The Big Blue kayak expedition to the eastern side of the Caicos Islands at the end of November was a huge success. Despite some logistical hurdles, the 3-day trip ran smoothly, and an incredible amount of wildlife was recorded. Our customized ecotour adventures are some of our expert guides’ favorite trips to plan and execute with guests who are looking for unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences off the beaten path. On this expedition, perhaps of greatest interest was the varied nature of the terrain and the long, circular route that was established, including a short portage.
Big Blue’s high-performance Valley Sea Kayaks were shipped to South Caicos in advance of the expedition. Transport by air for the team members was provided by TCI helicopters and offered the opportunity to survey the dense network of mangroves, cays, and tidal channels from above. This research proved to be immensely valuable, although potential routes seen from the air can be much harder to determine from kayak level on the water. Tides also play a major role in determining what and where you can access. The tidal range is not huge, 50cm or so on spring tides, but timing it correctly is essential.
Our first day explored the small cays to the north of South Caicos and paddlers interchanged between the rougher ocean side and the sheltered leeward sides. The islands, barely solidified sand dunes, are covered in coastal plants including various palms, cacti, sea grapes, and casuarinas which give way to vast colonies of red and black mangroves on the water’s edge. The ends of these cays offer some surprisingly spectacular cliffs, sweeping turquoise channels, and gorgeous sheltered beaches; perfect locations to stretch cramped legs, cool off with a swim, and enjoy a well-earned picnic lunch. Almost every Cay seemed to be home to a different osprey family and associated nest.
An Abundance of Wildlife
The majority of the expedition was spent exploring the mangrove channels and interconnecting waterways. The bird population: herons, egrets, sandpipers, kingfishers, and flamingos, was very healthy. Underwater, fish biodiversity consisted of large schools of mojarra, baby barracuda, and bonefish. An occasional juvenile lemon or nurse shark and turtle were also spotted, some of TCI’s most well-known marine life. The most noticeable aspect of the trip was the solitude and total wilderness. There was no one around, there was no development, and the wildlife was unused to seeing people.
At the end of each day, kayaks were left on the nearest beach and a motorboat transported the guests back to South Caicos for the night. Accommodation and memorable seafood were enjoyed overlooking the Harbour at Cox’s Hotel.
Using a GPS and photographs taken from the air, a circular route through the mangroves and out to the coast on the southern tip of East Caicos was established. Another longer route via Hog Cay has been tentatively identified and partly explored. It will have to be completed on another expedition. Big Blue offers customized small-group exploratory kayak expeditions throughout the Caicos Islands.
Please contact Mark for more information and prices.