Sink your toes into sugary sand at the turquoise water’s edge on Grenada’s famed Grand Anse Beach. Then let a square of chocolate crafted from beans grown on this lush Caribbean island slowly melt on your tongue. What could be more pleasurably decadent than paradise wrapped in chocolate? Grenada has long been known as the Island of Spice for its bountiful mace-wrapped nutmeg crops. Aromatic nutmeg shows up in many local dishes and you can’t have a refreshing, sweet-tart Grenada rum punch without a generous grating of fresh nutmeg on top.
Now, Grenada is increasingly becoming known as the Chocolate Island, through a growing tree-to-bar industry that may entice even more visitors to experience Pure Grenada’s famed easy-going hospitality. The secret to Grenada’s exquisite chocolate comes from how it grows on this green volcanic island. Cacao trees are planted alongside nutmeg, cinnamon, mango, soursop and coffee, which contribute rich flavours to the artisanal bars that are delighting chocolate lovers and impressing international connoisseurs.
For generations, Grenada harvested and shipped cacao beans to Europe for processing into bars and confections. “The products don’t say ‘made in Grenada.’ I am all about changing that,” says Aaron Sylvester, who quit his job in the music industry in London to return to Grenada and the family cacao farm. Sylvester started Tri Island Chocolate in May 2018, one of five local companies making organic chocolate from cacao grown on jungle farms across Grenada. He was inspired by the growing tree-to-bar culture here, celebrated each May with Grenada Chocolate Fest. It’s a can’t-miss for chocolate lovers. Many events take place at the fun and friendly True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, whose co-owner, Magdalena Fielden, founded Chocolate Fest in 2014 and continues to organise it, expanding yearly.
Take a chocolate-themed yoga class here during the festival, or learn to make rich, cacao skin-care products after indulging in a chocolate breakfast. You won’t believe how amazing ripe, sweet island mango tastes with a scattering of pure, unsweetened Grenada cacao nibs and a sprinkle of local cinnamon. Our introduction to Grenada came on a brightly coloured minibus on an island food tour run by Savor the Spice. We started with a traditional breakfast of savoury saltfish souse and fluffy fried bakes at Patrick’s Local Homestyle Cooking Restaurant in the capital, St. George’s. Of course, we sipped cocoa tea, a hot chocolate cousin with pleasing hints of cinnamon and nutmeg.
We followed winding roads past colourful houses, climbing up into the mountains for stunning views of St. George’s Harbour and the seaside below. A quick stop at Annandale Falls wrapped up with fresh coconut water sipped from the fruit, taking the edge off the heat of the day. A lovely drive through the Grand Etang Forest led to the northern part of the island and 300-year-old Belmont Estate for a guided tour of the plantation’s organic gardens and new bean-to-bar manufacturing facility.
We watched organic chocolate being processed behind a glass wall in the state-of-the-art facility, then tasted the exquisite results. Belmont’s signature is the Pure Grenada chocolate bar, flavoured with cinnamon, ginger, mace and of course, nutmeg. Then a delicious chef’s table lunch in the estate’s upper-floor dining room, open to catch refreshing breezes, showcased the best of Belmont’s organic gardens. Back in the busy capital of St George’s, we were able to sample chocolate from all of the island’s makers at the House of Chocolate Grenada, which also sells colourful house-made bonbons filled with local fruits and spices. It also has a small chocolate museum.
The Spice Market is nearby, where Miss Gemma King has run her stall for 40 years. She has just what you need for an ache or pain, or if you just want to satisfy your chocolate craving with the makings for cocoa tea. Grande Anse Beach beckoned after a busy day, followed by an elegant, four-course dinner at Oliver’s Restaurant at the Five Diamond Award-winning Spice Island Beach Resort.
The luxury property fronts onto Grande Anse Beach and some of the 64 spacious suites, each with custom décor, open directly onto secluded beachfront patios. Others are nestled in private gardens and for the blissful ultimate, some have their own pools, creating a personal oasis, complete with outdoor cedar sauna. Chocolate lovers aren’t left out. The resort’s Janissa’s Spa offers a signature body wrap using Grenadian chocolate to revitalise body and spirit. As Miss Gemma said at the Spice Market as she wrapped up my cocoa tea and locally grown spices: “Chocolate is very good for your heart, eh?” Good for us and good for Grenada.
Linda Barnard’s trip was sponsored by the Grenada Tourism Authority, who did not approve or review this story.