Grande Anse Bay, Grenada (Spice Isle), West Indies (Caribbean)
Not to be confused with the similarly spelt Spanish resort of Granada, the West Indies Windward Island of Grenada (the Spice Isle) is an open water, moderately tidal venue surround by two seas. On the western side you have the bubble gum waters of the Caribbean Sea whilst the east facing coast is buffeted by the Atlantic. Grand Anse Bay, on the Caribbean Sea side, is a lush greenery flanked, white sandy beach that regularly makes it into top 10s of best worldwide beach lists. Along its 1.5m length the stand up paddle boarding opportunities are subtly different depending on where you put in. The southern end, next to Quarantine Point, is where you’ll find bigger lumps and a more cross direction to the ever blowing Trade Winds. Towards the island’s capital (St. Georges) and the northern corner of Grand Anse the breeze blows more offshore and it can be flatter.
A super friendly island, with a typical Caribbean vibe, Grenada is a very much under the radar part of the West Indies for watersports. In fact, mostly untapped, with a load of potential for the intrepid to discover across the whole island.
On any given day Grand Anse will see Trade Wind gusts of between 15-22 knots blowing across from the Atlantic side of the island and puffing out to sea along the west. The wind can either be a conveyor belt to SUP fun or a testing, training paddle sesh where you grit teeth and smash it into wind. Humidity levels can often be in the 90% range (this is a rainforest island with plenty of moisture in the air). Combined with 30C heat and super strong UV levels your strength may be zapped quick smart. Add jetlag to the mix and in instant you’ll be cooked during those initial SUP sessions. Stick with it though as you soon become acclimatised…
Grand Anse has distinct areas and conditions depending on where you are along the beach. For wave heads, head here in the off season (when it’s less humid) and you may be gifted a pulsing north swell that somehow defies logic and wraps around Grenada to deliver some fun shorebreak style waves. The swell can be pretty pokey, unloading onto a shallow sandbank. This is also where Dive Grenada (a British owned watersports business) is set up. Their dive boat will be moored just off the beach on most days so you’ll need to avoid this and the mooring lines.
In the middle of Grand Anse is a shallower reef spot that can light up with solid surf. It’s not so shallow that it’s an issue for flat water SUP though but northerly waves and tropical depressions sending localised waves from the Caribbean Sea side may deliver a bump.
Heading further north still, towards St Georges and the water becomes much flatter and sheltered. If the Trades are really huffing you’ll still get strong gusts blowing offshore here so be aware and don’t get blow out to sea! It’s a fun exercise to paddle along to the mouth of St Georges Harbour. Just watch the boating/yacht traffic. Putting in here will allow a mini downwinder along the whole of Grand Anse Beach, with the obligatory rum punch refreshment stop at the end! Careful though, Caribbean rum packs a punch…
The Trade Winds can either be your friend or your enemy in the Caribbean. Use the gusts, be mindful of the offshore direction in Grand Anse and you’ll be fine. Heavy shorebreak (at times) will need to be navigated – especially around the southern end of Grand Anse. This becomes less the further north you go.
Traditionally cruise ship season sees Grand Anse buzzing with beach vendors eager to sell you their wares (you will get approached) and waterski/wakeboard/banana boats operating. Whilst they’re usually no issue it’s good to keep out of their way.
Swimmers, snorkelers and divers are also ever present with dive boats coming and going to the various dive centres situated along Grand Anse. These businesses are affiliated to the beachfront hotels and have a steady stream of custom so the traffic is often constant throughout the day.
In times past Neilson Holidays ran a watersports holiday programme on Grand Anse but that was halted when Hurricane Ivan swung in during September 2004. Grenada doesn’t normally get hit by hurricanes as it’s not in the hurricane belt. On this occasion, however, Ivan caused widespread damage to the island that has taken a few years to come back from. Many operators upped sticks permanently and no longer provide holidays here – which is a shame.
It’s worth noting that whilst hurricanes aren’t a regular occurrence in Grenada they can happen, as the above highlights. More often you tropical waves or storms through summer that can cause minor (in relation to the Caribbean at large) weather events. These can bring torrential downpours, stormy seas with big swell, cloudy skies and ramp the humidity up even further. The tempering Trade Winds can often shut down as well making for a very sticky experience. Hurricane season runs from May to November when this type of scenario is more common. That said you might not see anything significant during your stay.
Lastly, being a rainforest island, with a heavy moisture laden atmosphere coupled with heat sees plenty of mosquito action which can be the bearers of disease like Dengue Fever. Other parasites can be found on the island so it’s worth checking your health situation before travelling, taking the necessary precautions then avoiding things like puddles after it’s rained. This is where you can pick up things like Hook Worm (Google it if unfamiliar).
By and large, Grenada is one of the safest Caribbean island for SUP travel. You just need to use your common sense if deciding to head here and keep in mind this is a tropical destination that isn’t quite as developed as European locations.
There’s plenty of access to Grand Anse for paddlers not choosing to stay at one of the beachside hotels. If you fancy a drink or bite to eat then these hotels have beach bars that will serve you delicious Grenadian fare. This will give access directly to the water. Non-paddling partners or family members can make use of the hotel’s facilities (such as pool and sun loungers) while you SUP away.
A carpark behind Umbrellas public beach bear gives another way onto the sand with a public car park and small grassy area is also just along the way. Being the main public beach on the island, however, sees these get busy during holidays and weekends with Grenadian families heading to Grand Anse for some relaxation time.
During the UK’s off season Grenada has traditionally been a haven for holidaymakers seeking guaranteed winter sun. COVID has stopped travel lately but things (at time of writing) look to be opening up again. The beach can be busy around the hotels at these times.
When there’s a cruise ship docked in St Georges travellers flock to the Grand Anse artisan market where all manner of crafts and locally made products are for sale. Beach vendors and island crafters descend on the market to sell their wares with plenty more trying to sell their goods on the beach. If you look like a tourist you’ll be approached (n a friendly but persistent manner). If you don’t fancy this then avoid the northern end of Grand Anse at these times. Or head elsewhere, such as Morne Rouge (known locally as BBC Beach) round the headland. Although don’t be surprised to find a boat trip party offloading here when the ships are docked!
There are no public facilities such as toilets on Grand Anse but the hotels and beach bars are available to use if you’re prepared to spend some cash getting a drink or something to eat. Behind the beach you’ll find the Grand Anse Mall with a well stocked supermarket and more in the way of eating and drinking choices.
Head into the capital St Georges and there’s even more from high end dining to local box meal outlets. Some roadside roti and BBQ vendors will pop up from time to time as well.
Grenada is a real under the radar gem of a Caribbean island for watersports, often overlooked by its more well known neighbour of Tobago and Barbados. Yet Grenada offers plenty for those with experience and who are happy to go it alone off the beaten path. For instance, you won’t find much online about Grenadian surf spots but there are few that can serve up fun waves and be worth seeking out: Cheery Hill and Prickly Point being two.
Grand Anse itself offers a mellow paddling arena with a local vibe to suit. This is the Caribbean so everything’s super relaxed. It’s mostly about flat water here but on occasion, the southern end of Grande Anse can throw up a lump of two to play on. Min downwinders, from north to south, can also be fun with exploratory paddles round to St Georges Harbour or the end of Quarantine Point. If you choose the latter be aware of Trade Winds and coming back into strong gusts. Best advice is carry on paddling round to Morne Rouge Beach and get out there. If you have an inflatable SUP you can pack down, pop everything on your back, and walk back to Grand Anse. It’ll take about 20 minutes but is better than slogging against the breeze.
Should you get bored of Grand Anse then pitch up at the aforementioned Morne Rouge for more flat water SUP. Sweeping round the bay, from point to point and along the shore can be fun. Again, just watch the wind!
Further south and you’ll come across Doctor Groom’s Beach and further still you’ll discover Magazine Beach with the Aquarium Beach Bar and Restaurant overlooking. Waves often get into Aquarium Beach and deliver knee to waist high rides. This is even when there’s no real swell in effect, instead the surf is wind driven. If you do get a solid pulse then it can really light up.
If you’re hiring a car (definitely worth it on Grenada) you have the option of heading across to the Atlantic coast which is a short drive. There are numerous put ins here. True Blue Harbour is a good choice as it’s fairly sheltered. Prickly Point – a left hand (mellow) reef break with access from the road along the Lance aux Epines peninsula giving access. It’s a little tricky to find, signposted by an old surfboard nailed to the wall underneath overhanging tree branches. The descent down is steep and in between private houses. Once at the water, however, Prickly is a doable left for any stand up paddlers with above average skill. There are some coral heads to watch out for (so booties a must) but it’s not super hardcore. Wind swell, created by the Trade Winds, wraps around the Lance au Epines headland and into the lea of the high sided cliffs giving a clean wave. Pioneered by American medical students, attending the noted university on the island, it’s usually pretty quiet with only one or two other riders getting wet. Mostly, however, you’ll be on your own though. That’s worth keeping in mind if you damage yourself.
Back in Grand Anse Cherry Hill is another wave that’s good for SUP surfing. Standing on Grand Anse Beach look out right towards the further side of St Georges Harbour. Next to where the cruise ship terminal. Defying logic (as Cherry Hill faces dead south) you’ll often see white water bouncing off the cliffs. This means there’s a wave and definitely worth then checking out. You hug the coastline and paddle round, but that’d mean you’re maybe done by the time you arrive. Driving is far better.
Cherry Hill is a faster wave than Prickly. And it’s one where you need to have experience due to its shallow, reefy nature. When it works, however, Cherry Hill can be amazing with fast sections that peel off into deeper water making the paddle back out to the peak dry hair.
Elsewhere on Grenada there’s an abundance of flat water spots, downwind routes and wave venues. Transport is essential and you’ll need to make sure everything is locked away out of sight when in the water. Also, you’ll be on your own so know your limits!
If you fancy an even more chilled out SUP experience in this neck of the woods then jump on the ferry to Grenada’s little sister island Carriacou. Like stepping back in time the island is chilled out to the point of being horizontal. It’s a lovely location and definitely worth visiting whether you intend to SUP or not.
For many Grenada is more about the island’s notoriety in the spices world. Grenada is where more than 20% of the world’s nutmeg comes from with it being dubbed black gold by locals. It’s also a top exporter of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nay leaves. The Spice Isle reputation draw visitors in from far and wide. But if you’re a watersports nut – particularly stand up paddling – then you’ll discover a fab location that really deserves more recognition than it gets. At the very least though this keeps things quiet for those that do choose to visit and SUP.
Check out our other international bitesize SUP travel guides via the link below –