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.
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.