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Diving and Snorkeling
The island's many shallow reefs offer excellent and exciting snorkeling relatively close to shore. Try Smith's Reef, over Bridge Road east of Turtle Cove.
Scuba diving in the crystalline waters surrounding the islands ranks among the best in the Caribbean. The reef and wall drop-offs thrive with bright, unbroken coral formations and lavish numbers of fish and marine life. Mimicking the idyllic climate, waters are warm all year, averaging 76°F to 78°F in winter and 82°F to 84°F in summer. With minimal rainfall and soil runoff, visibility is usually good and frequently superb, ranging from 60 feet to more than 150 feet. An extensive system of marine national parks and boat moorings, combined with an ecoconscious mind-set among dive operators, contributes to an uncommonly pristine underwater environment.
Dive operators in Provo regularly visit sites at Grace Bay and Pine Cay for spur-and-groove coral formations and bustling reef diving. They make the longer journey to the dramatic walls at North West Point and West Caicos depending on weather conditions. Instruction from the major diving agencies is available for all levels and certifications, including Technical diving. An average one-tank dive costs $45; a two-tank dive, $90. There are also two live-aboard dive boats available for charter working out of Provo.
Big Blue Unlimited. The educational ecotours from Big Blue include three-hour kayak trips and land-focused guided journeys around the family islands. Its Coastal Ecology and Wildlife tour is a kayak adventure through red mangroves to bird habitats, rock iguana hideaways, and natural fish nurseries. The Middle Caicos Bicycle Adventure gets you on a bike to explore the island, touring limestone caves in Conch Bar with a break for lunch with the Forbes family in the village of Bambarra. Packages are $255 for adults. No children under 12 are allowed. Leeward Marina, Marina Rd., Leeward, Providenciales. 649/946-5034. www.bigblue.tc.
Caicos Adventures. Run by the friendly Frenchman Fifi Kuntz, Caicos Adventures offers daily trips to West Caicos, French Cay, and Molasses Reef. The company owns several boats, including the Lady K, a luxury motor boat available for private charters. Regent Village, Grace Bay Rd., Grace Bay, Providenciales. 649/941–3346. www.tcidiving.com.
Caicos Dream Tours. Caicos Dream Tours offers several snorkeling trips, including one that has you diving for conch before lunch on a gorgeous beach. The company also offers private charters. Alexandra Resort, Princess Dr., Grace Bay, Providenciales. 649/231-7274. www.caicosdreamtours.com.
Dive Provo. Dive Provo is a PADI five-star operation that runs daily one- and two-tank dives to popular Grace Bay sites as well as West Caicos. Ports of Call, Grace Bay Rd., Grace Bay, Providenciales. 649/946–5040 or 800/234–7768. www.diveprovo.com.
Provo Turtle Divers. Provo Turtle Divers, which also operates out of the Ocean Club and Ocean Club West, has been on Provo since the 1970s. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and unpretentious. Turtle Cove Marina, Turtle Cove, Providenciales. 649/946–4232 or 800/833–1341. www.provoturtledivers.com.
Snuba Turks & Caicos. Snuba Turks & Caicos offers the next-best thing to diving for a noncertified diver; it's completely different from snorkeling but requires no experience. With the Surface Nexus Underwater Breathing Apparatus, you go down to the reef like a scuba diver, but your air tank stays on the surface. Owner Jodi will take a picture of you down below for a keepsake. Children must be at least eight years old to participate. Using a catamaran, Snuba trips now include snorkeling and going to the better reefs of West Caicos and French Cay. The year-round location is at the marina at Coral Gardens, but during high season there's a second location in Turtle Cove Marina. South Side Marina, Lower Bight, Providenciales. 649/333–7333. www.snubaturksandcaicos.com.
Turks & Caicos Aggressor II. The Turks & Caicos Aggressor II, a live-aboard dive boat, plies the islands' pristine sites with weekly charters from Turtle Cove Marina. Nine staterooms with air-conditioning,TVs and DVD players, plus communal sun decks, wet bars, and hot tubs, keep you spoiled on the water. You're met on arrival at the Providenciales Airport and taken directly to the ship. 800/348–2628. www.turksandcaicosaggressor.com.
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