At Provo Turtle Divers, we
mostly dive French Cay, West Caicos, Northwest Point and Sandbore
Channel (between NW Point and West Caicos). During the summer
and fall, we take advantage of the nice weather and dive in Grace Bay to
see all the fantastic critters and great spur and groove formations.
We have dock space on both sides of Provo which provides us easy access
to all six major locations around Provo. From the northside or
Turtle Cove Marina, we dive Pine Cay, Grace Bay, and NW Point.
From the southside or Southside Marina, we have the shortest boat rides
possible to French Cay, West Caicos, Sandbore Channel and NW Point as
Art Pickering discovered and
named most of the dive sites that are listed below, that all the other
diver operators use as well. Find out why, in the words of our
customers, we are "first and still the best" in Provo.
Pine Cay is a small 800 acre, privately owned island that was the first
major recreational development in the Turks & Caicos Islands some 40
years ago. There are no cars allowed - only golf carts and bicycles, so
the area has remained pristine. The dive sites off the Cay are submerged
sea mounts that rise to within 50' of the surface and are known for
consistently good visibility - even at times when the visibility is down
at other north side sites. Approximately a 35 minute boat ride.-
-Football Field - The Football Field dive site is a good example
of the ocean floor topography in this area where the mooring buoy is set
in 50 feet of water at the top of a steeply sloping wall. There are
extensive plate corals and gorgonians with a crevice where you will find
very large vase sponges. The sandy bowl is in 90 feet of water.
-50 Yard Line - A mini wall drops from 45ft to a wide sloping
ledge at around 100 - 150ft. The area around the mooring is especially
pretty with lots of soft corals and sponges and many different types of
-Eagle Ray Pass - This site is best known for the rays and
sharks passing through the cut here and large specimens of boulder, star
and brain corals. The warm green bank water combines with the cooler
ocean water on outgoing tides, producing numerous thermo clines. Use
extreme caution during certain tidal changes.
Grace Bay is a short 15 minute boat trip from the Provo Turtle Divers'
dock and is protected by a 14 mile barrier reef. Here you will find
groupers, barracudas, turtles, sharks and the occasional manta ray
inhabit this area as well as the famous JoJo the wild rouge dolphin who
prefers human company. Approximately a 15 minute boat ride. This area
offers some of the most under-rated diving in all of the Turks & Caicos!
--Sunset Strip - Almost at the Leeward Cut, this site has a mini
wall that is covered in deep water gorgonians. The sand chutes under the
boat lead to a coral garden that provides a home for many different
types of fish. Look carefully amongst the coral heads at the foot of the
mini-wall (approx. 70-80 feet) and you may spot orange ball anemones.
-Coral Gables - A gentle slope to the wall allows divers to pick
their depth. Sand chutes stop just below the top of the wall and give
way to large stacks of coral, home to grunts, snappers and groupers.
-Cathedral - A large sand patch leads to a box canyon that drops
to around 100ft. Garden eels make their home in the sand at the bottom
of the wall. Follow the mini wall to the north, around a point into
another, much smaller canyon, and take a peek in the little cave (called
the Closet) to see what's hiding there. Heading out of the canyon and
back to the boat takes you over coral garden that teems with life.
-Piranha Cove - The wall here juts out into a broad point home to
a huge school of creole wrasse and creole fish . You feel like you've
traveled a long distance but will be surprised to look up and see the
boat is much closer than you thought!. This site is named after the
Provo Piranha's (yellowtail snappers) that school here. There is often a
large Nassau Grouper hanging out in a deep groove at the turnaround
point of the dive.
-Pinnacles - Probably the most popular site in Grace Bay this is
a beautiful example of spur and groove formations. The spurs of coral
rise up to within 20 feet or less of the surface. The mini wall drops to
the typical wide sandy ledge of this area with large 'islands' of coral
that shelter moray eels and lobster. A great site to do either deep or
shallow, there is always something to see here, including Scratch the
friendly Nassau Grouper (who may let you pat him) or Elvis the Barracuda
who may be visiting from Graceland (the site next door!)
-Graceland - This site has a large sand chute under the dive boat
and a swim-through leading to the wall at 50 feet. The wall has many
buttresses and indentations with a good possibility of reef sharks
swimming in the depths off the wall.
-Grouper Hole - The mooring is by a deep narrow crevice, the
Grouper Hole, with a large coral head in the middle of a sand chute that
leads divers to a gently sloping wall that plateaus at 90 to 100 feet.
Several Nassau groupers are very territorial, along with Tiger grouper,
barracuda, black durgeon and a herd of blue tangs.
-Boneyard - So named because of the massive mounds of dead
staghorn coral that has been overgrown by other types of coral. The
'bones' of the staghorn provide shelter to schooling grunts and
snappers, morays, lobsters, many different types of hamlets and giant
-Aquarium West (Thompson Cove)- Enormous schools of grunts and snappers form an
almost continuous school on top of the wall at the Aquarium. The wall is
an exaggerated spur and groove type formation with some spectacular sand
chutes that run on down through the reef to a depth of around 100 feet.
-W.E. Wreck - A freighter that was sunk by the Watersports
Association a number of years ago after it ended up on Grace Bay Beach
one night. Unfortunately it didn't stay where it was supposed to and now
sits with it's bow in 130ft and the stern in more than 180ft. We
currently do not dive this site, due to the depth of the wreck. We have
it listed here, as we do have questions about the wreck.
-Shark Hole - Another dive for the experienced. From the mooring head
north in 80+ feet to a narrow canyon that leads into what looks like a
large hole in the floor of the ocean. As you head down the canyon into
the hole it appears to be a large cave with deep undercuts that often
shelter turtles and sharks. Venturing further into the back of the cave
reveals an archway that leads out to a plateau at 135ft. Return to the
boat either by heading up over the wall or by going back into the hole
and swimming back the way you came. We currently do not dive this
site, as there is no mooring there anymore.
--Smith's Snorkeling Reef - a shallow patch reef on the north
shore of Provo, used to be one of a few shore-diving options the island
had to offer - but Hurricane Frances shifted the sands so that it is now
too shallow to dive. It is a fairly large, circular patch reef that
makes for great snorkeling.
There is a series of tiles underwater, with descriptions of the fish,
invertebrates and corals that are most commonly seen. As you swim along
you will hit the a small patch reef in 10 - 12 ft. At this point you are
about 20 yards off shore. Here are some really nice finger and pencil
coral formations full of juvenile fish. As you continue towards the main
reef you come to gentle sand slope that drops down to the deepest part
of the reef (around 22ft). Look carefully, there are often big southern
stingrays buried in the sand. As you cross the sand 'roadway' towards
the face of the reef, look both ways as you may have to give way to a
squadron of eagle rays passing through. As many as 23 have been spotted
at one time. There can be a farily strong current in this area, so be
careful. From the main head, go west (for those who actually know how to
use a compass!!), or right (for those who don't!) for about 20yds until
you see another large coral head. Hiding in there somewhere is a HUGE
green moray, search for him for a while, he's difficult to find. As you
swim around this head you will see a large patch of turtle grass to the
east. There are 3 resident turtles which are often seen grazing in the
grass beds. Eventually you'll end up back where you started in the deep
Smiths Reef is a great demonstration of the effects of tides. If you
snorkel it on high slack the vis can be great, on an out going tide the
vis drops, and the current picks up. If the barrier reef is breaking,
and the wind is high, the chances of a strong current are greater. Check
in at the office to find out what the tides are doing.
Northwest Point's vertical walls are comparable to those of Little
Cayman. Here you will find an exceptional three mile strip of very
worthy dive sites. For experienced divers with a quality computer, you
can make some wonderful multi-level dives, beginning at 100 feet and
working your way up the sheer wall to end your dive in only 45 feet of
water in the beautiful coral heads with teaming varieties of fish.
Approximately a 45 minute boat ride.
--Canyons - The rare, calm days at the actual point of Northwest
Point allow us to dive Canyons. This is a great dive that lets you
meander through the canyons bumping into lobsters, rainbow parrot fish,
sharks and eagle rays. Come back to the boat over the top of the mounds
in 40ft of water looking at the soft corals, schooling fish and myriads
of juvenile tropicals, especially the ill-named yellowtail damselfish
which should be re-named the jeweled damsel!
-Two Step - Huge sand patches are the main feature of this site
as well as an old anchor cleverly disguised as a pillar coral. From the
bottom of the first step at around 130ft a wide sand patch slopes to the
top of the second 'step' that drops down into the blue. Two of the
finest examples of pillar coral in the Turks and Caicos Islands are in
the shallows, a photographers dream!
-Grand Canyon - Under the boat is a coral garden which leads to
the wall. Head north from the boat, along the edge of the wall until you
find the beginning of the canyon, as you follow it down look out for the
clinging crabs that have made their homes in the sides. Turn south along
the wall, swimming over plate coral that tumbles down to a wide ledge.
Keep your eyes open for sharks hanging out in the blue.
--Shark Hotel - 'Shark Hotel' is Art's favorite deep dive at
North West Point. He discovered it in the mid 70's and still loves to
dive it. It is a great dive whether you go for the thrill of 130' or
stay within more conservative limits. When moored, the boat sits in
about 40' of water. A short swim takes you to the edge of the wall at
around 45'. As you head over the wall you will see a ledge made up of
plate coral at around 100'. You need sharp eyes to make out the entrance
to a L shaped swim-through that exits at 135'. You also need to have
good diving skills as the wall slopes away from the exit and it is VERY
easy to get VERY deep if you are not an experienced deep diver. Turn
right as you exit and look up, the wall is covered with black coral,
stove pipe sponges and wire coral, it is a beautiful sight. Turn right
again and follow the sand chutes back up the wall. These chutes are the
actual 'hotel', so called because there are often nurse sharks sleeping
in the little 'rooms'.
Once you are back up to around 70ft turn either right or left and follow
the wall for a while before working your way back to the boat. Just to
the south of the mooring are two very tall pillar corals which are
wonderful photography subjects. To the north of the mooring is a patch
of staghorn coral that is also very pretty. There is often a huge school
of horse-eye jacks circling under the boat. Deep or shallow, this is a
very popular dive.
-Black Coral Forest - The beginning of this dive takes you over
steps of plate coral and around a point that is covered with deep water
gorgonians. Continue south along a beautiful wall that drops down over
200ft to a ledge that slides into the blue. This section of the wall is
literally covered with all different kinds of black coral, from long
coiling wire coral to huge bushy black corals that block your way. The
trip back to the boat along the top of the wall takes you over the
fringing reef where schools of grunts make their home.
-Amphitheatre - This dive site is immediately south of Black
Forest. The wall drops vertically to an amphitheater formation that is
undercut 10-15 feet to a sandy bottom in 90 feet. In front of the
amphitheater is a buttress with some beautiful examples of plate corals.
This is perhaps one of the most famous sites that many journalists write
-Chimney - Although more of an overgrown ravine than a true
chimney this is a fun start to a beautiful dive. The swim through is
full of sponges and wire coral and brings you out on the wall at around
90ft. Turn right or left, it doesn't really matter as both directions
take you along a great section of the wall that drops practically
straight down a couple of 100 feet. If you look hard at the end of the
dive, in the general area of the mooring, you may be rewarded with a
sighting of a tiny seahorse who has taken up residence here.
-Thunderdome - Originally part of the set for a French game show,
the Thunderdome is a large steel structure that used to be a full dome
that you could swim into. But Hurricane Frances caused it to finally
collapse. Swimming around, and through the sections of this dome are
spotted goat fish, gray and mutton snappers and Bermuda chub. Often
small barracuda hang around watching the divers with puzzled eyes. Very
tiny blennies stick their heads all over the steel structure that has
corral growing on it. Look closely and you may see the 3 spotted
--The Crack - This is one of the most popular sites at Northwest
Point. The boat moors in 40 feet of water over a large sand patch. The
wall is about a 2 minute swim from the mooring. Once there you a greeted
by a tumble of plate coral which is home to all kinds of fish, as well
as the occasional green moray and octopus. You can either head over the
edge of the wall, or enter a wide crevasse that will bring you out on
the wall at 75 feet if you exit above the large black coral tree, or 90
feet if you go beneath it. At this point the wall is sheer until a ledge
at approximately 140 feet. The ledge extends out about 30ft and then
drops of into the abyss. Don't forget to look out in to blue, you never
know what may be swimming by! About 100 feet from the swim through is
the Crack. It runs the entire height of the wall and cuts back in a big
curve. Further along the plate coral steps down creating a wide
buttress. This is the turn around point of the dive. As you swim back
along the top of the wall there are schools of grunts and snappers
hovering over the crack. If you peek down into it you may catch a
glimpse of a huge dog snapper who likes to hide out in the depths. A
beautiful pillar coral is the indication that you will need to turn up
into the sand within the next 100 feet if you want to find the boat!.
Spend the last couple of the minutes of your dive playing with the
Garden Eels and looking for Arrow Crabs in the coral heads under the
-Eel Garden - A great vertical wall leads you to a wide bay. Look
down onto a huge sand patch in 130+ ft, there are often sharks cruising
there. swim up a small sand chute and peek into the 'Baby Cave', don't
forget to see if the green moray is tucked way back in one of the
overhangs leading to the little cave. Come back to the boat by heading
over the eel garden - a very large sand patch that is home to thousands
of garden eels, peacock flounders and conch. Check out the big coral
head at the edge of the wall, if you stand on your head and look in
exactly the right place, with your flashlight focused in the correct
place you will see a couple of scarlet striped cleaning shrimp sitting
on top of the orange ball anemone that is their home.
-Coral Stairway - Unusual for North West Point, this site is
mainly coral with very few sand patches. The Stairway is a wide
depression in the well with plate coral that steps down quickly to over
100ft, then drops off into the blue. Heading south the wall is composed
of buttresses and deep narrow cracks that shelter all kinds of life. The
top of the wall teams with schooling fish and is a forest of soft coral.
Eagle rays are often seen here, as well as sharks. The big coral head
close to the mooring is home to a resident population of clinging crabs
that do a great job of packing themselves into every little space they
can find. Swim towards the mooring and you will usually see many baby
barracuda as well as a school of small horse-eye jacks and Bermuda chub.
--Hole in the Wall - This is a hole that drops vertically from 55
feet and emerges from the face of the wall at 90 feet. Space is limited
to one diver in the chimney at a time, and growths along the inside
walls are brittle and sharp, so be careful. Often seen in the darkness
are large West Indian spider crabs.
Sandbore Channel, lying halfway between Providenciales and West Caicos,
offers the best virgin diving and is outside the marine park. The walls
in this area are slopping to shear and offer some of the best views for
eagle rays, dolphins and sharks. The Sponges are huge and plentiful and
you will find the names of the dive sites very accurate.
--Land of the Giants - This dive area is a deep water channel
between Provo and West Caicos which leads to the Caicos Banks. It can be
rough in the winter months because it is somewhat exposed. A great deal
of nutrients pass from the banks to the reefs, sometimes reducing
visibility - but these can be the best conditions for spotting pelagic
such as sharks, eagle and manta rays. Remember to keep your eyes fixed
out in the "blue" for these sightings.
-Tons of Sponge - Diveable only during an incoming tide, this
site is a great mix of topography. From huge sand patches to shallow
reef. Steep slopes to sheer walls it is a great place to fish watch.
Schools of Atlantic spadefish, horse-eye jacks and grunts mix with rock
beauties and other angel fish. There have been sightings of 7 or more
eagle rays in one group - so keep a sharp eye out for these gliding
West Caicos, lying 10 miles southwest of Providenciales, offers virgin
diving at its best. Now uninhabited, the island once had a settlement
called Yankee Town, which housed about 70 or so residents who mined
salt. Now you can find wild flamingos, ospreys and herons amongst the
ghost town. The entire western coastline is a hostile sharp rocky shore
known as "ironshore" that drops sheer to the seabed. The walls off West
Caicos begin very close to shore. Approximately a 50 minute boat ride.
-Highway to Heaven - Located near the north end of West Caicos,
the dive begins at 50 feet with a large colony of garden eels in the
white sand chutes, one in particular resembles a highway or alley. This
is one of the deeper dives with coral arches and swim-throughs around
80-100 feet and two unique rare rope sponge colonies whose form mimics
staghorn coral. Travel south for about 150 feet and you will find yet
another sand chute which is detailed by a large undercut coral spur.
Slowly ascend the chute and return north to the boat.
-Elephant Ear Canyon - This site hosts the largest known orange
elephant ear sponge (known) in the Turks & Caicos, nearly 11 feet in
diameter and almost perfectly round! The reef at the top of the wall is
about 50 feet split into sections by sand chutes. The sponge is located
at the foot of the sand chutes in 95 feet of water and flanked on either
side by well developed coral buttresses. Under the boat at the end of
the dive, divers can see garden eels, stingrays, and occasional Queen
-The Gulley - The wall begins in about 50 feet and the top lip of
the wall is a dense coral reef with many cleaning stations. The gulley
gets it's name from the cut in the reef that forms two distinct sections
before dropping off vertically. The sheer precipice here has many
undercuts covered in sponges and black corals and long tentacled
-Boat Cove (aka Rock Garden Interlude) - The top of the wall is a
sand plateau sprinkled with small coral heads. A fringing reef follows
the edge of the wall, home to grunts and snappers. Small sand chutes
break through the reef, leading to the steps of plate coral that make up
the wall here. Another great fish watching site.
-Becky's Beautiful Bottom - A fantastic shallow dive (a great
wall dive as well!) with huge coral heads scattered over the sand. Each
head is home to a community of fish and creatures. A fabulous site for
macro photography. Head into the 'rubble zone' and check out a different
environment for a change of pace.
-Magic Mushroom - Named after the rock formation on the surface
that is the landmark this is another dive that is great no matter how
you choose to dive it. The wall is buttressed with sand chutes covered
with rope sponge and black coral leading down into the abyss. As a
shallow dive, the large coral heads are home to the rarely seen jacknife
fish as well as goldentail morays and the occasional dozing nurse shark.
-Driveway - Under the mooring in about 40 feet
of water lies a sand area with scattered coral heads leading into a sand
chute that extends down through the reef from 50 feet to a ledge at
around 80-100 feet where the wall drops vertically to the depths. Marine
life includes sharks, groupers, black durgeons, and the ledge area
features some excellent growth of plate and star corals. As with many of
the sites at West Caicos all along the wall divers will find black coral
and purple tube sponges.
-Brandywine (aka Yankee Town) - This site is named for the tracks
of rail for the old railroad for the salt mining many years ago.
There is still some old steam engines that can be seen on shore from the
boat. There is a small engine block underwater, directly west from the
mooring. A huge coral head right next to the mooring pin boasts one of
the largest cleaning stations - be sure to hang out here at the end of
your dive for a real treat! Out to the west from the mooring is a
beautiful plate corals on a sloping wall.
-Whiteface (aka The Anchor) - The name of this dive site has
nothing to do with the underwater topography, but comes from the steep
white cliffs along the shoreline. Along the top of the wall is a
particularly profuse reef with some impressive stands of pillar coral.
The fish population includes barracuda, parrot fish French angelfish and
Nassau grouper. Just north of the mooring is a crack in the wall with a
large anchor embedded at 70 feet. The wall is well undercut to a depth
of about 100 feet.
-The Southern Cays, including French Cay, is the name given to the
islands and rocks that lie on the Caicos Bank to the south, some 15
miles southeast of West Caicos. These cays are uninhabited, unspoiled
and extremely beautiful as little has changed since Richard Owen's visit
on the HMS Blossom in 1829. French Cay is a breeding area for nurse
sharks during the summer. Approximately a 60 minute boat ride.
-South West Reef - This reef has a deeper wall beginning between
50-70 feet. The wall is vertical with enormous barrel sponges, deep
water gorgonians and frequent sightings of sharks and eagle rays.
Currents are frequently encountered in this area.
-Molasses Reef - This reef, on the edge of the shallow banks and
the wall, appears as the boat approaches a line of waves that appear to
be a golden brown color from the coral reef breaking the surface. This
reef is the site of several historic shipwrecks, however, the dive takes
place on the deep water side along the wall. Spotted eagle rays and
sharks are common with Nassau groupers and jacks abundant as well.
-Double D - Located just offshore from the bird sanctuary on
deserted French Cay, the name "Double D" comes from two large pinnacles
rising from the ocean floor. The wall here is a fairly gradual slope
with a profuse carpet of corals along it's entire length. The area
around the two pinnacles is home to a huge, photogenic scorpion fish and
a large school of spade fish. There is often strong current at this
-Rock & Roll - As usual at French Cay, the wall starts at 60' and
slopes deceptively quickly straight down. As great as the wall is, this
is an incredible dive in the shallower water with beds of staghorn coral
that are layered with grunts, soldier fish, squirrelfish and chromis.
There are often huge eagle rays cruising the along the top of the wall
as well as reef sharks and schools of jacks.
-Half Mile Reef - As the name suggests, this reef is roughly half a mile
long and lies to the east of French Cay. A popular section of the reef
is located in a large bowl on the wall which tends to eliminate the
effects of currents encountered elsewhere on the reef. Large schools of
barracuda and mahogany snappers are always present and two large (7-8
feet across) elephant ear sponges are found twenty feet apart at the 85
-Dax Canyon - A site to the east of French Cay, the top of the
sheer wall starts in 40-50ft. Another dive that is fun to do shallow due
to the number of coral heads and different fish species. The wall is
covered with sponges, especially Elephant Ear, and many different kinds
of coral. Due to the current that pulls off the wall on an outgoing
tide, this site is not always divable.
-West Sand Spit - About 27 miles southeast of Provo, the West
Sand Spit is an area of sand in the open ocean which has about 50 feet
of sand exposed and dry at low tide. The wall here begins in 60 feet and
drops to about 150 feet. A large school of goatfish call this area home,
as well as many other species. The REEF Survey completed in 1996
identified more than 120 different types of fish at this site, including
three Jewfish. The sand area is also home to four 5 foot-plus stingrays.
During the year, seasonal visitors to the Sand Spit include Sargassum
Triggers, Ocean Triggers, and a variety of pelagics. Frequent currents
combined with its remote location make this a healthy vibrant reef.