Snorkeling in the Turks and Caicos
Local advice on where, when and how to experience the best snorkeling off of Providenciales
Snorkeling is among the most popular activities on Providenciales. And with water so blue, and visibility so clear, chances are you’re going to want to explore what lies beneath. Fortunately, you don’t have to dive in order to observe some of the TCIs prettiest marine residents. Grabbing a mask, snorkel, and set of fins makes for an exciting day of discovery.
Beach snorkeling on Providenciales
One of the great things about the Turks and Caicos is you can snorkel right off the beach. This makes it accessible for adventurers of all ages, whether you’re a group of strong or less experienced swimmers. Sure, certain spots require more expertise (we’ll get to that later) but generally speaking, you can comfortably head to the beach with your whole family and have a great time snorkeling shallow waters.
What beaches are best for snorkeling
Providenciales has two superbe, easy to access locations for beach snorkeling: Bight Reef (Coral Gardens), and Smith’s Reef.
The Coral Gardens location is said to be the best spot for sea turtles, feeding frenzies of parrot fish, and tons of other fish varieties. You’ll also see lots of beautiful coral. Popular and populated, families or casual snorkelers flock to this location for snorkeling made simple. You’ll enjoy your kids not having to swim out and feel safe being so close to the beach. Combine this with lunch, or an early dinner at Somewhere Cafe, and you’ve got a wonderful family activity.
Smith’s Reef is known for its small tropical fish and eagle rays. Contrary to Coral Gardens, this area is mostly private homes so forcibly that means less people. Reefs are farther from the beach, so you have to swim out a bit more. If you are facing the buoyed off section, the best part is beyond that towards the boat lane. The best time to visit Smith’s Reef is with the incoming tide.
While Smith’s Reef offers far more to explore, it’s spread over quite a distance of coast. Coral Gardens is generally the best place to start, as the Bight reef starts directly off the beach.
Regardless of where you go, it’s always worth waiting for calm, sunny conditions for a day of snorkeling – this means avoiding north or north-east winds which create more waves on the north side. Luckily, with more than 300 days of sunshine per year and prevalent south-eastern wind, that’s usually not a problem. Ask your hosts and they’ll help you figure it all out.
Snorkeling from a boat or further offshore
There’s a host of great snorkeling spots you’ll need a boat to reach. Some are on Providenciales, while for others you’d have to head out to other islands.
Here’s a list of some Turks and Caicos snorkeling locations you may want to Google and put on your list. If you have specific questions for any of these, don’t hesitate to ask.
Providenciales – Grace Bay Reefs: take a boat out to the barrier reef with small walls and deep coral canyons ranging from 30 to 100 feet.
Providenciales – The shipwreck on Long Bay is another interesting site to snorkel around.
Providenciales/Pine Cay – There’s also a sunken shipwreck on the north side of Pine Cay, 10 minutes from Providenciales. On a calm day, this is another great place to snorkel.
Grand Turk : Observe parrotfish, horse eye jacks and butterflyfish while sea snorkeling off Grand Turk.
Salt Cay: Head to the tiny island between January and April to snorkel with migrating humpback whales.
Middle Caicos – Mudjin Harbor: The marine life here is varied, including starfish, grouper and parrotfish. Undercurrents can be strong and this is not a location for beginners.
Reefs are as fragile as they are stunning, so it’s important to explore with care. The TCI Tourism bureau published a few important recommendations:
- Never touch or stand on anything. Coral is a living organism. You’d kill or severely harm any part you touch.
- Avoid brushing anything with your flippers or gear.
- Leave everything as is, where it is. For example, don’t remove any shells, sand dollars, sea urchins, starfish and small pieces of coral.
- Avoid heavy coats of sunscreen or other lotions before snorkeling. Toxic ingredients can be damaging.
- Don’t chase or shadow any sea life.
- Refrain from feeding marine life.
- Following the rules on all signs located on our sites.
Remember you are visiting a natural habitat. As guests, we invite you to observe keenly and kindly, respecting the area at all times.
Less experienced snorkelers, or travellers with lots of gear, won’t want to be lugging snorkeling equipment from home. We understand and we’ve got everything you need at our villas. Masks, snorkels and fins are available for adults and kids.
If you have an underwater camera, bring it along. You’ll be happy to snap a few images of such beautiful scenery.
The Turks and Caicos is among the most reputed water wonderlands in the world. Indulging in a bit of snorkel will allow you to see it’s as beautiful under water as it is above.
Simon, Pina and Max