On our first full day in Grenada, we did a whole lot of nothing but enjoy the property, our home for seven nights: Villa Solitaire. After all, if you were staying here, would you want to leave? I thought not.
But around midday, we did finally rouse ourselves from a sun-drunk haze to head into St. George’s, as our gracious host had booked us on the ultimate of Grenada excursions: a boat tour out to the underwater sculpture park!
Images of these soldier-like sculptures poised upright underwater have cropped up on my social media feeds since construction began in 2006, and I had always wanted to dive with them. Only, we couldn’t find a dive boat with availability on the day we needed—I blame those cruise ships who take up all the spots on the tours!—but we found something even better: British expat Howard Clarke who runs Grenada Seafaris Powerboat Adventure, one of the coolest ways I’ve ever ventured out into the sea.
We met our guides at Coconut Beach, and were pleased to find that the six of us—five big kids and a baby—had the boat to ourselves, save Howard and our noble guide, Albert.
We boarded the powerboat and took our seats cowboy-style, as if riding a horse, before Howard sped off into the wake.
Located in the Moliniere Beausejour Marine Protected Area, the sculpture park was created by English artist Jason de Caires Taylor, who is both a sculptor and an avid diver. Molinere Bay was damaged by storm surge from Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005), and according to Seafaris, the sculptures were designed to assist in the regeneration of the area by providing habitat for marine animals to live and by providing new surfaces for corals to grow upon. The park has played an important role in regenerating this area and has given it a new dimension.
Seafaris also played in a part in the evolution of this park by sponsoring a series of 14 sculptures that were based on Amerindian art, and in 2011, the Grenada Board of Tourism commissioned “Christ of the Deep,” which reminded me so much of the iconic Jesus figure perched high above Rio de Janeiro, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the sinking of the Bianca C, the most popular wreck dive on the island.
I love how committed this island community is to preserve its underwater ecosystem, particularly after reading recently about the extreme reef bleaching epidemic that has arisen as a result of global warming (excuse me, climate change). As a diver, it’s sad to see our reefs dying off at an alarming rate, and I’ll always be in support of projects like Molinere that aim to reverse that in some small way.
Today, more than 65 sculptures stand guard over the marine life of Molinere, located just north of Grand Anse and St. George’s.
SVV, actual merman, had no trouble free-diving 40 feet and skimming the ocean floor as he snapped away with the GoPro.
For me, holding my breath doesn’t come as easy, so I’d run out of steam the second I reached the bottom.
In that respect, it would have been fun to scuba dive with the sculptures simply to have more bottom time.
The water was pretty murky the day we were there, heavy with sediment, so our photos aren’t as crisp as I would have liked. But I think it actually adds to the eeriness of the setting, wouldn’t you?
On the way back to the boat, we snorkeled through the shallower waters and were rewarded with schools of playful silver baitfish creating barriers between us and the nearby rocky coast.
After an hour or so, we all climbed back on the boat, and Howard and Albert took us into the harbor of St. George’s. Given that we ran out of time and never actually made it in to the capital (on land, at least)—how is that possible with seven days in one place?—I’m so glad we got this brief tour of the city from the water.
Tours of the West Coast and sculpture park with Seafaris run $75 an adult, with kids 50 percent of that price, and last around three hours (Augustine being a baby got to ride for free). Albert also tells of Grenada’s volcanic origins and shows passengers the marine life they may encounter, which include turtles and dolphins. It’s worth every penny, too—a historical tour of the downtown, in addition to a snorkeling excursion and a high-adrenaline speed race on the powerboat, all rolled into one—and I won’t hesitate to head back out to sea with Howard when next we return to Grenada.
As we motored away from St. George’s, we could see showers in the distance, and the most perfect rainbow formed above the island.
After we got back to land, we camped out at Coconut Beach Restaurant for the remainder of the afternoon, sipping down Caribs and noshing on fruits from the sea.
I think we can all agree it was the best day ever, and we were already smitten with Grenada, just 24 hours into our visit.