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Dive Review of Salt Cay Divers/Tradewinds/Salt Cay Divers in
Turks and Caicos/Salt Cay

January, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Charles Laurence, NY, USA (1 report)
Report Number 3837
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
51-100 dives
Where else diving
Tahiti,Grand Turk( Turks and Caicos) Glovers Atoll(Belize)
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, choppy, noCurrents  
Water Temp
78   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
"no touch" on pristine reef; follow divemaster, loosely; stay in
group on night dives.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Superb in whale season,(don't be scared, they won't hurt you!) begins in
late January a couple of weeks after this year's dive. Good light on famous
18th century wreck of HMS Endymion. Excellent light on reef top, 40 ft,
when sun is out, most of the time, and to 50-60 feet on reef. All
assistance given to photographers, including tanks on all boats. Please use
minimum lights on night dives: clientel includes highly experienced and
adventure divers who prefer not to blinded by show-ff technology!
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
4 stars    
Salt Cay, a tiny island of 63 permanent residence, is two things: a
surviving Old Caribbean community of lovely laid-back people, and a divers'
paradise. Most of the visitors are divers - or Caribbean history buffs, or
both. There is no such thing as a crowd. Salt Cay Divers has been a
legendary destination since the days when devotees came in the 1980s to
live free lives and discover such sites as the Endymion wreck, a site which
is special to Salt Cay Divers because they known where to find it!

Declaration of interest: I came across Salt Cay and Grand Turk in the Turks
and Caicos Islands by chance,long ago before "tourism" had
developed. Salt Cay is my favourite island of any, anywhere, and while
facilities - dinner, for instance, and the wine list - have caught up to
today's expectations, "tourism" in the negative sense has yet to
arrive and spoil it all.

The whole point is the reef: this is a pristine wall in the eastern
Caribbean, and runs within a few minutes ride by the dive shop's Carolina
skiffs from off the north western tip of the island, shaped like an arrow
head pointed south, and along the west (Caribbean)coast, and on south to
Sand Cay and the Endymion wreck. You need go no further to see all forms of
coral, turtles, rays, the whole panoply of tropical fish, shark, dolphin
and a lot of curious 'cuda. Three tanks a day is the routine: you can get
back to Salt Cay Divers' Coral Reef Cafe for a coke or a coffee even
between the morning dives.

Then there's the adventure diving: Ollie Been, co-owner and an island
Belonger, born on Salt Cay and intimate with every coral head and drum fish
hideout, fires up the Big Boat. We slap across the Turks Passage (local
stretch of the Columbus Passage where you-know-who first came sailing by)
to the Endymion or to South Caicos, where the chances of encountering
another dive boat are about zilch. Last time, we dived through the sunken
fuselage of a Columbia drug-runner's downed plane (Pirates of the
Caribbean!) and watched 17 sharks circling 6 manta rays, sleeping in the
sand. Whoaa! Bring a good hat: you are out all day.

Debbie Been, co-owner of the dive shop and The Tradewinds, the place to
stay along with The Windmills, a high end hideaway on pristine North Beach,
has earned a reputation for motherly ways in certifying both greenhorns and
kids. Most of regulars down here have brought their kids for certifying
-its a bit of an initiation, really - and you won't find one she couldn't
get over initial nerves.

All the kit is available, and kept in pristine condition for all the wear
and tear of serious diving. Most Salt Cay afficianados bring their own,
tricked-out personal style, but this time I didn't want to check bags in
the holiday season, and arrived with no more that my prescription mask and
wrist watch. It took ten minutes to get comfortably fitted.
Dive masters are chosen to fit the place. They'll measure you up, coaxing
newcomers through their paces while accommodating the experts as they do
their own thing. Choose your sites, dive by dive. One-on-one explorations
or photo missions- no problem. This is an intimate diver operation.Take
note: Hillary,a Brit with years of Caribbean experience, is on island at
the moment, and is as laid back as they come but for one thing: DO NOT MESS

On shore: if you are more Apres Ski than Ski, go mix with the madding crowd
where they serve drinks in plastic cups. Not here. It's much more fun than
that. Every night is an old-time Caribbean celebration of being alive, and
it ain't no disco.

Food's great, island style. Debbie has gone 'gourmet' - the whole island
gathers on "rib nights" - while a few steps away Porter Williams
III, our favourite piratical barkeep, is dispensing rum and
snapper-almondine in his Island Thyme Bistro. Then there's the Green Flash
tiki bar on the harbour wall where Belongers and divers and everyone else
gathers for the - you got it - "green flash" as the sun goes

I'm biased. I love this place. I know it's unbeatable.

Snag: getting there if you are too used to the instant-access of US and
European tourism and time your vacation down to the last nano-second. You
fly to Providenciales in 21st century manner. Then you get the
puddle-jumper, propellers thundering over the glorious azure sea at a few
hundred feet, which reminds you of why flying used to be a trip. Scheduling
can be a bit vague, a bit "island". There's always the boat if
you miss the connection. Chill out. You'll get there.  
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Diving Guide to Turks and Caicos
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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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