By Fred – (Merion, PA, USA)
We are planning a vacation at Providenciales, Turks & Caicos this spring. We understand that the best snorkeling off the beach is at Grace Bay. Because Grace Bay beach is very long, is there a preferred area of the beach that has the best snorkeling? If so, we will try to find a place to stay in that particular area. Thanks.
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Galen & Nicole – May 23, 2010 – Fred’s Turks & Caicos Report
Fred shared a report of what he found on his Turks & Caicos snorkeling trip.
L & T – Jul 11, 2010 – Providenciales Snorkeling
We enjoyed nine days on Providenciales in May 2010. We stayed at Royal West Indies Resort on Grace Bay and we recommend this hotel. They have a beautiful beach for playing in the water and relaxing, however, the best snorkeling we found from shore was at Smith’s Reef. We went there almost every day.
Anonymous – Aug 11, 2011 – Coral Gardens / Providenciales Shore Snorkeling
We stayed at the Coral Gardens Apartments. The reef is literally right in front of the accommodation, we could see it from our balcony! We snorkeled there every day and saw stingrays, barracuda and a sea turtle as well as lots of coral and colorful fish.
The beach is nice at Coral Gardens and all along Providenciales but the better and wider areas are farther up the bay. I would still recommend staying in or near Coral Gardens if you want to enjoy the snorkeling though, as the proximity meant we could snorkel whenever we liked – many times each day. Lots of the holiday makers we spoke to only got to visit for a short time during their holiday as it was quite a long way from their hotel.
Another point to note is that each hotel has its own designated sun loungers and umbrellas. You can’t use the loungers from another hotel and there are no ‘pay as you go’ options. If you leave the area in front of your own hotel you won’t have anywhere for shade, or to sit other than your towel. This can make things difficult if you want to venture to a different area, especially when it’s very hot, which it was when we were there.
We also took a boat trip out to Iguana Island which stopped off to dive for conch and for snorkeling. I would recommend the trip as it was a lovely day out on the boat but the snorkeling wasn’t any better (probably worse) than at Coral Gardens. We saw a couple of interesting fish that we hadn’t seen before, but generally there was a lot more at Coral Gardens. Also unless you are a very good freediver, as the tour guide was, you would never be able to dive deep enough to collect a conch!
This was our first time snorkeling so I don’t have any basis for comparison, but for Providenciales Bay I think this is the best shore snorkeling spot. We walked the length of the beach (it’s a very long walk!) and didn’t find anywhere better.
I would definitely recommend staying in or near Coral Gardens if you are interested in snorkeling.
Anonymous – Jan 08, 2012 – Smith’s Reef, Providenciales
We recently stayed near Coral Gardens, specifically for access to snorkeling. Bight Reef, just in front of Coral Gardens, was reasonable snorkeling – great access, lots of fauna, but the fact that it is mostly roped off detracts. Also, it is very busy.
We preferred Smith’s Reef, off Turtle Cove. It was more spread out, with nothing roped off, and very few other people there. Access is easy by car – enter via Bridge Road just east of Turtle Cove, turn right at the T-junction along the unpaved road, and drive 200 yards or so to the marked beach access. When you hit the beach, walk to your right (east) for about 200 yards. Great snorkeling is 30 yards away!
jm – Apr 11, 2012 – Providenciales Snorkeling
My wife and I have snorkeled worldwide… we are currently visiting Grace Bay, Turks & Caicos. The beaches are beautiful but the snorkeling is very lackluster unless you’re a first-timer.
The boat trips are very costly at $89-$175 each plus $15 for cab fare!
The taxi unions have stopped all jitney buses with the possible exception of an occasional illegal Haitian van!
Jennifer Williams – Feb 13, 2013 – Blue Monkey – Turks & Caicos
Great to read your post on snorkeling! I got married at the Beaches in Turks & Caicos in December 2006. It was just beautiful. We snorkeled by the White House just past the Beaches right off the shore. It was roped off to protect the coral but still great. We saw rays, turtles, and big barracudas!
I was hooked, so my husband and I decided to renew our vows five years later (12/16/2012) at the same place Beaches. This time with a four year old and still had a blast! This time the snorkel boat took us to a place called “Blue Monkey”. It was heaven. A short boat ride and we were on top of a white bed of sand below us… it was just magical. The bottom of the ocean floor had a nursery of sand dollars! That was the highlight of the whole trip. So, if you ever go to Turks, ask to go to Blue Monkey… it was a piece of heaven!
Ed Wisner – Jul 29, 2013 – Grace Bay Snorkeling
For Providenciales, Turks and Caicos snorkeling, there is very good beach snorkeling from two locations – Bight Reef and Coral Gardens. My wife and I snorkeled and did SNUBA at Coral Gardens. Very nice reef, very close to shore. We saw lobster, a turtle, a barracuda, as well as many fish. Bight Reef is very good also right from the beach. Grace Bay is a spectacular beach, very similar to Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman.
Sandy – Dec 26, 2013 – Snorkeling Smith’s Reef
We just returned from two weeks staying at Atlantic Ocean Beach Villas just onshore from Smith’s Reef. Most days the snorkeling was pretty good right out front. We saw a ray and a barracuda, lots of parrotfish and jacks and many other smaller fish. There were some windy days that made the water choppy but it’s December.
We went to Coral Gardens, took one look and went back to Smith’s Reef. Coral Gardens was crowded and people were swimming in a circle between roped off areas. Smith’s Reef was uncrowded and had lots of variety. Lots of different purple and gold corals and blue fish.
We did an all day trip to West Caicos with Big Blue and got to see some fantastic coral and eagle rays. It was $235 per person but I didn’t want to regret not going.
Atlantic Ocean Beach Villas was the perfect place to stay for snorkeling with an easy walk to restaurants at Turtle Cove.
Anonymous – Dec 02, 2015 – Malcolm Road Beach
There is a more remote access beach on the west side of the island. Called Malcolm Road Beach. The coral is the best for shore snorkeling quality.
Take Millennium Highway all the way to the dirt road, then continue and follow signs for Amanyara Resort. I believe just before you get to the beach there will be signs guiding you to the parking. The road can be rough but we were successful in getting there in a Honda Fit.
If the waves are down, this is the best spot for shore snorkeling. You will see many boats lined up on the northwest point for scuba excursions.
Linsay Carter – Jul 22, 2018 – Coral Gardens
We were so impressed with the accessibility of Coral Gardens reef. We swam above eagle rays and sea turtles 30 feet off the beach daily. This location makes a recreational snorkeler want to step it up to the next level.
Fred – Jan 06, 2019 – Good
I just got back from Provo. I did a boat trip and all the regular shore snorkeling, plus a night snorkel. Bleaching is common but having read other posts, I found healthy coral everywhere. I would give Provo a good rating if you know where to go!
Karen – May 22, 2019 – Good Snorkeling
My husband and I also thought Smith Reef was the best. We found that the best put-in spot was in front of the lookout tower. The water can be choppy and the current looks like it is going left. But it is NOT. It heads to the right. We always saw eagle rays. The best part is when we allowed the current to take us (drift snorkel) across the shallower area. We saw a lot of cool stuff. Then you will come to sea grass. Head to shore and then just walk back! Happy snorkeling!