Exhilarating yet relaxing. I might be contradicting myself but those are the only two adjectives that, in my humble opinion, do any justice to the experience that was tubing along the Balthazar River in Grenada.
The towering tree branches provided much needed shade from the harsh midday sun; the birds and other unidentifiable creatures offered up a natural and sometimes cacophonous soundtrack for the occasion; and the boulders lining the riverbed did their duty in providing an unpredictable and invigorating ride that included a lot of bumps briefly interrupted by periods of smooth sailing.
There’s a lot to do in Grenada if you love the water and prefer more action than the beaches can provide. However, if you have only one day left on the island and had to pick just one activity, I’m going to be bold enough to say river tubing should be it. Here’s why…
GoPro? Check. Swimsuit? Check. Life jacket? Check. Helmet? Check. (You know it’s going to be good when a helmet is involved).
My initial thoughts on river tubing included visions of me sprawled out on a brightly colored inner tube gliding peacefully along with the slowly flowing current. I pictured the trees forming a canopy above, my fingers and toes skimming the water below, and the birds chirping merrily as they tend to do during those magical Disney movie scenes.
Turns out I had the setting almost down to a T but I completely missed the mark on the pace. The river was low which, according to the guide, slowed our pace considerably. Clearly, ‘slow’ is a relative term. The ride was far from death defying, but it still got my adrenaline pumping. I can only imagine what the experience is like when the water levels are higher!
The current moved quickly and the rocks were in full form as the river coursed through and around them. We slid through rock pilings, around the larger boulders, and I mastered the art of using my feet to ‘steer’ my tube in the right direction. From the left bank to the right, down a series of rapids; around a small mountain of boulders; and through a beautiful stone arch, we had an incredible ride full of squeals, splashes and surprises.
Needless to say, I had one hell of a time maintaining my grip on the tube as well as my GoPro.
Rocks and rapids brought the excitement, but just as quickly as my tube and I survived the turmoil, we were rewarded with a period of absolute calm. Several pools dot the river, providing a reprieve from the rollercoaster. In those moments, I would lean back and look up at the very treetop canopy I had envisioned and breathe deeply, soaking in the clean air.
The real prize however, came at the end of the ride. We glided into a large pool, almost completely surrounded by rocks and parked our tubes on the riverbank. We had some time to play with before we headed back to base and we intended to make the most of it.
The clear water was shallow enough to stand in but deep enough for swimming. Tiny fish nipped at my calves, creeping me out at first. But after a while, it was fun to sit still, watch them approach, investigate and dart off again when they realized I was not food.
A large mango tree laden with fruit practically forced our guide to pick a few. We sat on the rocks, biting into the ripe fruit as if we hadn’t eaten all day – mainly because we were operating on breakfast fumes by this time.
The fish were grateful as well, as they scurried forth every time we tossed a piece of mango skin or a seed their way.
Of all the things I have done during my many visits to Grenada, this experience proved to be the most unique. Beach days, hikes and hashes are all great but sometimes you need to stir things up a bit. River tubing did just that – literally and figuratively.
When to go
Regardless of the season – rainy or dry – river tubing is a fun activity because you’re going to get wet either way!
How to get there
Option 1: You can arrange to be picked up in St. George’s by Adventure Grenada. They depart from the capital several times a day. Your pick-up time will be confirmed when you call to make your reservation.
Option 2: If you’re driving from St. George’s, here are the directions. Once you get onto Grand Bras road it may be easy to miss so look out for the River Tubing sign at the NEW bridge and it’s just off to the right.
$50 EC covers the guide, tube, life jacket, helmet and a tour that lasts approximately 45 minutes – absolutely worth it!
What to take with you
Attire: Swimsuits are mandatory as you’re going to get soaked! Walk with something to cover yourself as chances are you may have to walk back to the starting point along the road. We were fortunate to have the jeep pick us up but our guide made it clear that we were lucky in this instance.
Personal Effects: As I said, you’re going to get tossed around and you’re going to get soaked, so walk with absolutely none of your personal effects, including – cash, jewelry, keys, phones.
Equipment: This experience was made for GoPro coverage. I’m not sure there’s any other type of camera that could capture the experience and withstand the trauma of being pumped around. Just ensure you have the waterproof case and you’re good to go!
Have you ever been river tubing? Did you absolutely love it? Share your experience in the comments and let us know where you did it!
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