Sharks Aplenty at Turks and Caicos
My wife and I try to schedule a dive trip just about every year. After a few years of this you can’t help making lists in your head. After a combined total of more than 30 dive trips and more than 400 dives between the two of us, we agree that Dive Provo is at the top of our list. Located in the British Overseas Territory of Turks and Caicos (TCI), Dive Provo is the best organized, most professionally managed dive shop we have ever used. When you add the fact that we loved the underwater terrain and wildlife, our 2011 TCI vacation was an all-around great experience.
While some visitors to TCI may think they’re on a Caribbean island, TCI is not located in the Caribbean Ocean. Like the Bahamas to the north, TCI is actually in the North Atlantic Ocean. We stayed at Ocean Club East in the capital city of Providenciales. “Provo” for short.
The Dive Provo shuttle bus picked us up right on time each morning. When we arrived at our boat, every diver had an assigned station so there was no awkward jockeying for position each morning. Between dives, we had the option of switching our own air tanks or letting the crew do it. We usually did it ourselves, mostly because I didn’t want to get so spoiled by Dive Provo that I would forget how. We brought our own dive gear and it was all attended to at the end of each day by the Dive Provo crew, including rinsing and hanging. Then each morning when we arrived they had our gear ready to go – on the boat. Nice. We didn’t have to lift a finger to rinse or carry until the end of our stay. We had never previously experienced this level of service from a dive company.
From what we could tell, rental equipment offered by Dive Provo all appeared to be in good condition. On board the boat, dive briefings were thorough and mixed with a dose of British humor to keep your attention. Our dive masters – Nigel, Steph, Bill, Justin and Danny – were all experienced, friendly and hard-working. Each dive was set up to accommodate a range of experience. You had the option of following the dive master and his official buddies or following your own dive plan if you dive with a buddy. As navigation aids, dive masters set up bright yellow markers at the top of the reef wall at the point closest to the boat. We thought this was a great idea and wondered why more dive companies don’t do this. Because of wind and wave conditions, Dive Provo launched from the leeward (southern) side of Provo four out of our five days. This made for longer boat rides (about 50 minutes) to dive sites at West Caicos and French Cay. But to us that wasn’t a problem. We were on vacation and off the clock.
The dives at West Caicos were our favorites. In addition to a variety of small fish, we saw large turtles, morays, sting rays, barracuda, crabs, and lobsters. Other divers saw eagle rays. And on nine of our ten dives we saw sharks, which was a real treat. None of them displayed aggressive behavior but they did seem curious and would occasionally swim by slowly as close as 10 feet. The crew told us they had seen migrating whales on the windward side of Provo the previous week, but because most of our days were spent on the leeward side, we didn’t see any whales.
About Provo itself, the island has great restaurants. Our favorite was Coco Bistro, which was within walking distance from our hotel. Our Ocean Club room had a kitchenette with range and microwave, large screened-in porch and even a washer and dryer. We’re glad we didn’t pay extra for an ocean view because the best ocean views are under the surface.