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My week in Grenada and Carriacou

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If you are looking for somewhere warm to dive, with good visibility, where the family will be happy and safe, friendly people, great food and excellent accommodation, then I would thoroughly recommend Grenada in the South East Caribbean. I have just visited the island for a week and here is a taste of this diving destination from my notes and photos.

After a few days of travelling, I always find it strange at first to arrive at a new destination. This time I was in Grenada and had arrived at the Coyaba Beach Resort on the southern side of the island. It takes me a day or two to settle in properly, especially when on my own.

My room was on the ground floor and just a stone’s throw from the beach. I did allow myself to have a quick wander down to the golden sand to put my feet in the warm blue water but I needed to get back to my room to unpack and have a shower. The room was comfortable and had a wide view across the resort lawns to the sea. I could explore more in the morning.

My room phone rang at 7pm and my designated driver, Mandoo, had come to collect me to take me to the Coconut Beach Restaurant for the evening meal. It was then I learnt I was to be dining alone which was OK but kind of sad. Mandoo also thought this was a bit lonely and he charmingly rearranged his later pick-ups so he could stay and eat with me and keep me company.

The Coconut Beach Restaurant was the perfect place to start the trip. The hosts were very welcoming, the food was absolutely delicious and the beer was cold. Mandoo was a great dinner companion and we talked about our lives, politics, conservation and our families. Great evening after all.

I was up early next morning for breakfast and to get my cameras ready for the day’s diving with ScubaTech.

Scubatech Grenada are situated on the beach and Eveline, the owner and dive guide, got my gear quickly sorted and into the boat. We had two dives, the first on the Shakem wreck in about 31 meters and the second on the locally named Purple Rain Reef.

While the wreck was interesting and abundant with life and colour, the heavy rain from the last week had reduced visibility to around 10-12meters and given the water a slight green tinge, what we would consider excellent diving conditions in British waters!

The Shakem had sunk in 2001 carrying a cargo of cement which heavy seas soaked and shifted in the hold. In the short time the ship has been underwater the gentle currents have encouraged plenty of growth and fish life.

We used nitrox to give us a decent bottom time but as with most dives, it was over too soon. For our topside intermission we pulled into a beautiful quiet bay before heading out again to Purple Rain Reef. Here again the visibility was affected by the previous rain but the reef gave us a gentle drift over both hard and soft corals supporting shoals of yellow snapper as well as the usual wonderful array of reef life which included these two spotted moray eels fighting over territory.

On our way back to base, Godwin, the skipper took us close to shore to get a better view of the beaches. He told me Grenada had 365!

The afternoon dive was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances and so I had an extended lunch with Eveline and her son at the West Indies Beer Company. Behind the bar were rows of distilling tanks each giving off a wonderful aroma of the best kind of home brew. We decided to go for the taster trays which when produced held 18 small glasses, one for each brew. On top of that, Janet the owner provided a fantastic ice cream pudding to finish it all off.

My only course of action for that afternoon was to have a short walk along the hotel beach followed by a nap before being picked up for supper by Roger, my new driver and guide. Once again amazing food and a good venue in the Marina.

The next day’s diving started at the Aquanauts Dive Centre where I met Peter the owner and Robbie my dive guide for the two dives we were having that morning.

The first dive was at the underwater sculpture park in the Molinere Beausejour Marine Protected Area where there is a stunning collection of life-size sculptures to dive around and admire. These creations are very shallow and in easy reach of snorkellers as well as divers. First created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor in May 2006 these underwater statues create a very unique habitat for marine life and are well worth a visit. See www.puregrenada.com/explore/scuba-diving/underwater-sculpture-park

Just a short swim from the statues and lying in 75 feet of water is the small and complete wreck of the sloop Buccaneer which was sunk as an artificial reef in 1978. All easy and enjoyable diving with little or no current. It was while heading to the wreck we saw the amazing Peacock Flounder skimming gracefully across the sand.

The afternoon saw me diving with Christine from Eco Dive where we explored the Southern Comfort reef. Visibility is getting much better now and we had a great encounter with a large Green Moray that was busy hunting through the abundant corals.

The day was then rounded off with an excellent meal at the Aquarium Restaurant with Diane, where the sound of the ocean gently breezed up to our table and the warm air helped the rum punches slide down with great ease.

Next day I was diving with Native Spirit run by Adrian Blackman. Adrian tells me that Native Spirit was the first all local run dive shop.

Our first dive was to be down to the MV Veronica. Originally wrecked close to shore the ship was picked up and moved to its present location 18 years ago. It is only in 14 meters of water and can easily been seen from the surface. 25 meters long the Veronica is home to a myriad of small fish and is frequently visited by shoals of Creole Wrasse and solitary Jacks darting in to snatch an easy meal. It’s an easy dive with plenty of marine life and had I not been on a busy schedule I would have liked to dive the wreck several times to do it justice.

That evening I was entertained by Ryan Hopkin, son of Sir Roystan Hopkin, Ambassador for Tourism and Chairman and Managing Director of the Spice Island Beach Resort. We ate 5 star food in the magnificent resort restaurant and talked about the fascinating and colourful history of the islands. Too much information to recount in this short article but so interesting and shows it is well worth doing a little background history research before coming to the Grenada.

I decided to miss breakfast the next morning as my waistline was beginning to increase and I returned to Eco Dive to join Christine again. We dived the reefs at Happy Valley where the corals are rich and healthy and the lobsters in great abundance. We did see a turtle but it was timid and headed quickly for deeper water. Plenty of Moray Eels and shoals of Yellow Snapper.

 

Carriacou

If you do get to Grenada, I would highly recommend you spend a few days on the Island of Carriacou just north of Grenada. Only a few hours ferry journey, the island is tropical with high lush green hills and crystal clear blue-water bays. The ferry is run by Osprey Lines, leaving from St.Georges in Grenada and arriving in Hillsborough Carriacou roughly 90 minutes later. I was immediately struck by the natural charm of the island, the golden sandy beaches and small easy going towns are a treat waiting to be discovered

With time against me and after being welcomed to the island by Rina from the Grenada Tourism Authority, I was taken to my hotel for a quick unpack and shower. It was called the Grand View Hotel and surprisingly that’s just what is was! Perched up on the hillside over looking Hillsborough the view was simply lovely.

No time to linger. I was picked up by my taxi driver Linky and taken to meet Diane and Richard from Lumbadive who were very welcoming and made me feel right at home. After a huge lunch we kitted up and went to the first dive site. In fact we squeezed in three dives that afternoon at different sites where each one had its own charm and character. Highlights were when two Eagle Rays glided by and a Southern Stingray swooped over my shoulder taking me totally by surprise. The small ledges of the reefs were crammed with Spiny Lobsters and then just towards the end of the dive the bizarre Spanish Lobster marched slowly across the sand.

On the second dive of the three, several invasive Lion fish were speared as part of a huge eradication programme to clear them from the Caribbean where they are doing untold damage to the local fauna. One of these dead fish was introduced to a small Spotted Moray Eel and to my utter amazement the eel took it head first, dragged it into its hole while wrapping its body tightly around it and then in a matter of a few short minutes had eaten the whole thing. Diane and Richard later told me that the Spotted Moray does in fact now predate on living Lion fish and so nature begins to re-dress the balance. Diane mentioned that they had even seen a battle between a Golden Tail Moray Eel and a spotted one for the same Lion fish.

That evening, dinner with Diane and Richard was at the Bogles’s Roundhouse Restaurant where the food and service were perfect.

My last morning’s diving was with Deefer Diving owned by Gary Ward. So much to see and so little time. The two dives took in fields of huge Gorgonian Fan Coral as well as a perfect little wreck of a tug boat.

The wreck sat in about 20 meters of clear water with a small shoal of Sergeant Majors gracing the wheelhouse. The easy return to shallower waters gave us sleeping Nurse Sharks, a very curious Sand Diver and a couple of the biggest Spiny Lobsters I have ever seen.

All too soon it was midday and time to think about heading for the ferry back to Grenada. But not before a perfect lunch at a small beach restaurant called La Playa situated in the most beautiful setting.

The ferry journey back was pleasant and got me back to the Coyaba in plenty of time to start packing for the next day’s flight. The last main meal of the trip was at the waterside Sails Restaurant with Roger who had been my driver and occasional companion for the entire week and I must thank him for being a great fixer as well as driver and guide.

Last day of the trip. The flight wasn’t until 6.20 pm so there was time for a tour of a few island highlights which included Fort Frederick built in 1770 by the French and the House of Chocolate where I learnt the fascinating history of chocolate. Finally we walked through the main market place in St.Georges where stalls abounded with a cornucopia of fresh fruit and spices.

It has been a wonderful week with delightful company, great food, stunning locations and exceptional diving. If you are planning a trip to the Caribbean then think Grenada, it definitely deserves your attention as a place to visit. I would like to thank all the people and organisations who made me feel so welcome.

Flights to Grenada are direct from the UK. If you would like to know more about diving in Grenada visit www.PureGrenada.com. 

Jeff Goodman is the Editor-at-Large for Scubaverse.com with responsibility for conservation and underwater videography. Jeff is an award-winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker who lives in Cornwall, UK. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Guides invited to apply for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship

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Reef-World’s campaign is helping dive guides in need receive Green Fins environmental certification

The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is calling for dive guides to submit their application for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship.

As a result of the Scholarship campaign, dive guides working around the world – including Brazil, the Philippines, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey – have received their certificate proving their status as a Green Fins certified dive guide. Yet, thanks to funding from Reef-World’s partner Paralenz, 149 more scuba diving guides will be able to receive their Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course environmental certification.

Dive guides who meet the criteria (outlined below) can apply for the scholarship at any time through the Green Fins website. To be eligible for the scholarship, guides must:

  • have completed and passed all modules of the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course
  • be able to demonstrate they or their employer are not financially able to purchase the certificate
  • be a national of a country which receives official development assistance from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Scholarship was created in response to feedback from dive guides who had passed the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course and were keen to download and display their personalised electronic certificate but were not financially able to cover the associated cost (£19 / $25 USD). The personalised electronic certificate can be displayed to entice eco-minded guests by informing them the guide has received this vital environmental certification and is aware of how to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with diving.

Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well as the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, created with the support of Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS) and running on their innovative EVO e-learning platform, teaches dive professionals how to prevent diving-related damage to coral reefs by following the highest environmental standards and better managing their guests to prevent damage to the reef.

Sam Craven, Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be offering dive guides around the world the opportunity to become Green Fins certified; no matter their background. Both the e-Course and the Scholarship have been a great success so far and we’re delighted to see so many dive professionals demonstrating their commitment to sustainable tourism by taking the course. We urge dive guides who haven’t yet taken the course to consider taking this step and welcome Scholarship applications from anyone who meets the criteria. Together, we can protect coral reefs through sustainable diving and we’d love as many dive guides as possible to join us.”


Dive guides who want to be considered for scholarship can visit www.greenfins.net/green-fins-dive-guide-scholarship-applications to apply.

To donate to the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship Fund, please visit www.greenfins.net/appeal/sponsor-a-dive-guide.

Supporters who are interested in helping additional dive guides receive their certifications can also donate to Sponsor a Dive Guide.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Go Fish Free this February

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There are no longer plenty more fish in the sea! Fish Free February challenges you to help protect our oceans by removing seafood from your diet for 28 days and helping to raise awareness of the issues caused by intensive fishing practices.

Our oceans are in a state of global crisis, brought about by ocean warming, acidification, pollution, and habitat destruction. However, the biggest immediate threat to ocean life is from fisheries. Each year an estimated 1-2.7 trillion fish are caught for human consumption, though this figure does not include illegal fisheries, discarded fish, fish caught to be used as bait, or fish killed by not caught, so the real number is far higher. It is no wonder then, that today nearly 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. If we do not act fast, overfishing and damaging fishing practices will soon destroy the ocean ecosystems which produce 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and provide three billion people with their primary source of protein.

Fish Free February, a UK-registered charity, is challenging people around the world to take action for marine life in a simple but effective way. Take the Fish Free February Pledge and drop seafood from your diet for one month, or beyond. Fish Free February wants to get people talking about the wide range of issues associated with industrial fishing practices and putting the well-being of our oceans at the forefront of dietary decision-making. A third of all wild-caught fish are used to create feed for livestock, so Fish Free February urges us to opt for plant-based dishes as a sustainable alternative to seafood, sharing our best fish-free recipes on social media with #FishFreeFebruary and nominating our friends to do the same.

“Not all fishing practices are bad” explains Simon Hilbourne, founder of Fish Free February. “Well-managed, small-scale fisheries that use selective fishing gears can be sustainable. However, most of the seafood in our diet comes from industrial fisheries which often prioritise profit over the well-being of our planet, resulting in multiple environmental challenges. In some cases, the fishing industry has even been linked to serious human rights issues such as forced labour and human trafficking! Fish Free February hopes to shed more light on fishing practices, create wider discussion around these issues, and offer solutions to benefit people, wildlife, and the natural environment.”

To learn more about these issues and to take the Fish Free February pledge visit www.fishfreefebruary.com

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