The clear, turquoise waters surrounding the island of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, offers some of the best snorkeling in the world. After all, the Caicos Banks form the second largest barrier reef system in the western hemisphere. These beautiful, natural waters are home to tropical coral and a vast marine life such as sea fans, sea sponges, turtles, lobsters, stingrays, squids, and even octopi, sharks, and more. In this blog post, we’ll go over what’s it like to snorkel a magical underwater world.
In Turks and Caicos, preservation and conservation is important to the community. This has resulted in an untarnished, pristine snorkeling experience. Snorkeling can be especially rewarding along the shorelines of Providenciales’ national parks where no fishing is allowed. The fish remain undisturbed, and you will have the opportunity to see a wide variety of species. Daytime snorkeling can be a very different experience from nighttime snorkeling with more unusual creatures making an appearance at various points throughout the day. For instance, we’ve had success spotting sea turtles early in the morning (7am or so!).
Larger marine animals that you may enjoy viewing include Hawksbill turtles, which are critically endangered and a stunning sight to behold with their powerful swimming ability and ornate body patterns. Bottlenose dolphins can also frequently be seen, especially when following the wake of boats. Humpback whales pass near Providenciales and the rest of Turks and Caicos as they migrate -they may even have calves with them!
A wide variety of fish species can be seen at any snorkeling location along the coast of Providenciales. The types of fish that you may encounter include the magnificent spotted eagle rays, toothy barracudas, horse-eye jacks, grouper and various types of mysterious eels. Grunts form colorful schools that can be frequently spotted in many areas around the island.
The location you choose for snorkeling may depend upon the location of your villa. Smith’s Reef, Coral Gardens, and Thompson Cove are all highly recommended places for your snorkeling adventures, and maps of the TC Villa locations can help you to choose the snorkeling beaches that are right outside your front door.
Over 60 species of coral can be found in the waters surrounding Providenciales. There are both hard and soft varieties of coral in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Hard corals include stag horn, elk horn, star, pillar, and brain varieties. Soft corals include sea whips, fans, and plumes. The barrier reefs protect the corals, and they grow to be very large and healthy around the islands. It is important not to touch the corals or any other sea life so they can continue to thrive undisturbed. Coral is made up of the skeletons of polyps. As each polyp dies, the reef grows in size with living polyps on the exterior of the coral bed.
Many colorful corals can be seen in Providenciales with large ridges of coral reefs providing protection from ocean currents in some areas. These barrier reefs help to stabilize the islands and also provide calm waters for swimming and snorkeling. In Grace Bay, a 14-mile-long barrier reef can easily be seen from the shore. Snorkeling is generally easy for beginners, but there are a few cautions to consider, so it is wise to start with the assistance of a snorkeling tour guide or instructor.