Whether you are a pro or completely new to diving, Turks and Caicos is an excellent location to take a dive vacation, as it offers several different sites with varying degrees of difficulty and a fantastic supply of experienced dive shops and instructors alike.
Dive Shops and Classes
Turks and Caicos offer several different dive companies to choose from. These companies provide a combination of shore dives and classes, day-trip boat excursions, and multi-day live-aboard trips. Though there is a lot to do with a standard open-water certification, there is much more to experience if you get the advanced, deep-water certification and become qualified to dive with Nitrox Enriched Air. Lessons are available on the islands so you can combine great dives with additional certifications.
Dive tours range from private, chartered trips to more extensive, multi-customer trips. Liveaboards offer onboard luxury and overnight accommodations to allow for as much diving time as possible. Day trips often leave early and return around sunset, offering you two or three dives daily. Not all dive shops provide the same accommodations, so it pays to call around.
Types of Dives
There are many reasons to dive Turks and Caicos: for walls, wrecks, wildlife, and coral reef preserves. The Turks and Caicos Islands are an archipelago of around 40 islands, only 8 of which have been developed. The islands are surrounded by an extensive reef system (Caicos Banks) that offers beautiful coral and gorgeous walls that drop off into the Atlantic. The mile-wide Columbus Passage that separates the Turks islands from the Caicos is a superhighway for larger animals like whales, sharks, and turtles.
Popular Dive Sites
According to the scuba experts at PADI, six dives of particular significance are located off five islands. Providenciales hosts two of these sites, Northwest Point and Grace Bay. The Point is a wall dive that combines smaller reef fish with larger fish like barracuda and sharks. Grace Bay is an excellent beginner’s series of walls and a wonderful wildlife refuge. Divers here will be treated to pregnant nurse sharks, turtles, groupers, barracuda, and grunts.
Four additional islands offer various experiences, from the small and shallow to the deep and extreme. Boat trips from Providenciales are provided to each of these dive locations. West Caicos is an excellent place to find Dory, as schools of blue tangs, grunts, and snappers frequent the area. On French Cay, extreme visibility allows long-range views of the 6,000-foot-deep walls. Eagle rays, moray eels, reef and nurse sharks, turtles, and more can be seen in the depths outside the walls here.
Salt Cay is an excellent choice for those who like structures. A sunken British warship, sea caverns, and some tremendous vertical walls are available here to explore. Divers can watch the humpback whale migration along the borders during the winter, as these beautiful animals head from the coast of Maine to the Dominican Republic. Grand Turk offers more than two dozen dive locations, including extensive hard coral beds of different colors and shapes. Get up close and personal with wildlife ranging from turtles to barracudas.
When to Go
With warm waters and sunshine year-round, there is no wrong time to dive Turks and Caicos. Whale watchers will want to visit between mid-January to Mid-March, as this is when the humpbacks head South to the Dominican Republic to breed. Visibility stays consistently at 130 feet/40 meters.