The Most Common Mistakes While Diving at Turks and Caicos

14th August 2017 10:09 am

SCUBA diving is one of the biggest attractions of the Turks and Caicos and is a world class diving destination. It is home to one of the longest barrier reefs in the world and is considered a biodiversity hotspot. People enjoy diving the Turks and Caicos because of the excellent visibility (up to 200 feet), abundant tropical marine life, and walls that have steep drops into the deep blue abyss.

In addition to exciting walls, Turks and Caicos divers can also enjoy easy access (with some reefs located relatively close to beaches) and old shipwrecks littered across the sea floor.

While Turks and Caicos diving is simply sublime, you should always pay special attention to ensure safety and maximize your enjoyment. No matter your experience level, here are some common mistakes divers have made while diving the Turks and Caicos:

Skipping Wall Diving

There are countless ways you can dive the Turks and Caicos, but the three islands that are the most visited are Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and Providenciales. While all three have distinct experiences, they all share a common trait that you shouldn’t skip: wall diving.

The Turks and Caicos archipelago is made up of two island chains that sit on two limestone banks, which are separated by the Turks Island Passage, a 6,000 foot deep channel.

Depending on which wall you dive near, you can see a wall that drops anywhere from 30 feet to thousands of feet nearly straight down into darkness. While there are plenty of “mini walls,” some of the most impressive wall dives of note include:

North West Point

North West Point is famous for its steep wall and is approximately a 45 minute boat ride off the west coast of Providenciales. It drops thousands of feet into darkness, but there is an incredible amount of life in the gullies, cracks, and overhangs of the wall. It is highly recommended to bring a flashlight on these dives as much of the marine life lives in the wall recesses.

West Caicos

West Caicos is a 75 minute boat ride from Providenciales. Stretching along the West Caicos shore is an outstanding wall that starts at 50 feet before disappearing below. This is a great place to spot eagle rays, reef sharks, and other large fish.

This site is often a favorite dive site for private boat excursions.

Diving Only from the Beach

There are several dive sites you can access from the beach. While it’s convenient, there are so many more spectacular dive sites that are only accessible by boat ride. Private charters enable friends, family, and small groups to dive without any schedule and experience the sites few people have seen.

There’s a lot of flexibility with a small diving group. If you really enjoy a particular site, stay longer! If you feel you’ve seen all that you can see, ask the captain to take you somewhere else. Private dive charters enable divers to see the best spots around French Cay, West Caicos, Provo, Pine Cay and beyond.

Many charters also provide long dives, even longer surface intervals and superb food and drinks that will satisfy all types of divers.

Relying Too Much on Your Guide

It’s simply good diving practice to learn how to navigate with a compass or trying to figure out the best dive pattern for a new site. That goes double when you’re diving at the Turks and Caicos. While many operators have expert guides, your safety is ultimately your own safety, especially when you’re diving with a group where the guide can’t watch ever diver.

Pay attention to the dive briefing, take notice of landmarks and directions, and be an active participant of your dive. Feel free to appreciate the natural environment around you, but don’t get too heavily focused that you don’t know what’s happening around you.

Lacking Situational Awareness

The Turks and Caicos dive sites are jaw-droppingly beautiful so it’s understandable that you can’t help but stop and stare. It’s far too easy to want to explore on a reef or follow a school of fish that you get caught in a current or just drift away from the rest of the group. Or, you get so entranced that you accidently kick a fellow diver in the face.

It’s understandable, but it’s also dangerous. This is especially true when you dive near a wall that with a drop thousands of feet below you. Wall dives are spectacular, but they are also particularly notorious for this. A diver’s attention will be completely on the wall and won’t notice that they are slowly descending.

While the Turks and Caicos diving operators have a great track record of safety, situational awareness can be an issue simply because the sites are so phenomenal.


Filed under: Beaches, Diving, freediving

Turks and Caicos Weather in July

1st July 2017 11:37 am

Because the islands are near the equator, the Turks and Caicos is said to experience about 350 days of sun each year and with seasons that are better described as wet and dry rather than spring, summer, fall, and winter. Turks and Caicos weather in July is generally warm and humid. However, July does fall within the rainy season and is categorized as a part of the hurricane season. Fortunately, the Turks and Caicos has experienced few hurricanes in the month of July.

Turks and Caicos Weather in July

While localized weather patterns can’t be predicted long term with strong accuracy, the Turks and Caicos temperatures in July tends to be average between 30.5°C and 26.5°C (or 87°F and 80°F respectively).

Turks and Caicos receives an average of 30 mm (or 1.181 inches) of precipitation in July. Interestingly, if it does rain, it tends to rain mid-afternoon.

Officially, July is part of the hurricane season (from June 1 to November 30), but hurricanes are actually rare for the islands. In fact, the Turks and Caicos has only suffered damages in 2008 (Grand Turk and South Caicos) from Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Hanna, in 1960 from Hurricane Donna, and in 1926. Hurricane Ike damaged 80% of Grand Turk’s structures.

You should always pay attention to and monitor weather reports regardless of when you visit. While it is historically unlikely for hurricanes to develop, it’s still nice to be forewarned of any rain!

Turks and Caicos in July

The Turks and Caicos is a year round destination, but July is typically categorized as an off-peak travel month (with November through December considered peak travel). This means if you look carefully and don’t mind the chance of rain, you can find great Turks and Caicos resort deals.

Mosquitos

Keep in mind that the Turks and Caicos are in the natural habitable range of mosquitos. The presence of mosquitoes on the islands is greatly influenced by the amount of rain, so mosquitoes generally aren’t a problem in July unless there’s heavy rainfall.

Turks and Caicos weather in July may increase the encounter of mosquitoes. However, that also varies by where you are located.

Grace Bay and other tourist regions in Providenciales usually see far fewer mosquitoes than the more remote west coast. Also, areas that are in the path of eastern trade winds usually minimize mosquito presence.

Grand Turk and Salt Cay also have less serious mosquito problems because these places lack dense vegetation and there aren’t many natural sites that collect rainwater or form pools, which are common mosquito spawning grounds. They are also experience breezes that aren’t conducive to mosquitos.

However, North and Middle Caicos, Parrot Cay, and Pine Cay, have many sites that are ideal mosquito spawning sites and tourists can experience severe mosquito exposure after heavy rains.

Activities

July conditions are great for watersports during this time. The seas are generally fairly calm and while it’s hot, there’s almost always a gentle breeze to take the bite out of the heat. If it rains, you’re already in the water!

Stand Up Paddleboarding

The waters around Turks and Caicos are warm year round and can be exceptionally calm on the shallow beaches. This makes stand up paddleboarding a great activity for families, kids, or people who want a more relaxed activity.

Some special tours using paddleboards include eco-tours you can take 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.

Kayaking

Kayaking is great to explore 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.

Like paddleboarding, you can embark on kayak eco-tours that let you explore the Turks and Caicos’ natural beauty.

Snorkeling and Diving

Underwater activities are great because the Turks and Caicos islands are surrounded by natural reefs teeming with sealife, giving you plenty of exciting sites to explore.

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, diving is an excellent July activity. You can descend and scale walls that are dozens of feet to over 100 feet that are overflowing with life.

Kiteboarding

With the islands located in an intersection of trade winds and surrounded by beaches that are shallow for hundreds of feet out, kiteboarding is one of the most popular activities in the Turks and Caicos..

It’s easy to find PASA and IKO certified kiteboarding instructors with decades of experience with many of them participating in kiteboarding events.

Events

The Race for the Conch Eco-Seaswim is a 0.8km, 1.6 km, and 3.7 km (0.5 mile, 1 mile, and 2.4 mile) competitive swimming event with a  special 100 metre race is held for those 12 and under. It’s an amateur competition so families can register to race on their vacation!

Another event is Windvibes, the Turks and Caicos’ only kiteboarding event. It has been an annual competition since 2007 and has grown to include kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and swimming events.

Less competitive events will include log throwing, a flipper race, potato sack race, limbo, and kite pumping competitions. You don’t need to be a kiteboarder to get involved! It generally occurs between the months of June and November.



Turks and Caicos Island: Grand Turks Water Excursions

7th June 2017 9:52 am

The Turks and Caicos islands are stunning Caribbean islands that have plenty of beautiful sites and fun activities in around the beaches. Nearly every visitor to the Turks and Caicos islands wants to spend at least some time in the water.

 

While all the biggest and most popular Turks and Caicos resorts are on the Providenciales island, some of the best shore and water excursions can be found around the Grand Turk island.

Things to Do on Grand Turk Island

Because Grand Turk is the second most populated island after Providenciales and is the historic and political center of the country, you have a lot of options as to what you can do while you’re on the island.

 

The capital city, Cockburn Town, was the first permanent settlement on the Turks and Caicos islands. It was founded in 1681 by salt collectors and is now an an intimate Caribbean town that is easily walkable and has many interesting sites to see, including:

  • The National Museum of Turks & Caicos Islands
  • Grand Turk Lighthouse, the highest point of the island
  • Columbus Landfall National Park

 

But again, you’re in the Caribbean! Islands are fun, but there’s a whole new world for you to explore off the coast!

Grand Turk Shore and Water Excursions

Grand Turk shore excursions open up a broader variety of things for you to do on your Turks and Caicos vacation. The Caribbean has a rich biodiversity that is only visible and can only be appreciated only if you’re willing to get wet.

Diving Excursions

The Grand Turk island is formed in a unique way that makes it an exciting place for divers. It’s well known for wall diving and countless marine creatures call the reefs and walls home.

 

The famous Grand Turk “wall” runs the entire leeward side of the island. It is the third largest reef in the world with a drop that goes from 15 feet (4.57 meters) to 7,000 feet 7,000 feet (2.13 kilometers). That means you’ll find yourself in a company of plenty of underwater life hiding and living among the ledges and shelves of coral covering the wall.

 

Some of the most interesting dive sites among the over dozens of dive sites on the Wall include:

 

  • Black Forest
  • Tunnels
  • Sand River Canyon
  • Tunnels
  • Cecil’s Reef
  • Windmills
  • Tiki Hut
  • Library Reef

 

Diving with Big Blue Unlimited?

When you head out to dive sites with Big Blue Unlimited, you’ll be in a small group of no more than nine divers that will allow you to feel like you have the entire site to yourself. There’s no rush either. There are no dive time limits and a strong emphasis on flexible dive profiles. Big Blue Unlimited has been offering private Turks and Caicos diving excursions since 1997.

 

You’ll get to the dive sites quickly and comfortably and geared up with everything you need, including:

 

  • Cressi mask and fins
  • Oneill wetsuits
  • Suunto computers
  • Aqualung BCD’s
  • Sherwood regulators

 

All boats are fitted with O2 kits and are TCI marine certified.

Snorkeling Excursions

Just like diving, snorkeling is an excellent Grand Turk shore excursion. While you can’t quite go as deep as you can while diving, the Grand Turk wall still has magnificent displays of life closer to the surface.

 

If the 7,000 feet sheer drop is too intimidating, there are plenty of snorkeling sites at reefs or shelves around Grand Turk that is teeming with fish, coral, and invertebrate life. One of the more popular places to snorkel near Grand Turk is a smaller cay called Gibbs Cay.

 

Gibbs Cay is a small island located approximately one mile (1.5 km) off the southeastern coast of Grand Turk. Also known as Stingray Cay, Gibbs Cay main attraction is the vast numbers of stingrays that call it home. You’ll have a great opportunity to see them as many tour guides boaters feed them fish and squid feed.

 

Snorkeling with stingrays might seem intimidating, but the stingrays at Gibbs Cay are very familiar and friendly towards people. Some tour guides are even known to pick them out of the water while teaching visitors about the animal.

Open Water Excursions

Many charter boat operators are always on the lookout for open ocean encounters, especially during animal migration seasons. The Big Blue Unlimited team is constantly keeping a weather eye out and are willing to ferry divers to sightings.

 

Imagine the once in a lifetime experience of swimming with agile dolphins, graceful whale sharks, and the massive humpback whales.



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.



Unique wedding activities when getting married in Turks and Caicos

30th April 2017 7:36 am

It’s hard to top getting married in Turks and Caicos. The spectacular white sand beaches and stunning turquoise waters gives you plenty of opportunities to create picture-perfect moments.

 

Having your wedding or honeymoon in Turks and Caicos will put you in a small but elite group as well. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Tony Parker and Eva Longoria, and Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld all married or honeymooned here.

 

But more importantly, a Turks and Caicos wedding will put you in the perfect place for what REALLY matters: the honeymoon. We’ve previously mentioned some of the most luxurious Turks and Caicos resorts (many of which, offer wedding catering), but this island nation is also the premier location for some of the most exciting Caribbean excursions and activities.

 

Whale Watching

Any wedding can have a live band. But it’s truly a breathtaking moment when you and your new spouse gets serenaded by migrating humpback whales on their way south to their winter feeding grounds (or seas).

 

Whale watching in Turks and Caicos is one of the most memorable experiences for tourists. The best times for whale watching is from December to April, so definitely consider this activity if your wedding or honeymoon falls within this timeframe.

 

While the appearance of these majestic creatures can’t be guaranteed, we can promise that we would make the effort to spot them. Even if you’re doing a snorkel or diving trip, the moment whales get spotted, all of our boats are alerted.

 

Kayaking

With calm waters and shallow channels, kayaking is a favorite visitor activity. Whether you’re paddling into the sunset or just drifting under a full moon, kayaking gives you many ways to enjoy the waters.

 

Many parts of the islands are made of forests of mangroves. If you and your spouse are both adventurists, then kayaking is the best way to truly explore your Caribbean paradise. You’ll learn about the mangrove habitats, coastal ecology, island fauna and flora, and spot animals like iguanas and birds. You can even do multi-day kayaking trips for a truly unique experience.

 

Because a kayaking excursion is whatever you and your spouse make of it, it is a great honeymooning activity whether you are beginners or experienced kayakers.

 

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Like kayaking, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is a great activity for active newlyweds. And when you go on a Turks and Caicos stand up paddleboarding excursion, you can easily paddle your way into an island national park and nature reserve made up of mangrove forests, channels, coral reefs, and cays.

 

However, if you want a more low-key honeymoon, SUP can also be a relaxing alternative. With calm, clear waters, SUP gives you an unobstructed view beneath the waves surrounding the islands without getting your hair wet.

 

So whether you want an easy 90-minute sightseeing trip or a four-hour adventure, stand up paddleboarding is a low-cost activity that offers the best of both worlds.

 

Kiteboarding

For a truly unique experience, it’s tough to beat kiteboarding on your honeymoon. With year round trade winds, warm ocean waters, shallow coastline, and scenic beaches, couples can let loose after a tightly scheduled wedding.

 

Even if both of you are kiteboarding beginners, our team of instructors has decades of combined experience that will get you cruising on the waves in mere hours.

 

Snorkeling

Put the wedding out of your mind and focus on exploring the coastal marine ecosystem with your new husband or wife. From beautiful reefs to vibrantly colored fish, snorkeling in the calm waters of the islands is one of the best ways to relax after a hectic wedding.

 

The Turks and Caicos islands have plenty of snorkeling sites to choose from, with no two experiences being the same. Snorkel during the night is an entirely different experience from the day, with different creatures taking their turn to be active. Or embark on an adventure like a snorkel cruise or snorkel ecotour or even combine with it stand up paddleboarding.

 

Or, you can keep it intimate with a private snorkeling excursion that will take you to secluded sites and beaches.

 

SCUBA Diving

People from all over the world go to Turks and Caicos for SCUBA diving. And when it comes to diving, smaller is better. New couples will join small groups to keep their diving experiences more intimate, and giving them greater opportunities to see the amazing marine life of coral reefs and walls without the disruptions of too many divers.

 

Dive the world-class reefs and walls in Grace Bay, Pine Cay, NW Point, French Cay and in West Caicos at your leisure. Spend the entire day traveling from site to site to dive unique locations. With favorable conditions and luck, you might even get to swim with whales and dolphins!

 

If you’re both new to diving, there are even diving courses that’ll get you comfortable in the open water.

 

Private Charters

You chose wisely when you decided on a Turks and Caicos wedding or honeymoon. The Caribbean islands are beautiful and there’s no better way for a newly married couple to see it than on an intimate, private charter.

 

Why limit yourself to a single activity when you can do it all on a private charter?

 

Cruise the nearby Caicos Cays or distant West Caicos and South Caicos with your new husband or wife. Stop if you see a spot you like and take out the paddleboards, kayaks, kiteboards, or snorkels for a private adventure.

Biking

While the beaches and ocean are some of the best places to be on a Caribbean island, the island interiors are fantastic in their own right. Enjoy whichever island you are on by bike. Biking the islands is one of the best ways you and your spouse can truly appreciate your honeymoon or wedding location.

 

You can do it on your own (some villas offer complimentary bicycles to their guests) or join a bike tour.

 

The North Caicos biking eco-tour will take you on a 12-mile tour of North Caicos’ interior. You’ll see the farming community of Kew, the Wade’s Green cotton plantation ruins, and the 250-feet deep blue hole, Cottage Pond.

 

So What’s Next?

No matter what you plan to do, your Turks and Caicos wedding or honeymoon will be spectacular. It can be relaxing or it can be full of adventure. In both cases, Big Blue Unlimited is dedicated to helping you create a memorable experience of your first days as a married couple.



New Snorkel cave found on West Caicos!

22nd March 2017 10:10 am

There is nothing better than discovering new places in the Turks and Caicos and after 16 years of exploring these islands we thought we’d covered most of it. But on Christmas Eve, whilst on a full-day adventure to West Caicos onboard our new luxury vessel, Luna Del Mar, we anchored in a sheltered cove along the leeward coast of West Caicos and discovered something exciting.

Luna Del Mar at West Caicos

It was a beautiful location where the seafloor quickly dropped down to a coral shelf at about 25ft in depth and then continued onto the sandy plain that runs out to the deep wall.  The water was very clear and there was healthy amount of fish swimming along the edge of the shelf. I noticed an open slot in the limestone and swam down to investigate.

With my legs vertically above me I poked my head down through the hole and was very excited to see a largish cave or tunnel extending under the rock to a beautiful opening about 30ft away. The cave itself was clearly providing shelter to a number of fish including a family of surgeon fish. The roof and sides of the cave was a wealth of invertebrate life including sponges, feather-dusters and various miniature corals.

West Caicos cave

We spent a fun hour free-diving down again and again to see the cave and view its inhabitants.

One of our guests, a gutsy 10 year girl, was an excellent free-diver and managed to build up her courage to make it through the cave unassisted. Not a bad feat at 25ft of depth.

West Caicos cave


Diving and Dolphins at French Cay

11th February 2012 11:54 am

A pod of 6 dolphins greeted Laura, Brent and guests first thing this morning. The water was mill pond flat, perfect for a day’s diving at French Cay.

After their encounter they did their first dive at the stunning site of “double d” with sharks and eagle rays to boot. The second drift dive was off the charts! 2 huge Eagle Rays interacting with each other, followed a few minutes later by a 5ft Nurse Shark.

On the way back they found another dolphin. another stellar day with Big Blue in the TCI!

Diving French Cay – Turks and Caicos

Diving at French Cay is one of our favourite spots and a more advanced site, but it is worth it as the account of just one dive above testaments! The Cay is about 60 minutes by boat from Leeward with one of our dive charter boats


Filed under: Diving