Ecotourism excursions in the Turks and Caicos

Ecotourism excursions in the Turks and Caicos
The Turks and Caicos Islands have long been known for the riches that their financial services sector produce. However, the natural wealth if the islands has not been as appreciated, but this is starting to change.

The beauty of biodiversity

The Turks and Caicos are made up of 40 different cays - coral islands, each with their own plant and animal populations and many with fantastic snorkelling or scuba diving sites nearby. The natural beauty and ecological diversity of the islands has been recognised by the government as a tourism asset. Over 33 percent of the islands' land and sea area is officially protected, and the islands also boast the world's largest bio-diverse wetland preserve at Ramsar. This means that eco-tourism is flourishing.

Eco-tourism is tourism which heals the planet by funding projects to preserve natural habitats and allows visitors to get close to nature. On the Turks and Caicos Islands, there are plenty of opportunities to do just that. The Beach Cruiser, for example, provides snorkeling cruises from North Caicos. The resort at Bottle Creek provides kayaks for guests as well as fishing and cycling. Visitors to the islands can head out whale watching or take a scuba tour from Providenciales. More and more operators are realising the value of the ecosystems around Turks and Caicos all the time.

These eco-systems revolve around the sea - with vibrant coral reefs, white sandy beaches and wetlands alive with birdlife. However, conventional tourism has tended to damage these eco-systems in a number of ways, from pollution killing fish populations to refuse littering the pristine beaches. Eco-tourism has grown in response to the dangers posed by this kind of tourism - striking a balance between the desire of tourists to see the beautiful islands, and the need to protect them.


Projects have multiplied across the Turks and Caicos which fuse conservation with tourism. The Little Water Cay Nature Trail Program is one of the most successful. Little Water Cay has long been home to a unique population of rock iguanas, a charismatic local inhabitant who, unfortunately, became a favourite amongst tourists. Flocks of tourists began to damage the nests of the iguanas and feeding them unhealthy food. The Nature Trail has allowed visitors to see the iguanas without causing damage, with tour operators now fully trained up to be "iguana aware" and the animals are flourishing again.

Another success has been the introduction of ecologically aware kayaking in the mangrove forests of Turks and Caicos. These areas are biodiversity hotspots, and are home to exotic species like Oystercatchers, Checkered Pufferfish and Lemon Sharks. Firms like Big Blue Unlimited run kayaking tours through the mangroves which don't damage or pollute these fragile ecosystems, and allow tourists to come close to some magical species.

Ecotourism is a great way to enjoy the Turks and Caicos and feel good about protecting the environment at the same time, and few locations in the Caribbean have better excursions available.

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Date: 02/24/2014

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