A Turks and Caicos sunset cruise is an exceptional way to end the day’s activities. There’s a wide collection of tours and vessels to choose from, and in addition to a beautiful sunset, there’s also the chance of a marine glowworm display, which lights up the water like stars. If you’re lucky, you may also spot the elusive green flash atmospheric phenomenon.
Sunset cruises usually take between one and three hours. At least one complimentary drink is usually included, yet many cruises offer bottomless alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and snacks, chips, and cookies.
The island of Providenciales offers a great selection of cruises to choose from, with some beautiful private charters and economical shared public trips. Unlike what’s common at many other Caribbean destinations, evening cruises in the Turks and Caicos are typically via smaller boats, and there are no public excursions via large ships with live music.
Sunset Cruise Locations, Scenery, and Sights
The waters surrounding the Turks and Caicos are quite challenging from a navigator’s perspective, and consequently the routes taken on the typical sunset excursion are those within easy access to the marinas. In any case, the sightseeing is still amazing!
The Leeward Beach and eastern Grace Bay area is the most popular cruising region, and the tour sights here include the uninhabited Turks and Caicos Rock Iguana habitat island of Little Water Cay, the barrier reef and break, and the resorts and hotels off Grace Bay Beach.
Jojo the Dolphin, the new baby dolphin Dreamer, or one of the small Atlantic bottlenose pods that frequents the waters off the northeast of Provo actually are surprisingly common sights on evening excursions, as they frolic in the wake of boats.
If you’re looking for something different from a Grace Bay sunset cruise, another option is one of the tours that sails off the south-western side of Providenciales, including those on Chalk Sound, and trips leaving from Sapodilla Bay that cruise the Taylor Bay and Turtle Rock area.
The green flash is an uncommon and fascinating effect seen the instant the sun sets. It’s often best seen during calm and clear weather conditions, on a very flat horizon, such as on the open ocean.
Sailboat or Power Vessel?
Deciding between a sailboat or a motorized vessel can be difficult. Sailing vessels are quiet and offer a romantic atmosphere, yet a powerboat will typically offer better access to scenic locations and promising glowworm spots. For first time sunset cruises, we’d generally advise choosing the sailing cruise. The sailboats, due to the vessels either being catamarans or simply larger ships, typically offer better stability over the smaller motorboats.
Some of the parasailing charters also offer evening flights, which is another awe-inspiring way to watch the sun set from the water, and an alternative to the traditional vessels. The choice between public and private trips is another consideration. Private cruises are typically quite a bit more expensive for couples and small families, yet are a great option for parties and large groups.
Private Sunset Cruise
A custom and private excursion in many cases is the best choice, especially for a larger family or honeymoon couple. Evening trips, due to their shorter duration, are usually less expensive than half or full-day private charters. Nearly all vessels are available, including those that also offer public cruises.
Half and full-day public cruises typically end well before sunset, so hiring your own vessel for the quintessential snorkeling and beach hopping excursion may also allow for additional time for the sunset. Captains and crew are typically happy to accommodate guests’ wishes regarding locations and activities, especially if discussed prior to booking.
Bespoke sunset trips also typically cover longer distances than the shared boats do, so some of the scenic spots further afield may be viable destinations. Celebrities are always visiting the Turks and Caicos, and you may see a luxurious ship or yacht off of Parrot Cay, Sellar’s Cut in the Princess Alexandra National Park, or Pine Cay.
Food and Drinks
Most evening charters include complimentary rum punch and local beer (Turk’s Head). Some private charters may also offer wine and champagne, yet not all do. It’s best to confirm what’s included on your cruise prior to booking. Mixed cocktails (other than punch) are typically only available on the largest yachts.
Light snacks are also often complimentary, with choices usually being chips and dip on public cruises, and light appetizers, conch salad, and cheese and fruit platters on the more expensive private tours.
Guests are also welcome to bring their own food and beverages to enjoy, and vessels will typically have coolers with ice available.
Booking and Reservations
As is the case with most boat cruises and ocean activities in the Turks and Caicos, we advise that you book your reservation in advance of your vacation, especially for private charters.
The regularly-scheduled and public party sunset sailing voyages, such as the evening Atabeyra cruise, tends to have a bit more space for short-notice bookings.
There’s a wide selection of vessels and cruises to choose from, and your options include everything from a tranquil sailboat or catamaran up to a luxurious private charter yacht. The various vessels offer different atmospheres, from quiet and serene, to the party trips with music and a bit more of a boisterous vibe.
For a few days after a full moon and at fifty minutes after sunset, small marine glowworms rise from the ocean floor and light up the water with a greenish glimmer.
Usually occurring on the ebbing tide and best seen in the shallow waters of the Caicos Banks to the south of Providenciales, this phenomenon is caused by a fluorescent photoprotein that the female worm releases with its egg mass.
The glowworm performance isn’t completely predictable, with many variables including weather and location affecting the experience. We recommend contacting boat cruise operators in advance to determine the most appropriate times and dates.
It’s not always necessary to take a cruise to see glowworms. A few locations directly off the coast can offer a spectacular show. Coastal spots that are sheltered and are near shallows and wetlands are typically best. Such sites include West Harbour Bluff, and Old Grace Cove on the far eastern end of Long Bay Beach.
Stargazing and Fireworks
Another unforgettable experience can be a stargazing night sail, or a cruise off Grace Bay when there’s a firework display. Not all charters offer night trips, yet a sufficient number of businesses do offer custom trips.
On clear nights, the moon, stars, and constellations over the Turks and Caicos are breathtaking. On some sailing charters that do offer scheduled star gazing adventures, the captain will highlight the main sights with a powerful laser pointer.
As may be expected, the firework show from the water on Grace Bay is incredible. Events and holidays that usually feature pyrotechnic displays at resorts include New Year’s Eve, Fourth of July, and Guy Fawkes Day. Vessels may be booked well in advance of events, so it’s advisable to make inquiries early.