The Caribbean island of Grenada is called Spice Isle. With its lush and fertile greenery, there is ample opportunity for hikes and chocolate tours, but it’s what lies beneath the ocean’s surface that offers an experience like none other: the Molinière Underwater Sculpture Park.
The Molinière Underwater Sculpture Park is the brainchild of British artist Jason deCaires Taylor. The massive project began in 2006 with the intention of creating a living, moving work of art while rejuvenating an ailing storm-damaged bay.
The original 75 pieces in this first-of-its-kind sculpture garden include the Lost Correspondent – a man plugging away on a typewriter on a large desk; the Nutmeg Princess – a girl bursting out of a giant nutmeg, holding the spice in her hands, and the stunning Vicissitudes – a group of life-sized children holding hands, facing outward in a large circle.
The sculptures are just 5m (16ft) below the surface, meaning you don’t need a scuba license to enjoy the park – snorkeling at the surface works just fine.
The best part of the experience is the stillness and the intimacy the water creates. Below the surface, with only the rhythm of your breath serving as the soundtrack to your tranquil and personal encounter just for you.
Molinière Underwater Sculpture Park's new collection is unveiled
In the late summer of 2023, the Grenada Tourism Board and Jason deCaires Taylor unveiled 23 new sculptures slated for the bay. The new collection of pieces celebrates Granada’s annual Spicemas celebration, an event on par with New Orleans Mardi Gras or Brazil Carnival.
The Coral Carnival – inspired by local artist Alleyne Gulston who won a country-wide design competition – features 25 classic masquerade (mas) characters like the Jab Jab (men in black paint, chains and devil horns), Vieux Corps (figures dressed in black gowns, hats, wooden shoes and painted face masks) and the Shortknee (revelers dressed in colorful costumes who wear painted wire masks and carry powder).
Each of these traditional mas characters, along with a host of others, are linked to Grenada’s pre-and post-emancipation from slavery.
Local artist Troy Lewis’ four sculptures (each tied to Grenadian history): Mama Glo, The Bele Dancer, La Diablesee and a leatherback turtle, are also part of The Coral Carnival at the bottom of Molinere Bay.
What makes these sculptures especially fascinating and the perfect reason to return to Grenada’s waters again is how they evolve over time – these works of art become something completely different based on which underwater creatures decide to call a particular sculpture home.
How to get to the underwater sculpture park?
Book an excursion with a diving/snorkeling outfitter who will make a day out of it. Outfits like Aquanauts Grenada, Dive Grenada and Native Spirit Scuba run daily or weekly trips to the sculpture garden, and other marine-protected areas like Flamingo Bay Reef, from a variety of locations.
The crew from the family-owned Aquanauts Grenada work with people of all skill levels (and act as cheerleaders when clients achieve once-unthinkable milestones like putting your head in the water or freediving without a lifejacket).
Where to eat in Grenada?
There’s only one place all these spices could have gone. Grenadian food is flavorful and fresh. Many of the main dishes include seafood, starches like potato or breadfruit, and vegetables like callaloo. The country offers all levels of gastronomic experiences, from roadside corn stalls to high-scale dining by the ocean.
Depending on which diving company you book through, there are ample places to eat in St. George’s Parish (located in the southern part of the country). A few favorites include:
Located over the water in St George’s Parish, it offers fresh seafood (fish, shrimp, lobster and octopus), chicken and steak. This fine dining establishment has a wide selection of wine and cocktails.
This quintessential beachside restaurant provides hard-to-beat views of Grand Anse Beach. Enjoy classic American or Caribbean tunes while munching on pork belly tostadas, grilled jerk chicken or grilled lobster tail, or sipping on signature cocktails like a passionfruit frozen daiquiri or a glass of wine.
This beloved establishment located a few feet from Sails serves popular Grenadian classics like oil down (a stew made up of vegetables, dumplings, coconut milk and either chicken or fish – it’s the national dish and available only on Fridays), lambie (conch) and of course fresh fish. Note: At the time of publication, BB’s is moving upstairs from its original location and is currently closed. Come back for information on the restaurant’s reopening.
House of Chocolate
You can’t go to Grenada without savoring a few bites of chocolate. Grenada’s connection with the sweet treat began in the 1700s and The House of Chocolate offers an in-depth tour explaining the entire chocolate production process from bean to bar. A mini cafe serves up a variety of chocolate bars (mainly dark chocolate), bonbons, cakes and ice cream.
Where to stay?
Finding accommodation near the water is never hard in St George’s. There’s a host of villas and hotels that provide the perfect beachy backdrop to any stay. I stayed at the Mount Cinnamon Resort and Beach Club, a lovely boutique resort situated on a collection of hills overlooking Grand Anse Beach.
Mount Cinnamon offers everything from yoga classes to hot stone massages and body wraps. Opt to stay in a hillside villa, a hacienda suite or a poolside garden suite. Try booking after Grenada’s annual Spicemas celebrations (think Mardi Gras or Carnival) to nab a deal.
While here, try dining at Savvy’s in the hotel. The farm-to-table cuisine (from the hotel’s gardens) aims to add a fine-dining spin on classic Caribbean fare. While the main dishes are seasonal, ask about the molasses ice cream for dessert. You won’t be disappointed.
Alicia Johnson traveled to Grenada with support from the Grenada Tourism Board. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.