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Dive Review of Caicos Adventures/Caribbean Paradise Inn in
Turks and Caicos

Caicos Adventures/Caribbean Paradise Inn, Jan, 2008,

by Mort Rolleston, DC, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports). Report 4433.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Great Barrier Reef, NC wrecks, St. Lawrence River wrecks, Nassau, Puerto Rico, Monterrey, Catalina Island, Key Largo, Oriskany, NE Florida springs.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 76 to 78 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 100 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions 80 feet on first dive; 70 feet on second dive
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales 1 or 2
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We dove three days with Caicos Adventures, which appears to be the only dive shop on Provo that regularly dives West Caicos (10 miles away) and French Cay (16 miles away) - we only saw one other small dive boat the whole time. Both have the reputation for the best diving in the area as well as the Caribbean writ large. Caicos Adventures is an excellent outfit all around. They sent around a rental car shuttle bus type vehicle to pick up divers around Provo around 8 to 8:30 each day. By roughly 9 am, the boat, located on a small marina on the south side of Provo, started its 30-45 minute pleasant trek out to the dive sites (one day on French Cay and two on West Caicos). After two dives at different sites with a one hour surface interval in between, the boat returned by about 2-ish and we were back at our hotels by 3-ish - enough time to relax on the beach for a couple of hours before the sun set. The crew included 2-3 divemasters who guided divers if they chose to - with the groups divided by skill/experience level - or conducted classes. Caicos Adventures allowed you to dive your own profiles with the only limit of not going deeper than 80 feet). It was a reasonable request given most of what was interestng to see was above 80 feet anyway. They also took complete care of your equipment - setting up, changing between dives, rinsing at the end of the day, storing overnight, etc. The boat itself was probably the nicest, most comfortable, and well designed non-live-aboard dive boat I've ever been on. The operation is run by French ex-pat Fifi Kunz, who has been the primary explorer and discoverer of many of the sites on those islands, for over fifteen years. He often skippers the boat and is an interesting, easy going guy to chat with as well.

The diving is all on walls similar (according to one dive guidebook) to those on Caymans and Cozumel. Basically the wall starts around 50 feet in depth and maybe a few hundred yards off the coast. Most contained a sand gully/channel that cut through the edge of the wall (usually they marked the dive sites, which are often named after the gullies). More than 100 feet from the wall along the top as you head towards shore is mostly sand with a few small coral bommies instead of the typical spur and groove formations of many shallow places (apparently the snorkeling going towards the shore is quite good as many critters you don't normally see snorkeling often show up). On our dives, we'd usually head out to the wall, explore any gullies, "fly" along wall at 80-ish feet for a little bit, then head up to the very lush corals along top of the wall and very slowly work our way back to the boat amongst all the coral and fish.

The key difference between French Cay and West Caicos was that the former had dependable sightings of hawksbill turtles (pretty rare in much of Caribbean) and large spotted eagle rays (1-2 per dive each).
The fish life on all the sites was pretty impressive - especially for the Caribbean. Unlike other places I've dove in which you might see a half dozen or so species of fish, here you basically saw all the major Caribbean species on most every dive - though usually not in the big schools you often see in Key Largo. We also saw reef sharks on more than half the dives.

Coral for the most part was pretty impressive and healthy - especially for Caribbean - with an interesting combination of the soft coral you often see in the Bahamas/Keys with some of the hard corals more typical of Bonaire - though not nearly as prolific as the latter. We also saw huge gorgonian fans at the Gorgonian Wall site (only other place I've seen I think is in Australia). Visibility was excellent (easily over 100 feet, if not 200), due apparently to the lack of rainfall and river runoff.

We also saw some big critters from the surface. Off West Caicos, we saw a migrating humpback whale just off the wall. On most dives, we actually could hear them communicating in the distance if you were quiet, which was very cool. We also saw a small manta ray (5-6 feet across) on the way out to West Caicos.

THE ISLAND: Provo is pretty small and unique compared to other tropical islands that I've seen. First, it is definitely upscale. This is not an island of gaudy, cheesy, touristy establishments, gazillions of young spring breaker types, and local panhandlers/hucksters roaming the beaches. Second, like the rest of the Bahamas for most part, it is a rather arid environment with low shrubs and trees on sandy soil on top of limestone formations that have risen out of the sea. The beaches and water are another story altogether. Provo's Grace Bay, a national park, is a very shallow bay surrounded by a coral reef that combine to create for breathtakingly intense turquoise water. Third, it doesn't seem to have much of a local, native population (known as "Belongers") or culture like most of the other islands. Provo's rapidly growing population seems dominated by American and European ex-pats. In sum, Provo is a perfect island for someone looking to stay at nice resorts, spend your days either diving, snorkeling, or just hanging out on one of the world's most beautiful beaches without crowds, and chilling out at night with an adult beverage or two after eating some of the Caribbean's best food in among its nicest restaurants.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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