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Dive a pristine barrier reef

Turks and Caicos

A close encounter with a reef shark   Photos: (shark) ©Big Blue/L. Robinson; (Nappo) Ken Carl
Jim Nappo

Your Guide

Jim Nappo, hotel impresario, investment banker, and avid diver

 

Flight time:4 hours on United

When to go:Summer
Fewer crowds and dry heat, thanks to a tropical-desert climate

Where to stay:The Shore Club
Supremely elegant accommodations on lovely Long Bay Beach. From $555; Long Bay Beach; theshoreclubtc.com

The southern shores of this archipelago, a British territory, are protected by the third-largest barrier reef in the world and a 6,000-foot natural underwater wall, both of which make for a vibrant ecosystem. You’ll see rays, reef and nurse sharks, barracuda, and all sorts of colorful fish. You can be 60 to 80 feet underwater, and it’s as clear as it is at the surface. That’s extraordinarily difficult to find elsewhere in the world.

A ray near Turks and Caicos’ barrier reef
A ray near Turks and Caicos’ barrier reef Photo: ©Big Blue/Marek

Most of the best dive sites are less than 30 minutes by boat from the gateway island of Providenciales. If you go a little farther, off South Caicos near Long Cay, you’ll find several remarkably undisturbed sites. On a recent dive there, I saw a hammerhead shark within the first few minutes.

Your first stop after landing in Provo, as Providenciales is locally known, should be Big Blue Unlimited, the best dive shop in Turks and Caicos. The guys there know the waters better than anyone, from wind conditions to which fish you’ll find. For dining, try Sui Ren at the Shore Club, on the island’s east end; this restaurant, the hotel’s newest, serves outstanding Peruvian- and Japanese-inflected dishes. I can’t think of a better place to kick off your flippers.

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