SCUBA diving is one of the biggest attractions of the Turks and Caicos and is a world class diving destination. It is home to one of the longest barrier reefs in the world and is considered a biodiversity hotspot. People enjoy diving the Turks and Caicos because of the excellent visibility (up to 200 feet), abundant tropical marine life, and walls that have steep drops into the deep blue abyss.
In addition to exciting walls, Turks and Caicos divers can also enjoy easy access (with some reefs located relatively close to beaches) and old shipwrecks littered across the sea floor.
While Turks and Caicos diving is simply sublime, you should always pay special attention to ensure safety and maximize your enjoyment. No matter your experience level, here are some common mistakes divers have made while diving the Turks and Caicos:
Skipping Wall Diving
There are countless ways you can dive the Turks and Caicos, but the three islands that are the most visited are Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and Providenciales. While all three have distinct experiences, they all share a common trait that you shouldn’t skip: wall diving.
The Turks and Caicos archipelago is made up of two island chains that sit on two limestone banks, which are separated by the Turks Island Passage, a 6,000 foot deep channel.
Depending on which wall you dive near, you can see a wall that drops anywhere from 30 feet to thousands of feet nearly straight down into darkness. While there are plenty of “mini walls,” some of the most impressive wall dives of note include:
North West Point
North West Point is famous for its steep wall and is approximately a 45 minute boat ride off the west coast of Providenciales. It drops thousands of feet into darkness, but there is an incredible amount of life in the gullies, cracks, and overhangs of the wall. It is highly recommended to bring a flashlight on these dives as much of the marine life lives in the wall recesses.
West Caicos is a 75 minute boat ride from Providenciales. Stretching along the West Caicos shore is an outstanding wall that starts at 50 feet before disappearing below. This is a great place to spot eagle rays, reef sharks, and other large fish.
This site is often a favorite dive site for private boat excursions.
Diving Only from the Beach
There are several dive sites you can access from the beach. While it’s convenient, there are so many more spectacular dive sites that are only accessible by boat ride. Private charters enable friends, family, and small groups to dive without any schedule and experience the sites few people have seen.
There’s a lot of flexibility with a small diving group. If you really enjoy a particular site, stay longer! If you feel you’ve seen all that you can see, ask the captain to take you somewhere else. Private dive charters enable divers to see the best spots around French Cay, West Caicos, Provo, Pine Cay and beyond.
Many charters also provide long dives, even longer surface intervals and superb food and drinks that will satisfy all types of divers.
Relying Too Much on Your Guide
It’s simply good diving practice to learn how to navigate with a compass or trying to figure out the best dive pattern for a new site. That goes double when you’re diving at the Turks and Caicos. While many operators have expert guides, your safety is ultimately your own safety, especially when you’re diving with a group where the guide can’t watch ever diver.
Pay attention to the dive briefing, take notice of landmarks and directions, and be an active participant of your dive. Feel free to appreciate the natural environment around you, but don’t get too heavily focused that you don’t know what’s happening around you.
Lacking Situational Awareness
The Turks and Caicos dive sites are jaw-droppingly beautiful so it’s understandable that you can’t help but stop and stare. It’s far too easy to want to explore on a reef or follow a school of fish that you get caught in a current or just drift away from the rest of the group. Or, you get so entranced that you accidently kick a fellow diver in the face.
It’s understandable, but it’s also dangerous. This is especially true when you dive near a wall that with a drop thousands of feet below you. Wall dives are spectacular, but they are also particularly notorious for this. A diver’s attention will be completely on the wall and won’t notice that they are slowly descending.
While the Turks and Caicos diving operators have a great track record of safety, situational awareness can be an issue simply because the sites are so phenomenal.