The Wildlife of the Turks and Caicos Islands

30th May 2017 8:41 am

The Turks and Caicos islands are one of the top destinations for travelers and vacations—for good reason too. The islands have beautiful beaches, temperate waters, and stunning coral reefs. It’s the very picture of paradise. wildlife of turks and caicos

Countless animals think the same thing and have done what many tourists hope and dream of doing. They call the Turks and Caicos islands home.

In fact, many biologists and ecologists view the Turks and Caicos islands as a biodiversity hotspot. The United Kingdom archipelago territory is home to many native land and marine organisms as well as introduced species beginning from the days of the Caribbean’s earliest salt-pan establishments.

The United Kingdom and Turks and Caicos Islands Governments share responsibility in conserving and preserving the nature reserves. The natural ecosystems are so well regarded that the United Kingdom has placed the islands on their list for future UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

While many Turks and Caicos vacations are geared towards luxury retreats and water activities, there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty while learning about the island’s wildlife and delicate ecosystems at the same time.

Here are some wildlife visitors can hope to see during their Turks and Caicos vacation.

Land Animals of the Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos islands are home to the critically endangered rock iguana. It is the largest indigenous land animal still alive, but with only about 50,000 left in existence.

The best place to see the iguanas is Iguana Island (or Little Water Cay) near Providenciales. While it’s possible to kayak to Iguana Island from Providenciales, you can also hire private charter boats to take you there.

Birds of the Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos islands are common nesting sites for a variety of birds with over 200 species of birds observed on the islands. Each of the seven major islands and 40 smaller islands and cays have their own unique terrain and ecosystems so birdwatchers will see different birds depending on what type of habitat they are observing from.

Because the Turks and Caicos islands are relatively free of development, most of the birds on the islands are not used people. While the Turks and Caicos resorts will see the occasional green heron or cattle egret, the most avid birdwatchers will want to travel to some of the more remote areas of the islands to spot larger wading birds and the less common species.

The islands and cays hold a variety of ecosystems, which creates a huge spectrum of niches for birds to fill.

The ecosystems include:

 

  • Beaches, coves, and tide pools
  • Mangrove forests
  • Inland saline ponds
  • Rocky cliffs
  • Caves
  • Wetlands
  • Forests

 

While the vast majority of the birds are skittish and tend to avoid humans, there are some great ways to get close enough for photographs. For wetlands like marshes or mangrove forests, kayaking or stand up paddleboarding is great way to get around. Kayaks and stand up paddleboards are quiet, unobtrusive, easily navigable, and extremely eco-friendly. You’ll see the unique mangrove cuckoo, West Indian whistling duck, several varieties of herons, and more.

Biking is great for inland birdwatching sites, especially for places within North and Middle Caicos islands. You’ll be able to see flamingos, antillean nighthawks, gnatcatchers, and more.

Marine Animals of the Turks and Caicos Islands

It’s no surprise that marine animals are one of the highlights of the Turks and Caicos islands. There are countless snorkel and dive sites that practically opens a whole new world for you to explore. While there are too many species to list, some notable marine life you may encounter include sharks, barracudas, lionfishes, sea turtles, and coral.

The barrier reef is absolutely teeming with fish, rays, coral, sponges, and more. Obviously, snorkeling and diving are the best ways to get close, but you can also see marine life above the water line. Sea kayaking and stand up paddleboarding or alternatives if you don’t want to get your hair wet. They’ll also make it less intimidating when you encounter sharks.

While a bad reputation still hovers around sharks, sharks are absolutely necessary for a healthy Caribbean environment. You’ll find grey reef sharks around the barrier reef and nurse sharks and lemon sharks in the wetlands.

Turks and Caicos has an amazingly low shark attack rate despite the number of sharks in the area. There have been only three recorded shark attacks on humans in the Turks and Caicos, and none of those cases resulted in loss of limbs or fatalities.

Whales of the Turks and Caicos Islands

If you’re lucky enough to have a Turks and Caicos vacation between the months of November and April, you’ll have a chance to encounter dolphins and the migrating humpback whales!

These are superb times for whale watching. Many boats are on the lookout for whales during this time and will happily take their divers to a nearby sighting, giving them the rare chance to swim and dive with the whales.

During this time, humpback whales are migrating to their feeding grounds near the poles from their nursery grounds in the tropics. So not only does this mean you might be able to see a humpback whale, you might a mother with a calf!

 

Best Ways to Spot Wildlife on Turks and Caicos

Exploring the natural reserves and spotting land and marine life are excellent eco-friendly things to do in Turks and Caicos, and there are several ways to do it.

We’ve mentioned kayaks, stand up paddleboards, kayaks, charter boats, diving, and snorkeling. They each have their strengths in spotting wildlife, but it really depends on what kind of habitats you want to explore.


Filed under: Eco adventure

5 Ways to Enjoy the Turks and Caicos Islands

17th May 2017 11:31 am

Vacationing in Turks and Caicos is one of the best traveling decisions you will ever make. The archipelago nation’s tourism strikes a careful balance between luxury resorts complete with royal treatment and nature reserves brimming with life and beauty and waiting to be explored.

 

Whether you are are traveling family, a honeymooning couple, or a solo adventurer, there are plenty of ways to enjoy and experience the Turks and Caicos Islands. And because it’s made up of seven main islands and over 40 smaller islands and cays, it’s easy to find a site that suits you and your vacation pursuits.

 

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: hitting the beaches. Providenciales has several beaches that are consistently ranked among the best in the world by Condé Nast magazine and World Travel Awards. There’s good reason too. With stunning white beaches made of powder soft sand and clear turquoise waters, these beaches are what people think of when they imagine a Caribbean paradise while daydreaming in front of their laptops during a conference call at work.

 

However, if you don’t want to spend your entire trip lounging at the beach, here are some of the favorite and most popular picks by tourists while you vacation in Turks and Caicos.

#1 Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Stand up paddle board (or SUP) can be done by nearly anybody and nearly anywhere. The waters around Turks and Caicos are warm year round and can be exceptionally calm on the shallow beaches. This makes it a great activity for families, kids, or people who want a more relaxed activity.

 

The great thing about SUP is that it is what you make of it whether you’re a beginner or seasoned paddle boarder. It can be a leisurely way to sightsee or it can be a full body workout—whatever you’re in the mood for.

 

There are even special eco-tours you can take while on a stand up paddle board. You get to venture into mangrove channels and national parks to see delicate ecosystems supporting nesting birds. Or, you can skim over clear waters near reefs and see vibrantly colored marine life right beneath your board.

 

Stand up paddle board is a very affordable activity too. It requires very little gear—just a board and paddle, hence the name. You can try it out for an hour or be out on the water all day on a touring excursion.

#2 Kayaking

Like stand up paddle boarding, kayaking is another popular way to traverse the beaches, shallow channels, tidal creeks, and around the cays. It’s a quiet and non-intrusive way to get close up pictures of wildlife like iguanas and birds.

 

Any accessible waterway can be explored by kayak while you’re on the Turks and Caicos islands. You don’t have to stay on one island either. Kayaks are lightweight and easy to transport with boats and trailers.

 

Kayaks can easily be the highlight your entire Turks and Caicos stay. Become a part of a private multi-day kayak expedition where you will camp or travel inn-to-inn to explore nature reserves and the endless beaches.

 

If you’ve already reached your preferred tan, you can kayak during sunset. Enjoy a completely different experience in cooler temperatures and watch the sky light up in fiery shades of red. You’ll also see completely different marine life as the nocturnal creatures swap with their daytime counterparts to take their turn on and around the reefs.

 

Similarly to stand up paddle boarding, kayak rentals are reasonable and there are a variety of options.

#3 Snorkeling and Diving

Turks and Caicos has marvelous conditions for underwater activities: great weather, warm and clear water, and shallow reefs teeming with fish, coral and marine life.

 

Snorkeling and diving is a real treat that you can partake in every single day you’re on the islands. You can’t get sick of either—there are just too many snorkel and dive sites to visit and no two are the same.

 

In fact, there are snorkeling tours that will take you out to several snorkel sites.  Knowledgeable guides can help you identify the hundreds of different fish and describe the important coral reef ecology.

 

If you’re more comfortable with deep waters, Turks and Caicos is a tough place to beat in terms of quality dive sites. You can descend and scale walls that are dozens of feet to over 100 feet that are overflowing with life.

#4 Kiteboarding

For a unique experience, try kiteboarding. With the islands located in an intersection of trade winds and surrounded by beaches that are shallow for hundreds of feet out, kiteboarding can be a great activity for beginners and experts alike.

 

Since Turks and Caicos is such a hotspot for kiteboarding, it’s easy to find PASA and IKO certified kiteboarding instructors with decades of experience. It won’t take long for beginners to get a good run or an advanced intermediate to pick up and refine the more flashy techniques.

#5 Whale Watching

November to February are great months to spot whales in the Turks and Caicos. This season coincides with the humpback whale migration as they transit towards their northern feeding grounds. You might even catch sights of a few calves as the Caribbean is a known breeding ground.

 

These, of course, are chance encounters. However, if there’s an opportunity, you can bet we’ll let you know when you’re out on a snorkeling or diving excursion. If we catch wind of whales nearby, we’ll pack up your gear and make our way over to give you a chance to snorkel or dive with whales!

 

The opportunity to swim with these majestic creatures shouldn’t be missed.

 

Do… Everything?

Depending on how long your trip is, it might be possible to do every one of these activities. You don’t even have to do them separately. You can sign up for private charters that can take you to places most tourists don’t even see.
These charters aren’t operated by small dinghies. They’re sizable boats that can store kayaks, paddleboards, and snorkeling and diving gear, so you don’t have to pick and choose.



How to Book and Enjoy A Stand Up Paddle Board Vacation

10th May 2017 7:37 am

Stand up paddle boarding is one of the most popular activities to do on calm waters. Fortunately, the islands of Turks and Caicos are surrounded completely by calm waters, which makes it a great destination for stand up paddle boarding.

 

But what is stand up paddle boarding and why do so many people find it so fun?

 

Stand up paddle boarding (or SUP) has a low bar for entry, which makes it great for nearly everyone. It requires very little gear—a board and paddle—and it takes only moments for even the greenest beginners to get the hang of it.

 

Once you have the equipment, you can take yourself out and navigate the beach, wetland, marsh, river, lake, and more.

Why Do Stand Up Paddle Board on Vacation?

With so many activities you can do while vacationing in Turks and Caicos, why even consider stand up paddle boarding? We already mentioned that it’s easy to start, but it’s also what you make of it. Here are some different ways you can enjoy stand up paddle boarding on your vacation.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding As A Workout

Yes, vacationing should be about letting yourself go: Order the fresh lobster sauteed in extra butter, and don’t forget to end dinner with a slice (or two) of tiramisu cake.

 

But if you’re the type that needs to keep your calorie intake and expenditure in check, SUP is a great form of exercise while on a Caribbean vacation. Don’t coop yourself up in your resort’s gym. Take your exercise to the beaches and enjoy the sun and waters. You’ll paddle directly over barrier reefs and countless fishes and other marine life.

 

SUP is a full-body workout that activates your core, shoulders, glutes, and calves, and your sense of balance is constantly tested. Like jogging or rowing, you decide how fast and how far you want to go.

 

Want a little competition? Race the shark behind you!

 

Just kidding.

 

While grey reef sharks are common in barrier reefs and nurse and juvenile lemon sharks can be seen in the wetlands, there have only been three recorded shark attacks in the entire Turks and Caicos archipelago with zero cases of fatalities or loss of limb.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding As Leisure Activity

SUP can easily double as a leisure activity. Your SUP hourly rentals don’t come with a personal trainer so you can go as slowly and rest as often as you like.

 

Besides, what’s the rush? You can see straight through the crystal clear water to the reefs below your board, which are packed with vibrantly colorful and active life.

 

You can even time your stand up paddle board experience with the beautiful sunset. It’s a completely different experience to be on the water while the sky gently turns from bright blue to fiery orange, red and deep shades of purple. Life that was active during the day now goes to sleep and the nocturnal marine life wakes up to take their turn on and around the reefs.

Explore the Islands with Stand Up Paddle Boards

There are areas where SUP or kayaks are the best forms of transportation. Turks and Caicos, while it can be a luxurious retreat, is also teeming with wildlife.

 

Skim the waters of nearby mangrove channels and explore the national parks and nature reserves. Because SUPs are human powered, you can get up close and personal with birds and iguanas without scaring them away with loud and noxious engines.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Is Family Friendly

If you’re on a family holiday, SUP is perfect to enjoy time with the entire family whether your family has children, teens, or adults.

 

Children and adults alike can enjoy learning and exploring on stand up paddle boards. Even if every family member is a beginner at stand up paddle boarding, there’s no shortage of accomplished and expert instructors that can teach you the fundamentals. Your family will be on your way with just a few instructions and a few minutes of practice.

Where to Stand Up Paddle Board in Turks and Caicos?

Stand up paddle boarding can be done in many places in Turks and Caicos. You can do it in the mangroves of North and Middle Caicos or above the reefs of Providenciales. You can even bring SUP equipment with you on charter boats and explore secluded beaches and cays that aren’t seen by the general public.

 

Rest assured, there is no shortage of beautiful stand up paddle boarding sites on Turks and Caicos.

Planning Your Stand Up Paddle Board Vacation

When you’re ready to book your stand up paddle board vacation, whether it’s an hour-long workout or a three-day eco tour, there are several things you should look for.

 

Instructors

Even though stand up paddle boarding is relatively easy and straightforward, you are always at the mercy of the tides. Nothing can beat the power of the ocean.

 

Make sure that you are able to feel comfortable on the water and using the equipment. Always feel free to ask for an instructor. They know their equipment and locations better than anyone. Listen to their advice and pointers and follow their instructions and you will be able to fully appreciate how fun the sport is.

 

Weather and Season

Weather and ocean conditions can be fickle. While things can change on the day of your booking, you can still make plans to an extent.

 

For example, September to November is a great time to paddle board. In addition to historically great conditions, it also coincides with the annual Kalama Kamp. Kalama Kamp is a weeklong paddle board adventure that is hosted by Dave Kalama, a legendary Hawaiian surfer.

 

This experience couples paddle board instructions with wilderness, backcountry, and wave safaris to make stand up paddle boarding a truly memorable adventure.

 

Finding the Stand Up Paddle Board Experience for YOU
There won’t be any shortage of stand up paddle board rentals on Turks and Caicos. So whether you just want to workout for an hour or go on a four-hour sightseeing tour, you can sleep soundly knowing that your stand up paddle board booking can accommodate you.



The Best Beaches of Turks and Caicos

3rd May 2017 9:41 am

The fact that you’re even interested in the Turks and Caicos islands probably means that you love being near the water and have a high standard for beautiful beaches. If that’s true, Turks and Caicos is one of the best Caribbean islands for you. But with nearly 130 square miles (or 330 square kilometres) of beachfront, where and which are the best Turks and Caicos beaches?

 

Well, it depends.

 

Do you like relaxing? Do you like checking out marine life? Or do you want something that’s a little more unique and adventurous?

 

These are all important factors to determine which Turks and Caicos beach is best for you, but rest assured, those beaches are there.

 

Here’s a list of some of the best beaches to visit while you’re in Turks and Caicos.

Relaxing Beach

With seven main islands, you won’t find a shortage of beaches. Every single island will have at least a couple of beautiful and secluded beaches, but the ones listed here are award-winning can’t-miss spots.

Grace Bay, Providenciales Island

Grace Bay is on the island of Providenciales and is home to some of the most luxurious resorts in the island country. The resorts definitely picked a good spot, and many of them highlight their location for good reason.

 

Grace Bay is picture perfect and is the very image of what people think of when they think of a Caribbean beach: amazingly clean, clear water in various shades of turquoise lapping a beach made entirely of sugar white sand. With virtually no seaweed, rocks, or shells on a long stretch of the bay, Grace Bay is perfect for lounging and soaking up the rays.

 

While several resorts sit near the beach, there are few peddlers and it’s large enough that it never seems crowded.

Taylor Bay, Providenciales Island

Where Grace Bay is on the northeast side of the island, Taylor Bay is on the southwest side of Providenciales. Taylor Bay, like Grace Bay, is one of the best Turks and Caicos beaches for relaxation.

 

The water is clear, calm, and shallow, allowing beach goers to walk dozens of feet into the sea and only be knee deep in water.

 

It’s a good spot if you want to make sure you experience as little human contact as possible without venturing off to a more remote island. Just make sure you pack yourself a lunch and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and shade.

 

Active Beaches

Relaxing on the perfect beach is a perfectly fine thing to do while you’re on holiday. But sometimes, the sense of adventure can just derail your plans to do nothing. While the Turks and Caicos beaches are known for unwinding, they are also havens for people who just can’t sit still.

 

Here are some beaches that can quench your thirst for adventure.

Pelican Beach, North Caicos Island

Pelican Beach in Whitby, North Caicos is lovely in its own right but a little harder to reach. While some would appreciate if it was easier to get to, the seclusion and quiet is hard to argue against.

 

One of the best ways to get to Whitby is to bike. Biking North Caicos is a great activity if you have the time and opportunity to do it. It’s an easy 12-mile ride that will take you through the North Caicos interior, giving you a small glimpse into the farming community, plantation ruins, and the 250 feet deep blue hole, Cottage Pond.

Long Bay Beach, Providenciales Island

While we know Providenciales Island has beautiful beaches, it also has a couple of beaches that are made for active people and families. Ever tried kiteboarding?

 

Long Bay Beach is in the path of constant year-round trade winds and is surrounded by warm seas, waist-deep waters for hundreds of yards, and pristine beaches: the perfect conditions for kiteboarding and kitesurfing.

 

As Long Bay Beach is a prime location for kitesurfing, there aren’t any shortages of equipment rentals or talented instructors. With consistent wind, it’s a great place for beginners. Or, if you’re more advanced, kick off at Long Bay Beach and ride all the way to the end at Five Cays—an eight mile trip.

Leeward Beach, Providenciales Island

Leeward Beach on Providenciales Island is a lovely and quiet beach. However, it’s also a great launch off point for kayaking.

 

There’s a long stretch of calm water where you can paddle between islands and cays and seeing a wide variety of marine ecosystems. From mangroves to lagoons to reefs to Iguana Island, there are numerous sights to see.

 

You can spend all day traversing the islands by kayak. Fortunately, there are kayaking tours you can do that includes rentals, gear, and lunch. While you’re here, try to keep count of the number of conch shells. There are a lot!

Grace Bay, Providenciales Island

Grace Bay is so long that it makes it onto both lists. On one end of Grace Bay is Smith’s Reef. It is one of the best places to snorkel in Turks and Caicos.

 

It’s in the name itself: Smith’s Reef is home to a beautiful and diverse reef and snorkeling here will you put you face-to-face with colorful fan coral, eagle rays, sea turtles, and more.

 

You can walk straight into the waters and make your own way to the reef. However, there are many snorkeling tours in Turks and Caicos that will take you to amazing snorkel and dive sites.

 

Hidden Beaches of West Caicos Island

West Caicos is one of Turks and Caicos large but uninhabited islands. It’s probably safe to say that the West Caicos beaches will be fairly private and quiet.

 

Honestly, the beaches on West Caicos can be relaxing, but you have to be willing to seek adventure to get there. There are private charters that will take you to some of the best diving and snorkeling sites around West Caicos, and the captains of the boats will happily swing by some of the most beautiful beaches on the island.

 

It takes a little bit of work to get to these hidden beaches, but we all know it’s always more about the journey.