Travel is good for the body and soul. Numerous scientific studies from credible organizations prove that a vacation minimizes stress and depression, reduces risk of heart attack, increases creativity and overall levels of happiness.
So, your wellness routine for 2019 should include at least one or two vacations, but where is the healthiest place to travel?
May I suggest the island of Carriacou? It’s one of seven islands that make up the British West Indies nation of Grenada. Some of the world’s oldest people live here, including one woman who is 113 years old and still “gets around,” according to those who know her.
Carriacou has about 8,000 residents. They have only four doctors and more than 100 rum shops. Common sense would naturally dictate that it’s the rum keeping people on this little island in such good shape.
Getting to Carriacou
From Kansas City, we took a 5:20 a.m. flight on American to Miami, had just enough time to grab breakfast before boarding an 11 a.m. flight to St. George’s Grenada. To paraphrase the Zac Brown Band song, we had our toes in the water and our a** in the sand by 3:30 p.m.
Since you’ve come this far, take your time to explore the island of Grenada before or after you visit Carriacou. Known as the Spice Island, Grenada produces approximately 20 percent of the world’s nutmeg; the rest comes from Indonesia. For those who bake and know your spices, you know that this 20 percent is the highest quality in the world. It’s much more fragrant and flavorful than Indonesian nutmeg.
Farmers on the island also grow paprika, curry, cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, ginger and cloves, which are then sold at the St. George’s Spice Market. There is no haggling at this market and prices are all the same. Your toughest decisions are what quantities and how many different spices you want.
When you’re ready to travel on to Carriacou, you can take a quick little inter-island flight that lasts about 15 minutes or do what most people do and take the Osprey ferry. It’s a two-hour ride where you can sit inside in air-conditioned comfort or sit up top to enjoy the breeze, fresh air and happy sea gulls that follow along.
The best part of the ferry ride is that it passes over a live volcano called Kick ‘em Jenny, which gets my vote for best named volcano ever. Most of the time, Jenny just bubbles up a lot of gas from the ocean floor, which makes the ferry ride a little bumpy for a while. Where else can you say you’ve ridden on a live volcano?
Most people who come to Carriacou do so for the 32 dive sites around the island. The reefs are healthy and unspoiled here and the water is usually very calm making diving easy for even inexperienced divers. For more experienced divers, the twin Sisters Rocks is considered some of the most amazing coral in the Caribbean.
While seeking opportunities to improve your personal health in 2019, consider the health of coral reefs and other marine life by choosing a sunscreen without oxybenzone or octinoxate, ingredients known to kill coral reefs and create cancerous-like lesions on sea turtles. A healthy ocean contributes to healthier people.
Once on Carriacou, your spirit should very quickly acclimate to “island time.” Most of us fast-paced, multi-tasking Americans use that term in condescension of slow service while on a beach vacation. But I’ve visited 30 or more Caribbean islands and this is the first one where I felt truly transformed to a quieter, calmer version of myself. Maybe this is why people live longer here – the peace and tranquility. Even as we returned to the main island of Grenada, the pace of traffic and hubbub of activity (nothing compared to rush hour on I-35) felt overwhelming.
One of the best places to eat in all of the Caribbean is a place called Bogles Round House on Carriacou. It is, as the name suggests, located in a round house. The chef was a child who once lived in this house and now manages the restaurant and nearby lodging.
Everything is fabulous. If you’re not familiar with the common Caribbean dish callaloo, this is the place to try it. Callaloo is somewhat like spinach, so I highly recommend the tortellini made with callaloo here. The fresh catch of the day will be exactly that ― literally minutes from having been in the ocean and seasoned so well. They also make their own mango ice cream. Maybe it’s the food at Bogles Round House that makes everyone live so long on Carriacou.
When it comes time to visit the local rum shops, you know, as a part of your 2019 wellness plan, you’ll want to ask for Clarke’s Court Rum. It’s the local blend using molasses from Cuba.
I asked the bartender about his favorite Clarke’s Court blend. He recommended Pure Jab, named for the traditional jab jab dance during Carnival season. So, I ordered a shot, then spent the next ten minutes coughing and choking while simply trying to breathe.
Pure Jab is not even the most potent of Clarke’s Court labels. White Ball is 75 proof and so flammable that the airlines won’t let you bring it on board. I can’t imagine that becoming a regular part of anyone’s daily routine and calling it healthy.
But something on Carriacou makes people live happy, productive and long lives. If not the rum, then simply the lifestyle of this tiny island tucked away in the eastern reaches of the Caribbean. A visit every year or two should be a part of your wellness plan and will surely make a difference for those of us not fortunate enough to call Carriacou home.
To begin your wellness plan on Carriacou and Grenada, visit PureGrenada.com.