Diving in Turks and Caicos
Whether you are new to diving or have been doing it for years, Turks and Caicos is an excellent location to take a dive vacation, as it offers a number of different sites with varying degrees of difficulty and an excellent supply of experienced dive shops and instructors. Here is a look at the many wonders that the reefs along the island chain have to offer.
Dive Shops and Classes
Turks and Caicos offers several different dive companies to choose from, and these companies offer a combination of shore dives and classes, day-trip boat excursions, and multi-day live-aboard trips. Though there is lots to do if you have 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 if you choose.
Dive tours range from private, chartered trips to larger, 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 per day. Not all dive shops offer the same accommodations, so it pays to call around.
Types of Dives
There are many reasons to dive Turks and Caicos: for walls, for wrecks, for wildlife, and for coral reef preserves. The Turks and Caicos Islands are an archipelago of around 40 different islands, only 8 of which have been developed. The islands are surrounded by an extensive reef system 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, there are six dives of special significance that are located off of five different 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, barracudas and grunts.
Four additional islands offer a variety of different experiences, from the small and shallow to the deep and extreme. Boat trips from Providenciales are offered 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 a great choice for those who like structures. A sunken British warship, sea caverns, and some great vertical walls are available here to explore. Along the walls, divers can watch the humpback whale migration 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 which include extensive hard coral beds with different colors and shapes. Get up close and personal with a host of wildlife ranging from turtles to barracudas.
When to Go
With warm waters and sunshine year-round, there is no bad 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.
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