Imagine crystal clear, turquoise blue water that turns dark blue just a few hundred yards from shore where a wall drops to 7,000 feet, abundant with magnificent corals, sponges, tropical fish, turtles and miscellaneous sea critters. It’s less than a ten-minute boat ride to most dive sites, bright and sunny days with a nice breeze and a pleasant water temperature, not to mention beautiful white sandy beaches where donkeys and horses can be seen roaming freely. If you see all of the above and friendly people who drive on the left-hand side of the road, then you’ve pictured Grand Turk island, the capital of the Turks and Caicos.
Grand Turk is located just southeast of the Bahamas and runs approximately seven miles long by a little over one mile wide. From the U. S. one would fly into Providenciales (airport code PLS) and charter a small 12-seater plane to Grand Turk with Inter-Caribbean or Caicos Express.
More often than not, you’ll find sunny blue skies. May to November is the off-season and temperatures range from the upper 80’s to the low 90’s, but trade winds keep things cool. High tourist season runs December through April when temperatures range from the low 70’s to the upper 80’s.
Most dive sites are on the west side of the island. The majority of our dives began in 25-30’ of water, and it was a short swim to where the reef sloped and the wall began. Along the sandy plain leading out to the wall, you might see brown garden eels, razor fish, squid, a variety of corals and tropical fish. We observed abundant barrel and tube sponges along with vibrant corals. Shrimp, large crabs, stingray, friendly Nassau grouper, snapper, barracuda, grunts, trumpet fish, Parrotfish, squirrel fish, puffers, Angelfish and other tropical fish popped with color and character. Reef architecture featured canyons, arches, sand chutes, overhangs, and swim-throughs. We saw Hawksbill turtles on most every dive, standing upright eating sponge, or swimming gracefully nearby. On the night dives, we saw octopus, along with various eel and lobster species.
We ate breakfast before heading out from Pillory Beach in front of the Bohio Dive Resort for our first dive. We returned to the resort for a quick lunch before heading out on for either afternoon or evening dives.
The Guanahani Restaurant and Bar at the Bohio Dive Resort offers a menu with a nice variety, large portions, and the food is excellent. Saturday nights they have a BBQ with live Rake ‘n’ Scrape music outside on the deck overlooking the beach. Musicians bend a carpenter’s saw, hit and scrape it with a small object, most typically a screwdriver. A Goombay drum (goat skin stretched over a wooden barrel) is also incorporated, creating great melodies.
Early one morning while my son and I were eating breakfast, we noticed a donkey casually strolling by on the beach in front of us. Quietly (or so I thought), I said, ‘Good morning, jackass!’ A guest whom I had never met, who was sitting with his back to us a few tables down, asked, ‘Are you talking to me?’ I burst out laughing. I had no idea he had overheard me.
There are a variety of shore excursions like snorkeling, diving, and fishing available throughout the year. Humpback whale watching excursions from Grand Turk and Salt Cay are offered January through April. On a previous visit, we chartered a boat to Gibbs Cay, a small tropical island nearby where friendly stingrays flock to the boats that visit the area. This year we chartered a boat to Salt Cay, about a 35-minute ride from Grand Turk. Apparently it’s not uncommon for many of the locals to free dive up to 100’! A local gentleman by the name of Kel and my son collected Conch for us on the way to Salt Cay and Kel made us a delicious fresh conch ceviche. Captain Tim gave us a very informative tour of Salt Cay and we went snorkeling before returning to Grand Turk.
The beauty of the water surrounding Grand Turk, whether underneath or above, is breathtaking. Grand Turk is a fantastic place to kick back and relax, eat well, drink plenty and dive to your heart’s content. This was my second trip there and I’ve found that there are many repeat visitors who will attest that Grand Turk is one of the finest diving destinations they’ve visited.
What would you most like to see while scuba diving?
About the Author
Susan Sheffield feels honored to have two wonderful children, a son who is in the military and a daughter who is a publicist. Having worked as an executive assistant and office manager for over 25 years for a world traveler and business entrepreneur, she is now seeking a new direction where she can combine passion with a purpose. She strives to begin her day with gratitude and live a life filled with as much joy, fun, and laughter as she can stand. A Florida native, she is happiest when her life is balanced with outer activity, inner renewal, and self-care. I’d love to hear of your favorite dive destinations. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org