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If you’re planning a trip to Grenada and are wondering about taking a Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park tour, but are a non-swimmer or newbie snorkeler, I have great news.
It’s still possible to see what National Geographic calls one of the “Top Wonders of the World”.
Seeing these remarkable underwater statues is such an unforgettable experience it should be a part of everyone’s Grenada’s itinerary.
I’ve had scary experiences snorkeling other parts of the world — such as getting swept away in a rip current in Huatulco, Mexico – so I’m extra cautious about swimming in the open ocean with a mask strapped to my face.
But during several guided snorkeling excursions in Grenada I’ve discovered that it’s possible for even the most timid swimmer to experience this incredible underwater attraction.
The Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park can be enjoyed by scuba divers, snorkelers and even via glass-bottom boat.
This article was originally published in 2017. It was updated in December 2023 with new photos and information after the park’s major expansion.
From the park’s history to how this eco-project is helping save the region’s threatened coral reefs, here’s what you need to know about taking a tour of the Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada:
Reasons to See The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park
There’s so much to see and do in Grenada, it’s tempting to spend all of your vacation time splashing through waterfalls, sipping rum at historic distilleries and basking on the island’s beautiful beaches.
But Grenada’s underwater attractions are just as fascinating as its inland attractions.
There’s no better place to begin exploring than at the world’s first underwater sculpture museum and ecological marine project.
History, Meaning and Purpose
Created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor in 2006, this underwater gallery features more than 100 statues installed in the sand beneath the sea in Molinere Beausejour Marine Protected Area.
Designed to help the ocean ecosystem regenerate after being damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the installation has grown to become a vibrant artificial reef draped with coral and teeming with marine life.
The unique mix of art, marine science and activism is intended to help raise awareness about the fragility of the world’s environment and the destructive impact of industry and human habits.
Over the past few decades, we have lost over 40% of our natural coral reefs. The World Resources Institute projects that 90% of the world’s coral reefs will be in danger by 2030, and all of them by 2050.
Getting to the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park
You don’t need to bounce across whitecaps in the open ocean to tour the Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park.
The main works of art are located in shallow water (a depth of 3 meters or less than 10 feet) close to shore in Molinere Bay.
It’s just a 10-minute boat ride from St. George’s the capital city.
Founded by the French in 1650 and dotted with fishing boats, church spires, red-tiled rooftops and steep volcanic slopes, St. George’s is one of the prettiest harbours in the Caribbean.
Enroute to the park, you’ll see the city’s historic buildings, Fort George (built in 1705) as well as Hospital Hill, once home to a Military Hospital and Cemetery Hill, the island’s largest and oldest graveyard.
It holds the remains of victims of yellow fever and cholera outbreaks in the 1700s.
While gliding along the southwest coastline, it’s even possible to spot sea turtles, sea birds, sting rays and other marine life.
Touring the Grenada Marine Protected Area Coastline
First, our group stopped at Dragon Bay for an orientation on the types of marine life to watch for.
We then donned wristbands for admission to the Marine Protected Zone (the cost to enter is included in the tour) and entered Molinere Bay.
It’s home to the collection of underwater sculptures and the launching point for all Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park tours.
Safe Snorkeling During Your Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park Tour
One of the features I appreciated during my snorkeling tour was that the boat had a swim ladder for convenient access to and from the ocean.
That meant I didn’t have to worry that once I got in the water, I wouldn’t be able to easily get back out.
Participants can choose from two types of lifejackets, including special water-ski floatation vests for less confident swimmers.
Snorkel masks and flippers are supplied. If you’re nervous about swimming with flippers, you’re not required to wear them.
I actually have a prescription snorkel mask I take with me on travels so you’re also welcome to bring your own snorkel mask on this tour.
Many people are also big fans of full face snorkel masks.
Other personal equipment to consider for a dive or snorkel trip include SPF protection clothing (rather than sunscreen which can damage the delicate marine ecosystem), travel snorkel fins, an underwater camera and a water resistant dive watch.
The best tours of Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park are led by qualified guides who stay with the participants and accompany them to each underwater attraction so they don’t miss a thing.
Less confident swimmers have the option of floating with a life preserver attached to a rope held by the guide.
Original Grenada Underwater Sculptures (Photos)
What can expect to see varies by season and visibility but my own experience began as soon as I plunged off the ladder into the crystal clear waters. I immediately came face to face with a blue parrot fish.
The ocean floor was easily visible so it didn’t take long before I was comfortable floating behind our guide Kimmie as he led the way into the underwater park.
History and Artwork of the First Sculptures Installed in 2006
The most striking of the first statues we encountered was Vicissitudes, an eerie circle of children holding hands with ghostly tendrils of algae floating from their bodies and manacled wrists.
Their faces distorted by coral growth added to the mysterious quality of the encounter.
Although the original intent of artist Jason de Caires Taylor wasn’t a tribute to the African slaves who died during the Middle Passage, it does serve as a powerful reminder of the tragedy of slavery.
Another highlight of the underwater art includes The Lost Correspondent depicting a journalist working over a typewriter at his desk.
Grenada’s Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park also features sculptures by other artists such as Lene Kilde of Norway.
He created the Nutmeg Princess, a poignant statue of a young girl with her arms raised in supplication.
It’s based on a story by Grenadian Author Richardo Keens-Douglas. Strings of bubbles rising to the surface from the statue made it seem as though she was actually breathing.
“It’s a legend about following your dreams,” explained our guide Kimmie.
Coral Carnival and the 2023 Sculpture Park Expansion
In November 2023, there was a major expansion of the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. It included the addition of 31 more sculptures (27 new sculptures by Taylor and 4 by local artists).
I returned to the park in December 2023 to check out the new sculptures and see how the coral was developing on the original statues.
This time I took a snorkeling tour with Native Spirit Scuba, a PADI Dive Center based at the Radisson Grenada Resort. It’s located on Grand Anse Beach, one of the Caribbean’s best beaches without seaweed.
From there it took less than 10 minutes by boat to arrive at the underwater park.
Most of the new sculptures are part of an installation called Coral Carnival, a celebration of Grenada’s Spicemas carnival and culture.
It features several of the key masqueraders such as Jab Jab, Short Knee, Vieux Corps and vibrant costumed dancers of Fancy Mas.
The life-sized sculptures, life-cast from members of the local Grenadian community, were created using high-grade stainless steel and pH-neutral cement.
Their masks, costumes and jewellery are hand-painted with organic pigments such as squid ink, cochineal and turmeric.
The depth of these new sculptures is not as far as with the original set. These statues are just 3 metres below the water surface. So they’re very easy to see while snorkeling.
It was amazing to see the paint colours before they’re covered with natural coral growth.
In addition to the Coral Carnival installation, there is a replacement for the Lost Correspondent.
It’s one of my favourites as it features a journalist sitting at a desk typing on an old-school typewriter.
An encounter with the new sculptures is such a remarkable and memorable experience, I really think it should be a part of everyone’s Grenada itinerary.
The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is more than just a work of art or an underwater adventure. It’s a statement of environmental activism.
Each of the statues is thought-provoking. Each sculpture interacts with the marine environment in different ways.
The installation is also environmentally responsible. Sculptures have been created using rebar and non-toxic, pH-neutral marine cement, free from harmful pollutants.
The rough texture of the statues encourages coral larvae to attach and thrive. Holes, nooks and cubbyholes provide habitat for fish, crustaceans and other marine life.
Anchored to a permanent platform, the statues themselves are placed on barren seabeds away from natural coral reefs.
This helps preserve reefs already threatened by rising sea water levels, warming temperatures and acidity.
Although visitors can dive deep and explore the statues up close, it’s very easy to enjoy the wonders of the underwater park by simply floating on the surface of the water.
It’s an every-changing slideshow of light, marine life and art you won’t soon forget.
Check rates and availability of a 4-hour Sail and Snorkelling Tour of the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Museum on Viator.com
Travel Planning for Snorkelling in Grenada
Grenada Snorkelling Tour: The depth of the water is up to 10 feet or 3 metres. This means that if the visibility is clear you can see the sculptures from the surface of the water.
Grenada Scuba Diving Tour: Another fun tour in Grenada is a 2-Tank Scuba Dive at Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park and Flamingo Bay. It includes pick up and drop off at your hotel or the cruise ship terminal.
Grenada Tourism Authority: Visit the official Pure Grenada website for a wealth of handy travel information.
Jason deCaires Taylor: Read more about the artist and his work at www.underwatersculpture.com
Cost: You are required to purchase a wristband (5 EC) when entering the Grenada Underwater Park. However, if you take a tour this cost is included in the tour.
Depth of the Sculptures: The sculpture installed in 2023 are 3 metres (or 9.8 feet) below the surface of the water.
For more tips, read this post on Snorkeling for Non-Swimmers
Other islands such as Grand Bahama are also actively working on coral regeneration. Participating in these projects is one of the top things to do in Freeport, Bahamas.
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Dividing her time between Canada, Guatemala and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is the founder of A Taste for Travel. Her award-winning travel and food writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, National Geographic Traveler, Fodor’s and 100+ other publications.
Read more about Michele Peterson.