Aerial view of a clear boat A clear boat tour at Mangrove Cay.
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Providenciales Clear and Glass Bottom Boat Tours

Clear boat in a tidal creek at Mangrove Cay in the Turks and Caicos
Clear boat in the main tidal creek at Mangrove Cay.

Clear kayak tours have become quite popular in the Turks and Caicos, due to our crystal-clear ocean water and abundant marine life. For those who would prefer a more leisurely experience or may be less able to paddle a kayak, a clear boat tour can be a great choice.

Clear or glass bottom boats are small acrylic boats, and passengers are able to see through the boat into the clear water below. The vessels are typically powered by a silent electric motor, but some of the larger examples use small outboard engines. The boats have seating and usually a shade canopy, and some also include complimentary cold beverages.

Clear boat tours are great for those that don’t want to paddle their own kayak, and also offer better stability. The tours are suitable for all ages.

Excursions usually operate from the Leeward region of Providenciales, and travel for a short distance along Leeward Going Through Channel before entering the mangroves. Along the way, it’s common to see some impressive yachts and boats as Blue Haven Marina is passed.

Some tours also include a visit to Little Water Cay, which is the famous Turks and Caicos Islands Rock Iguana sanctuary. This large endemic lizard is quite docile, and can be seen close-up.

Clear Boat, or the Semi-Submarine?

Semi-submarine at a reef
The Caicos Tours' semi-submarine the Undersea Explorer, at a reef near Turtle Cove.

There are two types of boat tours that offer an underwater view, but they are quite different. Both are quite fun for most ages. The clear boat tours typically operate small acrylic boats, and visit locations such as the calm tidal channel at Mangrove Cay.

Another option and likewise fascinating excursion is the semi-submarine tour. This larger and very stable vessel offers a more immersive experience as passengers are seated below the water’s surface, with wrap around windows to view the coral reefs through. Excursions tour the bay reefs off the north shore of Providenciales, rather than the shallow mangrove channels where the smaller clear boats typically operate.

Above: The main tidal creek at Mangrove Cay, which is a very popular destination for clear kayak and boat excursions.   Top right:  Top left:  A juvenile green turtle. Turtles are common in the tidal creeks in the Turks and Caicos.   Bottom right:  Top right:  Upside-down cassiopea jellyfish in the Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve.  

The Sights and Wildlife

Clear boat excursions will usually visit the calm and beautiful tidal channels at Mangrove Cay in the Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve. These channels are home to a range of interesting wildlife and flora.

Bordering the channel are red mangroves, which are unique and important plants that protect coastlines and shelter a range of wildlife.

Sightings often include green turtles, hawksbill turtles, upside-down jellyfish, starfish, small reef fish, and sometimes juvenile lemon sharks and nurse sharks. There’s also birdlife, including small seabirds, pelicans, and larger egrets and herons.

The channels in the nature reserve are quite shallow in places, and tours will cross seagrass beds and sandbars, which makes for interesting transitions.

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