Grenada, like most islands in the Caribbean, was formed after a volcanic eruption. The volcano, now long extinct has been covered by a dense tropical rain forest. Grenada has a mountainous terrain, with several peaks, the highest being Mount St. Catherine at 840m (2,750 feet). The island's unusual geography is the most varied in the Caribbean. Crater lakes, dwarf forests, mountain rainforests, dry forests and lowlands that lead to mangroves on the coast and into the ocean with its fantastic coral reefs. Mangroves, lakes, mountains and valleys and a spectacular rain forest all on a tiny Caribbean gem. All this variety provides numerous natural habitats, interesting in themselves, but also home to a diverse and thriving wildlife. The mountainside has several small rivers with beautiful waterfalls and mountain crater lakes and hot springs. Visitors can use the many nature trails to enjoy the natural word and stunning scenery. The islands of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique are generally undeveloped and most of the land and ocean remain in their glorious natural state. There is no mass tourism on Grenada, and you won't find any crowds in the places of special interest or the countryside generally. Take your time and enjoy the unspoilt natural surroundings in a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. There are lots of guided tours, walking, minibus etc, but it is easy, and safe, to get out and about.
Grenada, born from a volcanic eruption, has the most varied topography in the Caribbean.
Volcano crater lakes, mountain rainforests, mangroves and wonderful coral reefs –
a fantastic variety of natural habitats for an amazing diversity of tropical creatures.
Colourful birds, tiny tree frogs, lizards, turtles, mammals and marine creatures.
Grenada has made great efforts to protect the natural environment on the island and in the ocean. Protected areas - nature parks - have been established where there are strict measures in place to protect the flora and fauna on the island, with remarkable success. I was surprised to see the emphasis, everywhere I went, on conserving and protecting the environment.
Grand Etang Nature Reserve is the most interesting area on the island for nature lovers. Mt. Qua Qua and Mt. St. Catherine, at 840m (2756 feet) the highest point on Grenada, are both within the park. This park is a microcosm of Grenada's natural world. A dense rain forest surrounding a breathtaking lake in the crater of the extinct volcano. Within the lush tropical forest there are several spectacular waterfalls, hot springs and plantations on the hills. A series of well marked trail allow visitors to get into the very heart of the rain forest and enjoy seeing the island's flora and fauna. The trails pass by the waterfalls, you can take a dip but be careful of slippery rocks (I wasn't !). Hikes around the park range from an easy 15 minute stroll to 6 hour excursions. This is the most popular area in Grenada for hiking and trekking, and the scenery is breathtaking. The broad-winged hawk (known here as the gree-gree), Lesser Antillean swift, Antillean euphonia, purple-throated carib, Antillean crested hummingbird (known as the little doctor bird), and the Lesser Antillean tanager (known as the soursop) are all common sights. In addition, the Grand Etang is populated by plenty of frogs and lizards, as well as playing host to opossums, armadillos, mongooses, and the distinctive Grenada Mona monkey. Originally from Africa, brought in by traders a few hundred years ago.
Levera National Park
The 450-acre Levera National Park is a scenic, spectacular coastal area. It has a beautiful beach and its lagoon is one of the most important wildlife habitats on the island. The lagoon is a protected bird sanctuary, home to a large number of birds, as well as a great diversity of species, including herons, black-necked stilts, common snipes, and other waterfowl. Levera's lagoon is surrounded by one of the island's largest mangrove swamps – natural habitats that are now recognised as vital to the environment of the whole planet. The coastal region has coconut palms, cactus and scrub, providing habitat for iguana and land crabs. Levera's marine areas have excellent coral reefs and sea grass beds that shelter lobsters, turtles and other marine inhabitants. The beaches are a hatchery for sea turtles, strictly protected during their laying season, leatherbacks come ashore April to June – other species until September. There is an excellent trail around the lagoon.
Lake Antoine National Park
This shallow Crater Lake, has been designated a Natural Landmark, and is a wonderful habitat for wide variety of wildlife. The lake's perimeter trail, a beautiful walk in itself, is great for bird watchers. Among the species frequently sighted are the snail kite, the fulvous whistling duck, large-billed seed finch, gray kingbird, and limpkin. (How can you not love a bird call the fulvous whistling duck?)
La Sagesse Protected Seascape
This quiet mangrove estuary along the south-western coast is one of the best bird-watching sights on Grenada. In addition to the mangrove, La Sagesse includes three excellent beaches, edged with palm trees, a superb coral reef for snorkelling, a pristine example of dry thorn scrub and cactus woodland and a salt pond. The salt pond attracts an abundance of different species, including the Brown Crested Flycatcher, Caribbean Coot, Green Backed Heron, Little Blue Heron, and the Northern Jacuna. The coral reef has wonderful examples of coral and many marine species. The scrubland is home to many lizards and iguanas. In the coastal woodland you will find the remains of sugar milling and rum distilleries. There are hiking trails where birders and nature lovers can experience several types of eco-habitats in a small area. La Sagesse beach has facilities for visitors – a nice day out.
Nearly all the bays on the eastern/Atlantic side of the island are mangrove habitats. Prime nesting areas for many birds and spawning grounds for fish, these areas, vital to the planet's eco system, are now protected by the Ministry of Forestry and Fisheries. Excellent for bird watchers and snorkelers, the variety of marine life in and around the mangroves is stunning.
Mt. Hartman National Park
is located in the south-western part of Grenada, in a unique dry thorn scrub eco-system, and was established to protect the critically endangered Grenada Dove -Leptotila wellsi an indigenous species. It is estimated that less than 100 of the birds survive today.
off the east coast, was once part of the mainland and now has eel grass marine environments and coral reefs. Nearby is La Baye Rock, which is a nesting ground for brown boobies, habitat for large iguanas and has dry thorn scrub forest. It too is surrounded by coral reefs.
There is just one species of amphibian endemic to Grenada amphibian, Eleutherodactylus euphronides, sadly an endangered species. Other amphibians on Grenada : Lesser Antillean whistling frog (Johnstone's whistling frog), Windward ditch frog, cane toad, giant neotropical toad, marine toad.
There are 19 reptile species reported on Grenada, which include: red-footed tortoise, loggerhead turtles, green turtles, hawksbill turtles, leatherback turtles, house gecko, turnip-tailed gecko, bronze anole, Grenada tree anole, green iguana, common iguana, giant ameiva, laguaira bachia. Sadly all the turtle species are on the endangered list. but with protected areas there is hope these magnificent creatures will begin to thrive again. There are no venomous snakes on Grenada. snakes include: Grenadian tree boa - not dangerous, Shaw's black-backed snake, Shaw's dark ground snake (possibly extinct), and Neuwied's false boa. Barbour's tropical racer is indigenous to the region. Grenada is considered the southern limit of the species' range. Grenada worm snake or Grenada bank blind snake is endemic to Grenada.
Antillean fruit-eating bat and several other species of bat, manicou (opossums), agouti (small pig-sized mammal) and the rare nine-banded armadillo. There are of course introduced species, the Mona monkeys, mongooses, donkeys, goats, many of which roam freely.
There are a total of 168 species of bird recorded on Grenada, 3 are endemic, 1 has been introduced and 97 are rare or migratory. The species are too numerous to list here, but we have the list if want it ! Bird life on Grenada includes: grebes, storm petrels, pelicans, boobies, gannets, darters, frigate birds, bitterns, herons, egrets, storks, ibises, spoonbills, new world vultures, osprey, hawks, kites, eagles, falcons, guans, chachalacas, rails, crakes, gallinules, coots, avocets, stilts, plovers and lapwings, sandpipers, cuckoos, anis, barn owls, swifts, hummingbirds, kingfishers, tyrant flycatchers, swallows and martins. A few by name : Grenada dove, Audubon's shearwater, Wilson's storm petrel, masked booby, red-footed booby, black-crowned night-heron, yellow-crowned night-heron, fulvous whistling-duck, west Indian whistling-duck, hook-billed kite, mangrove cuckoo, white-collared swift, ruby-topaz hummingbird, Antillean crested hummingbird, belted kingfisher, tropical mockingbird, lesser Antillean tanager, Antillean euphonia, emerald-throated hummingbird, yellow-billed cuckoo, red-necked pigeon. The endangered hook billed kite (a large hawk) is found in the Levera National Park and nowhere else in the world. They eat only snails, and a pile of shells with holes in them is a sure sign that a kite is around.
Grenada's dramatic underwater rock and coral formations provide an extra dimension for marine life. The huge variety of habitats, in rich and varying ocean conditions, produces a staggering diversity of marine life. Colourful reef creatures to larger ocean roaming creatures - turtles, rays, and sharks etc. Select the links above - underwater or the diving pages - for more information