3 Routes
Highlights of the Area


PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS, BWI

Recently I conducted a group SCUBA tour to this beautiful part of the world and I thought it very important to provide a critique of this Island to all those interested. In spending the past 10 years organizing and conducting group dive travel I have seen many beautiful places and this group of Islands is no exception. The aura of the Turks and Caicos is wonderfully calm and relaxing. The underwater world is fascinating, colorful and extremely diverse. The amount of islands and dive-sites to explore is vast and not possible to cover in one trip. I would definitely go back in the future. However, with what I now know, and experienced during my recent trip, my second trip will be far superior than my first. Below are some specifics possibly allowing you to plan an awesome first trip for yourself. Read on and enjoy.

Air Transportation


Flying into and out-of the island there are 2 to 4 flights per day. All flights originate in Miami and have fairly good connections. We used American Air.

Immigration/Customs

Upon entering the country you will fill out an immigration form and customs form. Both of which are provided by the airline. Immigration is first and if you have a passport it usually goes fairly quick. If you are traveling with children, birth certificates for them are fine. The children do not need passports traveling with passport holding adults. However, an adult with a birth certificate could experience some delay and you must remember to have a valid drivers license or official picture ID to accompany your birth certificate. Next you will pick up your baggage. Make sure you have your claim tags. They may or may not require them. It simply depends upon the day and how grouchy the customs agents are that you encounter. The only reason they will search your bags is if you are bringing in large amounts of liquor, cigarettes or cash. You can however bring in food without any problem. They donít even ask. This is unlike the USA which will not let you bring any perishable goods into the country. We saw people bringing in coolers of food and provisions to Provo to use at their condos. Local food prices are very high. Anywhere from 200% higher for dairy products to an average of about 40% higher. (More on food later.) At the airport in Provo, you will find a number of locals hanging out with wheeled carts. They will help you out with your baggage. Figure a buck per bag is sufficient. If you donít need help tell them thanks and that you will not require their assistance. It is only 50 feet to where you will pick-up your cab/van to your resort. NOTE: Make sure that your land accommodations include round trip land transfers. You will pay anywhere from $15 to $30 to get to your resort; each way. Cabs are very expensive. Use them sparingly. Donít worry about transportation availability because there are more cabs on the island than locals. At times I felt that the major industry in Provo was transportation, not resort travel and diving.

Resorts

There are a number of places to stay, however, staying at one of the resorts on Grace Bay is much more preferable and enjoyable. The resorts around Turtle Cove Marina and the rental houses, which donít provide transportation, are not located where the most fun things to do take place. The resorts in Turtle Cove are clean, comfortable and less expensive but the lack of access to island activities is not worth the savings. There really is no downtown area and at the time of this writing, they are building a shopping mall; about the size of your local supermarket. So there is not much shopping to be done. The most fun things to do are SCUBA, Snorkel, golf, sun and maybe visit the Conch Farm and these are best accessed by staying in the Grace Bay Area. As far as sightseeing via a rental car, the only real place to go would be to the North West point of the island where there are some fantastic beaches and phenomenal snorkeling. One day of car rental will cost you about $80 for a 4 passenger 4WD. So plan that carefully. Weekly car rental runs around $450 after taxes and insurance.

If you stay in the Turtle Cove area, plan on eating at one of 3 restaurants and walking 20 minutes to the beach; Smiths reef/beach. If you stay up in the Grace Bay area, you will be closer to the action amongst about 5 major resorts, you will have endless beaches, a myriad of restaurants to experience, a golf course, tennis courts, rental bikes and a variety of other enjoyable activities; sailing, parasailing, waterskiing, etc.. You will pay about $400 - $600 (depending upon where you stay) more per person for the week to stay in the Grace Bay area but you will easily save that amount in fewer cab fares, being able to cook in your condo, participating in free continental breakfasts and free happy hour munchies. As far as getting to your dive operation, the dive operation pay for your cab shuttles. If you dive with ART PICKERINGS, PROVO TURTLE DIVERS, then you will get the best of both worlds. You will stay in the Grace Bay area and be able to visit the Turtle Cove area during your day of diving; for no cost (explained later).

Restaurants/Meals

To start, figure that you will spend $10 -$12 for breakfast; $10 if you are a light eater and more if you require larger amounts of food to fill you up. Lunch is $12 - $15. Dinners will be anywhere from $12 for a basic sandwich to $40 for surf and turf (prices per person). These prices include the 8% tax and 15% gratuity but you should be aware, unless you purchase a dinner plate you will get nothing except your entree and maybe fries. As an example for a waffle $6 and a cup of coffee $1.50 you will get 1 waffle, butter, syrup and coffee with free refills. Add 8% tax and 15% tip and you are close to $10. Now if one waffle is not enough, which it is not for me, then you just increased your breakfast bill to $17. Again this is per person. This can add up quick. Especially for a family. The service persons are very courteous and prompt in delivering your meal however, ask for your check when they serve your food. At times, getting our bill took a bit of time. I think there may have been only one calculator on the island.

In the Turtle Cove area, you can request a refrigerator but you will pay about $10 per day for this convenience. In the condo arrangements along Grace Bay, and I do highly recommend staying in a Condo, they come completely equipped; even with microwaves. It can get very expensive to eat in Provo and the diversity of meals is not that great. So you can definitely save by staying where they include breakfast and/or supplementing your budget by eating breakfast in your room and packing your own lunch. Grocery shopping on the island occurs at one place located downtown; the Provo Supermarket. About the size of a large 7-11 here in the states. As mentioned earlier purchasing groceries is more expensive than you are used to. It is, however, cheaper than purchasing fixed meals from the local restaurants. As an example, we purchased a box of cereal (40% more expensive as compared to the states) and a half-gallon of ďSkimĒ milk (200% more expensive) but these items only cost about $10. Now that gave 4 of us 3 days of breakfast saving us about $27; breakfast cereal at a restaurant runs about $3 per person. Now, you can bring items from home with you. We bring powdered drink mix, sandwich meat and fixinís, cereal (which we ran out of) and other basic snacks [granola bars and fruit snacks] and simply purchased perishables on the island such as apples, milk, bread, yogurt, eggs etc. . Most of the food is imported from Miami so you are getting recognized brands and quality produced foods. One note of caution: check the expiration dates on all dairy products. We did get a couple of items a bit stout in growth. It really depends upon what type of meals you require but we found that if you are a light breakfast eater and like a filling lunch, your best value will be in packing a lunch for your dive trip and then eating a light snack upon returning to harbor. Definitely plan to pack your lunch for diving it will make your dive day much more enjoyable. Diving

ART PICKERINGíS PROVO TURTLE DIVERS is one of the best operations on the island. No matter where you stay on the island they will pick you up and return you to your resort during your dive days. I have been many places diving and by far, we, and my group conferred, had the best time with this group and their dive organization. The format for a typical dive day with Art is as follows;

Definitely one of the great aspects of Artís operation is his staff and the fact that they donít cattle boat the divers. You are not rushed and you get to see many wonderful above water scenes as you travel: the captain will travel close to shore and narrate points of interest. Definitely inquire as to where you will be diving and donít hesitate to put in your comments regarding the chosen location. Also, request some shallow dive sites where you can enjoy longer dive times. This is something we didnít do as much as we should have. Having a long and adventurous surface interval without being rushed back into the water, getting to see a variety of sights on land as you travel, enjoying complete and thorough dive briefings and diving with the most established operation on the island will certainly make your diving on Provo phenomenal. Now keep in mind, none of the above mentioned wonderful attributes of diving with Provo Turtle Divers even considers the awesome underwater world that they will introduce you to. So....You can see...Provo Turtle Divers and the ďUnderwater World of ProvoĒ combine to give you a dive memory not to be forgotten. Now a bit on my earlier comment of diving with Art, staying in the Grace Bay area and seeing both parts of the island for no additional cost. The Turtle Cove area does not have much to it therefore because Artís dive operation pays for a round trip cab from Grace Bay to Turtle Cove, you get to see the sights along the way without additional cost.

Dive Sites

Briefly some sites you have to visit:

These sites gave us some of the most spectacular diving we had while in Provo. Make sure you let Artís staff know of your interest. I can assure you that they will do everything possible to make sure it happens for you. We all had a great time. Renting scooters, snorkeling and just enjoying the relaxed atmosphere the Island has to offer. The locals, divemasters, servicepersons were all friendly and helpful. All our diving was great. I recommend traveling with a large group because usually the large group insures that you, like us, have your own boat and a personal captain/divemaster assigned specifically to your group. We got very close with our guide and as a result we got a more personalized and caring adventure. DIVE TRAVEL TIP: Invite your captain/divemasters into your group as an honorary member. I guarantee your diving adventure will be much more meaningful. Careful planning and coordination is needed to insure a great diving value for you and your family.

Martin McClellan

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