‘Provo’ (pop: over 30542) is 25 miles long and about three wide and the third largest in area. Twelve mile Grace Bay on the north shore has many hotels and condominiums but you can walk and snorkel without feeling crowded. A surge of building work has transformed Grace Bay in the last 10 years as a string of hotels and a golf course have sprung up. Away from the smart hotels, condos and villas, however, the island is dry, scrubby and nothing like as pretty as the underwater world surrounding it. The reef is superb and attracts thousands of divers every year.
The Princess Alexandra Marine Park incorporates the reef offshore. Development of the island began in 1967 although it had been settled in the 18th century and there were three large plantations in the 19th century growing cotton and sisal. The three original settlements, The Bight (meaning Bay), Five Cays and Blue Hills, are fragmented and have not grown into towns as the population has increased. Instead shopping malls have been built along the Leeward Highway (Market Place, Plantation Hills, Central Square, Provo Plaza, retail stores, restaurants, lawyers and business offices). The Office of the Chief Secretary, banks, law firms, supermarkets, and travel agents are Down Town. Turtle Cove calls itself ‘the heart of Provo’, with a couple of hotels, a marina, dive operators, boat charters, deep sea fishing, restaurants, the tourist office, hairdressing and a few boutiques. Princess Alexandra Marine Park, which spans Provo’s north coast, is the playground of Jo Jo the renowned bottlenose dolphin. The Park also incorporates the Island’s famous 12-mile Grace Bay Beach. This is where most water- sport activities take place, from diving to deep-sea fishing – and everything in between. Visitors to the world’s first Conch Farm will discover how to grow conch from tiny veligers to four-year-old adults.
TCI included forty-six species of birds with ten additions to life list. Hundreds of birds spotted throughout the mangroves in the creek on Salt Cay. You can stay Pirates Hideaway Guesthouse and book packages for birding. Thousands of species migrate annually through the Turks and Caicos Islands on their way down the Bahama chain toward South America. The salt salinas on Salt Cay are host to many native species and, in season, many migrants. T: 649 941 5710, F: 649 941 4258, Email: tc.n...@tciway.tc.
North Atlantic Humpback Whales are seen around the islands of Grand Turk and Salt Cay during the months of late January through early April. Salt Cay Tours organize daily adventures on Salt Cay from Dive packages and scuba instruction to Swimming with the rays, boat ride to Maritime museum, trips to deserted islands and Close encounters with humpback whales, historic land marks salt raking industry, catch your own snapper, conch or tuna with local fisherman, rent a kayak or bike and cruise through the mangroves in the creek, full of birds and other fascinating creatures and relax on one of our powdery white sandy beaches. You can combined a morning of great diving where you may be able to hear the songs of the whales while under water and an afternoon of whale watching from the boat. T: 649-946-6909, Email: pira...@hotmail.com
On the south side of the island, South Dock (east of Sapodilla Bay) is the island’s commercial port with Large yachts and freighters and here you will find the Customs Office and the Harbourmaster, T:946-4241 South Dock - 946-4476/4241. The Caicos Marina and Shipyard on the south coast (Port of Entry) is many miles from shopping supplies, but it has recently changed hands and the new management is upgrading the facilities. Tel: 649-946-5600, Fax: 649-946-5390, e-mail: caic...@tciway.tc . Also on the south side is a small marina: South Side Marina (just 40 minutes sailing time from Sapodilla Bay, on the direct route from Florida to the Virgin Islands, almost exactly midway between the two) Tel: 649-241-2439, 649-231-4747, Fax: 649-946-3417, Email: sout...@gmail.com.
To the west, Sapodilla Bay (Port of Entry with Yachts T:649-941-3267), a moderately well protected bay, except from the south; offers good protection for yachts in all winds west through southeast. It is open to the south through southwest. Sapodilla Bay Beach is beautiful, quiet and shallow beach located on the south side of Providenciales, Go down South Dock Rd, take a right onto Chalk Sound Rd, and Sapodilla Beach will be on your left. Sunset views are matched only by the peace and tranquility that owners will enjoy in this quiet enclave, far from the Grace Bay resort atmosphere, yet only 10 minutes drive from the international airport. Sapodilla Bay/ Chalk Sound area, a national park inland from Sapodilla Bay, is a shallow lagoon of marvelous turquoise colors, dotted with rocky islets. The color of the water is a uniform turquoise and studded with countless mushroom-like tiny islets. Also on the western part of the island is Northwest Point Marine National Park, which extends to nearby reefs and several saline lakes that attract breeding and migrant waterfowl. Easy access to diving and other water sports. You'll have to hike to get there.
At the northeast end, a deep channel known as Leeward Going Through (Port of Entry, Yachts, Leeward 649-946-5553) is a natural harbour and a marina with fuel, water, ice and restaurant has been built here. A three hour tour explores the shallower waters and littlest cays. You will see species of birds and marine life you thought existed only on the Discovery Channel. It’s a great family outing, interesting and fun for all ages. There is a conch farm at the Island Sea Centre at Leeward. The only conch farm in the world offers a look at how Caribbean Queen conches are raised from veliger to adult and claims to raise the only "Caribbean Queens fit for a King". Hatchery tours 0900-1700, US$6 adults, US$3 children under 12, Tel: 1.649.946.5643, Fax: 1.649.946.5849, Email: i...@caicosconchfarm.com, also gift shop.
Northwest Point, a marine park offshore, has good beaches, diving and snorkelling. The coral walls of the marine park are covered with vibrantly colored sea sponges, and various fish, turtles, and rays also call the formation home. North West Point is unique in that it is one of those few places in the world that has Four National Parks within a small area. These protected areas harbor a very rich biodiversity, both terrestrial and marine. This zone encompasses the following protected areas: North West Point Pond Nature Reserve, Pigeon Pond and Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve, North West Point Marine Nature Park, Chalk Sound National Park.
In 1993 a French television company shot a series of underwater game shows here and a treacherous road was bulldozed through to the beautiful beach. They left several tiki huts which offer much needed shade for a day on the beach. Two other good places to snorkel in the Grace Bay area are just to the east of Turtle Cove, where rays and turtles can be seen on Smith’s reef near the entrance to the marina, and just west of Treasure Beach Villas (Tel: 946-4325), by the White House, where there is a variety of life, including grouper, ask anybody for directions.
Inland, along Seasage Hill Road in Long Bay, is The Hole, a collapsed limestone, water-filled sinkhole next to a house called By the Hole. A tunnel to the right hand side gives access to the main pool. Adventurous swimmers can take a dip in this massive, 40-foot limestone chimney with the deep salt water at its bottom. Do not attempt to descend. Ruins of Loyalist and Bermudian settlers’ plantations and houses can be seen at Cheshire Hall, Richmond Hills and along the Bight road. On the hill overlooking the former Mariner Hotel, also Aquatic Center (is now off )at Sapodilla Bay a pole marks the location of stones engraved with initials and dates in the 18th century possibly by shipwrecked sailors or wreckers.