Grenada's Underwater Sculpture Park // © 2008 Jason deCaires Taylor
Visitors planning a visit to Grenada may want to consider planning a day of activities evenly split between the land and the sea. During a recent visit to the island, I snorkeled to view an underwater art museum in the morning and hiked through a rainforest to a waterfall in the afternoon. It’s a great way to experience some of the best the island has to offer, especially if clients are on a compressed schedule.
Before the sun is too high in the sky, book a morning Seafari excursion that includes a trip to Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park. The 2½-hour tour takes place onboard the 12-passenger Seafari Explorer, a coastguard-approved rigid inflatable boat (RIB). Clients will be strapped into a seat that resembles a horse saddle for an adrenaline-pumping ride that the company calls the “fastest boat ride in Grenada.” During the trip, clients will make frequent stops so that the guide can deliver information on the ecology of Grenada as well as on the historic sites visible on the shoreline.
Once our RIB had anchored, we slipped over the side for a guided snorkel tour of the Underwater Sculpture Park, designed by artist Jason Tyler. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. In my mind, I imagined an array of brightly colored concrete sculptures of mermaids and pirates anchored to the sea’s bottom. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The first sculptures I saw were an eerie ring of greenish-gray, life-size figures bound together in a circle. The sea had done its work on the figures, and they were dotted with barnacles and stands of seaweed. I’m not sure what the artit's intention was, but I immediately thought of these figures as representations of the colonial slave trade. As we snorkeled along, we saw other figures, some were as sad and ghoulish as the first set of sculptures, while others were more whimsical, including a man working at a desk and a figure riding a bicycle. It’s a fascinating snorkeling experience that is further enlivened by the Caribbean’s customary array of colorful fish.
The cost for the tour is $65 per adult and half price for kids under the age of 16, and it includes all equipment.
Pick-up and drop-off for the Seafari excursion is at the Coconuts Creole Restaurant dock on Grand Anse Beach. The restaurant makes a great choice for a lunch of local island cuisine between activities, with such menu items as grilled mahi mahi, breadfruit, sauteed conch, callaloo soup and sorrel juice.
Rainforest Hikes and Waterfall Dips
In the afternoon, we drove to Grand Etang National Park for a guided hike through a rainforest to the island’s premiere set of waterfalls, the Seven Sisters.
At the entry point of the trail, clients will be charged a nominal fee of $2. It’s possible to do the hike alone, but a guide will elevate the experience, especially if they hire one of the island’s most celebrated hikers, Telfor Bedeau. Telfor is a spry 70 years old and has been trekking Grenada since 1962 and guiding hikers since the 1990s.
During the 20-minute hike to the falls, Bedeau pointed out numerous plants and trees, including sorrel, cocoa, guava and an unusual purple bloom he called “Donkey’s Eyes.”
The real reward happens once the two lowest waterfalls are reached. The pools are easily accessed and a swim is really invigorating. The hardiest members of our party climbed a dozen feet up the side of the falls to plunge into the waters.
The hike should probably come with a disclaimer: “If you are out of shape, have bad knees and/or have a poor sense of balance, then a Seven Sisters hike is not for you.”
It’s a rainforest hike after all, and some portions of the descending trail will be slippery with mud. Those who find a rainforest hike daunting, however, can visit the Annandale Waterfall. This is more easily accessed by about two dozen steps leading down from the road. The waterfall swim is just as refreshing as Seven Sisters. There are also shops selling refreshments, local handicrafts and food products.
Bedeau’s fee for a two-hour hike is $40 for one person, $30 for two and $25 for three people. He can be reached at 473-442-6200.
Throughout my trip to Grenada, I utilized the services of Mandoo Tours, which has been recognized as a top tour operator by the Grenada Board of Tourism.