Diving and Snorkeling
Diving and snorkeling in the Turks and Caicos Islands is like going to Disneyland with no queues. The Caribbean archipelago is surrounded by the third-largest coral reef in the world, which at 104 kilometers wide and 320 kilometers long offers many spectacular diving and snorkeling sites. Excellent visibility of up to 60 meters combined with tranquil conditions, easy access and spectacular fish and coral makes the Turks and Caicos is a world class diving destination.
Here are our top ten Turks and Caicos diving and snorkeling spots:
1. Columbus Landfall Marine National Park (Grand Turk): The Columbus National Marine Park runs along the west of Grand Turk and has over 40 dive sites, all within ¼ or ½ a mile from the coast. The dive sites usually start at 25-30 feet over white sandy bottoms, with the wall plunging down to more than 7000 feet. And novice divers don't have to worry about getting cold; water temperatures in the summer hover around the mid-80s while dropping slighting to the high 70s in winter. It is also possible to try Snuba, an underwater breathing system which allows swimmers to breathe through a long hose which is attached to tanks floating on a pontoon, rather than the traditional tank which would be strapped to the diver's back. Power snorkeling is also available.
2. Amphitheatre (Grand Turk): This is just one of the beautiful dive sites within the Columbus Landfall Marine National Park. For us it is a standout because of the large v-shaped coral arch which emerges from a sheer coral cliff face. Swim through with fish, stingrays, sharks and dolphins.
3. Gibbs Cay (Grand Turk): Gibbs Cay is the place to come to snorkel with stingray. These slippery creatures will slither amongst your ankles as soon as you enter the crystal clear water from the beach.
4. Princess Alexandra National Park (Providenciales): This national park surrounds Grace Bay and for snorkelers and divers alike is easily accessible. No commercial or sport fishing is allowed in this area meaning divers and snorkels will be surrounded by colorful fish, turtles, and occasional the odd Caribbean reef shark!
5. Salt Cay: Hanging off the eastern edge of the archipelago, Salt Cay offers great opportunities for divers to see Octopus, turtles, nurse sharks, moray eels, barracudas, rays and many types of fish populate the sea around the island. More experienced divers can also enjoy enjoy a wreck dive of the HMS Endymion, a British ship which crashed on the reef in 1790. Chains, cannons and anchors of the old ship can be seen even when snorkeling. An extra bonus for visitors in winter is the migration of the North Atlantic Humpback whales which can be seen most clearly from the island.
6. Pine Cay: The 800 acre private island of Pine Cay is about 40 to 50 minutes by boat from Providenciales. It is known for its consistently good visibility - even when other sites are not so clear. Local dive operators can take divers to sites such as the Football Field, where the mooring pin is in 50fsw at the top of a steeply sloping wall. Another nice site is Eagle Ray Pass which features a beautiful array of coral.
7. West Caicos: West of Providenciales is the West Caicos, where there are six miles of protected leeward side walls 130 meters offshore with over 20 unique dive sits. It's possible to see sponges, coral formations, large grouper, Caribbean reef fish and stingrays as well as sharks, spotted eagle rays, turtles and manta rays and hammerheads.
8. Three Marys Cays (North Caicos): On the northwest tip of North Caicos is Three Marys Cays. The beach gets its name from the three little islands that sit just a few metres from the beach. This is a great spot to come snorkeling and you will likely see small octopus, lobster, starfish, lots of conch shells, sponges and urchins.
9. French Cay: This tiny island used to be a hideaway for pirates and now serves as a bird sanctuary. Because of plentiful sunlight which is constantly on the east to west-running wall, large coral and sponges are abundant. French Cay is one of the lesser known diving spots on the archipelago so enjoy the seclusion while you can!
10. Molasses Reef: Slightly west of French Cay is Molasses Reef, a one mile section of reef in open wall. The reef gets its name from the Molasses ship, the oldest European shipwreck excavated in the Western Hemisphere. It is possible to dive amongst the remains. Aside from that there are plenty of groupers to be seen as well as coral formations, sandy canyons and barrel sponges.