Where to Find the Best Turks and Caicos Sailing

9th October 2017 3:09 pm

The Turks and Caicos is one of the premier destinations for sailing because of its prime location in the Caribbean for professionals, amateurs, and casual passengers alike. If you aren’t interested in captaining your own boat but still want to experience the freedom of taking on the open seas, then here’s how you can enjoy some of the best sailing in the Turks and Caicos.

Safety

Before we get into how to find the best Turks and Caicos sailing excursions or companies, it’s important to understand the local geography and how that can impact your experience and safety.

The Turks and Caicos are surrounded by beautiful reefs and are cooled by tradewinds. However, the same natural environment that attracted you to the islands can also be hazards for boaters. If you decide to sail the Turks and Caicos yourself, you should familiarize yourself with the area.

Alternatively, you can charter a boat and an experienced crew to give you an unforgettable experience on the water.

Season

January through March is often one of the best times to set sail in the Caribbean. It’s not too hot yet in the open sun and there aren’t too many storms during this time. However, because of this prime time, prices tend to be higher.

Charter Companies

Charter companies are often the goto resource for when you want to sail the Turks and Caicos. Two ways charter companies are segmented are by the size and tier.

Company Size

Larger companies have larger fleets, which gives some flexibility for any schedule disruptions. They can also offer upgrades. Smaller companies tend to have better service, but a smaller fleet size means it will be harder to book with them as their openings can fill up very quickly.

Company Tier

A company tier describes the age of a fleet. First tier companies have boats that are five years or younger while second tier companies can have older boats. Many boats in the first tier companies have more advanced technology, including autopilot, GPS, stereos, and more.

However, a company’s tier isn’t really that big of an issue for passengers as the technology is more for the crew and captain.

Choosing a Charter

If you’re unfamiliar with sailing or the Caribbean conditions, it’s highly recommended that you choose a crewed charter. At Big Blue Unlimited, our fleet is manned by a very accomplished and capable crew who are dedicated to providing our passengers with an enjoyable and environmentally friendly experience.

Excursions

Our vessels are set-up as first-rate scuba diving, snorkeling and adventure platforms that are available for private charters across the archipelago. This means you can take a gentle cruise around nearby Caicos Cays or go further to West Caicos, French Cay, and even South Caicos.

No two trips are the same. Our captains will take you wherever the conditions will give you the best experience possible. Our experience of the tides, knowledge of the islands, and awareness of the reefs and wilderness can safely give you a close up encounter with the natural beauty of the Turks and Caicos.

What to Expect

Every one of our vessels are equipped with snorkeling gear so none of our excursions are just a mere boat ride. Each trip out to sea is to an impressive dive or snorkel site where you can immerse yourself with the marine life and beautiful coral.

Depending on the vessel you choose, some of our boats even have space to bring diving equipment, paddleboards, kayaks, and kiting gear.

We expect you to get hungry when you adventure with us. That’s why our excursions provide lunch! Food and beverages are served to your requirements and taste by Big Blue’s very own chef and we have a selection of healthy snacks or meals to choose from.

Book Now

Contact us now and let us know that you are interested in booking a private charter!


Filed under: Private charters

7 Things You Can’t Get from Turks and Caicos Resorts

26th June 2017 11:12 am

Turks and Caicos resorts are world famous for offering the highest levels of luxury and service in the Caribbean islands. You have a lot of variety too, from stylish guestrooms to fully equipped private villas that are outfitted with your own pools and personal chef.

While these five-star Turks and Caicos resorts and hotels are stunningly beautiful and relaxing, they can be a little lacking in things to do. To truly enjoy Turks and Caicos, you need to step beyond the resort grounds and into the pristine beaches, dive beneath the waves, or cruise above the waterline.

Here is a list of activities you might not be able to get from Turks and Caicos resorts—even the all-inclusive ones.

#7 Private Charters

Spending your entire vacation at a Turks and Caicos resort is relaxing, but you’ll actually be missing a lot of what makes the islands so special. There’s so much to see above and below the waves.

Hire a private charter during your stay and you can experience Turks and Caicos in the way it was meant to be experienced. Avoid the tourist attractions and head out into the water. You’ll visit hidden and secluded beaches where you and your group will be the only people in sight.  

Many private charters are also outfitted with snorkeling and diving equipment so you can always explore the sites you visit.

#6 Stand Up Paddleboarding

Stand up paddleboarding (or SUP) is actually offered by some Turks and Caicos resorts, however the rates can get a little pricey and you’ll have to content yourself with being one among hundreds of stand up paddleboarders on the beach.

Instead, leave the resort and rent your own from a trusted vendor. You will have a lot more freedom of where to go and for how long your want to stay out on the water. There are even special eco-tours you can take where you can explore mangrove channels and national parks to safely and respectfully view the delicate ecosystems and nesting birds.

#5 Kayaking

Kayaking is another sometimes-offered activity by a resort. Renting your own kayak is a popular way to explore beaches, shallow channels, tidal creeks, and the cays either on your own or on a tour.

There are even opportunities to join private multi-day kayak expedition where you can venture deeper into the national parks and nature reserves. There are also special hours you can kayak to catch the sunset. These kayak expeditions and sunset hours frequently take place away from the busy crowds that spawn from the resorts along Grace Bay Beach.

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

#4 Snorkeling

Snorkeling is a must-do activity during your stay at on the islands no matter which Turks and Caicos resort or hotel you are staying at. The area around the islands is perfect for snorkeling, giving you unmatched views of colorful reefs and the surrounding sea life.

While the resorts and hotels are often found near beautiful beaches, these beaches aren’t ideal for snorkeling. They are often full of tourists and the beaches, while lovely to relax and walk on, lack the exciting underwater scenery. You’ll have to venture to more isolated places away from the resorts to get the best snorkeling experience.

There are also snorkeling tours that will take you out to quieter snorkel sites.  Knowledgeable guides can help you identify the hundreds of different fish and describe the important coral reef ecology.

#3 Diving

Like snorkeling, Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales island isn’t suited for diving. What makes the beaches so great also makes for poor diving conditions. The water is shallow for dozens of yards out. Because of this, the hotels and resorts don’t offer the best SCUBA excursions.

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.

There are plenty of diving companies that can take you to amazing dive sites teeming with fish, turtles, rays, sharks, and eels.

#2 Kiteboarding

Kiteboarding is an exciting activity that many resorts can’t accommodate. Learning how to kiteboard requires PASA and IKO certified kiteboarding instructors, and because it’s such a fun sport, the beginner classes that the resorts do have are often full.

However, since Turks and Caicos is such a hotspot for kiteboarding, it’s easy to find instructors outside of the resorts with decades of experience. Class sizes are small and some even offer private lessons that can help beginners get a good run or an advanced intermediate pick up and refine the more flashy techniques.

#1 Whale Watching

If you are visiting between November to February, you’re visiting at a great time for whale and dolphin watching. This period coincides with the humpback whale migration as they transit towards their northern feeding grounds.

The resorts and hotels hardly ever have their own boats to take guests to see whales but there are plenty of whale watching charters around the island during this time.

Even if you are out on a private charter to snorkel or dive, the boat captains are always in communication and will take you the last sightings of whales if you and the other passengers are game. You might even have the chance to snorkel or dive with whales!

 



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.



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.



Catlin SeaView Survey

22nd March 2017 10:49 am

During the second week of November Big Blue’s expertise was called upon to help the Catlin Seaview Survey complete their tasks in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The mission of this 5-year global project in conjunction with the University of Queensland in Australia is ‘to record, research, and reveal the world’s coral reefs to all in high resolution, 360-degree panoramic vision.’ Big Blue provided staff, vessels and logistical support across the entire Caicos Islands for the survey team who visited the north shore reefs, West Caicos, French Cay and South Caicos.

 A team from Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet series also flew down to film a short documentary about the Catlin project and they too turned to Big Blue to aid them with local advice and diving support. Look out for this production in the coming months.

The final piece of the jigsaw and not to be underestimated; the financial backers for the whole project is the Catlin Insurance company. The CEO Mr. Stephen Catlin brought down two groups of corporate guests for a little luxury treatment and using our new vessels, a 40ft Hinckley motor launch and a 44ft Manta Cat, along-side our ever versatile ‘Live & Direct’ adventure cat Big Blue delivered once again. We introduced 14 of the guests to the delights of Scuba over two days, facilitated a demonstration with the reef survey team, and conducted one of our signature ecological education eco-tours around the reefs, cays and mangrove ecosystems along the Caicos Cays. If we were able to impress the suits and help keep the Catlin sponsorship and interest alive then our mission was accomplished.

It was a fascinating week and we will closely follow the Catlin Seaview Survey on their continued global quest. The equipment that they are using is state of the art 3-Dimensional filming equipment with technology supplied by none other than media giants Google. The camera also uses a hybrid of facial recognition software to identify coral diseases and thereby aid in the documentation and standardization of coral reef surveys around the entire planet.



New Snorkel cave found on West Caicos!

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