As is the case with most of the dive sites in the Turks and Caicos, the excellent diving at Grand Turk is characterized by wall sites. The transitions from the typical shallow sandy bottoms (usually 40-50ft or 12-15m) to the very deep water differ, with some sites offering sheer drops and others, shelves or a more gradual edge. Reef architecture is amazing, featuring canyons, arches, sand chutes, overhangs and swim-throughs. Sharks, rays, turtles, reef fish and vibrant coral are abundant.
Underwater visibility is another consideration, and the clarity at Grand Turk is excellent. The Turks Islands group is rather small and there are no shallows, rivers or runoff to cloud the ocean and increase turbidity.
Wall dives are the norm in the Turks and Caicos, yet the many sites across the country each offer a unique perspective. The sites of Grand Turk and Salt Cay are easy-to-access, offer great visibility, and feature an excellent diversity of marine life per site.
Friendly Nassau groupers, garden eels, wrasse, parrotfish, blue tangs, angelfish, yellowtails, trumpetfish, goatfish, spiny lobster, stingrays and spotted eagle rays are common, and it feels as if you’re swimming in an aquarium.
There’s plenty of healthy hard and soft corals to see, as well as small interesting creatures as well, including shrimp, marine snails, crabs, octopus and squids.
The small island of Grand Turk was known as a top dive paradise long before the introduction of the Grand Turk Cruise Center, and hence the island supports a standalone dive industry.
Serious and overnight-stay scuba divers are best served with a local combined dive and accommodation packaged, which may include boat dives, unlimited shore dives, dining and lodging (and complimentary bicycle use for transport!).
In any case, contacting a dive company or resort directly will often get you the best rates. We advise doing a bit of online research to get an idea of prices, yet call the local business directly to see if they’ll do better.
The typical Caribbean cruise ship route stops over at several tropical ports, yet Grand Turk definitely leads the pack in scuba diving and quality of the marine environment.
Cruise visitors have the option of booking a “shore excursion” dive package through their cruise line, or independently contacting and reserving a trip with a local dive company.
Both of these options will result in dives to the same Grand Turk dive sites, yet if the dive is reserved on your own, you’ll likely be able to either arrange a private or smaller group charter, or save a little off the rate for the higher-density packaged boat tours. All dives should be guided by a professional dive master, which is great if you don’t have a dive buddy or if your skills are a bit rusty.
Grand Turk is a convenient place for diving. Nearly all of the popular dive sites are located close off the west coast of Grand Turk in the Columbus Landfall National Park, which includes the beach and waters fronting the Grand Turk Cruise Center and the country’s capital of Cockburn Town. Most of the accommodations and dive operators are located on the beach in the Cockburn Town area and it’s often only a couple minute boat ride out to the common dive sites.
For a diving-dedicated vacation, one of the packages offered by a local dive operator will be the most economical way to get in a lot of dives. For the best price, we recommend contacting the business directly.
The main Grand Turk dive companies all offer the full range of recreation dive gear for rent, but quantities may be limited on days when a cruise ship is in port. PADI certified courses up to Advanced Open Water Diver are available. See Learning to Scuba Dive.
Dive excursions offered through the cruise lines are convenient as they’re easy to arrange and depart from the cruise center, but groups are large and dive boats can get crowded.
If you’d rather dive in a smaller group, consider contacting one of Grand Turk’s dive operators on your own. Most companies provide complimentary shuttle service from the cruise center.
If you are a beginner diver (or you don't have much experience), find out what the ratio of divers to divermasters will be. PADI typically recommends a ratio of 8:1 (8 divers to 1 divemaster).