Endless beaches, vast waterfalls and gushing waterfalls

The oceans around Grenada and its lone reef lead to a canyon above a vast, luxury hotel

The sea off Grenada turns deep green amid its emerald waters on a sunny Sunday afternoon. On the beach, tourists spot dolphins leaping off the water at the break of dawn.

After playing in the surf for five minutes, the iguanas dart across the water towards the toney sands. After another hour of alternating between a cozy hammock with palm trees, and walking barefoot among towering cacti, I float onto the sand.

This oasis isn’t empty. At least 300,000 tourists make the two-hour journey from Antigua and St Vincent, a popular destination in the eastern Caribbean, to Grenada every year.

However, not everyone visiting the region likes the often unkempt beaches and unspoilt nature of its vacation spots. Many would rather enjoy a more upscale existence in a resort such as the Carngham’s, in Curacao, the British Virgin Islands or Grand Cayman. Grenada, an island of 80,000 people, will make anyone’s first, second or even fourth choice.

On the island’s stunning Seven Mile Beach, on the other side of a 14ft cliff, the 25,000-square-foot (1,800-square-metre) Carngham’s hotel is the largest in the Caribbean and overlooks a breathtaking 64-foot (20-metre) canyon of the Caribbean Ocean. It is a reward for ensuring a whale watch is booked through our tour operator.

The reef leads to small wooden homes and buffets with plenty of tablecloths. Once up on the terrace, the view is dizzying. The sun warms the water while rocks ripple above a stoney bottom. Across the mountainside, the fiery colours of the karst landscape are splashed across mountainside cliffs. And just to the east is the mountainous favela, where the doors are open to the many families who live and work near the local market.

The building has the look of a traditional rum distillery. Photograph: Frances Turner

At the extreme top of the hill, the narrow two-storey building appears to have a long, winding stairwell leading up. Inside, one giant room surrounds an open kitchen with open-plan kitchens. A deep stage on the first floor is dedicated to live bands. The view from a beach day pass offers a real perspective of the mountain views.

The building has the look of a traditional rum distillery. It does not smell like rum but smells a bit like burned wood with the odd warm stew smell. When I order an ice lolly I point to the teacup and lead our tour guide to it. It just reaches out and wraps around my head as we continue.

Sailing the Caribbean, complete with breakfast by the beach, is a highlight. Grenada’s narrow Bream Point Bay makes for ideal sailing conditions with lots of people and gorgeous beaches for afternoon sunsets. Nearby, a butterfly hospital invites visitors to meet the adult moths that live among the thousands of moths that used to call the Atlantic greener.

For the adventurous, water activities are a great way to spend an afternoon. Rent a kayak or motorboat, opt for a zip-line, or take a cruise along the archipelago – it takes around 15 minutes. On 7 Mile Beach, you can also try a balansall-lifting lift – an elevated boardwalk suspended at an amazing height – with a professional guide.

After sunset, award-winning sunset performances are put on for tourists at the famous Baie Beach. This is a true boutique experience, for tourists who would love to experience Grenada’s incredibly cool and unique culture.

The views overlooking the south shore of Baie Beach. Photograph: Frances Turner

On top of the plant rich Andros archipelago, on the northern side of Grenada, several resorts have set up their own spa treatments and recreation facilities. For breakfast, order a glass of red wine from the lush gardens to enjoy after an early morning trip to the beach.

It’s worth seeing Grenada’s rainforest over a weekend, where Mount Nevis is a stunning natural spectacle, with the highest volcanic peaks in the world.

Bougainvillea blooms on Mount Nevis. Photograph: Frances Turner

The best kept secret in the Caribbean is the view from Tres Lago, the stately main house in Antigua. With only 15 rooms on the hillside and two of them hidden behind huge sweeping windows, a three-night stay is a thrilling experience.

• Arrival airport: Addis Ababa (from Heathrow Heathrow flights cost around £420 return).

• Flight from London Heathrow to

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