A Diver’s Paradise to Be Found in Turks & Caicos Islandsby Charmaine Joseph /
Diving in the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) is an incomparable experience. Located in the northern Caribbean, the islands, which comprise over 100 islands, cays, and rocks, are located on the north edge of a sweeping underwater plateau that rises 7000 feet from the ocean floor.
The transition from flat sandy beaches to underwater vertical walls that stand thousands of feet tall makes for a spectacular experience. Along the plateau, divers will find sand chutes, canyons and cracks that provide for excellent swim-through locations. Known as the Mt Everest of wall dives, Grand Turks offers over 40 locations for wall diving, often backdropped by the melodious sounds of humpback whales. It’s no wonder TCI’s wall dives are consistently rated as some of the best in the world.
The Turks and Caicos is said to be home to one of the best barrier reefs in the world and the world’s third largest reef. Collectively, there are 340 miles of barrier reef surrounding the islands and the reef has around 60 striking coral species and over 250 different fish species. The colorful and vibrant marine life that calls the reef home creates an awe-inspiring snorkeling experience even for beginners. The reef helps to shelter the bays from large waves, creating a snorkeling environment of calm seas and crystal clear water. The section of reef known as Coral Gardens, on the island of Providenciales, is one of the most popular in TCI. Divers can experience sea turtles, starfish, eagle rays, and coral formations.
TCI has a healthy number of shipwrecks for divers to explore with the oldest wreck, known as the Molasses Reef Wreck dating back to the 1500s. In fact, due to the treacherous nature of its barrier reef, it is estimated that over 1000 ships may have wrecked along the shores of the TCI since the 1500s.
Today there are a number of shipwreck adventures to choose from with excursions offered for wrecks both above and below ground. There are several wrecks that are accessible to divers at varying levels, though a custom trip to the site has to be arranged when visiting as regularly scheduled wreck dives are not offered by any company.
A unique activity to put on the to-do list while visiting is lobster diving! Several tour operators offer lobster diving as a popular excursion. Go fish with the experts on the large island of Providenciales and catch your own dinner of lobster or lionfish that will be cooked up in the evening at a fantastic Caribbean beach BBQ.
A lesser-known fact about the Turks & Caicos Islands is their huge number of submerged and non-submerged caves. Many of the caves lay unexplored as they are inherently dangerous due to falling rocks and wall collapses. However, there are some caverns that are waiting to be explored with an enthusiastic guide. Among the underwater caves, some of the most popular can be found in Middle Caicos. The Conch Bar Caves National Park is reported to include “more than 15 miles of underground, limestone caves, which feature stalactites, stalagmites, bats, owls and salt lakes that connect to the ocean and are considered to be one of the most extensive cave systems in the region”.
Forasmuch as there is the coastline in the Turks & Caicos Islands, there is some wonder to behold underwater. This tiny island is definitely a diver’s paradise no matter the experience level. From snorkeling to scuba diving, one thing is for sure, your client will never be left wanting during their vacation.