Reef Diving

Grenada and Carriacou have a multitude of reef dives, ranging in depth from just a few metres to some in the technical arena – in fact, between the two islands, you have such a selection you could probably spend a month or more here and not have to hit the same site twice. Most of the dive sites are located on the west and south side of both Grenada and Carriacou; some sites are very sheltered, with little or no current, while others are more exposed and can be subject to quite extreme currents at times. Below are a selection of sites on both islands to whet your appetite.

Grenada

Purple Rain is widely regarded as one of the most-pristine reefs on Grenada. The reef ranges in depth from 6-25m, and it is explored as a drift, but how fast you go can vary. On one visit it may be a mild current, gently pushing you along the sloping reef, on another, you can be in for a fast ride as the current roars along. The name comes not from the song by a late, diminutive pop star, but from the clouds of vivid purple Creole wrasse that swarm in the waters above the corals and sponges.

Shark Reef is only 12-18m in depth, but the draw is where it is located – just south of Glovers Island on the Atlantic side of Grenada. Generally swept by current, it makes for an interesting drift dive, as you pass through large shoals of snapper and grunts and big patches of sponges and soft corals, keeping an eye out for lobster and huge crabs sheltering in crevices and caves in the reef. Triggerfish, angelfish and parrotfish are also common, and you can usually see the odd nurse shark, which is what gave the site its name.

Grenada has a Marine Protected Zone that the islanders are very proud of, and within this area there are a number of dive sites. Flamingo Bay lies in the northern most part of the MPA and is regarded as one of the top spots to visit. The reef goes from 6m down to around 25-27m, and is covered in elkhorn coral and ball, rope, vase and barrel sponges. Angelfish, damselfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish and trumpetfish swim in among this vibrant habitat.

Happy Valley has similar depths to Flamingo Bay, and is located in the middle of the MPA. It is a truly stunning dive – what starts as a sloping reef rapidly becomes a wall, pockmarked with holes usually occupied by lobster, and an array of huge corals and sponges. Shoaling baitfish fill cuts in the wall, and jacks stalk them through the whip corals. Embedded into the reef, and totally encrusted with coral growth, is a large Admiralty anchor from days gone by.

Dragon Bay is also within the MPA, and comprises a series of sand channels that drop down and out towards a gently sloping reef. Maxing out at 23-24m, the sand is home to garden eels, flounder and southern stingrays, while the thick forests of soft corals and sponges on the fingers of reef shelter spotted drums, seahorses, filefish and trumpetfish.

Molinere Reef is another pretty dive site in the MPA, but as well as the topographically interesting reef, which is shaped by gullies, crevices and sand channels, and also a small wall, the main attraction here is the Underwater Sculpture Park, the first of its kind on the planet. Ranked in the Top 25 ‘Wonders of the World’ by National Geographic, this underwater work of art sees several large-scale installations in just a few metres of water, including Vicissitudes, a circle of life-size figures cast from local children linked by holding hands; The Lost Correspondent, which is a man working at his desk on a typewriter; The Un-Still Life, a classical still-life composition of a vase and bowl of fruit on a table; and the Nutmeg Princess, which sees a life-size figure ‘growing’ out of a nutmeg pod. Created by Jason deCaires Taylor, Troy Lewis, Rene Froehlich and Lene Kilde, the amazingly lifelike statues have started to assume bizarre alien-like appearances as encrusting corals and sponges have taken hold. Shallow enough to be experienced by snorkellers, this is one site that needs to be appreciated by all divers.

Wibbles Reef is a fairly deep reef, extending from 15-26m, and it is generally tagged on to the end of a dive on the Bianca C, as once you drift off the bow of this giant, you can start heading upwards and pick up the reef on your way. It makes a nice dive in its own right, and as it is often swept by a current, it makes for a relaxing drift dive – you just set your buoyancy, then sit back and enjoy the ride, taking in the scenery as you go. Turtles, eagle rays, jacks and barracuda are often encountered along the way, and the sponge growth, particularly of barrel varieties, is impressive.

Carriacou

Over on Carriacou, you have the Sisters, which is one of the most-famous dive sites on the islands. These two rock pinnacles are often swept by strong currents, and this means they have phenomenal coral growth, as well as a diverse mix of marine life. There are actually two dive sites, Deep Blue – which features a wall that drops to 40m – and Barracuda Point, and both can be extremely challenging if the current is running, but this is when you get the major displays of shoaling fish.

Tropical Hill is a seamount rising up from 18m to just below the surface, and it is absolutely teeming with life. Wide cracks running several metres upwards on the rock face can be jam-packed with lobster, while shoals of Creole wrasse and snapper swarm in and around the large gorgonian sea fans and sponges protruding out into the nutrient-rich water. Turtles are often found mooching around in the shallows.

White Sand Beach is a relaxing shallow dive, no deeper than 12m, which basically entails cruising around several large rock formations that are covered in coral growth and large sponges, making them a perfect habitat for juvenile reef fish, and exploring the sand patches between, which are home to jawfish, garden eels, southern stingrays and occasional turtles.

If you are after an adrenalin-rush, then Layer Cake is just the ticket. Located off the south of the island, it comprises a rapid drift along a gently sloping reef which then becomes ‘stepped’ like a wedding cake, but with deep undercuts and overhangs that you can shelter in momentarily out of the current before heading back out into the maelstrom. Nurse sharks and moray eels are often seen as you fly over the reef.

Carriacou

Over on Carriacou, you have the Sisters, which is one of the most-famous dive sites on the islands. These two rock pinnacles are often swept by strong currents, and this means they have phenomenal coral growth, as well as a diverse mix of marine life. There are actually two dive sites, Deep Blue – which features a wall that drops to 40m – and Barracuda Point, and both can be extremely challenging if the current is running, but this is when you get the major displays of shoaling fish.

Tropical Hill is a seamount rising up from 18m to just below the surface, and it is absolutely teeming with life. Wide cracks running several metres upwards on the rock face can be jam-packed with lobster, while shoals of Creole wrasse and snapper swarm in and around the large gorgonian sea fans and sponges protruding out into the nutrient-rich water. Turtles are often found mooching around in the shallows.

White Sand Beach is a relaxing shallow dive, no deeper than 12m, which basically entails cruising around several large rock formations that are covered in coral growth and large sponges, making them a perfect habitat for juvenile reef fish, and exploring the sand patches between, which are home to jawfish, garden eels, southern stingrays and occasional turtles.

If you are after an adrenalin-rush, then Layer Cake is just the ticket. Located off the south of the island, it comprises a rapid drift along a gently sloping reef which then becomes ‘stepped’ like a wedding cake, but with deep undercuts and overhangs that you can shelter in momentarily out of the current before heading back out into the maelstrom. Nurse sharks and moray eels are often seen as you fly over the reef.