Divers and snorkelers looking for a unique experience in the Caribbean should visit and explore the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park. Listed as one of the top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic, it is located on the west coast of Grenada in Moliniere Bay. It was created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor in 2006 and boasts an impressive collection of underwater sculptures that have been carefully placed on the sea floor for divers and snorkelers to explore.
What is the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park?
The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is part of the Molinere Beauséjour Marine Protected Area and is highly praised for being an artificial reef that forms a substrate for the growth of marine life. The conservationist underwater sculpture gallery reflects Grenada’s culture and its people and can be seen by snorkeling, diving, and viewing from a glass-bottom boat.
For viewing within the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park at Moilinere Bay, there are approximately one hundred sculptures, an increase from the original sixty-five. It is situated two miles north of St Georges, Grenada’s capital, about a 10-minute boat journey from St Georges and 15 minutes from Grand Anse. It has an area of 800 square meters.
The sculptures are located in 5ft to 30ft deep water and range from haunting to inviting. The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park features a stunning array of diverse marine life, including coral polyps, which have grown on the sculptures over the years, creating a unique ecosystem. These sculptures have become a permanent platform for marine life, such as lobsters, octopuses, and schools of colorful fish.
Main Sculptures in the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park
The underwater gallery of sculptures is a circle of life-size figures, each with its own influence on the ocean ecosystem. They range from replicas of the original sculpture, such as the Christ of the Deep, to new base structures that symbolize unity and diversity. One such sculpture is the Lost Correspondent, a British journalist reporting on the Middle Passage, where African slaves were transported to the Americas. The underwater artwork serves as a reminder of the effects of climate change and the value of safeguarding vulnerable reefs.
The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park also features sculptures that reflect Grenada’s culture, such as the Nutmeg Princess, depicting Grenada’s first fairy tale princess emerging from a large nutmeg pod, reaching to the heavens with a handful of Grenada’s most famed spice, the nutmeg. The 11-foot tall sculpture was inspired by the 1992 book The Nutmeg Princess by Grenadian author/playwright Richardo Keens-Douglas.
The Vicissitudes: A circle of 26 kids is depicted in this life-size sculpture holding hands and looking outward, signifying the cycle of life and death.
The Lost Correspondent: This sculpture reflects the dying skill of letter writing and shows a guy seated at a desk surrounded by stacks of newspapers and letters.
The Sienna: This sculpture depicts a woman holding a sizable mirror that reflects the marine life in the area. It is meant to symbolize vanity and the relationship between people and the environment.
The Nutmeg Princess: This sculpture, which features a young girl holding a nutmeg pod—a symbol of Grenada’s spice trade—is based on Grenadian mythology.
Grace Reef: In this area of the park, there is a collection of sculptures that resemble coral reefs, which are the habitat of a vast range of marine life.
The park is not only an artistic wonder but also a conservationist effort, with ongoing preservation efforts from the local government, Grenada Underwater Sculpture Management Inc., and the Grenada Tourism Authority. The sculptures are made from long-lasting pH-neutral cement and stainless steel, which are resistant to wave action and sea surge. Also, the sculptures offer an alternative to conventional artificial reefs, which may be costly to construct and maintain.
History & Inspiration of Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park
Jason deCaires Taylor gave a Ted Talk on the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park, explaining his inspiration and the dynamic changes that occur to the sculptures as they interact with the ocean environment. In addition to being stunning works of art, Taylor noted that the sculptures also serve as a symbol of unity, bringing individuals from many backgrounds together to value and conserve the ocean ecosystem.
In addition to being a work of beauty and engineering, the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park also has a fascinating past. The area where the park now stands was once home to natural rock formations that were destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It was then that local artist Troy Lewis approached the Grenada Tourism Authority with the idea of creating underwater sculptures as a way to boost tourism and promote conservation efforts in the area.
The Grenada Tourism Authority embraced the idea and enlisted the help of British artist Jason deCaires Taylor to bring it to life. Taylor spent months creating the first circle of life-size figures, which were mounted on a permanent platform using structural connections designed to withstand the wave action of the Atlantic Ocean.
The sculptures were then carefully lowered to the bottom of Molinere Bay, where they were strategically placed to maximize their exposure to the natural environment and encourage coral growth. Over time, coral polyps have taken up residence on the sculptures, turning them into a thriving artificial reef that supports a stunning array of diverse marine life.
Today, the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is an ongoing project, with new sculptures added regularly to replace those damaged by the ravages of global warming, sea surge, and other natural environmental forces. In addition to the circle of life-size figures, there are now sculptures depicting the Middle Passage, African slaves, and a replica of the original Christ of the Deep statue.
The sculptures can be explored by park visitors while snorkeling, scuba diving, or from a glass-bottom boat. Approximately a 10-minute boat journey from St. George and 15 minutes from Grand Anse separate the park from the capital city of St. George, which is situated approximately two miles to the north. Glass-bottom boat tours are a good option for those who prefer to stay dry while still experiencing the wonder of the park.
For those interested in the ongoing preservation efforts of the park, there is the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Management Inc. (GUSMI), which was formed in 2013 to oversee the upkeep of the park and the ongoing creation of new sculptures. GUSMI is a non-profit organization that relies on donations and a small commission on boat tours to fund its operations.
Bookings a Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park Tour
Here are a few things to consider as you shop around and reserve a tour to visit the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park!
Tour Companies: Several tour companies offer trips to the park, including Aquanauts Grenada, Eco Dive Grenada, Aquanauts Grenada, Dive Grenada, and ScubaTech. All offer snorkeling and diving tours to explore Grenada Underwater National Park.
Diving or Snorkeling: Diving is a fantastic way to see the sculptures and learn more about the park. However, if you don’t have your diving certification, snorkeling is a great alternative to obtain a close-up view of the underwater sculptures and marine life.
Equipment Rental: If you’re diving, you will need to bring or rent diving equipment, including a wetsuit, tank, and regulator. Most tour companies offer equipment rental as part of their packages, but double-checking before booking is a good idea.
Safety: Whether diving or snorkeling, safety is always the primary consideration, and tour operators take this seriously. Make sure you adhere to all the safety recommendations your tour guide gives you, and avoid taking any needless risks.
Timing: The best time to visit the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is during the dry season, which runs from December to May. The water is calmer and clearer at this time, making it an ideal time to go diving and snorkeling.
The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is a great option for scuba divers, snorkelers, and glass-bottom boat tours. The Ministry of Fisheries offers day passes (wristbands) for visitors for $1 for snorkelers and $2 for divers. If you organize via a dive shop or tour company, this fee is typically included in your price.
Finally, the park is not just for tourists but also for the local Grenadian community. The underwater sculptures have become a part of the local culture, with local children and fishing boats being a common sight around the sculptures. The park is a symbol of Grenada’s rich culture and the upkeep of the pure allure of Grenada’s natural beauty.
Note: Originally published on September 25th, 2015, this post was updated on February 28th, 2023.