What Are the Climate Change Impacts on the Turks and Caicos Islands?

27th February 2018 9:58 am

The Turks and Caicos is an archipelago nation in the Caribbean and is especially susceptible to climate change and all that comes with it. This was especially noticeable in 2017, when Hurricane Irma—the first hurricane to make landfall on the TCIs in decades—devastated the Turks and Caicos and was quickly followed by Hurricanes Maria and Katia (when it was a tropical depression), both of which came uncomfortably close.

While category 5 hurricanes are attention-grabbing events, there are actually several more gradual or less obvious ways climate change is impacting the Turks and Caicos and your future trip to this Caribbean paradise.

Higher Sea Levels

Two main mechanisms contribute to observed sea level rise:

  1. Thermal expansion: Many things expand when warmed, and ocean water is no different. As the ocean heat content increases, sea level rises.
  2. Melting of major stores of land ice like ice sheets and glaciers: Ice melt flows off of mountains and land and into the ocean, adding to the ocean volume.

Based on a study published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 68% of recent sea level rise between 1993–2008 has been attributed by melting ice, and roughly one third has come from thermal expansion

Partial deglaciation of the Greenland ice sheet, and possibly the West Antarctic ice sheet, could contribute 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft) or more to sea level rise.

What Does Higher Sea Levels Mean for TCI?

Beaches are shrinking—and not just because the sea level is inching higher. Beaches are already shrinking due to beach erosion, which is a naturally occurring event as the lapping of the waves disrupt the coastline and pull sand deeper into the water. With the added rise of sea levels, more of the Turks and Caicos beaches are exposed to water movement.

Man-made techniques such as beach nourishment—whereby sand is dredged from off-shore sources and deposited along otherwise vanishing beaches—may slow the process, but nothing short of global cooling or some other major geomorphic change will stop beach erosion. If this does happen, you can expect the overall costs of visiting the Turks and Caicos to go up.

Warmer Waters

The ocean heat content is increasing. Unfortunately, warmer water is precisely what births the humongous and ferocious hurricanes that we are seeing with increasing frequency each year. In the Northern Atlantic Ocean, hurricane season is defined from June 1 to November 30, sharply peaking from late August through September.

Warmer water in the region means hurricanes can form sooner, with more frequency, and with greater intensity.

What Does Warmer Waters Mean for TCI?

Hurricanes

Your first thought is that jumping into warmer waters if great! Unfortunately, you might not get the chance if poor weather disrupts your travel plans. Travellers were stranded all across the Caribbean islands after a hurricane swept through. Scores of flights were cancelled and delayed and cruise boats were diverted.

When the vast majority of Caribbean trips are planned and booked months in advance, hurricanes are a huge unknown. Hurricane season has several months that coincides with vacation season and a trip that you’ve been looking forward to can be easily disrupted.

In September 2017, the United States National Hurricane Center reported that the North Atlantic basin was highly active because four tropical storms formed and they all became hurricanes. They report a higher than average record on the number of tropical storms that developed into hurricanes this year. Two of these four hurricanes, Irma and Maria, hit the islands in the Caribbean.

Once at the Caribbean, both Irma and Maria became Category 5 hurricanes. NASA reported that the temperature of the sea surface in the Caribbean when Irma became a hurricane was 30 °C (86 °F). The required temperature for the development of a major storm is suggested to be higher than 27 °C (80 °F).

Coral bleaching

A defined hurricane season doesn’t mean the Turks and Caicos are off limits, so you’ll still be able to make it to the islands where you can enjoy spectacular diving and snorkeling—in places where coral still survive.

Coral bleaching occurs when coral polyps expel algae that normally live inside their tissues. As the algae provide the coral with up to 90% of its energy, coral will starve after expelling the algae. Above-average sea water temperatures caused by global warming have been identified as a leading cause for coral bleaching worldwide.

In a 2005 study, a rise in the sea surface temperature is thought to have caused widespread coral bleaching in the Caribbean. In this study, researchers evaluate if this increase in sea surface temperature was due to natural climate variability or human activity. They concluded that it would be very unlikely that natural climate variability alone could account for this event.

Climate Change Impact on Turks and Caicos

The climate change impact on the Turks and Caicos will be severe. On September 8, Minister of Infrastructure Goldray Ewing confirmed that damage to Providenciales was extensive, with the northwestern neighborhood of Blue Hill being “gone”. The hospital in the capital, Cockburn Town, was damaged. On South Caicos, 75% of roofs were lost. Total damage is still being evaluated, but believed to exceed the $231 million toll of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

According to socio-economic experts, vanishing reefs can spark hunger, poverty and political instability to regions dependent on revenue generated from their coasts. Since countless sea life depend on the reefs for shelter and protection from predators, the extinction of the reefs would ultimately create a domino effect that would trickle down to the many human societies that depend on those fish for food, tourism, and livelihood.

The coral reefs along the Turks and Caicos’ coasts draw scuba divers, snorkelers and other tourists to seaside resorts and help maintain some of the world’s finest sandy beaches by absorbing energy from waves. Without the reefs, hotels, restaurants and other businesses that cater to tourists could suffer financially.

Many Caribbean countries, including nearby Turks and Caicos, get nearly half their gross national product from visitors seeking tropical underwater experiences.

What Can You Do to Help?

In the foreseeable future, the Turks and Caicos will continue to be a popular destination despite the ongoing changes brought on by climate change, and there are plenty of ways to be a positive influence on the environment, including supporting organizations focused on sustainability.

At Big Blue Collective, we are committed to providing you the best adventures with the least environmental impact possible. We keep our adventure groups small to ensure minimal impact while maximizing your experiences on the reef, in the mangroves, or in the ocean.

Year after year, we find new ways to discover the Turks and Caicos and better ways to do so. Our vision is constantly being refined and redefined to ensure a sustainable approach within a viable business framework.

Contact Big Blue Collective to learn more about what eco-friendly activities you can do while you’re in the Turks and Caicos or go ahead and book your adventures today.



5 Best Kept Secrets About the Turks and Caicos Islands

17th February 2018 1:51 pm

It’s no secret that the Turks and Caicos Islands constantly makes the list for articles like “best travel destinations of 2018,” “best beaches,” or “top Caribbean getaway.” The beautiful beaches, awesome dive sites, and luxury resorts makes the Turks and Caicos a top contender for any of these lists.

 

However, just because the Turks and Caicos are already on many people’s bucket list, it still holds a few secrets that not every travel or beach enthusiast will know.

 

Here are 5 best kept secrets about the Turks and Caicos Islands that will make you want to bump them up on the priority of places you want to visit.

#5: Premier Kitesurfing Destination

The Turks and Caicos Islands have some of the best conditions on Earth for kitesurfing. Because of the unique island formations, the waters along and around the shore are generally calm and serene. And because the shore is so shallow, you can actually keep your feet on the sand as you wallow dozens of meters from the beach.

 

But it’s not all about the water. The Caribbeans is perfectly situated in the middle of strong and—more importantly—constant tradewinds. The most predictable and consistent wind on Providenciales is the east southeast trade winds. The islands typically experience this wind on and off over the year, but it’s usually a bit more pronounced and regular in the winter months. When the season is right (Usually November to May) and the breeze picks up, it’s consistent and more predictable than most winds.

 

Turks and Caicos is a kiteboarding mecca. It’s easy to find PASA and IKO certified kiteboarding instructors with decades of experience who can train both and teens.

#4: Ecological Wonder

The Turks and Caicos Islands are a biodiversity hotspot. The islands have many endemic species and others of international importance, due to the conditions created by the oldest established salt-pan development in the Caribbean.

 

The variety includes a number of lizards, snakes, insects, plants, and marine species found nowhere else on the planet. In addition to the unique native species, the islands are also a crucial breeding area for countless seabirds, and the surrounding seas are an important water highway for humpback whales.

 

The U.K. and Turks and Caicos Islands Governments have a joint focus and responsibility to conserve and preserve the natural environment. Due to the combined effort of both governments, the islands are on the United Kingdom’s tentative list for future UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

 

There are many special eco-tours that take you out to mangrove channels and national parks to see delicate ecosystems that support the nesting birds. The guides accompanying these tours are informative and certified to ensure that all safety precautions are taken. Guides will point out turtles, sharks, stingrays and any other sea animal that pass by.

#3 Beautiful Dive Sites

Much of the Turks and Caicos biodiversity can only be found in and beneath the waves as it is also home to one of the larger barrier reefs on the planet. While snorkelling and diving enthusiasts may already know this, much of the general population of visitors who come to the island usually aren’t aware of this “known secret.”

 

Because the beaches and resorts are so beautiful, it’s so easy to forget the wonders of life under the sea. There are countless number of great sites, and you should choose your site based on your experience, skill, and whether you snorkel or SCUBA dive.

 

Snorkelling is definitely one of our recommended activities on Providenciales. The Bight Reef and Smith’s Reef are the two main snorkelling sites accessible from the beach. The Bight Reef is easy to access, but the more difficult to find Smith’s Reef offers much more to see. Snorkelling on a boat cruise can be excellent and better than the beach reefs, but it depends on where your captain takes you. A dedicated snorkelling trip will usually give the best underwater experience.

 

If you’re trained, you may want to opt for a diving trip. The Turks and Caicos is renowned for miles of exquisite barrier reefs, walls, clear waters and abundant wildlife. Many of the dive sites accessed off Providenciales are located in protected areas, mainly in the Princess Alexandra National Park, Northwest Point Marine National Park, and the West Caicos Marine National Park.

 

Providenciales has the advantage of being within access to over 70 miles (112km) of barrier reefs and walls. Because of this, there’s a huge variety of marine life and corals at the dive sites.

#2 You Might Run Into Your Favorite Celebrity

It’s no secret that the Turks and Caicos is popular. However, some of the visitors and vacations may wish it wasn’t! The TCIs is a popular getaway for many celebrities, some of whom, actually have vacation homes built here.

 

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Tony Parker and Eva Longoria, and Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld all famously married or honeymooned here, and if you’re lucky, you might see A-list celebs like Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Beyoncé, LeBron James, and Paul McCartney enjoying the beach.

#1 Interesting History

The Turks and Caicos has a rich history that many history buffs will appreciate. While the sun is always shining and the beaches are always beautiful, it wasn’t always paradise. The arrival of Europeans in the 1500s sparked the decline and eventual extinction of the aboriginal people and culture. Then came Bermudian salt collectors who settled the Turks Islands around 1680. For several decades around the turn of the 18th century, the islands became popular pirate hideouts.

 

The Turks and Caicos Islands also had a strong U.S. presence. From 1950 to 1981, the United States had a missile tracking station on Grand Turk island. In the early days of the American space program, NASA used it. After his three earth orbits in 1962, American astronaut John Glenn successfully landed in the nearby ocean and was brought back ashore to Grand Turk island. (Not a bad place to land, huh?)

The Secret Is Out—Book Your Trip!

Turks and Caicos excursions are very popular and spots fill up fast. It’s important that you book early so you can secure your favorite activities. Because if a tour operator is down to one spot, you know who will get that last seat if it’s between you and Matt Damon.

Contact Big Blue Collective to learn more about what activities you can do while you’re in Providenciales or go ahead and book your adventures today.


Filed under: History

How to Find Turks and Caicos Homes for Rent

14th February 2018 10:34 am

We’ve previously talked about how the Turks and Caicos Islands is among the top Caribbean travel destinations and how February is one of the best times to visit. The Turks and Caicos tourism industry is now in full swing and intent on helping visitors experience the vacation of a lifetime, whether that is to try some action sports, enjoy the natural beauty of the islands, or soaking in the sun on pristine beaches.

Now that we’ve whet your appetite for dreamy beaches and exciting activities, it doesn’t seem fair if we don’t tell you where to stay.

You can, of course, go with the ultra glitzy and luxurious Turks and Caicos resorts on Grace Bay Beach. While it’s tough to beat 5-star treatment and amenities that are situated just feet from the dazzling beach, you’ll have a lot of competition finding your own sandy real estate as the resorts are often the the destinations of vacationers.

Those resorts also don’t come cheap. Spa treatments, chef-style kitchens, high-tech furnings come with a steep price tag, especially when you visit the TCIs at peak travel season.

Instead, you might be more interested in renting a Turks and Caicos home. Renting a Turks and Caicos home strips away everything you don’t need from the all-inclusive TCI resorts and hotels. With hundreds of beautiful properties that can cater to any vacation style, you’ll be sure to find something that will fit your mood.

Why Rent Turks and Caicos Homes

As mentioned before, finding a Turks and Caicos home for rent can help reduce costs you might not want—especially if it’s during peak travel times. Many of the luxe Turks and Caicos resorts come with high end amenities like pools, balconies, and chef style kitchens.

Fortunately, so do many of the Turks and Caicos rental homes. Because many of these properties are rented by the actual homeowners, the costs can be much more affordable. Even the properties that are rented by corporations can be a great alternative to costly TCI resorts or hotels.

Note:

If you are able, try to travel during off-peak times. Homeowners are getting savvy to the popular times and will raise their prices according to the market. So while they might edge out the Turks and Caicos hotels and resorts in terms of affordability, Turks and Caicos home rental costs can still creep up to eye-bulging amounts.

Where to Rent A Turks and Caicos Home

There are a lot of online resources for you to find a Turks and Caicos rental home for your vacation needs. Here are just a few:

1) Airbnb

Airbnb is by far one of the more recognizable Turks and Caicos home rental websites. Airbnb has a great mobile app, which functions just as well as its browser features. One of the most powerful feature of its search function is the filter, which allows you really select what you want in a home, including:

  • Property/room type
  • Number of bedrooms and baths
  • Amenities like fully stocked kitchen, wifi, and more
  • Pool
  • Neighborhood
  • The host’s language

Most importantly, Airbnb vets both users and homeowners, so both parties can read reviews of the other to promote a safe environment.

2) VRBO

VRBO, or Vacation Rentals By Owner, has been around for a long time (since 2006!) and is considered a pioneer of the online vacation rental industry.

Just like Airbnb, be sure to utilize the filter options. If you want to search specific for a cottage that has an oceanfront view and is pet friendly, all you have to is to click the check boxes! Just be aware that the more boxes you check, the fewer options you’ll ultimately have.

3) FlipKey

FlipKey was acquired by TripAdvisor in 2008 and gives a more unique approach to browsing vacation rentals. You can easily browse listings based on certain parameters such as low-cost, family-friendly, luxury, or even by the type of trip you’re hoping to embark on. This is great for when you search for a Turks and Caicos rental home and are interested in activities like SCUBA diving, snorkeling, or stand up paddleboarding.

Where on Turks and Caicos Should You Stay?

It really depends on what you want to do that will determine the location of your rental house. However, since Providenciales is the most populated and developed island, you’ll find the most options here.

But it’s a populated and developed island for a reason. It’s close to everything you could ever possibly want to do at the Turks and Caicos.

There’s Long Bay Beach for kiteboarding, charter boats to take you to the best diving and snorkeling sites, Grace Bay Beach for the sunbathing, and basically anywhere for stand up paddleboarding and kayaking.

Don’t Forget to Book Turks and Caicos Excursions

Booking your excursions and activities is just as important as securing your rental home. There are only a limited number of action adventure operators, and they can be snapped up just as quickly as rental homes.While you can’t book excursions through the above home rental search sites, you can still contact us to get you started on the booking process!


Filed under: Accommodation

Turks and Caicos Weather in February

5th February 2018 8:57 am

The Turks and Caicos Islands are known as a year round travel destination because of the good Caribbean weather. In fact, the Turks and Caicos weather in February offers some of the best conditions you will ever have in the Caribbean.

February is prime dry season month in the Turks and Caicos, and it coincides with some of the gloomiest weather people in northern United States and Canada experience at this time. So if you’re interested in enjoying the Turks and Caicos weather in February, prepare to enjoy the weather with a lot of other vacationers from the northern hemisphere.

Turks and Caicos Weather in February

While localized weather patterns can’t be predicted long term with accuracy, the Turks and Caicos temperatures in February tends to average between 27°C and 29°C (or 80°F and 84°F respectively). How’s that for consistency?

February has historically been a hurricane-free month. In fact, it’s unlikely that there will be much rainfall during February since February is in the middle of the dry season.

Turks and Caicos in February

The Turks and Caicos is a year round destination, but February is peak travelling time. This means the Turks and Caicos will be at its busiest with tourism prices being at their highest. However, this also means the tourism sector will be in full swing, and you can expect every touring operation to be at their best.

Mosquitos

Mosquitos will be less of a nuisance in February than in most months. While the Turks and Caicos are in the natural habitable range of mosquitos, they only become a nuisance when there is flooding, which is unlikely in February since the TCIs see very little rain during this time.

Also, trade winds tend to pick up during February, which can greatly reduce a mosquito’s ability to fly. Tourist areas like Providenciales will practically be mosquito free.

Activities

Turks and Caicos in February is great if you love hanging out in or on the water. The ocean is frequently described to be at a comfortable, “bathtub warm” temperature with mostly calm conditions.

The ocean water is at a very comfortable 82°F, or 28°C.

While activities such as boat charters, snorkelling, diving, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding can be enjoyed year round, kiteboarding is a particularly good choice at this time because the winds are more consistent during the winter months.

Kiteboarding

The Turks and Caicos beaches are known for their shallow lengths and calm waters. Along with the good winds during this time, February is a great month for people want to learn or improve their kiteboarding skills.

If you’re new to the sport, it’s easy to find PASA and IKO certified kiteboarding instructors with decades of experience. It won’t take you long to get a good run if you’re a beginner. Or, if you’re an advanced intermediate, you can pick up and refine the more flashy techniques.

If you’re already an avid kiteboarding fan, then you already know that the Turks and Caicos is a kiteboarder’s ultimate dream. Head over to Long Bay where you can ride for miles.

Whale Watching

Whale watching is the only activity that’s truly seasonal, as the migrating humpback whales only make their appearance from late December to early March. So if you’re on the islands in February, you have a reasonable chance of seeing them coast along the shore.

However, the best place to see them obviously isn’t on land. Book a whale watching adventure to increase your chance of seeing these majestic leviathans. If you book the right tour group and if the whales don’t mind your presence, you might even have the rare and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to snorkel or dive with the animals!

Stand Up Paddleboarding

The waters around Turks and Caicos are warm year round and can be exceptionally calm on the shallow beaches at this time. Even if the ocean gets a bit choppy from the higher winds, the natural reefs form a shelter that protects the beaches from high surf. This makes stand up paddleboarding a great activity for families, kids, or people who want a more relaxed activity.

Some special tours using paddleboards include eco-tours you can take to see delicate ecosystems supporting nesting birds. Or, you can skim over clear waters near reefs and see vibrantly colored marine life right beneath your board.

Kayaking

Kayaking is great to explore beaches, shallow channels, tidal creeks, and around the cays. It’s a quiet and non-intrusive way to get close up pictures of wildlife like iguanas and birds.

Like paddleboarding, you can embark on kayak eco-tours that let you explore the Turks and Caicos’ natural beauty.

Book Early for Your Turks and Caicos February Vacation

February is one of Turks and Caicos’ busiest months in terms of tourism. It’s important that you book early—not only for your hotel and flights, but also for any activities you want to do.

Hotels charge their highest prices during the peak winter period, and you’ll have to make your reservations months in advance, especially around the United State’s holiday, Presidents’ Day weekend. The Easter holidays/school spring break is an increasingly popular time for families to visit.

Contact Big Blue Collective to learn more about what eco-friend activities you can do while you’re in Providenciales or go ahead and book your adventures today.


Filed under: Weather