If you followed the dive destination by budget feature in Sport Diver, you know that you don’t need a wallet full of cash to enjoy a great dive vacation (though it doesn’t hurt).
In the second part of this series, let's take a look at Scott Johnson's live-aboard trip on the TCII where he had pampered relaxation coupled with diving decadence.
Diving Decadence In Turks And Caicos
There is a sense of excitement and familiarity on the short flight from Miami to Providenciales (aka Provo), Turks and Caicos. This island-oasis has become my go-to when I want to escape the pressures of society, and fuel my twin passions for diving adventure and afternoon siestas.
An archipelago of more than 40 tropical islands and cays, Turks and Caicos rightly sports a “Beautiful by Nature” motto. My home-away-from-home for the week, the Turks & Caicos Aggressor II makes pampering a reality for guests.
“Not going to happen,” says Rob Smith, engineer and dive guide of the TCII, when he sees me attempting to carry one of my bags from the dive deck to my cabin. This will become somewhat of a game between us, as the whole crew takes pride in making sure guests never do anything remotely resembling work. I consider it a major victory if I can zip my own wetsuit before a crew member beats me to it.
The diving in Turks and Caicos is uncomplicated, exciting and dependable. If you can picture a 120-foot floating luxury hotel that carries you from one exhilarating dive site to another with ease, you’re on the right track. We make all of our dives from the spacious swim deck, so the pool is basically always open whenever the yacht is moored on a site.
Navigation is effortless too: Spur- and-groove reefs link the islands to steep walls. Follow a groove toward shallow water, and you’ll find land. Groove your way to deeper water, and you’re rewarded with dramatic drop-offs that make you feel as if you’re flying over a vast canyon. Caribbean reef sharks, hawksbill turtles and yellowhead jawfish are common, es- pecially off the uninhabited islands of West Caicos and French Cay.
Provo’s Thunderdome is a sort of wreck dive with a unique story, and one of my favorite places to blow bub- bles. This shallow-water site is actually the remains of a French TV game show entitled Escape from Pago Pago Island, filmed from 1992-93. The twisted steel structure is home to interesting charac- ters such as secretary blennies, skeleton shrimp and large green moray eels.
Limitless diving, good eating and relaxing are really the only games in town on the TCII. The picturesque, flat islands offer miles of lonely white-sand beaches, bathed in balmy breezes and surrounded by turquoise waters. Our Provo to French Cay itinerary includes a landing via chase boat at West Caicos. We visit the scattered ruins of Yankee Town, which served as the hub of sisal cultivation in the late 1800s. We follow the remnants of the town’s railroad to Lake Catherine and find a flock of flam- boyant pink flamingos slowly searching for food in the shallows.
The low-key, affordable luxury in Turks and Caicos makes it the “Destination of Easy.” Getting there is easy. The diving is easy. Growing accustomed to pampering with hot post-dive towels and gourmet meals is easy. The only thing that won’t be easy is returning home.
Roundtrip airfare: from MIA to Provo is around $600
Conch fritters at Da Conch Shack: $7 for a small serving and $12 for a large serving
Food/drink: Turk’s Head beer: $6 to $7 in restaurants; a six- pack is around $12 at the IGA and Wine Cellar