Discover the Best of the Turks and Caicos!
With some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean and Atlantic, it’s no wonder that the Turks and Caicos excels as a water sports destination. There’s a perfect ocean activity waiting for everyone.
Spectacular Reefs and Marine Life
There’s an impressive array of underwater sights to discover in the Turks and Caicos. We have a vibrant barrier reef and countless shore snorkeling sites to discover on your vacation.
Surrounding much of the Caicos island group and at over 150 miles (240 km) long, we actually have one of the largest barrier reefs in the Caribbean. Dive sites across over 80 miles (130 km) of the barrier reef are regularly accessed from Providenciales, so there’s always an interesting underwater location to discover!
The colorful beach and shore snorkeling reefs support tremendous varieties of fish, stingrays, turtles, and small creatures. Many animals are masters of camouflage, but if you look carefully you’ll spot snails, octopuses, shrimp, lobsters, and flamboyant worms.
If you’d rather have a guide when snorkeling, there are plenty of boat excursions and private charters available. Our knowledgeable boat captains will take you to the best reef that the conditions allow for. Boat cruises often combine beach exploration and barbecues with a visit to the snorkel sites, and are great fun for the whole family. Tours often pick up guests on the beach fronting their resorts—a great way to start the adventure!
The Turks and Caicos is situated on a submerged limestone plateau, and the edges of this shelf offers some of the best wall SCUBA diving in the Caribbean. In many places, the transition in depth is breathtaking, where the depth drops abruptly from 40 feet (12 m) into the thousands.
Wetlands and Wildlife
Due to the country’s marine limestone foundation and general low terrain elevation, extensive and beautiful marine wetlands are found throughout the islands. Many waterways are directly connected to the ocean and are tidal. These sheltered channels serve as a nursery for a plethora of wildlife, including lemon sharks, conch, turtles, and birdlife. The best way to see wildlife is in their own environment.
There are several ways to enjoy our beautiful ecosystems. Silent and low-impact, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are the best ways to travel through the narrow inlets and creeks. Choose from guided tours, or simply rent equipment and explore on your own.
Our terrestrial natural reserves are great locations for birdwatching. There are several expansive nature reserves and national parks throughout the Turks and Caicos, teeming with egrets, herons, flamingos, pelicans, and ospreys. There are almost 200,000 acres of protected area in the country, encompassing an incredible diversity of terrains.
Wind and Waves
The Turks and Caicos is a wonderful kiteboarding destination for all skill levels. If you’re looking to learn, there’s no better spot than Long Bay Beach on Providenciales, where there’s shallow water, perfect wind direction, clean sand, and a safe environment.
For the experienced kiter, exploring the uncharted waters and flats of the secluded islands and cays is unforgettable. Several local tour operators also offer kite down-winder safaris—an exhilarating way to see regions of our islands that very few have the opportunity to experience.
Although far less consistent than the conditions at the top surf spots of Barbados and Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos does get some beautiful waves at times for surfing.
Although the Turks and Caicos is a relatively small country, there’s quite a difference in development and activity choices across our islands.
As the home of the exquisite Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales supports the vast majority of the population and tourism in the Turks and Caicos. Consequently, the islands offers the widest selection of things to do.
Grand Turk comes in second, and as a cruise ship destination has quite a few water sports and tour businesses to choose from. The exquisite and tiny stingray haven of Gibbs Cay is found close off the coast of Grand Turk, and offers close-up snorkeling encounters with these friendly creatures.
The quiet islands of North Caicos and Middle Caicos offer a different perspective. There’s unparalleled wilderness and plenty to see and do, yet the limited infrastructure means you’ll be heading off the beaten track. The largest mangrove wetlands in the Turks and Caicos are found on the south coasts of these islands, much of which is protected under the international Ramsar Convention.
South Caicos and Salt Cay combine historical elements of the old sea salt industry with British-Bermudian Colonial buildings. The water sports offerings are a bit limited, yet the reefs, coral, and marine life are pristine. Salt Cay is renowned for its winter whale watching, when migrating humpback whales can be seen and snorkeled with.
Certifications and Learning
Don’t forget to bring your certifications! Some water sports require proof of appropriate skill before a local business will rent equipment or offer excursions. Examples include scuba diving (minimum of PADI Open Water or equivalent from NAUI, SSI, TDI, SDI, or IANTD) and kiteboarding (IKO or PASA level 3).
If you’re looking to learn a new water sport or simply hone your skills, it’s hard to do better than the Turks and Caicos. We have professional and certified instructors for almost every water sport, including scuba diving, kiteboarding, windsurfing, wakeboarding, freediving, sailing, swimming, and more.
Booking and Reservations
There are several ways to book your outdoor adventure, including reserving directly with the local tour company and purchasing from a booking agent reseller. Because the local business won’t have to pay commissions, you’ll usually get the best price by booking directly.
Activity and accommodation rates vary a bit according to the time of year and corresponding visitor arrivals. The winter months are the “high season”, spring break and early summer also experience peaks, and the late summer and early autumn Atlantic hurricane season months see the lowest rates.
Cruise visitors to the island of Grand Turk may choose between one of the “shore excursions” sold through the cruise line, or can independently schedule. It’s easier to simply select from the cruise line offerings, yet some water sports such as diving, snorkeling, and whale watching will likely be more enjoyable in smaller groups. Keep in mind that the availability of some activities, such as horseback riding, are completely pre-bought by the cruise lines, and it may not be possible to reserve separately.
Overviews of Popular Water Sports
See these pages below for overviews and island by island comparisons of the popular Turks and Caicos water sports. Each of our islands offers a different atmosphere and setting.