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Diving in Turks and Caicos

Diving in Turks and Caicos

Diving in Turks and Caicos

Diving in Turks and Caicos

Planning a dive in the Turks and Caicos Islands?  There’s plenty to see and experience!

The Wall

The Turks and Caicos Islands are one of the few dive areas in the Caribbean that boasts a dramatic ‘Wall Drop Off’ – much like an underwater cliff. Imagine that the Turks and Caicos Archipelago is the top of an underwater mountain range, with the peaks and plateaus forming the islands themselves and leaving the sheer drop off of the ‘mountainsides’ for Scuba Divers to explore!  Divers will want to listen to their dive briefing from their guides – dive with a computer and monitor their depth at all times.  And then, take that giant stride into our beautiful turquoise waters and experience the thrill of gliding along the dramatic wall.

The Wall Turks & Caicos

Sharks

We are fortunate in Provo to have a healthy, resident shark population – a great indicator of reef health!  Our resident Caribbean Reef Sharks are seen on most dives – it’s rare a morning of diving will pass without a Reef Shark sighting! These beautiful creatures are thrilling to watch as they cruise the wall.  And as there are no organized shark feeding activities on our reefs, you’ll be treated to seeing the Sharks in their most natural behaviors.  While Caribbean Reef Sharks are our most common sightings – keep your eyes out!  We are occasionally treated to a swim by of the more transient species like Hammerhead or Tiger.  Always a thrill!

Shark TCI

Rays

The most common Ray you’ll see in these Turks, and Caicos Waters are the Southern Stingray.  You’ll find these smokey grey creatures cruising over the sandy flats in search of a meal or taking a nap buried in the sand itself with just a couple of eyeballs visible! But don’t keep looking down! Spotted Eagle Rays are occasional visitors – these stunning beautiful rays are adorned with spots and ‘fly’ through the water column and can be found along the walls and reefs as well as in the shallows.  Finally, if you’re exceptionally fortunate, you might spot a Manta Ray. These large, pelagic creatures with a dark black topside and white underside cruise close to the surface, eating plankton.  They’re the least common Ray sighting here, but a few times a year, divers get lucky!

Diving in Turks and Caicos

Turtles

Perhaps one of the most chilled out creatures you’ll find on our reefs is the Sea Turtle. Most common at sites like Northwest Point and West Caicos is the Hawksbill Turtle. If you’re snorkeling from shore in Grace Bay, you’re more likely to see Green Turtles. No matter the species, its always fun to encounter one on a dive, often lazily chewing on a sponge. (Fun Fact: when we see Hawksbill Turtles eating, they usually have a Queen Angelfish hanging out scavenging for sponge morsels!).

turtles

A Myriad of Tropical Fish

Parrotfish, Angelfish, Chromis, Wrasse, Groupers, Snappers, Butterflyfish, Flounders, Eels, Coneys, Blennies, and Gobies – just to name a few!  Turks and Caicos Reefs are healthy and vibrant, boasting a diversity of species of tropical fish. If you don’t see Sharks, Rays, or Turtles on a dive, the reef is always teeming with beautiful fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors!  There’s always a chance to improve your ‘Fish ID’ knowledge on any dive – simply hover and look at a patch of reef and start naming the fish you see.  Chances are you’ll start to realize just how many different species there are and see where your gaps in knowledge are.

Diving in Turks and Caicos

No matter what you see when you take the plunge into our beautiful Turks and Caicos Waters, take some time to appreciate all the beauty and peace the underwater world offers you!

 

 

About our guest author: Jayne Baker and her husband Mickey own and operate Flamingo Divers, a boutique dive operation in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Having been full time dive instructors in the Caribbean for over 25 years, they still spend most of their days underwater.  When not diving, Jayne can be found in front of a computer pursuing her second love, professional and creative writing endeavors.

 vacation rental villas in the Turks and Caicos Islands
Fishing in Turks & Caicos

Fishing in Turks & Caicos

Fishing in the Turks and Caicos Islands

Fishing in the Turks and Caicos Islands

 

Fishing in Turks and Caicos offers exciting possibilities for those looking for “the big Catch.”
The tropical waters around the islands are home to a variety of the world’s most sought after fish. From the legendary blue marlin to the beautiful- and very edible- dorado/ mahi-mahi, as well as smaller reef fish, such as groupers and snappers, the sea around the Turks and Caicos teems with life.
Captain Roy, from local sports fishing charter company Catchin’ Caicos, highlights some of the best fish to catch while on your next Turks and Caicos sports fishing adventure.

 

Black grouper

The ugly but prized black grouper is a popular game fish for reef fishermen in the Caribbean. Known as a tough opponent on the line, black grouper must be reeled in quickly before they retreat to cover on reefs, which can lead to tangled or snapped lines. Various natural and artificial baits have been recorded to catch grouper, which makes a delicious meal.
The black grouper is a predatory fish found throughout the western Atlantic Ocean. The heaviest recorded size for a landed grouper is 220 pounds, though it is uncommon for them to grow to this size.
Grouper can be caught in the Caribbean all year round, but November through April represent the best time to fish for them.

 

 

Blue Marlin

One of the most elusive and prized fish in the sea, it is important to note from the outset that most deep-sea sports fishermen do not kill marlin – including the team at Catchin’ Caicos. Although there is a commercial market for blue marlin, it is ‘catch and release’ with this increasingly rare fish. Sports fishermen have actually been on the front line in marlin conservation, working to establish an electronically tagged marlin population in order for conservationists to figure out the best ways to protect the species.
The marlin is an extremely powerful, aggressive fish – they are sure to tire you out, rather than the other way around. Renowned as one of the hardest fish in the world to land, marlin will run long and deep on the line, leap high in the air, and fight relentlessly against capture.
A carnivorous fish, the best method for catching marlin is trolling large baits such as dolphins, mullets, mackerel, and squid, though artificial lures and strip baits have been known to have success. Marlin uses their long sword in the wild to pierce or stun prey before returning to feast. Expect your bait to be treated the same way, which can result in sudden wrenching movements. The marlin is an extremely large fish, with the largest recorded specimen weighing in at 1,402 pounds. Marlin can live in the wild for up to 27 years.
The best time of the year to fish for blue marlin off the Turks and Caicos is July through September, though they are present in the Caribbean waters from May through October.

 

 

Mahi-mahi

The mahi-mahi, or dorado, is perhaps the most prized sports fish in the world. The golden scales and jet black dorsal fin are truly beautiful, and the fish is top of the list for many big game fishermen. In death, the fish quickly loses this stunning color, so make sure any photos are taken soon after landing a dorado, or you’ll miss your opportunity.
The dorado is one of the fastest fish in the sea and can reach a top speed of more than 56 miles per hour. Weighing in at around 28 pounds (though occasionally they can reach 40 pounds,) they are nowhere near the weight and power of a marlin, making them much more attainable for less experienced sports fishermen. The dorado is also relatively abundant, found in good numbers throughout its range. The fish grow quickly, as they have a lifespan of just five years, meaning it is rare to catch anything less than a full grown dorado.
Fishing charters often look for seabirds and floating debris when hunting dorado, as the fish often swim near such debris in search of food. A net of sardines tossed into the water can sometimes lure a frenzy of dorado, which can then easily be caught on a line. Reeling the fish in isn’t easy – it will bolt in all directions, trying to escape. November through March represent the best months of the year fishing for the dorado.

 

 

Snapper

Several species of snapper can be found around the reefs of the Turks and Caicos. These fish are relatively small and easy to catch when compared to something like a wahoo, much better suited to someone who hasn’t fished much before.
The red snapper is the most striking snapper, a fish of increasing rarity. The iconic red coloring of the snapper makes it extremely popular with sports fishermen, who hunt it throughout its range in the western Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. It is an important commercial fish and popular with big game fishermen.
Red snappers are no easy catch. They tend to nibble at bait rather than take it whole, so a gentle touch is needed to bring them in. Bottom fishing over reefs and wrecks is the preferred method of catching red snappers, with squid being a preferred bait. Catchin’ Caicos’ 60 foot Hatteras is the perfect fishing yacht to catch bottom fish with their top of the line equipment, including the Krystal Deep Drop Reels. Red snappers can vary considerably in weight. The average size of a fish tends to be around 15 pounds, but the largest recorded fish was closer to 50 pounds! This may be down to the snapper’s long age, with an undisturbed fish sometimes living (and growing) for 100 years.
One can catch other snapper species in the Turks and Caicos Islands, include the pretty and extremely common yellowtail snapper and the mutton snapper. This species is most abundant in the Caribbean, weighing between 5 and 30 pounds.
Snappers can be caught all year round in the Turks and Caicos, with November through April representing the best opportunities.

 

 

Wahoo

The wahoo is beautifully striped and found throughout the tropics and the subtropics. It is a living torpedo, swimming at lightning speeds of nearly 80 kilometers per hour. They grow rapidly too, and it is not uncommon for landed wahoos to weigh in at around 100 pounds – though the record is significantly bigger, at 138 pounds! 
The wahoo is a carnivorous fish, feeding on smaller creatures that it catches around wrecks and reefs, though it spends a lot of time in deeper waters. When trying to land a wahoo, don’t be surprised when the fish makes a run for it; it may reel off several hundred yards of line in just a few seconds as it attempts to bolt. This energy doesn’t drain quickly, and you’ll be in a battle when trying to land the fish. It may jump out of the water, and even when you have it on the boat, it will wriggle and shake violently to free itself.
There are no foolproof methods for catching a wahoo. Rigged baits, strip baits, artificial lures, live bait, and kite fishing can all be used to catch a wahoo. It’s worth the effort, as the sweet flesh makes delicious eating!
The wahoo can be caught most of the year off the Turks and Caicos, with the exception of July through August. Alternatively, November through March are the months when the fish is most abundant.

 

 

Yellow Fin Tuna

The yellow fin tuna, commonly marked as Ahi, is a fish of varying size, often weighing between 20 – 40 lbs but once in a while at over 100 lbs, and is found abundantly in the healthy waters of the Caribbean Sea, which surrounds the Turks and Caicos Islands. This prized fish can be found in deep waters but is known to venture closer to the shores to feed on bait fish when the proper conditions present themselves.
A much-desired fish known for its artisan use in sashimi dishes and beyond, the yellow fin tuna has been sought after by sports fishermen for decades. Yellowfin baits are often squid or anchovy, known for attracting large schools to the pole-and-line setups onboard the Catchin’ Caicos fleet.
Catching yellow fin tuna is one of the most exciting experiences for any fisherman. Yellow fin can put on quite a show busting through the ocean water in large groups displaying their beautiful blue, yellow, and green colors accented by dorsal and ventral fins, which appear to stream away from their bodies. A true site to behold, it’s not uncommon to have multiple simultaneous strikes in this scenario leading to an exciting and intense coordination in order to land multiple fish at once. These fish put up an incredible fight, often diving deep, and the Catchin’ Caicos crew is always prepared with sharp knives and soy sauce. Upon landing this incredible fish, the crew knows how to properly bleed the fish and fillet strips of the fresh catch for their clients’ instant enjoyment leading to one of the finest and freshest eating delicacies anyone could experience while fishing in the Caribbean Sea.

 

About our guest author: Captain Roy, from local sports fishing charter company Catchin’ Caicos located at Turtle Cove in Providenciales, TCI hosts guests from all over the world for unforgettable fishing in Turks and Caicos. Catchin Caicos is a sustainable fishing business with best environmental practices such as catch and release for protected species like marlin.

Water Sports in Turks and Caicos

Water Sports in Turks and Caicos

Water sports in Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos is a water sports paradise. With the third largest coral reef in the world, flat blue expanses of Caribbean sea, and one of the top places for kiteboarding, the islands have a wealth of fun and exhilarating water activities for all.

Here are the Top 6 water sports activities in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

Boat Charter/ Island Hopping

Turks and Caicos consist of 40 islands and cays, most of which are uninhabited. Find your own fantasy island with a private luxury half day boat charter. Speed past semi-submerged shipwrecks, snorkel in crystal clear Caribbean water and enjoy an island beach BBQ with Poseidon Luxury snorkel island hopping.

Poseidon island hopping boat trip

e Foiling

It’s been described as the closest thing to flying and the most fun you can have standing up! e Foiling is a surfboard powered by a below-water electric fin that speeds you along the top of the water. This exciting new water sport has arrived in Turks and Caicos with @flytci.

Diving and Snorkeling

The Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef are one of the largest reef systems in the world, with plenty of exciting diving options in crystal clear waters.  Snorkeling is good right from the beach at Providenciales. The Bight Reef and Smith’s Reef are the two main snorkeling sites accessible from the beach. The Bight Reef is easy to access but more difficult to find; Smith’s Reef offers much more to see.

 

Kiteboarding/ kitesurfing

National Geographic named Long Bay beach in Providenciales as one of ’13 of the World’s Greatest Kiteboarding Spots.’ Beginners and experts will have a great day out with Big Blue Kite TCI

Wakeboarding

This exciting sport is similar to waterskiing and the flat vast open seas around Turks and Caicos are ideal for beginners. Keep your eyes out for friendly dolphin outriders.

Whale watching

Humpback whales are annual visitors to the waters of Turks and Caicos. Early January and the first week of April is your best time to see them. You can often take a boat trip and even swim safely with humpback whales.

swimming with whales Turks and Caicos
Whale Watching in Turks & Caicos

Whale Watching in Turks & Caicos

Humpback Whale Watching in the Turks & Caicos Islands

10 Do’s and Don’ts of Humpback Whale Watching

 

Between January and April each year, the Turks and Caicos Islands become host to a spectacular show as Humpback whales make their annual reproductive migration. Mothers and calves are frequently seen in the waters around Grand Turk and Salt Cay, along with males and occasional breeding groups.
As more and more videos and photographs of in-water encounters are shared online, we know you’re keen to get in on the action, but how can you get that dream encounter and amazing footage you’ve been searching for without stressing and impacting the whales?
Here are some do’s and don’ts to get you started!

 

Do your research!

Make sure that when you’re looking for a whale watching operator to go out with, you choose a company with experience and reputation for running excursions that aim to get you the best encounters but not at the expense of the whales’ health and comfort. Check their reviews online and talk to the company about how they conduct their tours before making your choice.

 

DON’T chase and harass the whales.

Did you know humpback whales do not feed while here in the TCI? That means a mother migrates south, gives birth, supplies milk for her calf, ensures it is strong enough to migrate, and then migrates north again using only her fat reserves. If boats are chasing and stressing the whales, they burn excess energy that should be reserved for this important life phase, meaning that chasing the whales could impact the calf’s chances of survival. Interactions with whales should be stopped if:

  • The animal starts to leave the area. They shouldn’t be pursued or chased.
  • They show regular changes in direction and speed of swimming.
  • They begin to make hasty dives.
  • They begin to show changes in respiration patterns.
  • They begin to increase dive times compared to surface times.
  • They show changes in acoustic behaviour.
  • They begin to show repetitive deep dives.
  • They begin to demonstrate behaviours that may show agitation, e.g., slapping pectoral fins.

 

DO remember that safety (yours and the whales’) is the top priority.

Always listen to the Captain and boat crew as they will tell you what is safe. There are certain situations where it may not be safe to get in the water, e.g., a heat rush where a number of males are swimming together and asserting their dominance, or if the conditions are too rough to safely be in the water.

 

DON’T forget that encounters should be led by the whales.

If they aren’t happy with the boat’s proximity, you’ll be able to tell – don’t try and force them into interactions.  Manipulating encounters to try and get the video footage you’ve been dreaming of can stress the whales unnecessarily and result in the whales responding negatively to the presence of boats in the future.

 

DO approach slowly and create as little disturbance as possible 

if the boat has more than one engine; just use one when you are approaching or watching the whales to keep any noise to a minimum. Put the engines in neutral or turn them off if the whales are resting and not moving.

 

DON’T jump off the boat and swim as fast as you can toward the whales!

By the time you can get in the water, you’ve probably spent some time allowing the whales to get comfortable with the boat. If you jump in and make a lot of noise, you’ll most probably scare the whales, and they’ll leave quickly. Slide into the water as quietly as possible from the side or back of the boat once the Captain tells you it is safe to do so. Follow your guide in the water and don’t swim past them – they have the experience, and know-how close you should safely get. If you have to swim towards the whales, swim gently on your side, so your fins don’t break the surface of the water, and don’t use your arms. This way, you keep noise and splashing to a minimum, and it doesn’t scare the whales.  It’s so easy to get carried away with the excitement of what you’re about to see, but take your time, and the encounter will be much more memorable!

 

DO take it all in 

Be in the moment, and don’t just focus on the GoPro video you’re trying to get, as you might miss the magic completely. If you’ve chosen a reputable company to go out with, they will most like be taking videos that they can share with you after the trip so you can spend your time enjoying the encounter. Check with the company first and see their policy regarding videos and sharing of footage.

 

DON’T approach other boats that are with whales

without contacting them on the radio first. Boat Captains work very hard to get their guests the best encounters possible and spend time working with the whales to build trust and get them to relax. Other boats approaching without communicating effectively can be very frustrating!

 

DO share any videos and photos

you may have with the Turks and Caicos Humpback Whale Sightings Facebook page. Throughout the past few humpback whale seasons, whale watching operators have been working through this page to submit images that can be used to gain valuable insight into humpback whales in the TCI. Photos of the underside of the tail, dorsal fin, and pectoral fins can be particularly useful in identifying whales as they have distinctive markings. These are used to match the whales to other locations. Matches have included the Gulf of Maine, Newfoundland, and even as far as Norway!

 

 

About our guest author:  Katharine Hart is a Marine Biologist and Eco tour Coordinator at Deep Blue Charters on Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos. Cathy Bacon is a marine mammal biologist and manages the Turks and Caicos Humpback Whale catalogue curated by The Marine and Coastal Ecology Research Centre.

For more information about humpback whales and whale watching in the Turks and Caicos Islands, contact KatharineAHart@gmail.com or cathyebacon@gmail.com.