View of the Forest
Most visitors to our island are lulled into thinking that the island, with its lush, vibrant vegetation, is not too distant from their idea of what paradise may be like. While the island does offer its more beautiful side to the casual observer, it has had a fiery beginning. Most of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean share the same volcanic origin, and while several are long extinct, several of them still have active volcanoes within their territories. Grenada is no exception, and actually has one active undersea volcano, off the northern shore of the island, between the town of Sauteurs and the sister island of Carriacou.
However, over the centuries, Grenada's volcanoes have been reduced to eroded remnants, which have been taken over by the rain forest. A most notable example of this, is the Grand Etang Lake and Forest Reserve, which is situated in the crater of the extinct volcano. There are excellent hiking trails in the area, which are maintained by the government, and which are there for the enjoyment of all.
Grand Etang Lake and National Park:
The most popular area in Grenada, for hiking and trekking, is in the rain forest around the Grand Etang Lake, in the central part of the island. This is only a small snapshot of what the island is like in general, as there are several waterfalls, hot springs and plantations where they meander through the hills. Needless to say, the views are exceptional. Grand Etang, however, is a crater lake surrounded by a lush tropical forest and is part of the nature reserve. A series of trails has been marked, and hiking them is well worth the effort. The scenery is breathtaking, with the chance to see a fascinating cross-section of the flora and fauna which make up this rain forest. The trails meander around the area's stunning waterfalls as well as the alluring waters of Grand Etang Lake. Hikes at Grand Etang range from an easy 15 minute walk, to 6 hour long excursions
Note: When hurricane Ivan hit the island in September 2004, the rain forests received significant damage. However, almost a year later, there has been amazing re-growth and it won't be long before it is back to its lush beauty.
Grand Etang Lake
Levera National Park
The 450-acre Levera National Park holds an unbeaten reputation as Grenada's most scenic and spectacular coastal area. Its picture-perfect beach is quite popular on weekends, and its lagoon is one of the most important wildlife habitats on the island. Consisting of an extensive mangrove swamp, the lagoon is a haven for an abundance of bird species, including many Herons, black-necked Stilts, Common Snipes, and other waterfowl. Levera's marine areas are equally esteemed, with outstanding coral reefs and sea grass beds that shelter lobsters and other marine inhabitants. The beaches are also a hatchery for Sea Turtles, which are protected during their laying season, from May to September. Among the pleasant walks at Levera, is a trail that circles the lagoon.
Lake Antoine National Park
This shallow Crater Lake, like Grand Etang, is host to a wide variety of wildlife. The lake's perimeter trail, a beautiful walk in itself, is another of Grenada's excellent attractions for bird watchers. Among the species frequently sighted are the Snail Kite, the Fulvous Whistling Duck, large-billed Seed Finch, Gray Kingbird, and Limpkin.
This quiet mangrove estuary along the south-western coast is one of the best bird-watching locales on Grenada. In addition to the estuary, La Sagesse includes three fine beaches edged with palm trees, a very good coral reef for snorkeling, a pristine example of dry thorn scrub and cactus woodland, and a salt pond. Of course, a good salt pond is the avian equivalent to a stunning beach, and this is one very inviting salt pond. The pond attracts an abundance of different species, including the Brown Crested Flycatcher, Caribbean Coot, Green Backed Heron, Little Blue Heron, and the Northern Jacuna. La Sagesse also includes a small guesthouse, several new Cabanas and a completely renovated restaurant on the beach, which is known for its very tasty lunch fare.
One of the noteworthy things about the eastern/Atlantic side of the island, is that nearly all the bays along the coast are mangrove habitats. Prime nesting areas for many birds and spawning grounds for fish, these areas have now been brought under the control of the Ministry of Forestry and Fisheries, in order to preserve as much of it as possible from encroachment by development. The result is that any development in these areas has to be approved by the government, and special emphasis has been placed on preserving the mangroves.
There is now a kayaking tour available which takes you around 2 bays in the south of the island. Excellent for bird watchers and snorkelers, the variety of marine life in and around the mangroves is stunning.
Grenada has an extensive array of coral reefs along the coastline, which are second to none. Several dive shops in the south of the island offer excursions and snorkeling trips, and in an effort to preserve the reefs, a buoying system was put in place so boats do not drop anchors on the reefs and destroy the delicate corals. The marine life is astounding, and the government has imposed restrictions and hunting seasons on the more popular sea species, like the lobster, in order to preserve the diversity and sustainability. They have also brought into effect restrictions on the sizes of nets, so that fishermen do not catch the juvenile fish.