So, you’ve booked that bucket list trip to Turks and Caicos? A whole week of beach bumming around, sipping on rum punch and enjoying island vibes in one the Caribbean’s most incredible countries. Let me tell you, I was also surprised to learn there was more to island life than donning my bikini and sunbathing under swaying coconut palms. But seriously, there is literally no place better in this world for snorkeling than the stunning Turks and Caicos Islands and if you’re in the region then you absolutely must give it a go.
This breath-taking archipelago of over 100 islands lays in the middle of the Caribbean ocean and is home to an outstanding amount of low-lying coral. About 40 to be precise. Most of these corals are accessible from the main island of Providenciales, just southeast of Miami.
Some of these vibrant, marine filled corals are even reachable from the beach, making them the perfecting starting point for the snorkeling beginners among us. For the more adventurous, it is easy to charter a private boat or join a group boat tour to explore the corals just a little further out.
Either way, the whole archipelago of islands boasts a vibrant and very alive array of marine life. From coral to ray, barracudas, turtles and even sharks. Snorkeling around the Turks and Caicos Islands promises to impress. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t forget to plan some snorkeling time in amongst all that beach bathing, pool lazing and cocktail sipping. You won’t regret it.
Let’s take a look at some of Turks and Caicos Islands most accessible snorkeling spots.
The Bight Reef
Just 350 feet from the shoreline, The Bight Reef is easily the most popular snorkeling spot on the whole of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Also known as ‘coral gardens’ after the hotel it lays in front of, The Bight Reef is purposely marked out with an area that is protected by the Princess Alexandra National Park. This makes it as safe for less experienced snorkelers as it is exciting for the more daring.
At a depth of just 20 feet, this is the perfect place to spot turtles, stingrays, barracudas, parrot fish and even the occasional nurse shark and humpback whale. Another thing that makes this place a clear winner is the amenities. Not only will you find stalls to rent snorkel gear, but you absolutely must try the food and drink at Somewhere café. The best place for a well-deserved rum punch sun downer post marine life spotting.
On the central north coast of Providenciales, located at the heart of Turtle Cove, you’ll find the world class snorkeling spot, Smith’s Reef. It’s not hard to see why time and again this particular reef has been named Turks and Caicos’ best snorkeling spot. The reefs here vary from hard corals to soft garden like ones and you’re bound to bump into an array of sea life. The most frequently spotted include parrot fish, barracudas, lobsters, indigo hamlets and octopus.
With three different entrances, Smith’s Reef offers something for everyone. From the beginners amongst us, to the adrenaline junkies. The north of the reef is by far the most exciting, boasting colorful coral and an abundance of marine life. The central area is calmer and promises to impress with its littering of beautiful parrot fish. And for the beginners, the east side has shallow, calm water and a whole bunch of little, juvenile fish to enjoy.
After working up an appetite head to Mango Reef on Turtle Cove for a seafood feast of local conch and island brewed Turks Head beer over a fantastic harbor side sunset.
Grace Bay Reefs
Located on the northern side of Providenciales and constantly making it to the number 1 spot on ‘best beach in the world’ lists, I’m pretty sure Grace Bay is already top of your Turks and Caicos bucket list. With its impossibly perfect sands and warm lapping waters, Grace Bay makes the perfect snorkel spot for beginners.
If you’re feeling daring, be sure to book one of the many snorkel tours available from Grace Bay. A short sail from the shoreline will take you out to some superb reefs with coral canons from 30 to 100 feet. Plus, the views of Grace Bay from the water are breath-taking!
Many of the shops around Grace Bay offer snorkeling equipment for sale and for hire and the many cafes, bars and restaurants in the area make it perfect for spotting an array of multi-colored fish for the less adventurous and the comfort seekers among us.
The beach at Grace bay is lined with bars and restaurants that offer cocktail hours and the perfect end to a busy day on the water.
Top tips for snorkeling trips to the Turks and Caicos Islands:
1) The best time to snorkel around the islands is from December-April
Hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June through to November, so although you can travel to the islands during these times, it can be a little risky. You will get the best air fare and hotel deals but remember to keep your eyes on the weather forecast. If you plan to snorkel during monsoon season, check the water safety with the coast guard or book a boat tour.
2) Where eco-friendly sunblock
Of course, with its year-round sunshine, sunblock is an absolute necessity in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Unfortunately, the oils from standard, widely used sunblock is causing our planet’s marine life irreparable damage. Two specific chemicals Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are bleaching our corals, so please be responsible and choose a coral friendly sunblock that does not contain harmful ingredients.
3) Bring your own gear
You can rent snorkel gear on the islands, but it will cost you around $20 for a simple mask and snorkel. If you have your own gear at home and plan to snorkel on more than one occasion, then it is well worth bringing your own or investing in a good quality snorkel before you leave. Fins and a light t-shirt are also a good idea for ease of swimming and to lessen sun exposure.
4) Underwater camera
Because, you are 100% going to see the best marine life and have the best snorkeling trips of your life on the Turks and Caicos Islands!
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