Welcome to the home of the world’s third-largest barrier reef! The Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef is an adventure with your name on it, so why not come and explore today? Whether you’re a seasoned pro, or simply want to learn to scuba dive in one of the most pristine underwater environments in the world, there’s so much waiting for you under the water that you have to get excited. Today the Big Blue Collective unveils some of the mystique of our unique barrier reef- and why it needs to be on everyone’s bucket list!
It’s the third-largest in the world
Or maybe the second no one is quite sure! However, alongside the famous Great Barrier Reef, and the Belize Barrier Reef System, the Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef is one of the largest in the world. It’s also the best-preserved (and we’re not just saying that). Unlike the troubles of the Great Barrier Reef, Turks and Caicos tourism does everything it can to help preserve this exquisite landscape for future generations, too.
Over 60 coral species
As with any barrier reef, the bulk of the TCI reef is made from coral. Well over 60 unique species can be found here, both hard and soft. Hard coral is what you imagine when you hear the word ‘coral’- the bony calcium outcrops in vivid colours. Soft coral, on the other hand, gives the reefs their unique character. Soft, pliant, and vividly hued, soft coral is sometimes called ‘non-reef-building’ coral, because it lives on the reef instead of making up its ‘bones’ like hard coral. Instead, it provides critical support to the many gorgeous fish that call the reef home.
250 (or more) fish species to enjoy
That’s a whole lot of fish! Parrotfish and triggerfish, chub fish and blue tangs, timid angelfish and bold reef sharks… the sheer wealth of life at the reef cannot even be described on paper, it’s one of those things you have to experience for yourself1 Watch moray eels peek at you and stingrays churn softly through the water around you. There’s always curious turtles at play, and the teeming multitude of colour flashing around you is sure to win your heart. You’ll want to come back for more over and over again.
The home of our soft, white sand
Did you know that, without the barrier reef, the Turks and Caicos wouldn’t have its quintessential soft, white sand? Only with a healthy reef system providing the right conditions to make the coral-and-shell sand (and preventing erosion carrying it out to sea) could our gorgeous beaches continue to thrive. The next time you’re working on your tan on Grace Bay Beach, take a moment to thank all the little creatures that keep the beaches looking so pristine.
Explore sea fan beds
Some of the most popular barrier reef snorkelling sites, just off of Grace Bay, have spectacular sea fan beds, complete with gullies and caves, for you to enjoy. Let your imagination go wild and drink in this underwater landscape few others have experienced
Experience the Wall
Why learn to scuba dive and challenge yourself to a brand new adventure? The Turks and Caicos have long been known as one of the world’s premier dive sites. There’s tons to explore, from the reef itself to wrecks and beyond. But what draws even experienced divers back here time and again? It’s the Wall. Because the TCI is built from 2 shallow shelves of the seabed, the land drops abruptly away underwater. In some areas, the transition is near vertical! No dive trip to the TCI is complete without experiencing the Wall in all its glory.
Enter the coral gardens
Doesn’t that very name just sound magical? Trust us, the seascape awaiting you is just as magical in real life. The Bight Reef is often called the Coral Garden, and makes for a world-class snorkelling destination. Nestling close to the beach, you won’t need a boat to reach it, either. The best news of all? Bight’s Reef is only the tip of the iceberg of the reef system’s beauty, so there are even greater things to explore later on!
Explore the shipwrecks
The Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef may be beautiful to behold, but historically it was incredibly dangerous for ships. Even today, we advise people to take an experienced skipper on their yacht charter so they don’t get into hot water. Estimates lay over 1000 historical shipwrecks at the reef’s door! For more experienced divers, this means the chance of a lifetime to explore historic wrecks, and experience their complicated beauty as they return slowly into the reef that sank them.
Engage with ethical tourism
Does ethical tourism sound like a drag? Think again! One of the key reasons the Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef is as beautiful as it is is the combined care lavished on it by interested parties, including the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund and partners like the Big Blue Collective. Through the efforts of people just like you, we’re able to keep the reef safe from the ravages that have marred the Great Barrier Reef, and by choosing ethical tour providers, you can help keep this beautiful seascape pristine for generations to come
Did you know that many parts of the Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef fall under the banner of our national parks? Although they’re sea, not land, they’re critically important to the natural beauty of the TCI, so most of our National Parks have a marine component as well. The sheer wealth of species that call the Barrier Reef home means that they play an essential role in the wellbeing of the islands.
And there you have it! 10 wonderful reasons for the Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef to be on your bucket list. The Big Blue Collective has one of the biggest fleets in the Turks and Caicos, and decades of experience helping you create the diving experience of a lifetime. Whether you need to learn to scuba dive, or just want to explore the gorgeous underwater seascapes waiting for you in the TCI, don’t you think it’s time you enjoy creating adventure with us?