Turks & Caicos Scuba Diving

Turks & Caicos Scuba Diving

The Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef ranks among the largest (over 300 miles long) and offers the highest-quality scuba diving in the Western Hemisphere. 

Coral gardens and sea-fan beds descend to abrupt reef scarps plunging to great depths. This is “the Wall,” the collective term for the steep flanks of the submerged plateaus forming the Caicos and Turks banks. 

Scuba outings here can work their way over shallow reefs to the brink of walls, dropping thousands of feet down into the bluewater abyss.

The coral heads, reef canyons, sand chutes, underwater arches, and the magnificent Wall are amazing enough. Then there’s the abundance of sealife: parrotfish, jacks, wrasses, barracudas, eels, and other reef fish, spotted eagle rays, reef sharks and hammerheads, and more. 

Sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins make regular fly-bys. Winter famously brings migrating humpback whales through the Turks Island Passage, the deepwater strait between the Caicos and Turks banks.

In this guide, we’ll cover all the basics as far as Turks and Caicos diving goes: from incredible dive sites to the nuts-and-bolts of dive centers and charters.

Best Places for Diving in Turks and Caicos

Given the number of barrier-, fringing-, and patch reefs around the Caicos and Turks banks, first-rate diving is well distributed throughout the islands. The following lists five of the best locations for experiencing the marvels of underwater TCI.



Diving at a shallow reef on Providenciales © www.visittci.com


By far the most populous of the TCI, Providenciales (“Provo”) backs up its fine beaches and resorts with access to primo wall diving. That includes along the popular northern coast, host to Turtle Cove and Grace Bay , the waters of which mostly fall within Princess Alexandra National Park. Dive sites include Shark Alley , Sunset Strip , and Catacombs .

Off Provo’s northwestern coast — which encompasses Northwest Point National Park — great dives include Eel Garden (a garden-eel hangout), The Crack (with swim-through crevices often attracting grouper), and Shark Hotel , distinguished by giant pillar corals and reef sharks.

Salt Cay

Second-largest of the Turks Island, Salt Cay impresses divers with its plunging walls and excellent visibility often 100 feet or more. There are gorgeous coral formations, plenty of reef fish, and decent odds of seeing sharks. 

Salt Cay is best known as an amazing whale-watching hotspot. Set along the margin of the Turks Island Passage for superb viewing of the humpback whales migrating through from December to April. 

A goodly number of North Atlantic humpbacks follow the Passage en route to calving grounds at the Silver Banks off the Dominican Republic. Snorkeling is generally the best way to nab looks at the whales, but during the season, it’s not unusual for divers to see these wing-fluked giants.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk

Grand Turk is another utterly fantastic diving destination. Many of its dive sites, dozens of which lie within Columbus Landfall Marine National Park, are mere minutes from the Cockburn Town beachfront. These protected reefs serve up an abundance and variety of reef fish, from blue tangs to Nassau grouper, as well as spiny lobsters, sea turtles, rays, and occasional sharks.

One Grand Turk dive site is named McDonald’s for its swim-through submarine arch; a cleaning station in the vicinity commonly draws grouper and parrotfish. Other worthwhile dives include Black Forest, Aquarium, and The Amphitheater, with its striking namesake alcove.

West Caicos

West Caicos

The Wall West Caicos © www.visittci.com

Accessed via dive boats out of Provo, West Caicos offers world-class wall diving along its western coast, with solid shallow dives off the northern and eastern shores. This is the second-biggest of TCI’s uninhabited islands. Many of its go-to dive sites — including the Rock Garden and Elephant Ear Canyons — fall within West Caicos Marine National Park.

Meanwhile, the waterway between Provo and West Caicos, the Sandbore Channel, overlies its own collection of remarkable dives.

French Cay

French Cay

The Wall French Cay © www.visittci.com

Some 18 miles south of Provo, tiny, flat French Cay has some fabulous underwater architecture, including ornate, coral-clad wall faces. If Salt Cay’s famed for humpbacks, French Cay is most associated with shark sightings. 

Caribbean reef sharks are highly visible here, and larger species — including lemons, bulls, tigers, and hammerheads — occasionally cruise through. In June and July, nurse sharks gather in leeward nearshore waters at French Cay.

Are There Wrecks to Dive in Turks & Caicos?

Divers enjoy the extensive reefs surrounding the island, but they’ve historically posed a real hazard for ships. Vessels have been sundering offshore here for centuries, though much of the wreckage has likely gone over the Wall into the surrounding depths. 

That said, some high-profile wrecks remain, drawing divers for their historical significance, arresting visuals, and vibrant marine life. 

Furthermore, the TCI includes some crafts intentionally sunk to serve as artificial reefs. Here are the main wreck dive sites.

Wrecks to Dive in Turks & Caicos

© www.visittci.com

Convair CV-440, South Caicos

In 1978, this twin-engine airplane went down in the waters off South Caicos. Its fuselage and associated wreckage now lie at 55 feet, providing a relatively easy recreational dive. The roil of 2017’s Hurricane Irma sent the plane’s wings over the Wall.

HMS Endymion, Salt Cay

No Turks and Caicos wreck is better known than the HMS  Endymion , a fifth-rate, 44-gun British Royal Navy warship that foundered on a Salt Cay reef in 1790. It was a prolonged sinking of three days, so the  Endymion ’s crew all got to safety. The dive here is 40 feet down and shows off the warship’s anchor and chain.

In the same stretch of seafloor, you can also see some debris from a more recent shipwreck that occurred on the same reef: that of the schooner  General Pershing , which sank in 1921.

The Lucky Lady & Cessna 401, Salt Cay

Both of these wrecks were intentionally sunk in 2010 to serve as artificial reef habitats and diving attractions. The airplane crashed into one of Salt Cay’s saline ponds ( salinas), with all on board surviving. The  Lucky Lady , meanwhile, was a fishing boat that went to the bottom of Salt Cay Harbor during Hurricane Hanna.

The Anchor, Grand Turk

Of unknown origin — adding a little alluring mystery to the ambience — a century-plus-old anchor sits at the bottom of a 35-foot water column off Grand Turk. It makes for a fun add-on when diving that island’s big walls and thronged reefs.

Dive Centers in Turks & Caicos?

You’ve got a number of high-quality Turks and Caicos scuba diving centers to choose from. Here are some top-rated choices:

Seafari Turkoise

Overview:  Situated within Club Med Turkoise, the Seafari dive center maintains two well-equipped dive boats and offers both charters and classes. Trips access go-to dive sites all around Provo, including The Crack, Pinnacles, Hole in the Wall, Aquarium, and Coral Stairway.

Private Trips Offered:  Yes

Affiliation:  PADI, CMAS, SSI

Types of Training Offered:  Discover Scuba Diving, Open Water Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Rescue Diver, DiveMaster

Non-Diving Activities:  Access to Club Med Turkoise’s amenities

Insider Tip:  Seafari Turkoise leads one night dive a week, a fabulous option to consider for a completely different underwater experience.

Minimum Diving Age:  10 years old

Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands, Address: Grace Bay Road, Grace Bay TKCA 1 ZZ, Phone: +1 (649) 96-55004

Dive Provo

Dive Provo

Dive Provo operates a fleet of comfortable and stable 36' dive boats. ©www.visittci.com

Overview:  Dive Provo runs one-day and multi-day dive boat trips to sites around Provo as well as the Sandbore Channel, West Caicos, and French Cay. Situated in the Saltmills Plaza just minutes from leading Grace Bay resorts, the company also provides comprehensive dive instruction from beginners to experts. Dive Provo has been in business for more than three decades.

Private Trips Offered:  Yes

Affiliation:  PADI, SSI

Types of Training Offered:  Discover Scuba Diving, Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Enriched Air Nitrox Course, Rescue Diver, Basic Pool Refresher With Dives, Full Pool Refresher Course, PADI Reactive Course

Non-Diving Activities:  Snorkeling, private boat charters

Insider Tip:  Ask about Jojo, a well-known bottlenose dolphin that’s frequented Provo waters since the ‘80s and sometimes makes cameos during dive trips.

Minimum Diving Age:  10 years old

Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands, Address: Saltmills Plaza, Grace Bay Road, Phone: (954) 351-9771

Caicos Adventures

Caicos Adventures

© www.caicosadventures.com

Overview:  Another long-running dive operator, Caicos Adventures was founded in 1988 by Frenchman and experienced diver Philippe (FiFi) Kunz. Two- to three-tank dive boats access a wide variety of sites: not only Grace Bay and North West Point hotspots but also lesser-known Provo reefs, the Sandbore Channel, French Cay, and Molasses Reef. Caicos Adventures also leads a wide variety of scuba courses.

Private Trips Offered:  Yes

Affiliation:  PADI

Types of Training Offered:  Discover Scuba Diving, Open Water Diver ( and Junior Open Water Diver), Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver ( and Junior Rescue Diver), Deep Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Night Diver, Search & Rescue Diver, Underwater Navigator

Non-Diving Activities:  Snorkeling, boat tours

Insider Tip:  Caicos Adventures is the only Provo operator to run a boat trip circling the entire island: its  Island Circumnavigation  experience.

Minimum Diving Age:  10 years old

Phone:  (649) 941-3346

Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands, Address: The Regent Village Unit F 105, Corner of Grace Bay Road & The Regent Street, Providenciales, Phone: (649) 941-3346

Provo Turtle Divers

Overview:  Provo Turtle Divers is the oldest dive operator on Providenciales, introducing clients to TCI’s coral heads and walls since 1970.

Private Trips Offered:  Yes

Affiliation:  PADI

Types of Training Offered:  Discover Scuba Diving, Scuba Diver, Open Water Diver, Adventure Diver, Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver, Enriched Air Diver, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Divemaster, PADI Seal Team, Skin Diver

Non-Diving Activities:  –

Insider Tip:  Provo

Minimum Diving Age:  Unspecified

Location: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands, Address: #2 Queens Landing, Allegro Road, Phone: (641) 946-4232

What Kind of Dives Can I Do in Turks & Caicos?

The abundance and caliber of dive sites on and around the Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef make for a wide variety of diving experiences. These include both recreational and professional diving courses and tours. Whether you’re a complete newbie or a longtime scuba veteran, your perfect itinerary awaits in TCI.

If you are planning to dive with your kids, keep in mind that most dive operators require a minimum age of 10 years old.

Discover Scuba Diving (First Dive)

If you’ve never gone diving before, Turks and Caicos is a marvelous place to learn. Discover Scuba Diving courses are aimed at beginners, and no prior experience is required. This certification can set you on a lifelong path.

Leisure Dive

With afternoon and one-day trips widely available, it’s easy enough to work a little scuba diving into a TCI itinerary without making it the complete focus of your trip. There are many great dive sites within a few minutes’ boat ride from popular resort areas such as Grace Bay and Turtle Cove.

Private Instructor

Whether you’re new to scuba diving or looking to refine your intermediate or advanced skills, many dive centers offer private lessons for one-on-one or small-group tutelage.

Private Dive Boat

Private Dive Boat

© Snorkeling at a catamaran wreck in Bell Sound, Turks and Caicos   www.visittci.com

Charter a private dive boat for a customized itinerary in the Turks and Caicos that can also include beach-hopping, snorkeling, and other pleasures.

Group Dive

Group dives are widely available via TCI operators, providing a guided, social exploration of some of the Caribbean region’s finest reefs.

Wreck Diving

As we’ve covered earlier in this guide, a number of sunken plane- and shipwrecks complement the TCI’s natural reef environments as diving hubs. It’s fascinating to reflect on these wrecks’ histories while admiring their decrepit beauty and biological colonization.

Free Diving

The chance to plunge deep into the crystal-clear waters of the Turks and Caicos without the bulk of scuba gear is mighty enticing. Free diving has its own obsessive devotees, and the Caicos and Turks banks are great options for this sport. 

Getting down to 40 feet or more, free divers can access many fine reef and wreck features, including the brink of the Wall. You’ll find free-diving instructors and excursions available on Provo.

When is the Best Time to Visit Turks & Caicos for Diving?

The tropical climate of the Turks and Caicos makes for year-round diving opportunities. Air temperature doesn’t vary too much throughout the year, ranging from the 70s-plus Fahrenheit in winter to the upper 80s and low 90s in summer. 

The water temperature reaches a winter low of about 72 to 75 degrees F and a summer maximum of 82 to 86 degrees F. Divers typically do fine in a 3mm wetsuit during the summer months and a 5mm wetsuit in winter.

There are certainly seasonal considerations. While placid waters can usually be sought out throughout the year, the calmest overall tend to fall in late summer. That’s also hurricane season, though, which mainly runs from August to October. 

If you want to see humpback whales as part of your TCI diving experience, December through April is the general window. Overall, though, you’ll enjoy excellent opportunities to view reef fish, rays, sea turtles, and other marine life whenever you’re able to come to TCI.

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