If you follow the shop on Facebook, you are aware that Team Manta just returned from a week on the island of Grenada. Our exciting week on the Spice Island was full of touring the local attractions, sampling the local foods, and of course diving!
We flew out of Chicago O’Hare to Atlanta and then Grenada, landing at 3PM local time. We were greeted by a warm 85F breeze and plenty of sunshine. This was just what we all needed after months of cold and gloom. A transport van was waiting for us and within a short time of landing, we were off to the resort, True Blue Bay in St. George. Once on site, the concierge, Kaylee guided us to our rooms and oriented us to the features. The rooms are air conditioned and have fan over the bed. I actually did not run the air conditioning much as the ceiling fan was enough to keep me comfortable all night. The configuration of the units is such that the doors are staggered, giving the feeling of a private cottage, rather than a multi-unit hotel. Each spacious room features a kitchenette, in room safe and small balcony. Shampoo, conditioner and shower soap was provided in the shower. Throughout the week, whatever I needed, the front desk staff jumped to help. The service was wonderful.
Our plan included daily breakfast, with made to order omelets, fresh breads, cereal, fruit, spiced tea, coffee and yogurt. I was warmed each morning by the friendly smile of Omega, True Blue’s omelet chef. Omega not only made delicious omelets per each guest’s order, but she also held a very popular cooking class a couple of afternoons during the week. A true ambassador for True Blue, Omega even went to the market with a couple of her cooking students to ensure they get the best spices and other ingredients they need to make some of her dishes.
In the evenings, there was always something going on at the resort, such as live music or dancing, and believe me, the talent they brought in was top notch! The offerings at the restaurant were varied, with Mexican night, Barbeque night and “Street Food” night, when we got a chance to sample some of the local dishes. Among the local cuisine that night, was Oil Down, Grenada’s national dish. Though the name is a bit off putting, the dish, it is a delicious Caribbean comfort food made with callaloo, breadfruit, dumpling, chicken, pig tails, and salt fish cooked in coconut milk.
We dove the week with Aquanauts, the onsite dive operator. We had the best time with our competent and fun loving crew: boat captain Bug, and divemasters, Reese (who looks a bit like the Rock, by the way) and Crispin. Those who have traveled with Team Manta know that we are a fun loving group and we take enthusiasm for diving and having laughs together to a whole other level. This trip was no exception. I had to explain to the crew that none of us was born with a shell. I’m sure they did not know what to think at first, but by the end of the week, we were spending our surface interval taking turns telling jokes.
Diving in Grenada is completely effortless. First of all, the crew took care of our gear, setting up tanks, rinsing and storing at night. Second the actual dives couls not have been easier. Divers enter the water, descend to the planned depth, put it in neutral and float along in the gentle current. The current is strong enough to push the divers along, but not so strong that it is a struggle to stop and take a photo or look a little longer at any of the wonderful sea life found around Grenada. I’ve done drift dives with other dive operators, but Reese and Crispin were second to none in professionalism and safety, with one leading the dive with the dive flag, and the other bringing up the rear and checking for stragglers. They both were excellent at spotting interesting critters, such as seahorses, turtles, crabs and lobsters. After the dive, Bugsy was there, helping us back onto the boat, especially one of our divers whose bad knee makes it impossible to ascend the ladder with gear on. All the crew worked together to give over-the-top service. In fact, Reese and Crispin cooked up the lionfish we speared one day and complimented it with garlic bread for a surface interval snack!
Speaking of lionfish, I speared lionfish for the first time on this trip. In the afternoon, we had a little smaller group, so we dove in the Atlantic where the sea was a little rougher and the visibility a little less, but there are abundant lionfish. After a quick lesson from Reese, I gave it a try. I had been watching Reese and Crispin do this, but it was not as easy as they made it seem. I finally got the hang of it and between me, Reese, and some of our other divers, we speared enough to make a couple of meals of lionfish. Yum!
Two of my favorite deep dive sites this trip, were the MV Shakem, a 180’cargo ship, resting in 100’ of water with its cargo of cement bags and Bianca C, a 600’ cruise ship resting in 130’ of water. I enjoyed making a game of trying to identify as many types of filefish, hamlets and butterfly fish as I could. In addition, there were eels, lobsters, crabs, rays and the occasional nurse shark. The corals and sponges are healthy and colorful. We also dove the Underwater Sculpture Park. It was interesting to me to see how much more growth of sponges and coral has encrusted the sculptures since I was there last in 2010. My favorite dive, though, was a night dive on the Veronica L. This wreck is covered with bright orange cup corals, making it look like a parade float. We also saw several basket stars stretching their nets to catch dinner, slipper lobsters and bat wing crabs actively eating, and a couple of seahorses hiding in the rubble. With such a busy nightlife, this wreck offered something interesting to see wherever you looked!
We capped off our week with a tour of the island which included the rum factory, the cocoa factory, Fort Matthew and stops at several scenic vistas, thanks to our guide, Bugsy. It was a wonderful conclusion to our visit.
Grenada is a wonderful destination, whether you dive or not. The warm breezes and gently moving water is second only to the friendly inhabitants, who are more than happy to share the secrets of their home and make sure that visitors grow to love it the way they do!