The Undersea Explorer semi-submarine The Undersea Explorer semi-submarine, operated by Caicos Tours.
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Providenciales Semi-Submarine Tours

Aerial view of the semi-submarine
The semi-submarine at a reef off of Turtle Cove.

For those who don’t want to get their toes wet, the semi-submarine tour is a great way to see the fascinating reefs and wild marine life of the Turks and Caicos.

The Undersea Explorer has an above water deck that guests board onto to access the cabin below. On the guided tours passengers are seated five feet (1.5 m) below the water’s surface in air-conditioned comfort and surrounded by windows to see marine life from, which creates an immersive experience.

Tours operate from Turtle Cove Marina, located in central Providenciales, and about a five-minute drive from Grace Bay. The popular Mango Reef restaurant is located near the dock.

Semi-Submarine, or Clear Boat?

There are two types of underwater or glass bottom boat excursions available, and it’s important to understand the difference. The semi-submarine is a larger vessel that visits the bay reefs off the north shore of Providenciales. The clear or glass bottom boat tours use smaller clear acrylic vessels, and primarily operate in the shallow tidal channels at Mangrove Cay. Both provide a unique and fun experience, yet the wildlife sightings and natural setting differ quite a bit.

Mermaid on a reef
The semi-submarine adventure might have a mermaid encounter!

The Semi-submarine is very stable and much larger compared to many of the clear boats. Undersea Explorer has over 20 years exploring the north shore, and a safe and exciting adventure for the whole family. Passengers have their very own viewing window to experience the underwater world of corals, reef fish, sting rays, turtles, and more. You may even spot a mermaid.

The glass bottom boats are much smaller acrylic vessels, which are able to navigate the shallow tidal channels at locations such as Mangrove Cay. The sightings often include great views of the red mangroves, upside-down jellyfish, green turtles, and hawksbill turtles, and the occasional stingray and juvenile shark. With these tours, passengers tend to be more sitting on the surface rather than below as with the semi-submarine.

Perfect for All Ages

The semi-submarine is a fun experience for all, yet is especially a great choice for children and those less able to snorkel. The boat trip from the dock to the reefs isn’t long, and it remains inside the bay where ocean conditions are relatively sheltered.

The Reef and Sights

Smith's Reef
Smith's Reef. Semi-submarine tours visit reefs at Smith's Reef and Turtle Cove.

The semi-submarine typically visits a number of bay reefs off of the Turtle Cove and Babalua Beach area. These reefs are isolated reefs in 8-15 foot (2.4-5m) depths, and are typically surrounded by lush seagrass beds.

The bay reefs and sea grass beds are home to a wide range of marine life. Larger sea creatures may include the majestic and spotted eagle ray, the brown stingray, nurse sharks, green turtles, and hawksbill turtles. Sometimes even a reef shark may be spotted!

Smaller animals include a menagerie of colorful reef fish, including stoplight parrotfish, blue tangs, bluehead wrasse, bar jacks, mangrove snappers, French grunts, queen angelfish, and much more. Some rarer creatures that occasionally can be seen in the area are conch, spiny lobsters, squid, and red cushion starfish. The corals, sea fans, and sea sponges are also quite beautiful.

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