The current is usually strong on the Bianca C, and local dive operators often split the divers on the boat by skill level — advanced divers make the negative descent to make a quick tour of this beauty of a wreck, while less experienced divers dive nearby Wibbles Reef. I am in the latter group, but my buddy, Scuba Diving Editor David Espinosa, suits up to dive the “Titanic of the Caribbean” — a nickname given to the Bianca C because of its 600-foot length.
Lots of destinations are known for their wrecks — Truk Lagoon, Bermuda, the Florida Keys, North Carolina, the Great Lakes and the Red Sea among them — but the small Eastern Caribbean island of Grenada should be high on any wreck lover’s list. The island’s signature wreck is the Bianca C, a former Italian luxury liner. More than 50 years ago, on Oct. 22, 1961, the ship was at anchor in St. George’s Harbor when a fire broke out following an engine room explosion. Islanders helped shuttle passengers and crew to safety (only two lives were lost). Two days later, a British frigate attempted to tow the vessel so it wouldn’t block the main harbor, but a squall snapped the towline and the Bianca C sank about two miles from Grand Anse beach, creating an awesome opportunity for divers. The vessel sits upright on a sand bottom in 165 feet of water, but its bow and superstructure is at 90 to 120 feet. Strong currents sweep the wreck, and you’ll only get about 10 to 15 minutes exploring it, but it’s a super exciting dive. I know I’ve missed something when I see David back on board the dive boat. He’s all smiles when he tells me it’s one of the best wrecks he’s ever dived.
I’ve had an awesome dive, too, on Wibbles, where the current is also ripping that morning. Cozumel gets a lot of attention in the dive world for its effortless drift diving, but Grenada’s drifts are also world-class. All you have to do is relax and ride the current over healthy, fish-packed reefs. And the nurse sharks! I’ve never seen so many on one dive. Our second tank at Shark Reef is known for its proliferation of nurse sharks, and the site doesn’t disappoint.
While the Bianca C is the marquee wreck in Grenada, the island boasts a roster of worthy sunken vessels. Another wreck popular with advanced divers is the Shakem, a 180-foot cement freighter that is encrusted with telesto soft corals. It’s in 100 feet of water off Grand Anse beach.
On the rougher Atlantic side off Grenada’s south coast, are three advanced-diver wrecks, the Hema I, an interisland freighter that sank in 90 feet of water in 2005 and rests on its port side; the King Mitch, a former minesweeper in 120 feet of water, and the San Juan, a former fishing vessel in 90 feet of water. Because of their location these wrecks require blue-water descents, but if you’ve got the experience and you’re visiting during the summer when operators make the run out to these sites, these dives often pay off with encounters with big pelagics.
The 120-foot cargo barge Veronica L is an easy wreck dive. The Veronica’s vast hold is open and empty, home to swirling clouds of small fish, and the structure is coated in corals, including a freight crane aft. After exploring the wreck, we drift along a beautiful, shallow section of Boss reef.
If you’re less experienced, there are plenty of shallower, less current-prone reefs to dive. The unique Underwater Sculpture Park is part dive, part art exhibit, and is located in only 10 to 30 feet of water. Artist Jason deCaires Taylor and two other artists have created 58 sculptures in a section of Molinere Bay, which is now designated a national marine park. Colonies of coral and marine life have attached to these sculptures, which acts like a nursery in an area that has been decimated by storms. Vicissitudes is a circle of 26 life-size children, all holding hands and facing outward (a few of these have fallen over). The Lost Correspondent shows a man at his desk typing on a manual typewriter. Grace shows a man riding a bicycle into the reef and Sienna shows a woman kneeling
A visit to Grenada isn’t complete if you don’t explore this gorgeous island. Must-see sights include Ft. George, the village of Gouyave (visit on Friday night to eat at the weekly fish fry festival), the River Antoine Rum Distillery and the Saturday market in St. George’s where you can buy nutmeg and other spices -- this is the Isle of Spice, after all. We spend one morning exploring the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, including an easy hike to St. Margaret’s Falls (for a tougher hike, try making the trek to Mt. Qua Qua or Annadale Waterfall). Bring your camera to record Grenada’s breathtaking beauty. — Patricia Wuest