All you need to know about the famous TCI whale migration

30th June 2019 11:10 am

Whale watching. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences of many visitors’ lives. Witnessing these massive beasts at play helps you reconnect with your soul and remember what truly matters in life. Whale watching in the Caribbean is famous for its predictability, driven partly by the migration of humpbacks through this area every year. Today, the Big Blue Collective brings you everything you could ever want to know about these gentle giants and their time in the TCI.

Why do whales visit the area annually?

It seems odd to think that there’s anything like a ‘predictable’ whale sighting. Of course, it isn’t quite a matter of clockwork! Nature always has an element of unpredictability to it. However, the whale migration in the TCI is a known and regular phenomenon. You will definitely have a chance to go whale watching annually within the territory, even if we are never quite sure exactly when and where.

Why are we so sure that the whales will visit each and every year, though? It comes down to the nature of the whale. Humpback whales make a (truly massive) annual trek every year. It becomes necessary for them, as they have reliable, steady feeding grounds in cooler waters. These waters aren’t quite so hospitable for new-born calves, however. This means that they choose to cross almost 5000 km of water each year from those feeding grounds up to more clement waters to calve and frolic with their young. When the little ones are more fit for it, they head back to their feeding grounds. This cycle happens annually, giving us (as one of their waypoints) an unforgettable chance to be part of their journey.

Where are those feeding grounds? Why don’t we see them there?

These massive, gentle giants feed on plankton and krill, almost invisible creatures that populate the cold waters near Antarctica. They’ll spend their summers there, eating and putting on critical fat layers for their long journey. People in the area certainly do get some whale watching opportunities- but not many of us hang around cold Antarctic waters ourselves! When the waters start getting particularly icy as winter approaches, they start thinking more of the family and head back to warmer climes.

The Pacific is the perfect place for calving. Remember, whales have intense, unimaginable bonds with their family ‘packs’, known as ‘pods’. Rather than birthing in the cold waters with a dwindling food supply, they head to the Pacific and better climes. The sheer length of this journey means whale watching opportunities pop up worldwide, from the shores of South Africa’s Cape to right here in the TCI. So what makes whale watching in the TCI so different?

Experience whale watching in the Caribbean- a once in a lifetime experience

To get to these family-friendly waters, there’s a lot of ocean to cross! Nowhere else in the world has quite the geography we do in the TCI, however. While whale pods can be very split up in other seas, choosing their own route together over miles of ocean, here they have only a tiny area they can cross. Our islands (and the shelf below them) make a natural ‘channel’ in the waters, forcing the pods closer together. This means almost every humpback pod will have to squeeze through this (relatively) narrow stretch of sea. Add to that their imperative to be in the right place at the right time, and you have the makings of a magical experience.

Whale watching in the Caribbean is a truly exceptional experience. Throughout the ‘whale season’ here in the TCI, we get treated to truly spectacular displays. As this is also mating season, the whales are more active on the surface than usual, too. We see plenty of showing-off from males looking for a mate. Imagine tail-slapping and full-body breaches, all in our very own stretch of water! It may be designed to impress female whales, but it’s magic for us who get to watch it at distance, too.

When is the best time for whale watching in the Caribbean?

Now you know why we have a predictable whale season, it’s time to get to the details. When will our aquatic cousins be rolling through the crystal-clear, shallow waters of the TCI? We typically begin to see them in late December, making the perfect Christmas present for locals and visitors alike. The Big Blue Collective are very active in the water, between our boat charters, diving teams and watersport classes, so we’re often privileged to be among the first to spot them. As the New Year brings fresh hope to everyone’s minds, the sightings pick up too, and it can sometimes seem like a flood for the first few months of the year! Everywhere you go you’ll hear excited divers, snorkelers and visitors talking about where and when they last spotted a whale. If you happen to be spending the festive season on the islands, keep on eye on the water and that could well be you with the bragging rights!

So, you guarantee whale sightings?

These majestic, awe-inspiring creatures don’t take bookings! As powerful conquerors of the natural world, they come and go as they please, not on a human schedule. Remember that each pod, or family group, travels together (just like you and your loved ones). They don’t actually ever meet up intentionally as a larger group. This makes for spurts of frantic whale watching activity, then a few calm days, and then more activity.

This means this is the season to travel smart, not hard. If you’ve come here for the whale watching, be ready to interrupt your plans and get on the water when the sightings come in. They’re busily trying to reach the kind, warm waters of the Pacific for their young ones, so they won’t wait around for you! But the Big Blue Collective are always ready to help you out.

Fortunately, it’s not arduous to wait for the whales to come to you here in the TCI. Play in the calm seas (and chill vibe) of Salt Cay, or spend a day lounging on the warm sands in Provo. Sunny days with calm seas always seem to attract the most sightings, with the whales enjoying the clement conditions as much as you will be.

What is a whale watching experience like with the Big Blue Collective?

While we can’t tell you an exact date it will happen, take it from us- when it does, it’s magic. It’s well worth a touch of uncertainty. Believing strongly in ethical tourism, we at the Big Blue Collective aim for responsible, ethical whale experiences using the Silver Banks guidelines from the Dominican Republic. We see better, richer whale experiences with a gentle approach- aggressive pursuit just drives them to dive away from the human nuisance.

No two whale experiences will ever be the same, and with our informed guides on hand, yours will be wholly unique and special. We’ve had some spectacular encounters over the years, and each whale migration brings even more. It’s an experience that never gets old or loses its magic. Even the locals throng to watch our annual visitors as they pass!

Are you keen to experience whale watching in the Caribbean for yourself? Why not get in touch with the Big Blue Collective today, and harness our in-depth knowledge of the whale migration to help ensure you the best experience possible?

Filed under: Whale Watching

Astonishing, daring, beautiful: Celebrity faces of the TCI

26th June 2019 11:08 am

Where would a Caribbean island be without its share of the beautiful people? From sports stars and film stars to swashbuckling pirates, we’ve had them all. Famous visitors to the TCI abound. Throughout her long history, the TCI has been a magnet for the interesting, the daring and the roguish. Today the Big Blue Collective takes a peek behind the celebrity curtain and reveals how these famous (and infamous) visitors have shaped the face of the island.

Perhaps the most astonishing of these would be the first land bound steps of astronaut John Glenn after his Mercury space mission. Grand Turk was where he made his first landfall after re-entering Earth’s orbit and splashing into the sea. You can, in fact, visit a monument to this exciting moment at the Grand Turk Cruise Center.

While no one else on our list had to leave the atmosphere to get here, they all certainly left their own mark on the island!

A piratical past

Celebrity culture didn’t begin with the silver screen. Long before Hollywood was a glimmer in anyone’s eyes, ladies swooned and children adoringly followed the exploits of swashbuckling pirates. And pirates a’plenty there were in the TCI. One of the best things an aspiring rouge could have was a safe port to hide out in, and the Caribbean always beckoned. With different islands all held by varying international powers, and chequered coastlines offering discreet bays and inlets, there’s little wonder. Here’s just a few of the many well-loved pirates who called the TCI home:

  • Mary Reed and Anne Bonny: This notorious pair of pirate captains used to call Parrot Cay their home and refuge. In fact, ‘Parrot Cay’ was once known as ‘Pirate Cay’!
  • Francois l’Olonnais: Another (French) pirate who called the waters off West Caicos and French Cay home.

While many other pirates passed through the chain unnamed, we know a little more about some other famous visitors to the Turks and Caicos.

Exciting explorers

Pirates weren’t the only buccaneers riding the Caribbean seas back in the day. The Turks and Caicos also bid many welcomes to famous explorers, artists and colonisers as they passed through on their way to adventure. Just a few of these famous visitors to the TCI are:

  • Theodoor Hendrik Nikolaas de Booy: 1911 saw this noted authority on the Caribbean visit the TCI. The Dutch-American anthropologists spent much time searching the local landscape for more evidence of the prehistoric Taino people.
    Horatio Nelson: Lord Nelson suffered one of his very few defeats here in the TCI, trying to retake Fire Hill from the French during the Battle of Grand Turk in 1783
  • Captain John White: This English artist and Explorer stopped on West Caicos, hoping to find natural salt deposits. When this failed, they turned it into a hunting trip!
  • Ponce de Leon: This artfully named Spanish conquistador was governor of Puerto Rico at the time. He was trying to find the fountain of youth- little wonder he’d stop off on these beautiful islands to find it!
  • Christopher Columbus: Grand Turk is one of the suspected first landfalls the famous explorer made on his way to the ‘New World.’

Rockin’ Royalty

Where would any celebrity list of famous visitors to the TCI be without its share of royalty? Among the many people who have been dazzled by the gorgeous waters of the Turks and Caicos are:

  • Prince George: The then Duke of Kent, Prince George, came to the islands in 1928 as part of a disaster relief team.
  • The British Royals: The Royal couple themselves, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Phillip, made an official visit to South Caicos in 1966
  • Prince Edward: Slightly more recently, Prince Edward has been spotted enjoying the fun at Parrot Cay
  • Prince Charles: The UK’s Prince Charles has also had his hand in the history of the TCI. When the HMS Minerva docked at Grand Turk, he took part in local cricket matches as well as putting in some community service.

Sports Superstars

As we inch our list of famous visitors to the TCI into modern times, what better place to start than with our beloved stars of the field and track? Many modern sports stars have graced the beaches and bays of the Turks and Caicos, soaking up the sun as a welcome break from their hectic training schedules.

  • Lionel Messi: This Argentine superstar has been known to relax in the central resorts of the TCI.
  • Maria Sharapova: Something of a ‘busman’s holiday’, Maria Sharapova has been photographed for Sports Illustrated on the gorgeous beach of Grace Bay
  • Lebron James: Together with his family, they have been seen in the Provo locale, enjoying the local colour.
  • Lindsey Vonn: This Olympic gold medallist for downhill skiing also enjoys the rugged sights of South Caicos.
  • Rio Ferdinand: Not content with merely visiting the Turks and Caicos, Rio Ferdinand actually owns a villa on Parrot Cay

Eager Entrepreneurs

When your mind is the driving force behind your business, and the cutting edge your playground, it’s important to take some time to relax and unwind. What better place is there than the soft beaches and welcoming restaurants of beautiful Provo?

  • Donna Karen: This fashion kingpin has owned property on the Turks and Caicos since long before the island hit the public spotlight.
  • Bill and Melinda Gates: This power couple has been known to vacation on the Turks and Caicos. Notoriously, Bill seems to spend most of his time in the Clubhouse of the local Golf Course!

Hollywood Heros

Last, but certainly not least, where would any list of the famous visitors to the TCI be without a little Hollywood glamour? It’s peaceful atmosphere, combined with the stunning scenery and beautiful beaches, make a magnetic combination that draws even the most rich and famous. Just a sprinkling of the film stars and TV-stars who’ve enjoyed visiting the Turks and Caicos are:

  • Neil Partick Harris: Whether it’s as Dougie Howser M.D back in the day, or as the central star of How I Met Your Mother, everyone loves Neil Patrick Harris- and he seems to love the Turks and Caicos if his vacation choices are anything to go by.
  • Beyonce and Jay Z: The celebrity power couple has enjoyed the beauties of Provo.
  • Will Smith: Actor Will Smith is another Provo fan, taking several holidays in the vicinity of gorgeous Grace Bay Beach.
  • Nicki Minaj: Nicki instead favoured Long Bay Beach as the perfect locale to celebrate her 34th birthday
  • Prince: The Artist formerly known as Awesome actually owned real estate on Turtle Tail, complete with a bold purple driveway!
  • Bruce Willis: The Diehard star owns several properties across the island chain, as does Rolling Stone Keith Richards
  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie:  Another celebrity power couple, they have been known to vacation at Donna Karen’s villa

This short list is only some of the famous faces who’ve enjoyed the many pleasures of the island over the years. In fact, US Senator John Kerry has been known to take kiteboarding lessons here!

While you may not be in the tabloids and textbooks yet, why not add you face to the many smiling ones the Big Blue Collectie sees each year? As well as a touch of celebrity glamour, the Turks and Caicos offer a world of fun and relaxation just waiting for you to explore. Come walk in the footsteps of our famous visitors to the TCI, and enjoy a relaxing vacation today.

Filed under: History

5 Reasons you’ll love June in the TCI

22nd June 2019 11:04 am

Are you wondering what the TCI’s weather in June is like? We’re sure you know by now that almost every month is a great month to visit the Turks and Caicos, but June has its own special lure. Here’s everything you need to know about the TCI’s weather in June, courtesy of the Big Blue Collective.

  1. It’s festival time!

June in the TCI is time for the annual Crab festival. Along with the Conch, the crap is critically important to both the TCI economy and its food culture. If you’re a foodie, or you just love to sample authentic cuisine when you travel, June is the perfect time of year.

There’s also the humorously named Fool’s Regatta. This event is held annually wither in late June or early July. It’s the main amateur sailing even for the islands, so you know there’s fun and frolic to be had. It’s held at the Child’s Park in Bight Bay, and there’s classes for adults and kids alike. There’s even a (thoroughly entertaining) scrap-raft race to enjoy!

So if you’re looking for a trip packed full of local colour (and great food), make sure you take advantage of the TCI’s weather in June to come and enjoy the fun!

2. It’s (almost) off-season

We’re heading into the hot season here in the Turks and Caicos- and that typically means lower prices all around. Remember, we have fantastic weather no matter what time of the year you visit. Visitors are often confused that the peak season falls during winter- but that’s because our winters are hot and our summers even hotter! June has a fantastic balance of rising heat, without hitting the mid-summer peaks that can get a little too much. Because of dwindling tourism numbers, however, you’re more likely to score a fantastic budget deal for your trip. Great weather and great bargains? What could be better?

Although June marks the ‘official’ start of the hurricane season in the TCI, we’ve historically seen almost no blow ups during this month. The average TCI weather in June is tranquil and hot, so beach bunnies will love it too. The temperature may be rising, but it’s still cool enough for you to indulge in your favourite eco-tourism explorations. You can also head out to the ruins of the plantations and the salt industry without getting overheated.

3. The fishing (and the TCI’s June weather) is fantastic

If you’re keen to get your hook and line in the water, then June may be your favourite month. All the bigger pelagic game fish are available at this time of year. The seas are typically still and flat, too, so a private boat charter is excellent at this time of year.

These same flat seas also make this the perfect time of year for kiteboarding in the TCI. Whether you’re a seasoned pro wanting to perfect your launches, or an amateur hoping to get started, it’s time to give it a try.

4. Go sweaterless on the beach at night (and other romantic activities)

The slight increase in daily temperatures means you won’t have to dress up much at night, too. Fancy a romantic stroll on the beach? You won’t even need a light sweater to interrupt the ambience! Many of our restaurants are not air conditioned, so the warmer note in the air is perfect to show off your favourite cocktail dress.

June weather in the TCI is also less humid than later summer months. This means that the mozzies and other insects are at an all-time low, so you won’t be pestered. Just remember to pack your sunblock for daytime play, and let the fun woo you.

5. The water is utterly perfect

If you ever wanted to soak your cares away, then the TCI’s June weather is perfect for you. While our water is utterly fabulous all year round, in June it’s like stepping into a warm bath. Perfect for swimming, stand up paddle boarding, kiteboarding and any other water sport you ever wanted to try! Even the odd spill off your board won’t feel bad at all!

So, what exactly can I expect from the TCI weather in June?

Now you know all the reasons you have to add a June trip to your Turks and Caicos calendar, let’s take a closer look at the weather specifics for this month.

Our June average high temperature sits about 31 degrees Celsius. This will climb to 33/34 degrees by midsummer, but is still pleasant for outdoor activities. The sea tends to sit at a perfect 27 degrees Celsius. The sun-sensitive, and those travelling with young kids, may want to take a shady break around mid-day, but mornings and evenings are still cool enough for strenuous activities. Nights will dip to a balmy 23 degrees, so you can still wear all your party best without worrying about getting cold.

We sometimes get a little rain, with an average around 52mm, but this is in short bursts and unlikely to interfere with any plans you make. In fact, it will sometimes be a nice cooling break. You’ll be getting around 13 hours of sunlight on your trip, so be sure to load up on activities to enjoy.

The UV Index is always pretty high in the TCI. June is one of the highest months, averaging around 12. This means we advise all travellers to wear sunblock, even when in the water, and make sure you bring sunglasses and a beach hat to stay safe. You don’t want to spoil your fun with a bad sunburn!

The TCI- your perfect June break

While we may be heading out of the peak season, June in the TCI is still the perfect holiday destination. Warm enough to be luxurious, with pockets of cool for you to enjoy vigorous activities, you’re sure to love what June brings to the TCI.

Thinking of travelling to the TCI this June? Be sure to get in touch with the Big Blue Collective, so we can make all your beach and watersport dreams come true!

Filed under: Travel

What is the best Caribbean Island to visit at any time of the year?

19th June 2019 11:04 am

Weather. It’s the thing that can make or break a travel experience. You don’t want to head to the north for a white Christmas and find sunny skies waiting. Nor do you want to head to a Caribbean beach and find only drizzly rain to greet you. Fortunately, the TCI has your back! The Turks and Caicos are, by far, the best Caribbean Island to visit year-round. Today the Big Blue Collective takes a look at why.

  1. The crowds are not so crowded: Peak season isn’t a pain

There’s no getting around it: the Caribbean is a popular holiday destination. In some more frequented travel locations, this can mean standing room only at the beach! No one wants to waste a precious minute of their holidays, let alone spend them looking for parking or a spot on the beach. That said, venturing too far away from the beaten path can be a pain all of its own. From poor infrastructure to stressful navigation and a lack of amenities, being too much ‘in the wild’ doesn’t suit most people’s holiday needs.

The Turks and Caicos offer the perfect blend of ‘well known’ and ‘off the beaten track’. You won’t find the crowds thronging the beaches, even at the height of our peak season. There’s even a few beaches on the more remote islands where you may well be the only person there! Yet you will still find a convenient international airport, easy airline access, and a host of accommodation to suit any budget. Eco-tourists will find plenty of unspoiled vistas, while resort-lovers have a selection to choose from. The TCI offers a little of everything- and that includes a calm peak season. That’s just one of the reasons the Turks and Caicos are the perfect holiday destination.

2. The weather never really varies: All seasons are in

You often hear ‘peak’ and ‘off-peak’ used to describe the TCI. Or, perhaps, the ‘hot’ and ‘cool’ seasons. While there is a slight rise in temperature in summer, and a drop in winter, there’s very little difference overall compared to most travel destinations.

In fact, the winter season is actually the peak season in the Turks and Caicos! That’s because summer can be a little hotter, and what rain we receive tends to fall in the summer months. Winters, by contrast, are only a few degrees cooler, and the water is still warm and welcoming. There’s not much of a temperature spread at all. Annual temperatures only fluctuate between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (or 29-34 degrees Celsius). Water temperature is only a little lower.

The TCI also has almost year-round cooling breezes in the form of the Trade Winds. This helps keep everything fresh and balmy. So, while summer is a little hotter and a touch more humid, it’s still a fantastic holiday season. Where else in the world can you enjoy fun in the sun year-round? Just another reason the TCI is the best Caribbean destination there is.

3. Hurricane season typically behaves

Hurricanes are a fact of life on an island. It’s just part of the natural weather cycle that comes with smaller land masses. Of course, hurricanes are to be taken seriously, too. However, while the Turks and Caicos have seen their share of ‘mean’ Hurricanes over the decades, we’ve been remarkably luck in comparison to other Caribbean destinations. Whilst the ‘official’ hurricane season runs June- November, we typically don’t see much more than a squall or two. This comparative lack of strenuous hurricane activity is another reason we’re happy to call the Turks and Caicos the best Caribbean islands around.

4. You can always rely on the water

Part of the mystique of visiting the Caribbean is enjoying the wealth of wind- and water sports. Who can resist the allure of exploring the secret landscape of the world’s third largest barrier reef as colourful fishes flit around you? Or watching stingray flash underneath your board as you try your hand at stand up paddle boarding? Taming the winds from the back of a kiteboard? All this (and much more) awaits you in the Turks and Caicos. Perching on a natural underwater ‘shelf’, the islands have year-round flat, calm waters that are perfect for any number of waterborne activities. Always naturally warm ( the water temperature lags behind daytime temperature by only a few degrees) and pleasant, this is a paradise for water-babies everywhere. Yet another reason the Turks and Caicos are the best islands in the Caribbean!

5. Rich history and richer nature

The TCI has been inhabited a long time. While we don’t know much about the prehistoric people who left tantalizing traces of their presence, we do know tons about her more recent history. Romantic images of nestled plantations now explorable as ruins dominate the imagination. Or pick up traces of the salt-farming industries that once flourished here. Dig deeper, and you’ll find pirates, pioneers and so much more to delight you.

Or simply head out onto the back islands and enjoy the pristine views of unspoilt nature. Through our fascinating eco-tours you can explore landscapes virtually untouched by man. Let the spirit of nature refresh and renew your spirits in some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world.

The Turks and Caicos is definitely a top contender for the title of ‘best Caribbean island to visit’. Keen to see for yourself? Why not let Big Blue Collective carve you the perfect Caribbean adventure today?

Filed under: Tourism