Leave The Beach and Hit The Strip: Drag Racing in Grenada

After a long day of tooling around the island of Grenada in a van, cutting corners too quickly and, as far as I was concerned, nearly nose-diving off of at least 20 different cliffs into the Caribbean Sea, we finally pulled over to a used-to-be airport. The dilapidated runway was beginning to overgrow in places and cows, fastened by rope to the terrain, chewed grass alongside the cement, looking at our stopped car with suspicion.

In any other place, this old airfield would slowly give in to the overtaking of nature and become the mix of pavement and plant so many other abandoned airports have become. But in Grenada, this runway is a place for routine drag racing. Community-approved and police-monitored, big boys (and one girl hailing from Trinidad, reportedly) shine up speedy cars and enroll in races that take place a handful of times a year. With a license to gun it all the way into the crashing sea at the end of the track, spectators are wowed by the thrills and flock to the races.

As bad luck would have it, a race date didn’t occur during our visit. Instead, I cautiously meandered through the cows’ field toward a long-gone airplane. Someone told me it was a gift from Cuba which leaves me asking some questions. Did Grenadians ever even use this plane from Cuba? Or was it immediately thrown out to rot? Did Cuba give Grenada a plane after it had crashed and dubbed it a gift? Maybe it was re-gifted from Russia?I don’t know. But I do know I’d grab some Caribs and fried breadfruit and climb up on that plane to catch the view were I in town during a race. Drinking, grilling, and watching engines explode: exactly what I hope to do the next time in Grenada.

By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos By: Ben Britz

BBC Beach, Grenada: The Locals’ Spot

Ben Britz and I were on an island. An island filled with beaches, monkeys, and spice… Grenada! We tiredly checked into The Flamboyant Hotel one evening, not feeling so flamboyant after our 16 hour commute to the island (Pittsburgh, Dallas, Miami, Grenada). We didn’t pay much attention to the admittedly beautiful beach directly in front of Flamboyant, Grand Anse Beach, the island’s claim to fame. It was dark and the water danced back and forth around the protruding rocks and layered sand, looking like ink drowning out a universe.

When the sun rose, the teal waters were glistening like they do in Corona commercials (one of those was actually shot in Carriacou, an even smaller island just off Grenada’s coast). I floated on my back in the crystal clear sea, staring up at the piercing blue sky. The Caribbean was warm, the air was warmer, and my memories of attempting to swim in the similarly crystalline but frigid Lake Superior earlier this summer were fortunately repressed. But we had a problem: Grand Anse just can’t be The Anti Tourists’ beach, as nice as it is. Although it boasts far fewer tourists than so many other resorty beaches I’ve been to, it’s still the island’s go-to beach for vacationers looking to explore the island as far as their resorts’ front yard. We had to find another beach, the one reserved for those lucky few in-the-know.

We drove all around the island. Up the north side and around to the south side. In and around and up and down and back and forth, we got lost. Driving on the left is fucked (Fun Fact: you can get in trouble with the police for saying ‘fuck’ in public in Grenada. The same rule applies to Virginia Beach, or it did the last time I was there, at least). Luckily, Ben handled the driving. We stayed in a villa at True Blue Bay Resort for a few nights and ruled out recommending the muddy harbor. We made a lot of wrong turns on the way to La Sagesse Beach–a beach we read was one of the most secluded and romantic on the island. Although La Sagesse was cool in that ‘this looks like the set of Lost’ kind of way, it wasn’t what we were looking for.

It turned out that what we were looking for was a stone’s throw away from Grand Anse. A local and now trusted Grenada travel resource, Roger, steered us in the right direction. “BBC is where you want to go”, he told us. “Yeah, but which beach would you say is the most pristine, the best beach on the island?” Ben pushed. “I say BBC is still where I’d go”, said Roger, firm on his choice. And so we had no choice. We had to go and see the beach just around the bend from Grand Anse.

We drove past Grand Anse and past the Flamboyant  and down the steep road that leads to BBC Beach, which is actually named Morne Rouge on maps, but is referred to by everyone, even the road signs, as BBC. That was apparently the name of a  night club that used to exist on the beach, I was told–the legacy lives on! With nowhere else to park other than Fantazia, a night club Roger loves, we bought ourselves some fruity drink at the bar and walked out onto the softest white sand I’ve ever felt. Ben squealed excitedly, and shrieked with delight as the warm Caribbean waters lapped at his feet. Seriously. He did.

A man tried to rent me a lounge chair on the beach but I wasn’t having it. Neither was anyone else–nearly all of them were empty. Populated only by a handful of locals, the beach was what Roger had said it was. It was beautiful, secluded, quiet, and perfect. The fluffy sand felt like powder beneath our feet and the palms provided shade not far off from the water’s crest.

I spread one of my towels out on the sand, stubbornly refusing to pay for a lounge chair when the softest sand in the world could hold me.

The beach’s drop-off, at least where we were, was a little sudden and the undertow was a little strong, but we like it a little rough. We played like little kids and rested when we were done, unaffected by the buzzing Grand Anse beach just around the corner. So Roger was right. BBC is where to be for the island feeling. One love!

By: Elizabeth Seward, Photos by: Ben Britz

Gouyave Fish Fry – Best Fish in Grenada, Maybe the World

There is a tasty, crispy golden-brown tradition in Grenada I feel should be spread across the world: a weekly fish fry that takes place island-wide every Friday evening. “Fry” is misleading, however, as there is plenty of grilling, possibly broiling and sautéing as well, definitely steaming and baking and lots of drinking, and everyone participates. No matter where you go on a Friday, whether passing through St. Georges on the way back to the Hotel Flamboyant, or dabbling your feet in the teal waters at BBC Beach, you’ll see the trademark Grenadian grills made from metal barrels fired up, pots of oil bubbling away, and hundreds of grinning, well-fed faces.

Without a doubt, the best (and most) fish is served up in Gouyave (pronounced gwav), a small fishing village about three quarters of the way up the west coast of the island. Grenada’s own “city that never sleeps”, Gouyave’s Friday night fish fry tradition is famous throughout the entire landmass. Internet lore has it that a couple of Gouyave’s sons were even awarded medals by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for excellence in fishing, so, that’s cool, right? Right??!

We had rented a car the day before from J & B Auto Rentals to explore the island. It is by far the best way to get around, and they were very accommodating and modestly priced with a nice fleet. It was an absolute blast driving up and down the steep mountainsides, driving on the left side, no less, on tiny two-way roads barely big enough for one car, let alone two.

This was the longest drive I had to make, from the True Blue Bay Resort, where we were staying at the extreme south end of the island, up the west coast to Gouyave. It was early evening but very dark; night in the tropics seems to be darker than anywhere else, and there isn’t much light pollution in Grenada. I could have used a little more light pollution maybe. The headlights weren’t so bright and there is no such thing as a good road map of Grenada, not one that matches up with the actual roads anyway. We drove on and on, farther than it seems like we should on an island that’s only 22 miles long. I hoped every cluster of lights we saw in the distance would be Gouyave’s famous fish fry, but each time we reached them it was only some other, less famous fish fry. And we at the Anti Tourist are all about the authentic experience, the real deal, so on we drove.

Unfortunately, after about an hour, the road ended. It was dark; it was inky. I drove tentatively beyond the “Road Closed” sign but it was unnavigable. And so we went back again, thinking we’d missed the town; we hadn’t; we drove back again towards the closed road, thinking we’d missed a turn; we hadn’t. This time another car pulled up close to us and stopped when I waved them down.

“Is this the way to Gouyave?” I asked the driver in the other car, motioning to the closed road. The driver was a young guy, cocky: “Just follow me, I take you there.” He drove around the “Road Closed” sign and somehow managed to pick his way through the potholes and washed out portions of the road. It was only about a mile, but the road was closed for a reason. Thank god for our little Suzuki Jeep, which handled the obstacles much better than I hoped. I guess I’m used to driving our ’96 Accord (268,000 miles so far! Cross your fingers, we’re driving it to Texas as we speak…) which can’t handle anything, anything at all.

And there we were! There was activity in the streets. Everyone was out and about, dancing and singing and mouths full of fish. Vendors lined St. Francis and St. Dominic Streets with all their fish-cooking equipment. And oh god, the fish: fish cakes, kebabs, jerk marlin, barbecued snapper, fry jacks, lobster, conch, and the best, the absolute best coconut shrimp that have ever found their way into my mouth. We were lucky enough to randomly run into someone we already knew, a man named Roger who is the best guy to know on the whole island. If you need a guy who knows everyone, everything, and probably could get you out of any sticky situation you may find yourself in, you need Roger. On this night we only needed him to recommend us some fish, but if I were kidnapped by ne’er-do-wells, I’d call Roger.

In addition to all the seafood, there is always Carib and Stag to be had, as well as a variety of Grenadian rums. You can also buy the ubiquitous spices and cocoa anywhere you look, and we did! We got one of everything and ate it ALL. I highly recommend you do the same.

By: Ben Britz

The Hotel Flamboyant – Great Place to Stay in Grenada

The Hotel Flamboyant clings to a steep hillside overlooking Grand Anse Beach on the Caribbean island of Grenada. I dug the place: simple, clean, inexpensive, and a largely helpful staff. It isn’t all that flamboyant; it is very much a laid-back beachside hotel and kind of smells like summer camp, but in a sweet and nostalgic way.

And, like everywhere else in Grenada, there is a hint of spice in the tropical sea air. The sun, so direct and so close, gives everything a silvery sheen, a burning effervescence. Now that I’m away, the memory seems like a dream, like a dream sequence shot over-exposed in a film.

With a decent pool and beach access down the hundreds of arduous feet of stairs, the Hotel Flamboyant is a good spot for a less ostentatious Grenada vacation; while not out-of-the-way or really that far off the beaten path and other clichés, it’s a good price on a clean suite on one of the Caribbean’s prettiest beaches—though perhaps second to BBC Beach, itself just a stone’s throw away.

The Owl Sports Bar, down by the beach in front of the Hotel Flamboyant, is what you’d expect—a low-end Caribbean beach bar, open late, patronized by locals and travelers alike. You can find a good cross section of the people of Grenada on any given day: locals mingling with Europeans, Americans, and South Americans in varying combinations, all drinking Carib or rum cocktails and watching ESPN or, perversely, Lifetime. You may even be lucky enough to talk to a gentleman who advises you to “stay cool” and provides an all-natural, healthful Caribbean herbal remedy to help with that, Jah willing!

By: Ben Britz