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South Caicos

This 8½-square-mile (21-square-km) island was once an important salt producer; today it's the heart of the fishing industry. Nature prevails, with long, white beaches, jagged bluffs, quiet backwater bays, and salt flats. Diving and snorkeling on the pristine wall and reefs are a treat enjoyed by only a few.

In 2008 hurricanes Hanna and Ike gave South Caicos a one-two punch. Although the island has recovered, the few dive operators that were here have disappeared. The only way to dive (other than independently) is through a charter with Big Blue Unlimited out of Providenciales.

The biggest draw for South Caicos is its excellent diving and snorkeling on the wall and reefs (with an average visibility of 100 feet). It's practically the only thing to do on South Caicos other than lie on the lovely beaches, enjoy a mountain bike ride, or go kayaking. Making up the third-largest reef in the world, the coral walls surrounding South Caicos are dramatic, dropping from 50 feet to 6,000 feet in the blink of an eye. Several local fishermen harvest spiny lobsters for consumption in the Turks and Caicos, as well as for export.

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