Shipwrecks, Spice, and Beaches Delight
Take a small group of islands, sprinkle them with white sand beaches, coral reefs, and shipwrecks, add the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean for good measure, stir in a healthy dollop of fresh home grown spices, and then set under the warm tropical sun until you have an irresistible dive destination, and you have the recipe for making the islands known as the Grenadines.
Grenada is the largest of the islands and is home to the Maurice Bishop International Airport in St. George. Some thirty dive sites are situated on the southern end of the island near St. George and none of these dive sites are very far from shore, making it easy to do morning, afternoon, and night dives. Out of the fifteen wrecks around Grenada, the 183m (600ft) long 1939 built luxury liner Bianca C, the Titanic of the Caribbean, is the largest wreck and you can either dive along the length of it following the currents, or you can dive part of it then swim over to Whibble Reef as a muti-level dive. The furthest stern section has collapsed in on itself, but the forward section is still complete with even a swimming pool built into the Ship’s deck, but at 90- 160ft deep, this ship is made for advanced and tech divers. This ship went down accidentally while being towed out of port after a fire broke out and has had over fifty years to turn from wreck to reef, and now large coral and sponge colonies encrust the ship and reef fish as well as sharks, barracuda, and turtles, pass from one end of the ship to the other on a regular basis. On the opposite side of the wreck spectrum, Grenada offers you a small unique wreck called the Quarter Wreck. This is only the stern section of a cargo ship that accidentally sunk while being towed out to be part of the site which is now called Three Part Wreck. Quarter Wreck sits upside down with the propeller positioned for divers to approach and pose for what could only be described as the perfect background for magazine cover shots. Stingrays rest in the sand between the rocks on the substrate adjacent to the wreck debris and in general try to ignore the photo sessions. As for other local wrecks, the Veronica L has tons of life and encrusting corals and is also another hot spot for taking images. The MV Shakem Wreck sank in 2001, so it has just started its journey on becoming a reef, but already supports lots of life. The Hema 1 that sank in the Atlantic side waters three miles off shore in 2005 is in a similar state of growth, but has the added advantage of having passing pelagics such as sharks and rays. The wreck of the King Mitch, a converted mine sweeper, is also located nearby in the Atlantic side waters and this is a good site to view reef sharks.
Of course it’s not all wreck diving in Grenada, Flamingo Bay and Molinere Reef are great places to find long snouted seahorses hanging out around the soft corals. The black seahorses are hard to spot, but the orange and white stripped seahorses lend themselves to photo opportunities. Purple Rain has soft corals, barrel sponges and seemingly endless undulating walls of purple Creole wrasse. Boss Reef is known for lobster, crab, and green and hawksbill turtles. Shark Reef on the Atlantic side sounds ominous, but it is chalked full of nurse sharks which are typically docile unless pulled out of their coral seclusions by the tail; and that’s about the only time these nurses lose their patience.
Normally after listing the local dive sites we mention the surface related tourist attractions, but with Grenada we’ve only mention two thirds of the diving so far. Carriacou, Petit Martinique as well as the smaller uninhabited islands also have pristine dive sites that are seldom visited or not even formally named. The Sisters with cave and cavern diving, the southern stingrays around Sandy Island, Cistern Point with arguably the largest lobsters in the Caribbean, the 31m (92ft) long Boris tugboat sunk in 2007, Black Rock, Diamond Rock, Arc de Vero, are just of the fewer well known dive sites around the northern islands and close to the dive operations in Carriacou and the White Island Marine Park. You can take a flight from St. George to Hillsborough on Carriacou or take the daily boat service to both Petit Martinique and Carriacou.
Did we mention all the local diving yet? Not quite. It appears that Grenada was the first place in the Caribbean to place sculpture underwater. Diving in the Moliner Beausejour Marine Protected Area you will find life size cement statues of people holding hands, a writer hunched over a desk complete with typewriter, a man on a bike, a mermaid looking at the facial impressions of college students, and Amerindian petroglyphs. This is all near the wreck of the sloop Buccaneer, and near the area where corals are being grown for eventual ecological reef restoration purposes.
You’ll need more than a week to see all the sites, but save a day or two to see some of the lands sites too. Grenada is home to old rum distilleries, 17th century molasses factories, sugar plantation ruins, and the 3km (1.9m) long Grand Anse Beach is considered one of the top ten beaches in the world. Grenada is also home to spectacular waterfalls, parks, botanical gardens, secluded bays, marine parks, hiking trails, and national forest preserves filled with such creatures as iguanas, African mona monkeys, Indian mongoose, feral goats, and some 150 species of birds. Three species of humming birds can be spotted zipping from one ubiquitous flower garden to another. For an awesome sight, one might watch for an osprey over Antoine Lake plummeting down talons first and snatching a fish right out of the water. The endangered Grenada dove also makes its home here.
Sure, the locals produce cinnamon, clover, mace, allspice and 20% of the world’s supply of nutmeg, but it may be the locals’ infectious friendliness that you’ll remember most. The locals were born within a group of islands filled with white sand beaches, secluded bays, forests, warm tropical breezes, naturally grown fruits, fresh spices, and a plethora of scuba diving sites. We wouldn’t say that living in paradise is easy, but Grenadians have learned to make the best of it; and best of all, they look forward to sharing their islands and lifestyle with you.