Dive Sites

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 well.

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.

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Pine Cay
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 schooling fish
-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.
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-Grace Bay
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 anemones.
-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 sandy roadway.
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.

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Northwest Point
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 about.
-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 drums!
--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 boat.
-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.


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Sandbore Channel
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 creatures!

-West Caicos
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.
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-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 conch.
-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 anemones.
-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.
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The Southern Cays
-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.

French Cay

-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 site.
-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 feet contour.
-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.


 

 

 

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