Unlike the other main islands in the country, Grand Turk doesn’t have many excellent beach snorkelling sites. Vibrant and impressive reefs surround the island, but these are either too deep to be great for snorkelling or are too far offshore to safely swim out to. If you're a qualified scuba diver, consider taking a dive trip to some of Grand Turk's excellent dive sites and the wall.
Rocky patches can be found off of many of the main beaches, but these really don’t offer more than small numbers of reef fish. You likely won’t see the coral, sea fans, larger fish and sea creatures common to the vibrant Turks and Caicos reefs.
Unfortunately, cruise ship guests typically do not have the time to do more than one of the organized activities, shore excursions or tours offered through their cruise line. As explained on our Guide for Cruise Visitors page, it’s best if you decide before you land what activities you want to do. If you want to see some of the sights of the island, visit the beaches and spend a little time snorkelling, we highly recommend that you rent a vehicle and plan your own day instead of taking an organized tour or cruise. If snorkelling is your sole interest, book a snorkelling cruise (or a combination Gibbs Cay and snorkelling cruise).
Free usage of snorkelling gear is provided on most boat excursions. However, be advised that the quality and conditions vary. If you own equipment, ensure that you bring it with you.
If the ocean conditions are calm, Boaby Rock Point offers the nicest beach snorkelling site on the island. If you can tolerate the vast amounts of seaweed and flotsam on the beach, you’ll be rewarded with a really beautiful reef in shallow water. Lush sea grass surrounds the site, and fish, coral and sea fans abound. Due to being on the east coast of the island, this beach is exposed to the constant east-southeast trade winds and can be choppy at times.
Simply due to the ease of access and (and because it’s also an incredible beach) Governor's Beach is the most popular “snorkelling site”. Here, rocks from an old jetty can be found close off the beach. A few red sea fans and some small reef fish are the main sights.
To the north, Pillory Beach also offers old coral formations and features, but the variety and abundance of life parallels what is seen at the other west coast beach sites.
The Turks and Caicos is surrounded by warm and clear ocean water teeming with marine life. There’s plenty of colourful tropical fish to see at both shore reefs and in the deeper water.
Every type of fish has its own favoured terrain.
Parrotfish, angelfish, squirrelfish, grouper and snapper like to cruise close to the reef. Tiny wrasse, butterflyfish and damselfish are highly territorial of their coral heads. Above sheltered reefs, schools of French grunts, blue tangs, and goatfish are common. In the deeper water, schools typically consist of yellowtail and horse-eye jacks.
Larger sea creatures such as barracudas, turtles, stingrays and sharks tend to enjoy a wider range.
It’s very easy to overlook small and interesting creatures. Lobsters, cowrie snails, prawns and flamboyant marine snails can be seen on almost any reef in the country.
The masters of camouflage are fascinating as well. Peacock flounders, scorpionfish and the elusive octopus are common to the islands yet are rarely see.
Many mistakenly identify corals with plants, yet they actually are classified as animals. Hard and soft corals, sea fans and sponges are abundant.
There a quite a few uniquely-shaped fish and molluscs to spot. Squids, cuttlefish, trumpetfish, lionfish and porcupinefish are present in the Turks and Caicos throughout the year.
A tiny island off the east coast of Grand Turk, Gibbs Cay offers a unique underwater experience. Flocks of southern brown stingrays, quite used to human visitors, swim up to any boats landing at the shallow water of the cay.
It’s possible to snorkel with these majestic sea creatures and see them close-up in their natural environment.
A decent selection of snorkel masks and gear are available on Grand Turk. It's better to visit one of the many dive shops (mostly located on Front Street in Cockburn Town), rather than the gift shops.
Some of the vacation villas and hotels include snorkel gear, and most of the dive shops and dive resorts rent gear.