Providenciales offers some great snorkeling right from the beach. Generally, the best snorkeling reefs are off the north coast, but there are quite a few interesting sites elsewhere also. See detailed information on the main locations below. If your schedule allows, it’s worth waiting for calm and sunny conditions as your snorkeling experience will be much more enjoyable.
Many stores in Providenciales sell snorkeling gear and prices range from about $30 for a basic quality mask, snorkel and flippers, up to $70-100 for a really good set. Snorkeling gear is also available for rent by the day at the SNUBA stand at the Bight Reef.
All of the snorkeling sites listed here are in national parks and it is illegal to fish or collect conch and lobster. Penalties can be harsh, especially for foreigners.
Power boats and reckless operators are the biggest danger to snorkelers. Although all of the snorkeling sites we list are in national parks with regulations on vessel speed, boaters commonly ignore these rules. Generally, the areas around the reefs are safe, but please be aware in the open spaces and far from shore.
Currents, waves and rough conditions are another concern. Generally, the popular snorkeling sites in the Bight and Turtle Cove areas have rather tame conditions, but locations off the east and west coasts of Providenciales are subject to currents and rough surf at times. Beginners and unsure swimmers should consider using a snorkeling vest.
Lionfish are probably the biggest sea life threat to swimmers. The Lionfish are an invasive predatory species from the Indo-Pacific and are quite damaging to the native fish and reefs. The fish are predators and although only reaching a mature length of about 14 inches, they consume an incredible amount of the smaller reef fish. The danger to humans come from the venomous spines on the back of the Lionfish. The stings are usually just very painful, but in worst case scenarios can cause temporary seizures or paralysis. Fortunately, the lionfish are not aggressive to humans and only sting in defensive situations.
Very small jellyfish are occasionally seen around Providenciales. The jellyfish appear usually show up in large groups, but tend to disappear after a couple days. The stings from these jellyfish tend to cause small itchy welts and are more of a nuisance than any danger. It’s extremely rare to see Portuguese-Man-Of-Wars or the larger types of jellyfish here.
Although they can look scary, sharks and barracudas should be considered harmless to snorkelers. The only known cases of shark attacks on snorkelers in the Turks and Caicos are a couple of incidents that happened to spear fishers (spear fishing results in blood and thrashing fish and is illegal here) far from shore and the attacks weren’t fatal.
This location (also known as White House Reef or Coral Gardens Reef) is by far the most popular snorkeling site on Providenciales and can be quite busy when conditions are good. This is an excellent site for beginners as the reef starts right off the beach and is clearly marked and easy to access. The reef is in shallow water, so the main interior is roped off to prevent people from touching and harming the coral. The many fish here are used to people and are more tame than the other snorkeling spots. Many different types of reef fish and a sea turtle or two can be seen here consistently, along with the occasional barracuda or small shark. Due to damaging behavior by snorkelers and sediment caused by dredging and powerboats, the Bight Reef has declined a bit from what it was fifteen years ago. See our detailed Bight Reef Snorkeling Map.
Smith’s Reef is the name for several reefs near Turtle Cove. Smith’s Reef is a lot more extensive than the Bight Reef, but is less busy as the location is a little harder to find. Impressive spotted Eagle Rays are often seen around this reef, along with sea turtles and many types of fish. The density of fish here is lower than at the Bight Reef, but there’s a lot more to explore. An excellent next stop after the Bight Reef. See our detailed Smith’s Reef Snorkeling Map.
Northwest Point Marine National Park offers some great snorkeling, but caution should be taken as the area is remote and conditions can be rough at times. Be careful not to step on any sea urchins in the shallow water right of the coast. See our detailed Northwest Point Snorkeling Map.
To get to Northwest Point, follow Millennium Highway all the way out to the end. Enter the small one lane track right after the entrance to Northwest Point Resort. There is a small sign that says “Natural Park”. After one mile, the road reaches the coast. The track continues for about half a mile along the beach before ending at the point, but it’s probably best not to attempt to drive this last part with a car as road surface conditions are poor and most vehicles (including most rental 4x4s) will get stuck in the soft sand.
We don’t recommend Northwest Point to casual snorkelers.
Many of the local watersports operators offer boat cruises geared towards snorkeling. The snorkeling experienced on these excursions is usually quite good, and the cruises often include stops at secluded beaches. Per person rates start at $60 to $80 per half day, and snorkeling gear and drinks are typically provided free of charge.