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PEMBA ISLAND SPECIALS

Amazing rates for June, July, November, and early December on the best walls in Africa

Seven nights' budget fullboard accommodation and five days' diving  - packages from 1270 USD

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See the Tanzania page to find out why you should go there

 

Barrel sponge, Turks and Caicos Islands

TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

The Turks and Caicos Islands consist of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited. The islands are located 550 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, just below the Bahamas chain and just to the east of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti.) The Providenciales is the only international airport in use, although Cockburn Town on Grand Turk is the capital. 

The Turks and Caicos are home to the most colouful and vibrant walls in the Caribbean (although they are technically located in the Atlantic), and once you get away from the condo-centric mass-muppet (sorry, mass-market) resorts of Providenciales, there are a couple of sleepy, tranquil gems to be discovered, with easy diving in great viz, varied marine life, and between January and March, humpback whales.

On this page you will find information about Salt Cay, Grand Turk, and liveaboard diving.

SLEEPY SALT CAY

Salt Cay canon, Turks and Caicos IslandsThe southernmost inhabited island in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the British West Indies, Salt Cay lies 90 miles north of the Dominican Republic. It is only a 25-minute flight from Providenciales, the international gatewayof TCI, or 20 minutes by ferry or 10 minutes by light aircraft from Grand Turk to the north. With less than 100 inhabitants and few tourists, Salt Cay is a briny gem of a place where unique heathers flourish. If you are looking for peace and quiet in an historical spot with a Caribbean feel then Salt Cay is it. With only one dive operator and a scattering of houses, three small stores and several places to dine, there is no risk of feeling crowded out. Tranquillity waits.

Visually, your insight into the uniqueness of The Salt Cay begins on the flight where the only views are of isolated tiny white sand islands and aquamarine seas. Once you step onto the tiny runway the unique atmosphere is immediately tangible. Everywhere is infused with the history of the salt trade. Fantastic examples of timber colonial architecture abound and our island operator (Salt Cay Divers) can book a diverse range of any of the islands’ guest accommodation to suit all budgets. Examples include old salt-raker's cottages, pretty blue and white houses, walls made of limestone and coral-rock, decorated with painted conch shells and one exquisite Salt Merchant’s timber mansion.

Salinas, Turks and Caicos IslandsThe Cay only covers three square miles so you can easily walk and cycle up around it whilst you stay there. From the 1700s to the 1960s Salt Cay’s salinas (salt ponds) produced some of the largest quantities of salt in the world. Once that trade ceased the population steadily declined. Now, life ticks by with a slow trickle of tourists being well cared for by the island’s people and the staff at the dive centre.

At different times of the year you may encounter only a couple (literally) of other tourists as you explore. As you stroll or cycle you can’t help but be amazed at the ruins of the linear Salinas now standing out red against the white sandy Cay. The ‘capital’ of the minute Cay is Balfour Town with outstanding Colonial and Bermudan style architecture of which several have been recently restored with meticulous attention to detail.

Whilst staying on the island you will notice that the pervading sounds are the lap of the waves and the braying of donkeys. Everyone you pass will wave or say hello or stop and chat. The island’s few children wander freely and safely back and forth to school, dodging the odd slow moving vehicle, bike without gears, lazy dog or golf cart. You may encounter a few wild donkeys, cows and two known iguanas.

After dives you can self-cater simple staples can be bought at lovely little one room stores like Netties (who also bakes the islands famous corn breads) or eat at one the local restaurants. 

Humpback Whales

Humpback tail, Turks and Caicos IslandsHumpback diving, Turks and Caicos IslandsMarine activities obviously centre on scuba diving but also whale watching which is truly an amazing experience. January to the end of March is the time to see the humpback whales when the whales migrate from Salt Cay to the Silver Banks in the Dominican Republic and then move back north, passing Salt Cay again. Salt Cay Divers run ‘soft water encounters’. (In 2010, visitors also saw sperm whales and whale sharks travelling with the humpbacks, inside the same pod, verified through aerial photography). The humpbacks sometimes travel in pairs or threes, not necessarily as pods, and if they have babies at least three adults travel per group to protect the young.  The soft water encounters involve waiting for the whales to seem settled after the small dive boat arrives and then the divers can gently slide into the water. Swimmers are not permitted to get too close and involve simply wearing fins and snorkels (no scuba), as the concept of soft water encounters is to allow the whales to come to you.  In addition, from mid May through to June there are many bottlenose dolphins in the seas. Whale trips are $100 per person for a three-hour trip. Trips run moring and afternoon. 

Endymion anchor, Turks and Caicos IslandsSome of the best scuba diving is June, July and August when there are chances to see manta rays and resident eagle rays. The dive sites are mostly located close to the west coast of the Island and north and south (there are none on the eastern seaboard although this side has blue holes instead) and take 10 minutes to get to at most. Our most memorable dive site was a slightly longer than normal 45-minute boat ride to the unsalvaged wreck of the Endymion. The Endymion sank around 1790 and now sits on the sandy bed in 12 metres (40 ft) of water. The dive site is stunning with not only the interesting wreck, including 44 visible canons and other items, but a host of swim-throughs plus another mysterious wreck nicknamed the Companion. It’s a good site for turtles and nurse sharks.

Hawksbill turtel,  Turks and Caicos IslandsAt other sites (close to the shore) such as North Wall you can find banded boxer shrimp, wrasse and black coral at 30 meters. At Kelly’s Folly to the south you may see nurse sharks, huge lobsters, large crabs, wrasse and goatfish. We have also seen slender filefish and the patterned coral dwelling fingerprint cyphoma as well as the fancy but common flamingo tongue. It’s also reasonably common to get to see dolphins on scuba here.

Birdwatchers and naturalists will revel in the peace, seclusion, unique geography, vegetation, migrating whales (January to late March) and the birdlife in addition to the scuba diving.

For history buffs there are a few good publications on the islands’ history (a good read is Salt Cay in Perspective 2011 by Candy Herwin, Salt Cay Devco). 

White-banded cleaner shrimp,  Turks and Caicos Islands

15-dive package $575 pp

  •  Five days of 3-tank boat dives (returning to shore between dives)
  •  Unlimited shore diving
  •  Tanks, weights & belts
  •  Dive trips to both Grand Turk and Salt Cay walls (You get two islands for the price of one!) 
  •  Night dives included

 

 

Bottlenose dolphon,  Turks and Caicos Islands

10-dive package $450 pp

  • Five days of 2 - tank boat dives
  • Unlimited shore diving
  • Tanks, weights & belts
  • Dive trips to both Grand Turk and Salt Cay walls (Two islands for price of one!)

 

 

Endymion wreck

Swimthrough, Great Sand Spit,  Turks and Caicos Islands

Special day trip available to this18th century British war ship wreck. Two-tank dive and snorkel Endymion wreck and picnic on Great Sand Cay. $125/pp Trips are based on 4 people or the equivalent amount.

 

Salt Cay Accommodation

There is a range of guest house and self-catering accommodation to suit most budgets, contact us for details. A week's rental starts at $800 and goes up to $3000 for a beautifully restored three-bedroom salt merchant's house.

GRAND TURK RESORT DIVING

Bohio resort, Turks and Caicos Islands

Under construction - here is brief summary of accommodation packages including inter-island return airfares from Providenciales.

Grand Turk has excellent wall diving, vibrant sponges and corals,  turtles, a few nurse sharks and plenty of macro life.

 

 

 

Bohio beach, Grand Turk,  Turks and Caicos Islands

DELUXE BEACHFRONT SUITE: all rooms have one king size bed, kitchenette with full size fridge, small propane stove, coffee maker and countertop.

BEACHFRONT STANDARD ROOMS: all rooms have two double beds, bar size fridge.

All rooms have private balconies with excellent sea views, air con, fan, cable TV and ensuite shower room.

 

 

 

Low Season All inclusive Package - Diver (June 1st - December 20th)

7 nights accommodation based on double occupancy in a standard beachfront room. All rooms have two beds, private balcony with excellent ocean views, air con, cable tv, fridge and ensuite shower room

10 dives based on two daily boat dives (5 days of diving). Includes tanks, weights and dive guide.

Breakfast (coffee, tea, juice included) and Lunch in the famous Guanahani Restaurant which is located within Bohio Resort.

Round trip flight from Providenciales to Grand Turk.

Transfers from Grand Turk airport to Bohio Dive Resort.

Price $1525 per person

Non-divers $1100

Turtle and divers, Turks and Caicos Islands

includes all government taxes

Does not include scuba equipment hire, evening meals, beverages, gratuities or incidentals.

Single person supplement - add 35% to above price

Upgrade to a Beachfront suite - $118pp

 

High Season All inclusive Package - Diver (December 21st - May 31st)

7 nights accommodation based on double occupancy in a standard beachfront room. All rooms have two beds, private balcony with excellent ocean views, air con, cable tv, fridge and ensuite shower room.

10 dives based on two daily boat dives (5 days of diving). Includes tanks, weights and dive guide.

Breakfast (coffee, tea, juice included) and Lunch in the famous Guanahani Restaurant which is located within Bohio Resort.

Round trip flight from Providenciales to Grand Turk.

Transfers from Grand Turk airport to Bohio Dive Resort.

Price $1624 per person

Non-divers $1199

includes all government taxes

Does not include scuba equipment hire, evening meals, beverages, gratuities or incidentals.

Single person supplement - add 35% to above price

Upgrade to a Beachfront suite - $136pp

 

3RD AFTERNOON DIVES: can be arranged once here at $55 per tank

NIGHT DIVES: can be arranged once here at $65 per tank.

SHORE DIVING: can be arranged once here with the divemaster. It is preferable to be dropped off on the dive boat at the famous wall 300 yards off the beach and return on your own.

To get to Grand Turk you must fly into the international airport on Providenciales (PLS). Upon confirmation we will purchase the connecting inter-island flights for you included in the above packages.

 

TWIN-ISLAND TRIPS

Salt Cay and Grand Turk $999.00pp

Two islands Dive package includes: Salt Cay and Grand Turk 
Oct 1st – Dec 14th $999.00pp 

High season Dec 15th- April 14th $1025pp
Snorkeler Rates (non-diver) available!
Lionfish and blue vase sponge, Turks and Caicos Islands

(based on double occupancy)

On Salt Cay
Spend 4 nights at Tradewinds Guest suites
Round Trip airport transfers
All Government taxes
Comes with bikes for exploring the island
3 days of two tank boat diving with Salt Cay Divers
Take ferry to Grand Turk

On Grand Turk
Spend 3 nights Bohio Dive resort

    Two days of two am tank boat dives
    All government taxes

     

    LIVEABOARD DIVING - sharks ahoy!

    Turks and Caicos Aggressor II liveaboard

    Reef shark,  Turks and Caicos IslandsIf you like liveaboards and want to get in as many dives as possible, then the Aggressor II is the thing for you. The crew make sure there is the possibility of doing five dives (four daylight and one night) every day bar one. On the last trip I went on, four divers did the maximum possible 24 dives!

    The itinerary goes out to French Cay, West Sand Spit, and away from any other boars. The walls are very busy, with groupers, turtles, lobsters and sharks, as well as the usual Caribbean reef fish species. The walls are often sheer and colourful, wonderful, and wierd sponges abound, including some very big barrel sponges. And there are sharks, mainly Caribbean reef sharks, but also nurse sharks.

    Raspberry ripple emperor shrimp,  Turks and Caicos IslandsThere is also interting macro life, with lot's of Pedersen's shrimps, blennies, fingerprint cyphomas and flamingo tongues, and if you look hard enough, male yello-headed jawfish with a clutch of eggs in their mouths. And on not one, but two dives sites, 15 kilometres apart, I saw and photographed an undescribed species of emperor shrimp (pictured right)

    The food is excellent, plentiful, and varied. Don't come on this trip if you want to lose weight! The crew really do look after their guests, and as well as providing great service they are also good fun. Trips normally run Saturday to Saturday and cost 2495 USD based on two sharing one of the eight cabins.

     

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