Seven miles south of Grand Turk, Salt Cay, (pop: 208), is out of the past, with windmills, salt sheds and other remnants of the old salt industry and little else. The island was first visited by the Bermudans in 1645; they started making salt here in 1673 and maintained a thriving salt industry until its collapse in the 1960s. Production ceased all together in 1971.
The main village is Balfour Town, divided into North Side and South Side, noted for its Bermudan buildings and pretty cottages with stone walls around the gardens. Plant life was curtailed during the salt raking days to prevent rainfall. Look into some of the ruined houses and you will find salt still stored in the cellars. The White House, which dominates the skyline, was built in the 1830s of Bermudan stone brought in as ballast by the Harriott family during the height of the salt industry.
The Methodist Church nearby, one of several churches on the island, is over 125 years old. Snorkeling is good and diving is excellent; there are 10 moored dive sites along the wall, with tunnels, caves and undercuts. In January-March you can often see the humpbacked whales migrating through the channel as they pass close to the west coast. Some estimates show 3,000-5,000 humpback whales passing through the waters of the Silver Banks between December and mid-April each year, making it the largest breeding and calving grounds, often called a nursery, in the world. Lionfish are being spotted on almost every dive. While they are gorgeous to look at we need to decrease the number of Lion fish as they eat all the baby fish on the reef. The island has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island can be explored on horse back, Brian Sheedy at Mount Pleasant Guest House will arrange this. On request dive operators on Grand Turk will take you to Salt Cay by boat, the dolphins will often accompany you diving, snorkeling, fishing & other daily enjoyment of activities on the trip.
Salt Cay is home to about 100 folks, several historical and interesting churches, old Bermuda-style plantation homes, built high so salt could be stored in cellars before shipping to dinner tables throughout the world, Taylor's Hill where the ruins of the old whaling industry, that is gone but the whales are still here, lively bird watching, roving donkey, chickens, cows and horses. Projects to be undertaken for Preservation Salt Cay historic district include: Government House, a typical salt raker home, a Salt Pond to produce salt, Plaques for all historic buildings, Donation wall plaque with all donator names enscribed.
Salt Cay Divers offers frontier diving for all levels of expertise and abilities under leisurely, informal conditions. Dive pristine, close-in walls, reefs, caves populated by healthy, abundant coral, sponges and fish. Tel: 649-241-1009, Email: scdi...@tciway.tc Go on the all day charter with Reef Runners (with Captain Teddy; certified Instructors and Divemasters) dive operation on Salt Cay for great diving, whale watching, dive hotel packages and restaurants. T: 649-946-6927, 649-946-6901, Email: reef...@aol.com