There’s a wonderful selection of eco-tours and activities in the Turks and Caicos, from simple wetland paddleboard adventures, to extended trips to remote and beautiful nature reserves.
A great aspect of outdoor excursions at Providenciales is the variance in possible activities and sights. There’s a perfect way for everyone to experience the Beautiful by Nature Turks and Caicos, be it on foot, by kayak and paddleboard, on a guided tour, or on a custom boat charter.
The Caicos Islands archipelago in the Turks and Caicos supports an awe-inspiring array of tidal red mangrove channels. Primarily, this network of wetlands is found on the southern coasts of North Caicos, Middle Caicos, and East Caicos, and collectively there are hundreds of miles of estuaries to explore.
The Turks and Caicos wetlands are perfect for both kayaking and paddleboarding. Generally, paddlers will find that they prefer one watercraft over the other. A good sit-in touring kayak offers unparalleled tracking, speed, and efficiency, yet a paddleboard gives a much better view into the water and over the wetlands due to the user’s higher point of view, and is faster when heading downwind.
The mangrove channels shelters a fascinating range of wildlife.
Above the green canopy of vegetation, birdlife sightings can include wading birds such as flamingos, great egrets, reddish egrets, blue herons, tricolored herons, yellow-crowned night herons, and green herons. Raptor sightings are often a little more limited, yet may include ospreys, peregrine falcons, red kites, American kestrels, and Antillean nighthawks. Some of the smaller or more unusual species include the eye-catching mangrove cuckoo, majestic frigatebird, Bahamas woodstar hummingbird, the endangered West Indian whistling duck, and kingfisher.
Under the water’s surface, there’s conch, turtles, stingrays, small lemon sharks and nurse sharks, fish of many different types, and starfish.
Mangrove Cay and Half Moon Bay
One of the best and easily-accessible paddling locations in the Tours and Caicos are the wetland and uninhabited islands of the Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve near Leeward on Providenciales. This system of cays and shallows hides beautiful beaches and interesting wildlife above and below the water. Inside the protected area are the islands of Mangrove Cay, Donna Cay, Little Water Cay, and part of the incredible Half Moon Bay lagoon.
The Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve is great for eco-paddling trips, and tours can be catered well according to group size and experience. The channels of Mangrove Cay are only a few minutes from Providenciales, and more strenuous trips can be made out to the iguana sanctuary of Little Water Cay.
Half Moon Bay offers both a sheltered and shallow lagoon as wells as an amazing beach. The destination is a very popular stop on boat charters and excursions from Providenciales. Little Water Cay, Mangrove Cay, Donna Cay, and Half Moon Bay all support populations of the critically endangered Turks and Caicos Islands Rock Iguana, a unique and friendly large lizard that’s only found in our islands.
Hiking and Cycling
The verdant Garden Islands of North Caicos and Middle Caicos are the undeniable center of eco-hiking and cycling in the Turks and Caicos. There are countless secluded coastlines and miles of quiet paved roads to discover.
Crossing Place Trail
The best-known hiking route in the Turks and Caicos is the scenic Crossing Place Trail on Middle Caicos, a historical trail that was once the traditional link between North Caicos and Middle Caicos. This path started at the village of Conch Bar, and lead west along the limestone bluffs and cliffs of Mudjin Harbour, Norbellis Cove, and Juniper Hole at the far north-western end of the island. Continuing from this point, the trail forded the shallow channel to Well Cay, then to Conch Cay, East Bay Cay, and finally across Bottle Creek Lagoon to North Caicos.
Today, only the Middle Caicos portion of the Crossing Place Trail is typically visited. Iconic ceramic trail markers can be seen along much of this section of the route.
West Harbour Bluff and Frenchman’s Creek
Providenciales has one extensive scenic wetland cycling or running route, which is the extended drive out to West Harbour Bluff through the wetlands of the Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve. This remote region of Providenciales hides incredible coastal scenes, historical features spanning more than six centuries, a natural salt flat, and several secluded beaches.
Although a little remote, the island of West Caicos combines a great selection of natural and historical sights, and is a perfect day trip destination.
On the marine side, there are pristine beaches, exquisite snorkeling and scuba diving reefs, unbelievably blue ocean water, and ocean cliffs that are great for jumping off of. On land, there’s the fascinating Yankee Town historical site, an old small gauge donkey railroad causeway, the extensive Lake Catherine Nature Reserve, abundant birdlife, and underwater caves.
Due to the distance from Providenciales, adventures to West Caicos are typically custom charters, and the day is usually planned around what the guests would prefer to do.
It’s certainly not for everyone, yet a camping trip eco-adventure to the remote cays of the Turks and Caicos can be a very rewarding experience. There’s a wonderful array of beaches and islands to discover, many of which rarely see any visitors.
The East Bay Islands National Park near North Caicos and Middle Caicos is one such region. This incredible coastal area includes pristine wetlands, secluded beaches, and amazing potential for wildlife sightings. This national park is bordered by the extensive and shallow Bottle Creek Lagoon on one side, and a complex network of barrier reefs on the other, and consequently fosters a feeling of isolation while still being within easy access of North Caicos.
Another great experience is a guided sailing eco-tour. Chalk Sound National Park, the East Bay Islands National Park, Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve, and many other exquisite locations are perfect for the activity.