on two sharing, or £75 pp based on four sharing (001 473 459 1582).
To see Grenada from such a height is to realise what a truly remarkable place it is.
It is about the same size as Barbados but with 50 per cent fewer people. Its interior is lush and hilly, with deep valleys that lend themselves perfectly to waterfalls, where local lads are only too happy to put on a daring diving show.
And there’s history, too, of course. The American invasion of Grenada in 1983 — or liberation — remains a vital component in understanding the former British colony.
You can even see the outline of Union Island in the neighbouring nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the distance.
On the way down, we stop to drink fresh water from a spring — much of the island’s bottled water comes from this south-western corner of Grenada.
Then we pause again for a Carib beer in the charming little town of Victoria by the coast. By then we felt we’d earned it.
THE BEST HOLIDAY HIKES IN THE CARIBBEAN
ST VINCENT: The La Soufriere volcano hike is about seven miles. Take a light jacket as it can be cool at the top, and allow five hours (alltrails.com).
ST LUCIA: Hike to the top of one of the Caribbean’s landmarks: Gros Piton. The peak is at 2,618ft and the round journey is about three miles, taking around two-and-a-half hours (islandroutes.com).
DOMINICA: The Waitukubuli National Trail covers 114 miles and twists its way across this pretty island. Take your pick of which bit to do, passing villages and forts. See the hideaway spots of former runaway slaves along the way (avirtualdominica.com).
The La Soufriere volcano (pictured) hike on St Vincent and the Grenadines is about seven miles
TRINIDAD: From Mount St Benedict to Mount Tabor, close to the town of Tunapuna, takes about 90 minutes, covering about 2.5 miles (alltrails.com).
GUYANA: Feeling fit? If so, join a five-day tour to Kaieteur Falls, with guided walks, hotels along the way and four to eight hours on the trail each day (dagron-tours.com).
JAMAICA: The hike to Jamaica’s highest point (7,401ft) in the Blue Mountains covers six miles and takes four hours (blueandjohncrowmountains.org).
Join a five-day tour to Kaieteur Falls (above) in Guyana with Dagron Tours
BARBADOS: Starting in Barclays Park in the parish of St Andrew in the north, the Barclays Loop covers seven miles, taking three-and-a-half hours, with spectacular coastal views (wikiloc.com).
TOBAGO: The Gilpin Trace walk in the Main Ridge Forest Reserve takes two hours and goes through the heart of the rainforest (visittobago.gov.tt).
ST KITTS: Going up and down 3,800ft Mount Liamuiga takes about four hours. You rise through rainforest and reach the rim of a volcanic crater, with great views and a chance to spot the neighbouring islands of Saba, Sint Eustatius and Saint Martin (stkittstourism.kn).
Source: Read Full Article