Thursday, December 6, 2012

Get to Know the Wildlife in Turks and Caicos

Winter time means that a lot of us are looking for somewhere less cold and frosty to spend our time.  This is that time of year when fleece and sweaters feel cozy and warm, but wouldn't it be nice to throw it all off and run around in a t-shirt and shorts?
Well, here's the answer.  Above is the airport in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  This place is a little off beat for the Caribbean, but they have some things that you won't find anywhere else.  That's what I'm always after.  And I have to admit, looking for something different in the Caribbean was difficult.  Most of the islands, no matter whom they belong to, are pretty much the same.  Sorry, but they are.  They're all beautiful, and they're all warm.  They all have great beaches and friendly locals.  That's all true.  But, when you're looking for something a little different, all of that becomes a little annoying, even though it shouldn't.

The Turks and Caicos archipelago is an amazing dive spot.  On Gibbs Cay the Manta Rays are plentiful and friendly.  There are companies there that will gladly take you out to meet them.  I can't stress enough, they are wild animals.  If you do this, please be careful.  Look what happened to the Crocodile Hunter.  For the most part, they are friendly and curious about humans.  You will also see see turtles and even sharks.  It's a good idea to go with a guide for guidance and support though.
Providenciales Island has the Coral Stairway Reef, an amazing home for coral and all the amazing wildlife that lives there.  And this reef is not alone.  There are many of them around the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Grand Turk Island not only has a fabulous coral reef, but it also has a 7,000 foot drop off just off shore.  Diving in that area you will see things that you can only see a couple of other places in the Caribbean and Central America.  Coral reef diving is an amazing way to see the world under the sea, but once again, respect the creatures.  They are wild, and even though they are friendly most of the time, don't count on it.  Also, once again, go with a guide.

And here he is, Turks and Caicos most famous national treasure, Jojo the Dolphin.  This guy came to the area many years ago, and is one of the few lone dolphins in the world.  He made friends with a scientist who has spent his life looking after Jojo and studying the dolphins in the islands.  He's a friendly guy who visits with people off the coast of the islands, most often Providenciales.  I know you've seen Flipper, but Jojo's behavior is actually quite unusual.  Most dolphins are not as friendly with people and stay in pods.  He's a different dolphin with a different personality.  Just remember, he's wild.  Don't think that he is there to serve you.  Respect animals in their natural habitat as everywhere.

Here's some more wildlife for you on Providenciales.  This is a Conch.  I don't know whether it's male or female, but they do have both, and on Providenciales there is a conch farm.  It's the only one in the world.

Queen Conch Farm is the only place in the world that raises conch for profit.  It is a delicacy in the islands and growing in popularity around the world.  You can come here for a tour and to meet the conch up close and personal.  They will also cook some for you so you can see what it tastes like.  I know it's not the up close and get friendly experience that the coral reefs and dolphins are, but it is truly unique and the only place in the world to see this style of farming.  There are daily tours available, and it will be an experience that you won't forget.
So, come to Turks and Caicos.  You'll get to see some great and unusual wildlife.  But that's not all.
Then there's the Hole.  That's right, it's a hole.  It's approximately forty feet wide and 80 feet deep.  This place is for an adventure.  The idea here is that you go out and repel down into the hole.  What's down there?  A swimming hole.  That's right, go swimming 80 feet down inside a hole.  That's a good one.  There are local guides that will be happy to help you do this, and it's a great way to spend the day.  So, after you've seen all the wildlife, take another kind of a dive and take a swim.

Turks and Caicos is a beautiful tropical spot in the world.  It's one of the most unspoiled areas in the Caribbean.  There are still a few islands in the archipelago that are uninhabited.  You can spend a day there with no one to bother you.  There just aren't enough good things to say about this place.  It has all the resort hotels and everything from cities to villages.  It has an airport and cruise ship docks.  It has great beaches and wonderful fishing.  But it has that one thing that some other islands don't have.  Personality. They have a famous dolphin, they have coral reefs full of wonderful life that rival any others in the world.  They have a 7,000 foot drop off just off the shore of an island.  They swim with rays, sharks, and turtles.  It's a fascinating place with so much wildlife to explore that I didn't even mention the whales.  Come take a look and leave the Bahamas behind.  Take a look at something a little different in the Caribbean.  If it's good enough for Jojo, it's good enough for me.

Come for a visit--see if you can make yourself go home.

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