3 RoutesHighlights 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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;
- 8:30am board the boat and set-up
- 8:45am depart dock.
- After a boat run of anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 1/2 hours you will enter for dive #1.
- After dive #1, usually an 80í-
100í dive you will travel to a beach or cove for a nice relaxing surface interval where you can snorkel, eat lunch, swim and sightsee along some fabulous
beaches. We even played with Iguanas; ugly little creatures. Your surface interval will be anywhere from 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.
- Dive #2. A profile of
between 40í - 60í
- Return to harbor around 1:30pm to 2:00pm. If you get the opportunity to dive West Caicos then you may not return until around 3:00pm to
3:30pm. However request that the run to West only be done if the seas are very calm and you can dive the west shore of the island. Also, if one of Artís boats is
moored at the south side of the island, then your trip to West or French Cay is only about 1 hour and you will be back on land around 2:00pm.
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.
Briefly some sites you have to visit:
- Aquarium East and
- The Football Field
- Pago Pago Beach and Reef
- The Anchor or White Face Cliffs - West Caicos
- South West Reef - West Caicos
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.
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