Not to be confused with its Turks and Caicos Rock Iguana sanctuary neighbour Little Water Cay, the exquisite and larger Water Cay is a thin two mile long island found in the string of cays between Providenciales and North Caicos.
Water Cay is a private island, yet is uninhabited and completely undeveloped.
The northern coast of Water Cay features a spectacular beach, which definitely ranks as one of the best beaches in the Turks and Caicos.
The ocean here is generally quite calm, and the ocean water is a vibrant turquoise. Much of the coastline is framed by low white limestone cliffs, which add to the scenic ambiance.
As with all beaches in the Turks and Caicos, Water Cay Beach is public up to the high tide point.
Due to Water Cay’s close proximity to Providenciales, the island’s beach is a very popular boat cruise destination. Many of the island hopping tours make their way up the cays as they visit snorkelling reefs, see the iguanas, or put on a BBQ.
An eco-friendly way to get to Water Cay is to kayak or paddle board from Leeward on Providenciales. It’s possible to land on the southern side of Half Moon Bay, after which it’s possible to walk to the surrounding and sights, Little Water Cay, and Water Cay.
If you’re at Half Moon Bay Lagoon, be on the lookout for juvenile lemon sharks in the shallow water. These incredibly cute little sharks are typically well less than two feet long, yet have the proportions of an adult. It’s often possible to approach within a few feet of them before they are spooked and race off.
If you do venture on your own be sure to bring snacks and plenty to drink, as it’s easy to spend much of a day exploring.
Water Cay is considered its own island, yet it’s actually attached to Little Water Cay to the west and Pine Cay to the east. Sands shifting across the Caicos Banks and major hurricanes have filled in the channels that once separated the islands. The sand bars here now support coastal vegetation, sea oats, and casuarina trees.
The channel between Water Cay and Little Water Cay, Donna Cut, is now the site of the popular Half Moon Bay Beach and its lagoon counterpart. This site offers a great beach, sand bars, and a sheltered shallow with crystal clear water.
The marine limestone cliffs that line much of the north coast are quite interesting, and blur the line between limestone and compacted ancient dune. These cliffs are semi-lithified and very soft, so there’s a very high rate of environmental decay. Caves, overhangs and arches are carved by the ocean, and tend to appear and disappear with regularity.
As is the case with most of the small cays between Providenciales and North Caicos, the southern Caicos Banks side of Water Cay largely consists of mangrove wetlands, which are a haven for birdlife. At the southwest and southeast ends of the island, the wetlands form small tidal creeks which make their way a little inland.
Beware of the soft and crumbling cliffs at Water Cay as they may easily collapse. Do not venture into any of the small ocean caves, under the overhangs, or attempt to scale the taller rock walls.
As there are no active natural channels adjacent to Water Cay where water movement from the tides may occur, the area typically does not experience any strong currents.
Please take care not to harm the ecology of Water Cay. Do not feed the iguanas, and avoid damaging the sensitive sea oat dune vegetation, as this coarse coastal grass helps to prevent beach erosion. Please don’t litter.