Happy memories of rum and rainforest

St George's Port, Grenada
St George's Port, Grenada
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While our guide Telfor Bedeau hacks a path through the rainforest with a machete in one hand and a big stick in the other, we all follow cautiously.

The splendour of Grand Etang National Park stretches before us and, about 20 minutes away, the Seven Sisters Waterfall promises cool relief from the hot Grenadian sun.

Our hiking path is overlooked by a range of different trees, each growing something delicious, and we stop to munch on passion fruit and guava.

Bedeau has figured out that my partner and I come from the city and so offers an introductory lecture on Grenada’s spices as we walk. The Caribbean island is famous for its exotic smells and a liberal sprinkling of everything, from cloves to bay leaves.

With our noses pressed against bits of bark, we revel in sniffing fresh nutmeg and cinnamon. But we’re totally stumped when Bedeau points his machete at a dark green vegetable, which looks like spinach but clearly isn’t.

‘Callaloo,’ he says with a smile, before explaining that this famous leaf is used in everything from soup to medicine.

Our base for the week is the Mount Cinnamon resort, one of the famed Peter de Savary chain of boutique residences. Individual villas cling to the side of a hill and each one is tastefully decorated (think local artwork, mosaic tiling, Smeg fridges), providing a great base for self-catering if you don’t fancy eating in the restaurant every night.

Grenada offers a diverse holiday experience, stretching from stunning, secluded beaches to rainforest tours.

The island’s nicest beach, Grande Anse, is a two-mile stretch of fine sand, lapped by sparkling waters.

We spent one quiet and serenely peaceful day there, only interrupted by the odd visitor stopping to say ‘hello’ or sell us a homemade basket. And when the sun went down, Mount Cinnamon’s beach cabana Savvy’s served up an incredible rum punch.

After our substantial sundowners, it was time to enjoy ourselves, and where better than at Caribbean social staple Fish Friday?

In the tiny town of Gouyave in the north of the island, each week tourists and locals dance the night away to reggae while knocking back rum and Carib beer.

The food is incredible too. We feasted on delicious lobster, freshly cooked in front of our eyes over hot coals.

While you’re enjoying all that Grenada has to offer, it’s difficult to believe the island was almost completely destroyed only a few years ago.

The most powerful hurricane to hit the Caribbean region in a decade, Ivan ripped up 90 per cent of Grenada’s homes and destroyed all nutmeg crops (the country’s main export). It also caused structural damage to virtually every major building in the capital of St George’s.

Since then, the locals must have worked practically non-stop to get the island back on track.

Homes have been rebuilt and repainted, and St George’s has re-emerged as one of the loveliest ports in the Caribbean.

An island tour taught us more about Grenada’s history. and at Dougaldston Estate, just outside Gouyave, we sampled a variety of spices, all dried in the traditional way.

Next stop was the River Antoine Rum Distillery, the oldest in the Caribbean, to enjoy another intriguing glimpse of Grenada’s traditions.

ESSENTIALS

Golden Caribbean offers seven nights’ B&B at Mount Cinnamon Resort on Grand Anse Bay from £1,171 per person, including flights from Gatwick, starting May/June 2012. Call 0845 085 8080 or visit goldencaribbean.co.uk. For destination information, visit grenadagrenadines.com.

KEY FACTS ON GRENADA

BEST FOR: Couples wanting a romantic destination or those with a sense of adventure who enjoy hiking.

TIME TO GO: Expect sunshine throughout the year, but December-April is best for drier days.

DON’T MISS: A trip to the River Antoine Rum Distillery.

NEED TO KNOW: Taxis are expensive, so hiring a car could be your best option.

DON’T FORGET: Hiking boots or walking shoes if you head for the rainforest.