The Turks and Caicos is renowned for miles of barrier reefs, walls, clear waters and abundant wildlife. Many of the dive sites accessed off Providenciales are located in protected areas, mainly in the Princess Alexandra National Park, Northwest Point Marine National Park, and the West Caicos Marine National Park.
Providenciales has the advantage of being within access to over 70 miles (112km) of barrier reefs and walls. Because of this, there’s a huge variety in the dive sites. Locations off Grace Bay Beach tend to have spur and groove reef formations with shelves at different levels, West Caicos offer sheer edges, and some spots in the south banks even offer undercut walls! Swim-throughs, canyons and sand chutes can be found at many dive sites.
As is common with the reefs in the country, coral is vibrant and reef fish are plentiful. Turtles, lobsters, eels and rays are common, and even the occasional dolphin can be spotted.
Most of the sharks sighted around Providenciales are Caribbean Reef Sharks, but hammerheads, Lemon Sharks, Nurse Sharks, and Bull Sharks are sometimes sighted, mostly off the Northwest Point and west coast dive sites. During the winter months, Humpback Whales are sometimes seen in the deeper water off Providenciales.
Providenciales is fortunate in having many excellent dive operators. Unlike so many other dive destinations, smaller dive boats are the norm and groups rarely exceed eight.
Dives boats tend to be busiest during the peak tourist season of December and January. This is especially the case for dives operated by the all-inclusive resorts. If you plan to visit during this period, we highly recommend that you reserve well in advance.
Certifications from all of the main organizations (PADI, NAUI, SSI, TDI, SDI, IANTD) are recognized by local dive companies.
All of the main dive operators on Providenciales offer the complete range of recreational dive equipment for rent and it generally tends to be good gear in good condition. Equipment sales are mostly limited to masks, fins, snorkels and accessories. Only one business, Seatopia, offers equipment repair. All of the main dive companies offer Nitrox. Technical diving is really not supported locally.
If diving is an important part of your visit to the Turks and Caicos, we recommend that you look into the packages offered by several of the dive operators here. A multiple dive package will give you by far the best rates.
The seasons do affect the dive experience a bit, with the winter months generally being the best time of year for wildlife (especially for whales), and the summer months having the nicest weather conditions (as long as a hurricane isn’t nearby!).
Learning to SCUBA dive is a rewarding experience. After a few days of interesting training, you’ll be able to discover fascinating new undersea environments.
It makes more sense to complete a course such as PADI’s Open Water Diver instead of the entry level Discover SCUBA Diving (DSD) or other basic certification. Open Water Diver will give you a better understand of diving and allow you more options in terms of what dives you can go on and maximum depths.
Several of the local dive operators also offer higher level courses such as NITROX, Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver.
Underwater photography is one of the most complex and difficult forms of photography.
If you want to obtain dive or snorkeling photography gear locally during your vacation here, you basically only have two options: rent a compact digital camera with an underwater housing from a local dive company, or purchase a Go Pro with an underwater case.
Unfortunately, Providenciales really doesn’t have many sites that are good for diving from the shore. The best spots are found off the remote Malcolm Roads Beach, which is both difficult to access and subject to offshore winds and rough conditions at times.
A lack of wrecks is another shortcoming of the Providenciales dive sites. A freighter exists off the Grace Bay barrier reef, but at 90-165 feet, the depth is too great for recreational diving and local dive companies do not visit the site.
More or less all of the other known wreck sites have broken up or are not easily accessible from Providenciales.