Our Philosophy

Our eco philosophy permeates nearly every aspect of our business. It continues to guide our business and decision making every step of the way.

Less is more.

Quality over quantity.

Our love of the small group adventure is aimed to minimize our footprint while maximizing all of our experiences and is the essence of the Big Blue philosophy.

Both founders, Mark and Philip, take environmental impact very seriously and are active supporters of local conservation and heritage preservation. They sit on present and former boards of the TCI National Trust, TCI REEF Fund and National Museum. Many of Big Blue Collective’s ecotours and adventures have been designed to support these conservation initiatives. 

Where ever and when ever possible we will not anchor on the reef and if so then our guides swim the anchor down. When diving and moorings are unavailable our scuba team will drift dive. BE AWARE and choose wisely. Far too many operators say one thing and do another. Pay attention. Actions speak louder than words.

Ten years ago we introduced biodegradable sunscreen to ALL our excursions and the TCI. Today it is mandatory on all our trips. We politely ask our guests to join us making all our trips toxic free every time. Every little bit helps.

Education of course, plays a huge role in sharing and enjoying the environment we all love for years to come. We love teaching our guests about where we are and what we see as we firmly believe that when one truly loves something one will protect it.

Small Groups – Less is More!

Why snorkel or dive surrounded by droves of people when you can share the magic with a few kindred spirits?

Tours, Excursions and Adventures in small groups is the best way to see and experience the Turks and Caicos islands

Small Groups

check-icon

Big Groups

cross-icon

Small Groups

check-icon

Big Groups

cross-icon

More terrain

Small groups allow us to access more terrain. Our captains and boats can get to places other vessels simply cannot get to or even know how to find.

Flexibility

Our options, choices and time are so flexible. We leave earlier and stay longer. We can adjust before and during any trip for any reason i.e. longer dives, in water encounters, a magic sunset, taking photos and personal requests. Small groups are simply on a totally different level. #FIRSTINLASTOUT

Safety

Safety in numbers? No chance. The smaller the groups the easier they are to manage and the safer they become. We are able to pair people up with similar abilities, react quicker and communicate much more effectively.

Impact

Minimizing our environmental impact is our top priority. In small groups we can be better guides, advise, help and organize so that we all maintain our focus to reduce our footprint.

Meet

Get to hang out with people just like you. Explore with those that love nature, adventure, living in the moment and getting most out of these islands rather than just booze cruising.

Marine Ecology

Each of these ecosystems contributes to the health of the coastal environment by providing important services to each other in order to maintain balance and diversity. The main marine ecological zones of the Turks and Caicos include the coral reefs, grass beds and mangrove wetlands.

Mangrove

  • Prevents erosion
  • Absorbs nutrients
  • Interrupts fresh water discharge
  • Export of fish and crustaceans

Sea Grass Bed

  • Builds sediment
  • Absorbs nutrients
  • Export of maturing fish

Coral Reef

  • Buffering of waves and current
  • Export of fish and invertebrate larvae
  • Migration of adult fish and invertebrates
  • Export of organic material and nutrient supporting the pelagic food web
enviorment-page-icons

Reefs provide physical protection to seagrass and mangrove habitats by dissipating energy from currents, waves and storms. This buffering system creates a calm environment that facilitates development of these inshore ecosystems.

enviorment-page-icons-2

Herbivorous animals such as turtles, conch and urchins make their way to seagrass beds where they help to maintain balance by consuming algae and/or seagrass and excreting nutrients.

enviorment-page-icons-3

Many reef animals use the mangroves as a nursery where their larvae spend time there as juveniles, receiving protection and nutrients from the mangrove ecosystem.

enviorment-page-icons-4

Mangrove and seagrass systems absorb nutrients that would otherwise make their way out to the reef system, in effect preventing the overgrowth of competitive algae on the reef – this allows the corals
to survive.

enviorment-page-icons-5

Coral reef systems export excess nutrient and organic compounds to the surrounding water column, which contributes to growth in the
pelagic food web
(open ocean).

enviorment-page-icons-6

Wetlands habitats dominate the sheltered leeside of the Caicos Islands and many creeks and channels that penetrate inland in both the Turks Islands and the Caicos Islands. The windward side is characterized by sandy beaches, rockland, ironshore, or cliffs.

Water Clarity

The incredible water clarity that can be experienced around the Turks and Caicos warrants an explanation.

The upper layers of oceanic waters surrounding the Turks and Caicos Islands have very low levels of dissolved nutrients. This results in a lack of phytoplankton production despite the plethora of sunlight. It is phytoplankton that would otherwise provide a green hue to the ocean depending on its concentration. These desert like waters are consequently devoid of life and very clear. In addition the Turks and Caicos Islands are made of limestone and very porous. There are no rivers or streams and the minimal rainfall that is received soaks very quickly into the water table held within the rock. Coupled with the limited soil there is very little run-off or sedimentation that would otherwise dirty the water as experienced along the edge of continents or soil-rich islands. No nutrients, no phytoplankton, no soil/sediment runoff = Great Visibility!!

Water Colour

Explanation of water clarity leads to the next big question; why is the colour of the water in the Turks and Caicos such an amazing hue of blues and turquoise?

This essential component of this answer is related to the absorption of light waves in water. Red, orange and yellow light waves are absorbed first. Blues on the other hand are not absorbed so quickly. This is why the ocean appears deep blue in colour, especially in clear water with reduced nutrients and phytoplankton.

The white limestone origin of all Turks and Caicos sediments helps to provide the range of amazing colours seen in the shallower coastal waters. Light reflects off the white sand and the hue depends on the depth and degree of light absorption. Sediment suspended in the water column will also effect the reflection of light which contributes to the attractive colour of Chalk Sound National Park and the changing colour of the water during unsettled sea conditions when the sediment is lifted into suspension by wave action and sea currents.

Protected Areas of The Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands have an extensive network of 35 protected areas. This includes National Park, Nature Reserve, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Areas of Historical Interest. Big Blue Adventures visit many of the protected areas and strive to minimize any impact that we may have.

The Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) is mandated to “ensure the sustainable use of the natural resources of the Turks and Caicos Islands and to protect and promote biodiversity and economic prosperity through a sustainable fisheries industry, environmentally sustainable development, a Protected Areas system and improved Maritime Affairs”.

Map showing the main protected areas around Providenciales and the Caicos Cays

Map showing the region of the RAMSAR site explored on the Big Blue Wilderness Adventures.

There is an extensive Nature Reserve on the southern side of North and Middle Caicos. This wetland complex is probably the most natural such area in the Caribbean. It is also probably the most complete and natural wetland area amongst the more than 160 designated by UK under the Ramsar Convention that recognizes an area of “specific international importance of containing a variety of marine and coastal habitats types and complex natural transitions”. Visitors can explore and experience this area on Big Blue’s Wilderness Kayak and Paddleboards Adventures.

Visitor Guidelines:

  • Do not stand on or touch the coral; it is a living animal and you will harm it.
  • Watch your fins when snorkeling or diving; try to keep your body flat and your fins up to prevent coral damage. Avoid kicking the sand so that the fine particles do not smoother and choke the living coral.
  • Do not feed or harass the wildlife including fish, birds and reptiles.
  • It is illegal to remove corals, sand, shells and wildlife, whether dead or alive, from the beaches or ocean.
  • Please use 100% biodegradable suntan lotion whenever possible and always allow time for lotion to soak into your skin before going in the sea.
  • No fishing of any kind is permitted in protected areas such as National Parks and Nature Reserves. This includes ‘catch and release’ fishing or hunting for conch and lobsters.
  • Do not litter: Please remove all your trash including cigarette butts, plastic cups and straws. Be mindful of the wind blowing trash into the sea from the beach.
  • Please take as much of your consumables back home with you including batteries, shampoo bottles and other non-biodegradables.
  • Please try to eat local rather than imported seafood.

Best Practices

Every little action counts and we believe it is the small things that make a difference. We acknowledge that we have an impact on our surrounding environments, but we also know and embrace that we have a responsibility to reduce our negative footprint whenever and where ever possible.

EDUCATION: Educate is part of our fabric. As a collective we love to teach not only about wildlife or a sport but also through awareness of best practices and low impact activities like paddling and in water guided small group diving and snorkelling.

LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH: Whether in the mangroves or over the coral reef, the less we disturb the better. With more and more visitors arriving every year this only becomes more and more important.

ANCHORING: Is a huge issue for us. We do our absolute best to not drop anchors on the reef and certainly not next to moorings. The negative impact is devasting. We have watched first-hand how, over the last 25 years and especially in the last 5 years, lazy and thoughtless practices have destroyed and destroy our reefs. This is one of the reasons we have stayed with small groups but also why we drift snorkel when we have to. It’s so worth the extra effort.

NO EXTRACTION: There is a time and place for most things BUT conch, fish and lobster extraction out of season or from our National Parks and Reserves is not acceptable. Truth is, it is now a common practice on a multitude of day boat operators, all of whom operator in our parks, none more so than on the North Shore. Chose wisely. Be part of the solution not the problem.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  • We use YETI reusable bottles and cups instead of one-time plastic on all trips
  • We no longer offer plastic bottles for drinking water.
  • We make our own ice, reducing the number of dozens of plastic bags every single day
  • We adhere strictly to the local recycling program of the TCI (glass, cans, plastic bottles and card board)
  • We only allow and sell biodegradable sunscreen (see sunscreen page)
  • We use biodegradable boat, dish soap and laundry detergent

Sunscreen Policy

We absolutely DO NOT ALLOW any non-biodegradable sunscreen on any of our trips.

Our Oceans

  • Coral Reefs are home the 25% of the world’s marine life
  • The Oceans produce most of our oxygen
  • Coral bleaching and disease have decimated most of our coral reefs
  • Sunscreen pollution is a major cause of this decline
  • What you put on your skin will end up in the ocean, where ever you live

Ingredients

Non- Nano zinc is the only active ingredient that does not damage corals
The following ingredients, common in nearly all sunscreens, are dangerous active ingredients often mislabelled as “reef safe”, “eco” or “natural”. Be `AWARE

  • Avobenzone
  • Benzophenone-3
  • Butyl
    /Methoxydiben-
    zoylmethane
  • Butylcarbamate
  • Butylparaben
  • Cetyl Dimethicone
  • Cinoxate/Cinnamate
  • Dimethyl Apramide
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Hexyldecanol
  • Homosalate
  • Menthyl Anthranilate
  • Methlparaben
  • Methylbenzylidene
  • Nano-Particles
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • Octyl Salicyclate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Padimate O / Paba
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Polyethylene
  • Propylparaben
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Titanium coated in
    Aluminum or Dimethicone
  • Trolamine Salicyclate

Choosing Sunscreen

  • In Feb 2019 the FDA updated sunscreen regulations
  • Of the 16 approved SPF ingredients ONLY TWO are regarded as safe (Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide)
  • May 2019, FDA released studies re/ chemical sunscreens and how common ingredients seep into the blood stream for up to 7 days exceeding FDA limits by up to 40 times.
  • Choose broad spectrum non nano zinc oxide protection
  • Choose SPF 30 or higher
  • Choose water resistance for 80 mins +

Using Sunscreen

  • Sunscreen is the last line of defence, not the first
  • Apply lots and more than you think
  • Apply early and reapply
  • Wear hats, caps, sun shirts, rashguards – especially long sleeves and neckies

Chemical vs Physical Sunscreens

  • Zinc and Titanium Oxide are physical blockers.
  • Titanium Oxide is a hybrid blocker that scatters UV light and absorbs some UV radiation.
  • Zinc sits on the skin scattering and reflecting both UV light and rays.
  • ONLY Zinc Oxide blocks BOTH UVA and UVB rays.
  • Chemical absorbers interact with the skin and ABSORB UV rays.
  • Chemical sunscreen mixes protect against full assortment of UVB but not against UVA

Recommendations

  • There are a few top brands out there offering biodegradeable sunscreen with Zinc and or Titanium Oxide as their only active ingedients.
  • We use, offer and sell these products from these three excellent brands. Absolutely natural, Manda naturals and RAW elements.
  • If you are not sure check with us or pick the good stuff up here.
OUR MISSION

Our Philosophy

Our eco philosophy permeates nearly every aspect of our business. It continues to guide our business and decision making every step of the way.

Less is more.

Quality over quantity.

Our love of the small group adventure is aimed to minimize our footprint while maximizing all of our experiences and is the essence of the Big Blue philosophy.

Both founders, Mark and Philip, take environmental impact very seriously and are active supporters of local conservation and heritage preservation. They sit on present and former boards of the TCI National Trust, TCI REEF Fund and National Museum. Many of Big Blue Collective’s ecotours and adventures have been designed to support these conservation initiatives. 

Where ever and when ever possible we will not anchor on the reef and if so then our guides swim the anchor down. When diving and moorings are unavailable our scuba team will drift dive. BE AWARE and choose wisely. Far too many operators say one thing and do another. Pay attention. Actions speak louder than words.

Ten years ago we introduced biodegradable sunscreen to ALL our excursions and the TCI. Today it is mandatory on all our trips. We politely ask our guests to join us making all our trips toxic free every time. Every little bit helps.

Education of course, plays a huge role in sharing and enjoying the environment we all love for years to come. We love teaching our guests about where we are and what we see as we firmly believe that when one truly loves something one will protect it.

SMALL GROUPS

Small Groups – Less is More!

Why snorkel or dive surrounded by droves of people when you can share the magic with a few kindred spirits?

Tours, Excursions and Adventures in small groups is the best way to see and experience the Turks and Caicos islands

Small Groups

check-icon

Big Groups

cross-icon

Small Groups

check-icon

Big Groups

cross-icon

More terrain

Small groups allow us to access more terrain. Our captains and boats can get to places other vessels simply cannot get to or even know how to find.

Flexibility

Our options, choices and time are so flexible. We leave earlier and stay longer. We can adjust before and during any trip for any reason i.e. longer dives, in water encounters, a magic sunset, taking photos and personal requests. Small groups are simply on a totally different level. #FIRSTINLASTOUT

Safety

Safety in numbers? No chance. The smaller the groups the easier they are to manage and the safer they become. We are able to pair people up with similar abilities, react quicker and communicate much more effectively.

Impact

Minimizing our environmental impact is our top priority. In small groups we can be better guides, advise, help and organize so that we all maintain our focus to reduce our footprint.

Meet

Get to hang out with people just like you. Explore with those that love nature, adventure, living in the moment and getting most out of these islands rather than just booze cruising.

ENVIRONMENT

Marine Ecology

Each of these ecosystems contributes to the health of the coastal environment by providing important services to each other in order to maintain balance and diversity. The main marine ecological zones of the Turks and Caicos include the coral reefs, grass beds and mangrove wetlands.

Mangrove

  • Prevents erosion
  • Absorbs nutrients
  • Interrupts fresh water discharge
  • Export of fish and crustaceans

Sea Grass Bed

  • Builds sediment
  • Absorbs nutrients
  • Export of maturing fish

Coral Reef

  • Buffering of waves and current
  • Export of fish and invertebrate larvae
  • Migration of adult fish and invertebrates
  • Export of organic material and nutrient supporting the pelagic food web
enviorment-page-icons

Reefs provide physical protection to seagrass and mangrove habitats by dissipating energy from currents, waves and storms. This buffering system creates a calm environment that facilitates development of these inshore ecosystems.

enviorment-page-icons-2

Herbivorous animals such as turtles, conch and urchins make their way to seagrass beds where they help to maintain balance by consuming algae and/or seagrass and excreting nutrients.

enviorment-page-icons-3

Many reef animals use the mangroves as a nursery where their larvae spend time there as juveniles, receiving protection and nutrients from the mangrove ecosystem.

enviorment-page-icons-4

Mangrove and seagrass systems absorb nutrients that would otherwise make their way out to the reef system, in effect preventing the overgrowth of competitive algae on the reef – this allows the corals
to survive.

enviorment-page-icons-5

Coral reef systems export excess nutrient and organic compounds to the surrounding water column, which contributes to growth in the
pelagic food web
(open ocean).

enviorment-page-icons-6

Wetlands habitats dominate the sheltered leeside of the Caicos Islands and many creeks and channels that penetrate inland in both the Turks Islands and the Caicos Islands. The windward side is characterized by sandy beaches, rockland, ironshore, or cliffs.

Water Clarity

The incredible water clarity that can be experienced around the Turks and Caicos warrants an explanation.

The upper layers of oceanic waters surrounding the Turks and Caicos Islands have very low levels of dissolved nutrients. This results in a lack of phytoplankton production despite the plethora of sunlight. It is phytoplankton that would otherwise provide a green hue to the ocean depending on its concentration. These desert like waters are consequently devoid of life and very clear. In addition the Turks and Caicos Islands are made of limestone and very porous. There are no rivers or streams and the minimal rainfall that is received soaks very quickly into the water table held within the rock. Coupled with the limited soil there is very little run-off or sedimentation that would otherwise dirty the water as experienced along the edge of continents or soil-rich islands. No nutrients, no phytoplankton, no soil/sediment runoff = Great Visibility!!

Water Colour

Explanation of water clarity leads to the next big question; why is the colour of the water in the Turks and Caicos such an amazing hue of blues and turquoise?

This essential component of this answer is related to the absorption of light waves in water. Red, orange and yellow light waves are absorbed first. Blues on the other hand are not absorbed so quickly. This is why the ocean appears deep blue in colour, especially in clear water with reduced nutrients and phytoplankton.

The white limestone origin of all Turks and Caicos sediments helps to provide the range of amazing colours seen in the shallower coastal waters. Light reflects off the white sand and the hue depends on the depth and degree of light absorption. Sediment suspended in the water column will also effect the reflection of light which contributes to the attractive colour of Chalk Sound National Park and the changing colour of the water during unsettled sea conditions when the sediment is lifted into suspension by wave action and sea currents.

Protected Areas of The Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands have an extensive network of 35 protected areas. This includes National Park, Nature Reserve, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Areas of Historical Interest. Big Blue Adventures visit many of the protected areas and strive to minimize any impact that we may have.

The Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) is mandated to “ensure the sustainable use of the natural resources of the Turks and Caicos Islands and to protect and promote biodiversity and economic prosperity through a sustainable fisheries industry, environmentally sustainable development, a Protected Areas system and improved Maritime Affairs”.

Map showing the main protected areas around Providenciales and the Caicos Cays

Map showing the region of the RAMSAR site explored on the Big Blue Wilderness Adventures.

There is an extensive Nature Reserve on the southern side of North and Middle Caicos. This wetland complex is probably the most natural such area in the Caribbean. It is also probably the most complete and natural wetland area amongst the more than 160 designated by UK under the Ramsar Convention that recognizes an area of “specific international importance of containing a variety of marine and coastal habitats types and complex natural transitions”. Visitors can explore and experience this area on Big Blue’s Wilderness Kayak and Paddleboards Adventures.

SUSTAINABILITY

Visitor Guidelines:

  • Do not stand on or touch the coral; it is a living animal and you will harm it.
  • Watch your fins when snorkeling or diving; try to keep your body flat and your fins up to prevent coral damage. Avoid kicking the sand so that the fine particles do not smoother and choke the living coral.
  • Do not feed or harass the wildlife including fish, birds and reptiles.
  • It is illegal to remove corals, sand, shells and wildlife, whether dead or alive, from the beaches or ocean.
  • Please use 100% biodegradable suntan lotion whenever possible and always allow time for lotion to soak into your skin before going in the sea.
  • No fishing of any kind is permitted in protected areas such as National Parks and Nature Reserves. This includes ‘catch and release’ fishing or hunting for conch and lobsters.
  • Do not litter: Please remove all your trash including cigarette butts, plastic cups and straws. Be mindful of the wind blowing trash into the sea from the beach.
  • Please take as much of your consumables back home with you including batteries, shampoo bottles and other non-biodegradables.
  • Please try to eat local rather than imported seafood.

Best Practices

Every little action counts and we believe it is the small things that make a difference. We acknowledge that we have an impact on our surrounding environments, but we also know and embrace that we have a responsibility to reduce our negative footprint whenever and where ever possible.

EDUCATION: Educate is part of our fabric. As a collective we love to teach not only about wildlife or a sport but also through awareness of best practices and low impact activities like paddling and in water guided small group diving and snorkelling.

LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH: Whether in the mangroves or over the coral reef, the less we disturb the better. With more and more visitors arriving every year this only becomes more and more important.

ANCHORING: Is a huge issue for us. We do our absolute best to not drop anchors on the reef and certainly not next to moorings. The negative impact is devasting. We have watched first-hand how, over the last 25 years and especially in the last 5 years, lazy and thoughtless practices have destroyed and destroy our reefs. This is one of the reasons we have stayed with small groups but also why we drift snorkel when we have to. It’s so worth the extra effort.

NO EXTRACTION: There is a time and place for most things BUT conch, fish and lobster extraction out of season or from our National Parks and Reserves is not acceptable. Truth is, it is now a common practice on a multitude of day boat operators, all of whom operator in our parks, none more so than on the North Shore. Chose wisely. Be part of the solution not the problem.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  • We use YETI reusable bottles and cups instead of one-time plastic on all trips
  • We no longer offer plastic bottles for drinking water.
  • We make our own ice, reducing the number of dozens of plastic bags every single day
  • We adhere strictly to the local recycling program of the TCI (glass, cans, plastic bottles and card board)
  • We only allow and sell biodegradable sunscreen (see sunscreen page)
  • We use biodegradable boat, dish soap and laundry detergent
SUNSCREEN POLICY

Sunscreen Policy

We absolutely DO NOT ALLOW any non-biodegradable sunscreen on any of our trips.

Our Oceans

  • Coral Reefs are home the 25% of the world’s marine life
  • The Oceans produce most of our oxygen
  • Coral bleaching and disease have decimated most of our coral reefs
  • Sunscreen pollution is a major cause of this decline
  • What you put on your skin will end up in the ocean, where ever you live

Ingredients

Non- Nano zinc is the only active ingredient that does not damage corals
The following ingredients, common in nearly all sunscreens, are dangerous active ingredients often mislabelled as “reef safe”, “eco” or “natural”. Be `AWARE

  • Avobenzone
  • Benzophenone-3
  • Butyl
    /Methoxydiben-
    zoylmethane
  • Butylcarbamate
  • Butylparaben
  • Cetyl Dimethicone
  • Cinoxate/Cinnamate
  • Dimethyl Apramide
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Hexyldecanol
  • Homosalate
  • Menthyl Anthranilate
  • Methlparaben
  • Methylbenzylidene
  • Nano-Particles
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • Octyl Salicyclate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Padimate O / Paba
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Polyethylene
  • Propylparaben
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Titanium coated in
    Aluminum or Dimethicone
  • Trolamine Salicyclate

Choosing Sunscreen

  • In Feb 2019 the FDA updated sunscreen regulations
  • Of the 16 approved SPF ingredients ONLY TWO are regarded as safe (Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide)
  • May 2019, FDA released studies re/ chemical sunscreens and how common ingredients seep into the blood stream for up to 7 days exceeding FDA limits by up to 40 times.
  • Choose broad spectrum non nano zinc oxide protection
  • Choose SPF 30 or higher
  • Choose water resistance for 80 mins +

Using Sunscreen

  • Sunscreen is the last line of defence, not the first
  • Apply lots and more than you think
  • Apply early and reapply
  • Wear hats, caps, sun shirts, rashguards – especially long sleeves and neckies

Chemical vs Physical Sunscreens

  • Zinc and Titanium Oxide are physical blockers.
  • Titanium Oxide is a hybrid blocker that scatters UV light and absorbs some UV radiation.
  • Zinc sits on the skin scattering and reflecting both UV light and rays.
  • ONLY Zinc Oxide blocks BOTH UVA and UVB rays.
  • Chemical absorbers interact with the skin and ABSORB UV rays.
  • Chemical sunscreen mixes protect against full assortment of UVB but not against UVA

Recommendations

  • There are a few top brands out there offering biodegradeable sunscreen with Zinc and or Titanium Oxide as their only active ingedients.
  • We use, offer and sell these products from these three excellent brands. Absolutely natural, Manda naturals and RAW elements.
  • If you are not sure check with us or pick the good stuff up here.