Today, the small island of Salt Cay is recognized mainly for two things: whale watching and diving. Like all of the main islands in the Turks and Caicos, walls define most dive sites on Salt Cay. Depths typically start at around 40-50 feet (12-15 m) at the top, and continue into the thousands off the edge. Sea life is vibrant, with sharks, reef fish and pristine, undamaged coral formations. Visibility is usually excellent at 100 feet (30 m) or more.
Salt Cay currently only has one dive operator: Salt Cay Divers. Their main boat is a 32-foot V-hull wide beam suitable for up to 10 divers, but they also use Carolina Skiffs for nearby dive sites. The complete range of recreational dive gear is available for rent, and PADI-certified courses are offered.
Salt Cay is a small island with a limited number of facilities, so we recommend reserving both your dives and accommodations well in advance, especially if you’re planning to visit during the busy winter seasons. If diving is your main focus while on Salt Cay, check with the local dive company before booking your accommodation, as vacation packages combining dive trips are offered.
From January to April, Humpback Whales migrate past the Turks and Caicos during their annual travels from the polar feeding grounds to breeding grounds in the south.
During their migration, some whales tend to get funneled through the Turks Island Passage, the 7000-foot-deep (2130 m) channel that separates the Caicos Islands group from the Turks Islands. Salt Cay is located close to the south side of this passage, which makes the island an excellent whale watching spot.
Although sometimes possible, diving with whales is not always an option due to the logistics of keeping up with the whales. Jumping in and snorkeling from a whale watching boat is more common, which can be an incredible experience.
Many of Salt Cay’s dive sites are located off the west coast of the island along the edge of the wall and are quick to access by boat.
Unlike Providenciales, Salt Cay does have some limited wreck diving. The most famous dive practical wreck in the country, the HMS Endymion, is located 13 miles (20 km) south of the island. This British fifth-rate 44-gun warship went down on a reef in 1790. Although very little of the ship’s structure remains today, the site is still interesting as anchors, chain and other fittings can still be seen. A 1900s wreck with a very early diesel engine can also be found nearby.
The recently placed (and easily accessed) wrecks of a small fishing boat and twin-engine airplane are another site.
For information on the HMS Endymion, Cessna 401, and the Lucky Lady, see Wreck Diving in the Turks and Caicos Islands.