Welcome to the breathtaking island of Providenciales where the turquoise waters are home to some of the most fascinating creatures on earth – sea turtles!
I visited Turks & Caicos for the first time recently as part of my Caribbean island hopping trip and I was amazed at how many turtles I saw.
From my own experience, the best place to see turtles in Providenciales is at Grace Bay which has a large population of sea turtles.
The turtles don’t often come close to the shore so for the best chance of swimming with turtles, I’d recommend joining this snorkeling tour in Grace Bay.
The expert guides know where to find turtles without fail and you’ll be able to spend plenty of time in the water getting to know the turtles.
In the rest of this article, I’ll be revealing all of the exact locations where you can see turtles in Providenciales.
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Where Can I See Turtles in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos?
Turks and Caicos is one of the best places in the world to swim with turtles due to its large turtle population and healthy coral reefs.
Keep reading to find out exactly where to swim with the turtles. I’ve also included some handy links to the best rated tours.
I would always recommend booking your tour online in advance as the tours often sell out and you also tend to get a better rate online.
1. Grace Bay Beach
Based on firsthand experience, I’d say the best place to see turtles in Providenciales is at Grace Bay Beach which is located on the northeast coast of the island.
To get a chance of seeing turtles here, you will need to get out onto the water as the turtles rarely come close to the shore.
I didn’t see a single turtle by the shore but once I got out into the water, I came face to face with one within minutes!
I ended up seeing at least a dozen turtles whilst out snorkeling – it was truly incredible!!
I’d recommend joining a snorkeling tour like this one where you’ll cruise around Grace Bay in a double-decker catamaran before jumping into the water for some snorkeling. This is what I did and I loved it.
The experienced guides will take you to the best snorkeling spots where you’ll have the highest possible chance of seeing turtles.
They even take you out to Little Water Cay where you can spot iguanas too. Cool, right?!
- Snorkeling Tour at Grace Bay (most recommended)
Check out the beautiful sea turtle spotted at Grace Bay in the video below:
2. Mangrove Cay
Mangrove Cay is a small, uninhabited island located just off the northeastern coast of Providenciales.
This 286-acre uninhabited island is made up almost entirely of red mangroves which are intersected by water channels.
The best way to explore Mangrove Cay is by joining a clear-bottom kayaking tour. These make it super easy for you to spot turtles as the kayak is fully transparent and it’s super fun.
I spotted at least 5 or 6 turtles whilst kayaking here and I even saw a tiny reef shark which was pretty cool.
Whilst kayaking around Mangrove Cay, you’ll be able to get up close to wildlife including fish, turtles, coral, rays, small sharks and more.
- Clear-bottom Kayaking Tour at Mangrove Cay (with small group size)
Check out what you can expect from Mangrove Cay in the video below:
3. Leeward Reef
Leeward Reef is one of the most popular snorkeling sites in Turks & Caicos due to its beautiful underwater views.
You can see a wide assortment of marine animals here including tropical fish, turtles, nurse sharks, lobsters, stingrays, eagle rays and gray reef sharks.
I almost didn’t visit Leeward Reef but I managed to fit it in on our last day in Turks & Caicos and I’m so glad I did as it ended up being one of the highlights of the trip.
To reach Leeward Reef you will need to join some sort of tour as it’s not close to a beach and there is no other way to get there.
Below I’ve summarized the best tours to Leeward Reef:
- Full Day Snorkel Cruise (most recommended)
This tour also includes a barbeque lunch and stops at several other fantastic snorkeling reefs in Turks & Caicos.
This tour would be perfect for someone who wants to see as much marine life as possible because you’ll spend most of your day in the water. It lasts around 8 hours.
On this 4 hour tour, you’ll sail out into the water to enjoy the scenery then make several stops at some of the top snorkeling locations including Leeward Reef.
This tour is perfect for those who only want to do a half-day tour but still want to see plenty of marine life.
This tour is a private tour so it will be just you and your party. This tour is 4 hours and is actually flexible meaning you can choose what activities you do.
It’s ideal if you want to escape the crowds and get some quality time with your friends/family.
4. Pine Cay
This 800-acre secluded private island mainly features a luxury resort and a few private homes but is also a top snorkeling location.
The best way to reach Pine Cay is by joining this full-day snorkeling tour which takes you all over Providenciales to the best snorkeling spots.
Pine Cay is the last stop of the day so make sure you save some energy as it’s one of the best ones.
If you prefer, you can also book a private boat tour and personalize your own itinerary. This way you can spend as much time as you want at Pine Cay and fit in some other activities too.
Coral Gardens Reef
The Coral Gardens Reef, also known as The Bight Reef, is actually the most popular snorkeling site in Turks & Caicos.
The main thing I didn’t like about this spot was how busy it was!
I still managed to see plenty of turtles but there were so many other people in the water so I was constantly bumping into people.
This excellent snorkeling reef is close to the beach meaning it is easy to access. All you need to do is paddle out a little bit from the beach and you’re there!
This reef consists of one main coral ridge which extends 350 feet out from the beach.
You’ll be able to see a range of tropical fish, turtles and rays here.
It’s common to spot both green turtles and hawksbill turtles here swimming around looking for food or gliding up to the surface for some air.
As they are accustomed to regular snorkelers, the turtles here tend to be more approachable than those at other reefs.
Tip: Bring a waterproof camera like the GoPro Hero 10 to get some photos and videos of you with the turtles.
Check out what you can expect from this reef in the video below:
5. French Cay
You can also see turtles at French Cay if you don’t mind traveling a little bit further out from the main island of Providenciales.
This secluded island sits 18 miles south of Providenciales and is the only island in Turks & Caicos where you can’t see any other island from its shores.
The 22-acre island is actually a protected wildlife sanctuary and also has some of the best dive sites in Turks & Caicos.
Due to its location on the south wall of a barrier reef, it gets significantly more light than other reefs meaning there’s more visibility and more vibrant coral.
As well as swimming with turtles, French Bay is one of the best places to see sharks.
Gray reef sharks are the most common type but you can also sometimes see nurse, hammerhead, bull, lemon and tiger sharks.
You can also see several wrecks on the horizon from French Cay.
6. Smith’s Reef
Another popular snorkeling site in Providenciales where you can see turtles is at Smith’s Reef off central Providenciales.
This extensive coral reef is known for its colorful and exotic sea life. It is made up of several different reefs and coral heads so there’s lots to explore.
Expect to see an array of colorful fish, green turtles, hawksbill turtles, stingrays, lobsters, eels, crabs and more.
You’ll usually find the turtles amongst the grassy areas foraging for food.
Night snorkeling is also popular here as different creatures emerge at night including squids, shrimp, sea worms, sea snails, and the odd octopus.
The reef is easily accessible from the beach.
Check out the video below which shows what you can expect from Smith’s Reef:
Best Time Of Year To See Turtles
You can see turtles in Providenciales year round as there is a resident population of turtles that live in the waters surrounding Providenciales.
Whilst they can be seen year round on Providenciales, summer is the best time for all marine life as the water is warmer.
Tips For Swimming With Turtles
First time swimming with turtles?
To ensure the turtles remain safe, there’s a few key things to bear in mind when swimming with them in Providenciales.
Remember that all of the different turtle species are endangered so it’s important that we do all we can to help their chances.
- Don’t be too loud. Try to be as quiet as possible when swimming up to a turtle as loud noises will scare them away.
- Do not touch the turtle. Turtles are wild animals and should be respected.
- Do not get too close. This might scare the turtle and they could bite you if they get really scared (don’t worry this is super rare!).
- Do not feed the turtles. They don’t need help finding food.
- Always approach a turtle from the side. This gives them a clear view of you and a clear path ahead of them if they want to swim onwards.
- Don’t disrupt the turtle’s natural behavior. You can enjoy the turtles by watching them do their thing but try not to disturb them.
These key tips protect both you and the turtles.
And that’s it!
Thanks for reading this post on where to see turtles in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.
Turks and Caicos is actually one of the best places to swim with turtles in the whole world and you have a great chance of seeing turtles here.
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