For snorkeling and/or scuba diving, you can do no better than Coral Gardens Reef, which is located at the end of Penn’s road, smack in the heart of Provo, and is part of the protected Princess Alexandra National Park. For decades now, diving experts around the world, including the late Jacques Cousteau, have revered the Turks and Caicos Islands as one of the top 10 diving sites in the world. And is it any wonder? Crystal clear visibility, gentle seas, clean, and calm, temperate water and an abundance of colorful, healthy coral and exotic marine life thrive in these beautiful turquoise waters.
Indeed a dive or a swim in this region will yield incredible sights of amazing sea creatures, such as schools of yellowtail snappers, barracudas, lion fish, jolt head porgies, and sand-sifting mojarras, as well as brightly colored coral formations, and other forms of rare and exotic marine life, such as stingrays, starfish, turtles, lobsters, sea urchins and conch shells. A nighttime dive may yield even more unusual sea creatures, such as moray eels, squids and the occasional octopus.
The government of the Turks & Caicos has worked for years to preserve the delicate ecosystem of these sublime Islands, and the results are paying off. Diving in Coral Gardens is an experience that will not soon be forgotten. The area is easily accessible at various points off of Grace Bay Beach, and there are numerous diving and scuba operators to choose from. Gear is easily procured and you can become a certified diver if you so choose.
In order to further preserve these natural sea wonders, the government asks that you not stand on any coral formations, not feed or touch any of the fish and that if you choose to wear sunscreen, a biodegradable lotion will be your best bet. Following these guidelines will ensure that the beauty of these famous reefs will endure for many decades more, so that locals and tourists alike can appreciate and marvel at the exquisite underwater sights.
So, whether it is a green moray eel slithering its way towards you in the dark shadows of the night, or whether it’s a spongy red and yellow starfish that you see, lying in the swaying sea grass on a bright, sunny day, the wonders of these reefs are magical and unparalleled. Be sure to check them out next time you are in the Turks!