Although many people still identify this volcanic Caribbean island with its political turbulence during the 1980s, the face Grenada presents today is one of a friendly, casual, and affordable island destination. The "Spice Island" has something for everyone, including an inviting Afro-Caribbean culture, one of the Caribbean's prettiest colonial cities (St. George), fragrant spice plantations, dozens of beaches and bays, and a mountainous national park great for hiking.
In the capital of St. George, you can walk along narrow colonial streets lined with a rainbow of pastel-painted houses and shops and watch masted ships sail in and out of the harbor. While in town, browse the spice and food markets and visit the 18th-century French fortification Fort George. If you're interested in learning more about spices, tour the Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station (Grenada produces a third of the world's nutmeg supply) for $1.
Active visitors should try hiking in Grand Etang National Park, perhaps climbing to the top of Mt. Qua Qua, for a commanding view of the coast. For beachcombing, your first choice should be Grand Anse Beach, near St. George, a two-mile-long white sugar-white sand beach with protected waters safe for swimming.
Regarded as one of the best affordable hotels on the island, the English-country-house-style La Sagesse Nature Center is set on one of Grenada's nicest beaches and offers easy access to nature trails. Prices start at $145 a night.
(Photo: Grenada Board of Tourism)