The Turks and Caicos Islands are surrounded by one of the most extensive coral reef systems worldwide (65 miles across and 200 miles long).
A 22 mile-wide channel, the Columbus Passage, separates the Turks Islands from the Caicos Islands. This 8,000 foot deep passage serves as major transit lines for migrating Humpback Whales, Spotted Eagle Rays, Manta Rays, Turtles and Dolphins.
Excellent visibility (up to 200 feet), pristine reefs, abundant tropical flora and fauna, fish and other marine life, quality diving services and easy conditions make the Turks and Caicos Islands a world class and award-winning diving destination. There is exceptional wall diving starting in shallow turquoise water and dropping off into the deep blue giving a real thrill. The reef is relatively close to the beach which makes for accessible beach dives. Shipwrecks, old and new further increase the multiplicity of the islands as an outstanding diving destination.
Under the National Parks Ordinance, vast areas have been set aside as marine park and fisheries reserves, replenishment, and mooring buoys have been established at all dive sites and mooring areas to avoid any possible damage from anchors. As part of the general preservation and protection drive, divers visiting Turks and Caicos are encouraged to observe, respect an enjoy the pristine natural beauty of the marine environment and to leave the reef as healthy as they found it.
Summer waters (82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface) are certainly warm enough for swimsuits, protection in the form of a light wet suit (such as Lycra, Darlexx or Polartec) is welcomed by most divers. In the winter, water temperatures of 74 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit would suggest the use of a 2 to 3mm (1/8 to 3/16 inch) wetsuit. Computers are an advantage owing to the multi-level nature of diving in the Turks and Caicos.
Diving equipment is available for rent, P.A.D.I. certification recognized. Diving instruction is available to visitors who want to learn to Scuba Dive. Most properties offer both diver and non diver packages. Inquire with your travel agent or with the property directly.
GRAND TURK represents a wealth of tremendous experiences for the diver. Less than a quarter of a mile off shore and starting in just 25 to 45 feet of water a coral wall runs the full length of the island, with profiles ranging from steeply sloping terrain to interesting coral undercuts and perfectly vertical drop-offs. The sponge growth and fish population are spectacular and distinctively different from the other Turks and Caicos sites. You can expect Manta Rays in the summer, Turtles year-round and Whales in the winter. This is a primary corridor for migrating Humpback Whales from December through April. The remarkable walls of the Northwest Point Marine Park, starting at just 50 – 60 feet of water features vertical structures laden with elaborate, thick clusters of multi-colored sponges. Watch for schooling fish, Turtles, Spotted Eagle Rays and much more.
NORTH CAICOS Diving across the north end of North Caicos, as in the other islands, takes the form of spur and groove formations that drop from in a mini-wall from 30 – 70 feet. This is the same barrier reef that stretches across the entire northern boundary of the Caicos Islands, and the diving is similar to that found on the north shore of Providenciales. This area sees far fewer divers, with a subsequent increase in marine life. Expect an excellent fish population with the occasional larger visitor. Divers based at North Caicos frequently visit the fine sites at the nearby Pine Cay and the other Caicos Islands.
PROVIDENCIALES he remarkable walls of the Northwest Point Marine Park, starting at just 50 – 60 feet of water features vertical structures laden with elaborate, thick clusters of multi-colored sponges. Watch for schooling fish, Turtles, Spotted Eagle Rays and much more. To the north of the island is a well-developed spur and grove system, with thick fingers of coral sloping from 30 feet to a minimum of 60 feet. This drops abruptly to a sand shelf at 100 feet and is well decorated with soft corals, Black corals and thick growths of gorgonians. Many dive sites and packages as well as certification are available. Each year brings Manta Rays, Humpback Whales, Dolphins and Whale Sharks. You may be lucky to spot JoJo our local dolphin who loves to play with the divers.
SALT CAY Blessed with a wall running the length of its western shore, sites include deep sponge draped ledges as well as shallow coral gardens. Turtles, rays, Dolphins and Groupers are all encountered here. During Whale season (January through April), this is prime territory for Whale watching. To the south of Salt Cay lie the remains the HMS Endymion, a British warship that went down in the late 1700s. She now lies in less than 30 feet of water, an ancient, unsalvaged wreck site. More than a dozen cannons and several large anchors mark her.
SOUTH CAICOS Known as the big fish capital of the Turks and Caicos, with large Pelagics seen here in great numbers. A vertical wall wraps around the southern edge of South Caicos, and then extends the length of Long Cay. The wall here drops to an amazing 8,000 feet which makes for abundant sea life and magnificent colors in the coral. This is reputed to be the finest diving in the Turks and Caicos.
WEST CAICOS This a focal point for Provo based dive operators and live-aboard dive vessels. A wall running 2 miles along the western shore offers some of the finest diving in the islands, featuring some of the most mature sponge formations anywhere. Expect the Turks and Caicos trademark of clusters of Purple Tube Sponges and strands of Antler Sponges wrapped in cloaks of brilliant Rope Sponges, along with visits by Sharks, Eagle Rays, Turtles and bigger fish. The wall structure varies from dramatically sloping to breathtakingly vertical.
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