The best snorkeling in Providenciales
Grace Bay Beach is the most popular beach in Turks and Caicos. Unfortunately, Grace Bay Beach has no snorkeling at all. Fortunately, Coral Gardens at Bight Reef and Smith’s Reef at the western end of Grace Bay Beach have very good snorkeling and are widely regarded as the two best sports for snorkeling right near the beach in Providenciales. The flora and fauna is different in both sports, so make sure to visit them both.
For beginners and families with small kids, there is some snorkeling at Sapodilla Bay Beach.
Map of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos
(C) - Sapodilla Bay Beach
(J) - Coral Gardens - Bight Reef
(K) - Smith’s Reef
The best snorkeling spots are, however, out by the reef and can only be accessed by commercial snorkeling and diving boat tours.
Snorkeling at Sapodilla Bay Beach in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Sapodilla Bay Beach is a beautiful beach with soft white sand and shallow water, which makes it perfect for families with small children and never gets too crowded.
It is not known for particularly good snorkeling, but it has some sports that are worthwhile exploring.
Sapodilla Bay beach has two parking lots. The main parking lot at the southern end is shared with Sapodilla Hill where you can see rock carvings from the 1700s and 1800s.
Map of Sapodilla Bay Beach in Providenciales
There are two parking lots. The exact locations are in the downloadable Providenciales Purple Guides that you can get from the Backpack and Snorkel Travel Store
|South parking lot
The best snorkeling is by the rocks where the pergola with the white top stands. You don’t need to go this far out, there is some snorkeling under the rocky overhangs right at the northern end of Sapodilla Bay Beach where the sandy beach ends.
Unfortunately, my almost 10-year old underwater camera with which I had taken thousands of photos broke the first day we came to Sapodilla Bay, so I cannot provide any photos. Fortunately, it worked fine the days before where we explored Coral Gardens and Smith’s Reef.
What you will see at Sapodilla Bay are no corals and some colorless fish and mostly schools of small fish, Blue-Striped Grunts and some Sergeant Majors.
There is also some snorkeling by the cliffs on the southern side behind the dock. We found the water to be too hazy near the dock and had to follow the cliffs around the corner for better visibility.
I have seen people claim to have seen bonefish, stingrays and starfish, but we did not see any. Maybe we were just unlucky but the only thing we saw were schools of tiny fish, some adult colorless fish and maybe a handful colorful fish like Sergeant Majors and Blue-Striped Grunts.
Snorkeling at Coral Gardens - Bight Reef in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Coral Gardens, located at Bight Reef, is the best snorkeling spot that can easily be reached from the Grace Bay beach part of the Bight Settlement in Providenciales.
Map of Bight Reef in Providenciales
There are two access points. The exact locations are in the downloadable Providenciales Purple Guides that you can get from the Backpack and Snorkel Travel Store:
|Stubb’s Road – this is on-street parking. Coral Gardens is about 100ft (35m) to the left from this access point on the beach.
|Penn’s Road – this is on-street parking. Coral Gardens is about 350ft (110m) to the right from this access point on the beach.
Map of Bight Reef in Providenciales
The powdery soft white sand and beautifully turquoise water make this beach an attractive choice. The reef is about 60ft (20m) off the beach and the area within the buoys starts at about 120ft (35m) into the water. Please be advised that the area within the buoys is strictly off limits.
The reason for that becomes obvious once you start snorkeling. The reef outside the buoys is severely damaged from years of people treating it carelessly. Luckily, there are still many colorful fish in the water. The reef inside the buoys is still in fairly good shape – please help keeping it that way.
Compared to Smith’s Reef, you will find significantly more fish but fewer corals at Coral Gardens.
Snorkeling at Smith’s Reef in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Smith’s reef is one of the premier snorkeling spots in Providenciales that can be reached from the beach. Behind Coral Gardens, it is the second best snorkeling spot in Providenciales.
The beach has three public access points which are explained below. The exact locations are in the downloadable Providenciales Purple Guides that you can get from the Backpack and Snorkel Travel Store:
|West access – this is the main access point and closest access to the best part of Smith’s Reef. Walk 530ft (160m) to the right from the beach access to the area marked by the buoys.
Map of Smith’s Reef in Providenciales
The beach here is rockier than other parts of Grace Bay Beach. Especially the transition into the water is mostly rocky, even though there are some sandy areas between the rocks that you can use to enter the water if you don’t have water shoes.
Once you are in the water, swimming and snorkeling is good. The water is crystal clear.
As with Coral Gardens, buoys mark the best part of the reef which is off limits for anyone. This is to prevent damage from swimmers and snorkelers who have severely damaged (and in some cases obliterated) the reef outside the buoys. Please help preserving the protected area by not entering the area within the buoys.
If you take the West beach access, then you have to walk 530ft (160m) to the right on the beach to get to the area marked by the buoys.
The buoys are about 90ft (28m) away from the beach in the water.
From the East access it is a 1,800ft (550m) walk on the beach to the left.
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