When it comes to exploring the Turks and Caicos Islands by sea, local eco-adventure tour company Big Blue Collective not only knows all the different places to go, but also has a variety of different ways of getting there.
Whether it’s boating, snorkeling, scuba diving, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, or kiteboarding, for more than 20 years Big Blue Collective has been passionate about the ocean and enjoying all it has to offer in an eco-friendly way.
That means using outboard 4-stroke outboard motors, which produce less noise and pollution. They’ve also made biodegradable reef-safe sunscreen mandatory on all their trips and have eliminated single-use plastic bottles, cups, and plates from their tours.
Kayaking and Paddleboarding
Big Blue is known in particular for their kayaking and paddleboarding eco-tours that explore the shallow, narrow mangrove channels in Leeward that can’t be accessed by boat. The small size of kayaks and paddleboards not only allow guests to explore otherwise unreachable areas, but their lack of a motor means people can quietly explore without disturbing the wildlife that call the mangroves home—which means more sightseeing opportunities for guests.
In the mangrove channels, it’s common to spot a variety of fish and bird life, juvenile nurse sharks, turtles, and more.
For those who want to explore the mangroves beyond the Leeward channel, Big Blue also offers backcountry paddle safaris to other areas of the island off the beaten path, such as the East Bay Islands National Park and the Ramsar Nature Reserve, as well as Half Moon Bay and the Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve.
Custom Boat Charters
Big Blue’s excursions also include a variety of private boat charters customized to suit groups of all sizes. These include sunset charters, half-day charters, and full-day charters, with the option of exploring either the north or south side of Providenciales. Alternatively, guests can book an “extended” full-day charter that takes them to other islands such as South Caicos, East Caicos, and Little Ambergris Cay.
It’s not unusual to spot dolphins, and between January and April, Whale Watching while out cruising the seas. While you shouldn’t under any circumstances touch wildlife, opportunities do arise to get in the water and swim (or dive) with these impressive marine mammals. Guests are, however, discouraged from getting too close to wildlife and ensuring any interactions are done from a safe distance and on the animal’s terms.
Snorkeling and Diving
For those who want to snorkel, Big Blue offers a half-day or full-day option, as well as a private snorkeling charter. Prior snorkeling experience isn’t necessary for the half-day option or any private charter options, although it’s recommended that charter guests are strong swimmers. For novice snorkelers, Big Blue guides can provide basic snorkeling instruction. The eco-tour company also offers private scuba diving charters, and again, skill level is irrelevant. For those who want to learn how to dive, Big Blue is also a PADI training center. Once you’ve completed your eLearning, Big Blue’s instructors can facilitate your pool training and four open-water dives to get you dive certified.
For those who are already certified, you can choose from a 1-tank dive in Grace Bay, 2-tank dives in Grace Bay, Pine Cay, and Northwest Point, or 3-tank dives (a full day). The 3-tank dive allows for time and flexibility with diving locations, with guests having the option to dive at West Caicos or French Cay—both renowned scuba diving sites.
Ocean adventures aside, visitors also have the option of booking a “Heart of the Islands” trip, which entails a tour of the islands of North and Middle Caicos. This option, which is recommended for days when the weather doesn’t permit activities on the water, takes guests to all the key sites of the islands, including Wade's Green Plantation, Mudjin Harbour, Conch Bar Caves, and more.
Finally, for thrill seekers and water sport enthusiasts, Big Blue offers kiteboarding instruction as well as kiting adventures for those who are already experienced. For those who are new to kiteboarding, Big Blue’s instructors offer lessons on Long Bay Beach—a beach on the south side of Providenciales renowned for its ideal kiteboarding conditions, namely its consistent trade winds and shallow waters.
But if you’re an experienced kiteboarder, you can choose from one of Big Blue’s kiteboarding adventure packages that take you to places such as Half Moon Bay (another spot known for its perfect kiting conditions) and North Caicos.
No matter what kind of experience on the water you’re searching for, chances are Big Blue Collective can provide. And with their commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices, you can rest assured knowing your excursion will have minimal impact on the unique and fragile Turks and Caicos environment that keeps people coming back year after year.