7 Things You Can’t Get from Turks and Caicos Resorts

26th June 2017 11:12 am

Turks and Caicos resorts are world famous for offering the highest levels of luxury and service in the Caribbean islands. You have a lot of variety too, from stylish guestrooms to fully equipped private villas that are outfitted with your own pools and personal chef.

While these five-star Turks and Caicos resorts and hotels are stunningly beautiful and relaxing, they can be a little lacking in things to do. To truly enjoy Turks and Caicos, you need to step beyond the resort grounds and into the pristine beaches, dive beneath the waves, or cruise above the waterline.

Here is a list of activities you might not be able to get from Turks and Caicos resorts—even the all-inclusive ones.

#7 Private Charters

Spending your entire vacation at a Turks and Caicos resort is relaxing, but you’ll actually be missing a lot of what makes the islands so special. There’s so much to see above and below the waves.

Hire a private charter during your stay and you can experience Turks and Caicos in the way it was meant to be experienced. Avoid the tourist attractions and head out into the water. You’ll visit hidden and secluded beaches where you and your group will be the only people in sight.  

Many private charters are also outfitted with snorkeling and diving equipment so you can always explore the sites you visit.

#6 Stand Up Paddleboarding

Stand up paddleboarding (or SUP) is actually offered by some Turks and Caicos resorts, however the rates can get a little pricey and you’ll have to content yourself with being one among hundreds of stand up paddleboarders on the beach.

Instead, leave the resort and rent your own from a trusted vendor. You will have a lot more freedom of where to go and for how long your want to stay out on the water. There are even special eco-tours you can take where you can explore mangrove channels and national parks to safely and respectfully view the delicate ecosystems and nesting birds.

#5 Kayaking

Kayaking is another sometimes-offered activity by a resort. Renting your own kayak is a popular way to explore beaches, shallow channels, tidal creeks, and the cays either on your own or on a tour.

There are even opportunities to join private multi-day kayak expedition where you can venture deeper into the national parks and nature reserves. There are also special hours you can kayak to catch the sunset. These kayak expeditions and sunset hours frequently take place away from the busy crowds that spawn from the resorts along Grace Bay Beach.

Similarly to stand up paddleboarding, kayak rentals are reasonable and there are a variety of options.

#4 Snorkeling

Snorkeling is a must-do activity during your stay at on the islands no matter which Turks and Caicos resort or hotel you are staying at. The area around the islands is perfect for snorkeling, giving you unmatched views of colorful reefs and the surrounding sea life.

While the resorts and hotels are often found near beautiful beaches, these beaches aren’t ideal for snorkeling. They are often full of tourists and the beaches, while lovely to relax and walk on, lack the exciting underwater scenery. You’ll have to venture to more isolated places away from the resorts to get the best snorkeling experience.

There are also snorkeling tours that will take you out to quieter snorkel sites.  Knowledgeable guides can help you identify the hundreds of different fish and describe the important coral reef ecology.

#3 Diving

Like snorkeling, Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales island isn’t suited for diving. What makes the beaches so great also makes for poor diving conditions. The water is shallow for dozens of yards out. Because of this, the hotels and resorts don’t offer the best SCUBA excursions.

If you’re more comfortable with deep waters, Turks and Caicos is a tough place to beat in terms of quality dive sites. You can descend and scale walls that are dozens of feet to over 100 feet that are overflowing with life.

There are plenty of diving companies that can take you to amazing dive sites teeming with fish, turtles, rays, sharks, and eels.

#2 Kiteboarding

Kiteboarding is an exciting activity that many resorts can’t accommodate. Learning how to kiteboard requires PASA and IKO certified kiteboarding instructors, and because it’s such a fun sport, the beginner classes that the resorts do have are often full.

However, since Turks and Caicos is such a hotspot for kiteboarding, it’s easy to find instructors outside of the resorts with decades of experience. Class sizes are small and some even offer private lessons that can help beginners get a good run or an advanced intermediate pick up and refine the more flashy techniques.

#1 Whale Watching

If you are visiting between November to February, you’re visiting at a great time for whale and dolphin watching. This period coincides with the humpback whale migration as they transit towards their northern feeding grounds.

The resorts and hotels hardly ever have their own boats to take guests to see whales but there are plenty of whale watching charters around the island during this time.

Even if you are out on a private charter to snorkel or dive, the boat captains are always in communication and will take you the last sightings of whales if you and the other passengers are game. You might even have the chance to snorkel or dive with whales!

 



7 Ways to Enjoy Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos

19th June 2017 2:54 pm

Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos, on the Providenciales island can be found in the “Top  Beaches of the World” lists across many of the most trusted and respected travel publications. Condé Nast, TripAdvisor.com, National Geographic, Forbes, and more, all unanimously agree that this Turks and Caicos beach will leave visitors breathless.

 

Why?

 

Grace Bay Beach stretches across the northern crook of Providenciales from Thompson Cove to Leeward town and is made of soft ashen sand and open crystalline water. However, even though everyone knows it’s one of the best beaches (and THE best depending which list you read), it doesn’t mean it’s overcrowded. Grace Bay Beach is three miles of Caribbean paradise that ensures that everyone will have a chance to enjoy it in his or her own way.

 

Here are some of the best ways to enjoy Grace Bay Beach:

#7 Sunbathing

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Grace Bay Beach sand seems to be created just for people to lay on it. It’s powder soft and there are literal metric tonnes of it. So even if you’re staying at one of the famous Turks and Caicos resorts that sit practically on the beach along with thousands of other guests, you can still find an open spot for you and your party.

 

Grace Bay beach is wide with deep, clean sandy ocean floors.There’s no shade on the beach, but that just means it’s perfect to lay on and soak up the rays.

#6 Snorkeling

While Grace Bay Beach is the pristine Caribbean beach you imagine it is, it also has a vibrant reef and coral life beneath the surface. Two of the most popular snorkeling spots on the Providenciales island is Smith’s Reef and Bight Reef.

 

Bight Reef consists of only one main ridge of coral that extends 350 feet out from the beach. While Bight Reef isn’t necessarily the best spot to snorkel, it is very easy to get to and is great for beginners. There is a high density of relatively calm and tame fish, but larger sea creatures like turtles, stingrays, barracudas and lobsters are less common.

 

Smith’s Reef is more extensive and is the perfect balance of easy-to-get-to and great snorkeling experience. Smith’s Reef is arguably one of the best spots for snorkelling from the beach on Providenciales, is suitable for beginning snorkelers, and has enough sea life to interest even the most experienced of snorkelers.

 

Both snorkeling sites rarely have issues with currents or tides.

#5 SCUBA Diving

Obviously, you typically don’t do much diving at Grace Bay Beach, but the beach is very close to some excellent dive sites. In fact, the entire Turks and Caicos is renowned for miles of exquisite barrier reefs, walls, clear waters and abundant wildlife.

 

Because Grace Bay Beach is a part of the Princess Alexandra National Park, some of the dive sites are in protected areas, which means you’ll be seeing some stunning underwater landscapes and unique and undamaged coral formations.

 

The best Providenciales dive spots are too far to swim to from Grace Bay Beach, but there are plenty of charters that can take you to some amazing diving locations.

#4 Golfing

The Provo Golf and Country Club, located in the Grace Bay area, is the only 18-hole golf course in the Turks and Caicos but is consistently rated among the top 10 in the Caribbean.

 

The course is beautifully designed and maintained with rugged limestone formations and waterways that attract the area’s herons, egrets, and flamingos. It is a par 72 course and has hosted the Caribbean Amateur Championship twice.

#3 Birdwatching

Providenciales’ has a rich biodiversity due to the many ecological niches that can be found around the island and can be seen from the beach itself. Because of the proximity to wetlands and mangrove forests, beachgoers can spot a wide variety of birds, including:

 

  • Flamingos
  • Egrets
  • Herons
  • Ospreys
  • Pelicans
  • Warblers
  • Bananaquits
  • Anis
  • Mangrove cuckoos
  • Antillean nighthawks
  • Bahamas woodstar hummingbird

#2 Kayaking

Providenciales offers two types of kayaking areas: mangrove and wetland eco tours or flat water kayaking in Grace Bay.

 

Because of the large number of Providenciales resorts on or near the Grace Bay Beach, Grace Bay tends to have a high number of kayakers.

 

However, it’s not unheard of to do both, since the east side of Providenciales is near the Princess Alexandra National Park. Depending on your kayak tour operator, you might be able to venture from the beach to the protected areas for a truly full experience.

#1 Stand Up Paddleboarding

Because Grace Bay Beach is sheltered by the third largest barrier reef, the water around the beach is especially calm and peaceful. This makes it the perfect setting for stand up paddleboarding.

 

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is easy to master, and it takes most beginners only about half an hour of practice to cruise off confidently on their own.

 

While Grace Bay Beach doesn’t have the mangroves or wetlands, the water is great for cruising because the water is calm and offers a lot of space.


Filed under: Activities

Turks and Caicos Island: Grand Turks Water Excursions

7th June 2017 9:52 am

The Turks and Caicos islands are stunning Caribbean islands that have plenty of beautiful sites and fun activities in around the beaches. Nearly every visitor to the Turks and Caicos islands wants to spend at least some time in the water.

 

While all the biggest and most popular Turks and Caicos resorts are on the Providenciales island, some of the best shore and water excursions can be found around the Grand Turk island.

Things to Do on Grand Turk Island

Because Grand Turk is the second most populated island after Providenciales and is the historic and political center of the country, you have a lot of options as to what you can do while you’re on the island.

 

The capital city, Cockburn Town, was the first permanent settlement on the Turks and Caicos islands. It was founded in 1681 by salt collectors and is now an an intimate Caribbean town that is easily walkable and has many interesting sites to see, including:

  • The National Museum of Turks & Caicos Islands
  • Grand Turk Lighthouse, the highest point of the island
  • Columbus Landfall National Park

 

But again, you’re in the Caribbean! Islands are fun, but there’s a whole new world for you to explore off the coast!

Grand Turk Shore and Water Excursions

Grand Turk shore excursions open up a broader variety of things for you to do on your Turks and Caicos vacation. The Caribbean has a rich biodiversity that is only visible and can only be appreciated only if you’re willing to get wet.

Diving Excursions

The Grand Turk island is formed in a unique way that makes it an exciting place for divers. It’s well known for wall diving and countless marine creatures call the reefs and walls home.

 

The famous Grand Turk “wall” runs the entire leeward side of the island. It is the third largest reef in the world with a drop that goes from 15 feet (4.57 meters) to 7,000 feet 7,000 feet (2.13 kilometers). That means you’ll find yourself in a company of plenty of underwater life hiding and living among the ledges and shelves of coral covering the wall.

 

Some of the most interesting dive sites among the over dozens of dive sites on the Wall include:

 

  • Black Forest
  • Tunnels
  • Sand River Canyon
  • Tunnels
  • Cecil’s Reef
  • Windmills
  • Tiki Hut
  • Library Reef

 

Diving with Big Blue Collective?

When you head out to dive sites with Big Blue Collective, you’ll be in a small group of no more than nine divers that will allow you to feel like you have the entire site to yourself. There’s no rush either. There are no dive time limits and a strong emphasis on flexible dive profiles. Big Blue Collective has been offering private Turks and Caicos diving excursions since 1997.

 

You’ll get to the dive sites quickly and comfortably and geared up with everything you need, including:

 

  • Cressi mask and fins
  • Oneill wetsuits
  • Suunto computers
  • Aqualung BCD’s
  • Sherwood regulators

 

All boats are fitted with O2 kits and are TCI marine certified.

Snorkeling Excursions

Just like diving, snorkeling is an excellent Grand Turk shore excursion. While you can’t quite go as deep as you can while diving, the Grand Turk wall still has magnificent displays of life closer to the surface.

 

If the 7,000 feet sheer drop is too intimidating, there are plenty of snorkeling sites at reefs or shelves around Grand Turk that is teeming with fish, coral, and invertebrate life. One of the more popular places to snorkel near Grand Turk is a smaller cay called Gibbs Cay.

 

Gibbs Cay is a small island located approximately one mile (1.5 km) off the southeastern coast of Grand Turk. Also known as Stingray Cay, Gibbs Cay main attraction is the vast numbers of stingrays that call it home. You’ll have a great opportunity to see them as many tour guides boaters feed them fish and squid feed.

 

Snorkeling with stingrays might seem intimidating, but the stingrays at Gibbs Cay are very familiar and friendly towards people. Some tour guides are even known to pick them out of the water while teaching visitors about the animal.

Open Water Excursions

Many charter boat operators are always on the lookout for open ocean encounters, especially during animal migration seasons. The Big Blue Collective team is constantly keeping a weather eye out and are willing to ferry divers to sightings.

 

Imagine the once in a lifetime experience of swimming with agile dolphins, graceful whale sharks, and the massive humpback whales.



Kiteboarding: The Best Activity Your Turks And Caicos Resort Does Not Offer

5th June 2017 10:35 am

Turks and Caicos resorts are known for giving their guests the royal treatment. From fully equipped chef kitchens to private balconies to direct access to beautiful Caribbean beaches, many five-star resorts on the Providenciales island do their best to make your Turks and Caicos vacation memorable.

 

However, while the resorts are masters of hospitality and luxurious comfort, they might not offer the fun activities you want for an island escape. Don’t get me wrong. If you want to be pampered and relax, any of the Turks and Caicos resorts will have you covered. But if you need a break from tanning, dozing on the beach, or floating in the shallow beaches, you might need to step off the resort grounds.

 

That’s actually the beauty of visiting the Turks and Caicos islands. Your vacation can be equal parts relaxation and heart-racing excitement.

 

Have you ever tried kiteboarding?

 

Kiteboarding (or kitesurfing) is among the most popular activities on the Turks and Caicos islands, but it is rarely offered by your resort. Fortunately, there are some great companies and excursion packages that offer kiteboarding on the Turks and Caicos islands.

Kiteboarding for Beginners

Kiteboarding is a surface water sport where a rider (the kiteboarder) harnesses the power of wind using a large controllable kite, which propels them across the water on a kiteboard.

 

While professional athletes treat kiteboarding as an extreme sport, kiteboarding is perfectly safe and fun for nearly anyone—including children and seniors. However, it is ill-advised to learn on your own. It’s important to learn from a PASA- and IKO-certified kiteboarding instructor to be truly safe as they can provide a complete picture of the sport, rather than bits and pieces of information should you learn on your own.

 

Big Blue Collective’s kiteboarding program is designed to help beginners get started with the sport by tailoring instructions specific to the individuals. Since your Turks and Caicos hotel and resort most likely doesn’t offer lessons, Big Blue can help put your on the water safely.

Kiteboarding Lessons

Every instructor will approach the first lesson differently, but all certified instructors will stress the same thing: safety.

 

The bottom line is to keep yourself and the people around you safe. Before you even get on the water, your instructor will teach you how to make good assessments and decisions based on the weather. Once your instructor gives you the “okay” to go on the water, there is no guarantee you will be up and riding, but you will have a foundation to build up your skills.

Kiteboarding equipment

A kiteboarder harnesses the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kiteboard similar to a wakeboard or a small surfboard, with or without straps or bindings.

 

Common kiteboarding equipment includes:

  • Power kite
  • Flying line
  • Control bar
  • Kite harness
  • Kiteboard
  • Safety hook knife
  • Helmet
  • Personal floatation device
  • Impact vest
  • Board leash

 

Managing all the above equipment shows how important it can be to have a good instructor guiding you at the very beginning of your kiteboarding adventures.

Where to Kiteboard on Turks and Caicos?

As a beginner, choosing where to kiteboard is as important as having a good instructor. Every beach has its own character in the way the wind and water moves and just because a beach seems to be popular with kiteboarders, they might not be the best places for beginner kiteboarders.

Long Bay Beach

The best place to learn and do your first launch is Long Bay Beach. The lessons can be accessed near the Shore Club entrance, one of the premier Turks and Caicos resorts on Providenciales island.

 

Big Blue instructors teach primarily on Long Bay Beach because its orientation creates the ideal wind and water conditions for beginners. The sand is powder soft and the water is only waist deep for hundreds of yards. This means instructors can walk next to you while you learn and give you pointers and corrections right when you need them.

Getting to Long Bay Beach

There are multiple ways to get to Long Bay Beach from your Turks and Caicos resort for your kiteboarding lesson.

 

Shuttle (Free)

Big Blue offers a complimentary shuttle to any guest at a Turks and Caicos hotel and resort in the Grace Bay area.

 

Taxi

All taxis on the Providenciales island know where the Shore Club Entrance is. Just tell the driver “Long Bay Beach, through the Shore Club Entrance” and you’ll get there in no time.

 

Driving

If you’re driving yourself, you simply need to get on the Leeward HIghway, the main road running the stretch of the island. You’ll most likely need to head east (away from the airport) since the entrance to Long Bay Beach is near the south eastern side of the island.

 

Look for the Shore Club resort and turn into the entrance. Continue to the end where you will make a right turn followed by an immediate left. Park where you can but don’t leave any valuables in the car.

 

Head to the beach access and you will see Big Blue Collective immediately to your left.

Leeward Beach

Getting to Leeward Beach from a Turks and Caicos resort is simple and easy. However, while it is the start of many wave “surfaris” and the end point of “backcountry” kite safaris, Leeward beach has strong currents and a lot of boat traffic. Leeward Beach is better for intermediate to advanced riders and is not the best place to get your first launch.

Grace Bay

Grace Bay is another popular kiteboarding location, however it is for EXPERTS ONLY. The water is deep and riders must be accomplished in riding upwind and relaunching their kites in the water.

I’m Ready to Kiteboard on My Turks and Caicos Vacation. Now What?

Contact Big Blue Collective and schedule your first lesson! Our instructors have decades of combined experience and are ready to help you on your first launch.


Filed under: kite boarding