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Dive Review of Sea Eye/Turks Head Inn in
Turks and Caicos

June, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by gloria Freund, Va, US
Report Number 530
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
26-50 dives
Where else diving
Grand Cayman, Hawaii, Virgin Islands, Dominica, Florida
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, noCurrents  
Water Temp
76   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 90    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
come back alive  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
3 stars  
Sea eye  rents and instructs on nikonos and MX-10 but during my visit, all
nikonos were in repair and I could only get an MX-10 for part of the stay.
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  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
5 stars    
      This was my best yet diving experience. My only disappointment was
not getting desired instruction in the u/w photography for which Cecil@
Seaeye is justly renowned. Shortly beforehand I learned SeaEyes rental
nikonos werent working which prevented a real photo course. I resigned to
renting SeaEyes point/shoot MX-10 but was halfway through my trip before
getting the camera, care instruction and a few pointers.

    The quality of diving and by our SeaEye Divemaster, Smitty, more than
took up the slack. As a working stiff from N. Virginia, its hard improving
skills diving only once a year.  Our small Seaeye dive groups allowed for
personalized attention. After short, pithy briefs, Smitty let folks explore
walls on their own or accompany him. Choosing the latter, we had the
benefit of Smittys coaching to refine our technique and notice more
critters.  Smitty artfully weaves intimate knowledge of those reefs and
walls with an intuitive, almost spiritual relationship with the
environment;   anyone, regardless of their experience, can learn something
from him. So, with him, we slowed down, relaxed, shed nearly a third of our
lead and consumed less air. Never rushed, we enjoyed bottom times of an
hour-plus. Dive plans tarried at the best spots.  We had arches,
swimthroughs, gorgonians, elephant ear, rope, barrel, black, pipestem and
other coral formations.  Smitty pointed out critters we might have missed,
and introduced us to resident groupers and hawksbill turtles willing to
pose for photos.  We saw several sea horses, yellow frogfish, batfish,
scorpion fish, minute shrimp, spiney lobsters, barracuda, eel. Smittys
ugly site (The Pits) was a fascinating extended safety stop amongst the
old tires, crates, pylons and human debris in which sea creatures have
established their castles.  Most exhilarating was our dolphin encounter
while commencing a safety stop at English Point. Four approached in a
tightly-orchestrated frolic to w/in a few feet of each of us for mutual
appraisals, braiding around each other and eyeing us from several vantages
before moving on. 

     Topside, Grand Turk is often said to offer little to non-divers.
Indeed Grand Turk lacks glitz, upscale shopping, chainstores, fast food,
commercial amusements.   It is niether lush nor landscaped. It is nearly
flat, dry, scrubby, and in some spots, spewn with trash. Amusement must be
self-made or in contented relaxation. So whats to love? Beyond lovely,
nearly un-peopled beaches and great snorkeling, Grand Turk has an
individuality and warmth rarely found. Travellers will be happy who enjoy
quiet, funky charm, genuinely friendly populace, and simple pleasures.
Having no wheels, we availed of Smittys Island tour offer, so experienced
the place through the eyes of someone to whom it is beloved home. Old
Cockburn town has many delapidating old plantation mansions that give parts
of it a ghosttown feel. There is no gentrification here. (Many old
structures remain in use -- churches, library, Eunice lodge, a great
national museum.) Smitty drove us along North Creek past feral horses and
donkeys to see feeding flamingoes, to a the lighthouse near the old Navy
Base (now community college), and up along the ridge where spacious dream
homes are slowly rising. The ridge overlooks both sides of the island to
oceans beyond, including Cockburn town and old salt flats-turned-wildlife
refuges.  Cross-seabreezes give lift to egrets and herons. Lovely. 

     Meals along Front street were good but pricey at $20-plus. Sunsets
accompany good seafood at Waters Edge. Regal Begal served reasonable fish
& chips. But we found the best and most unique dining-experience at
Chubbys (aka Saps) a few miles north of town.  Hours vary -- best call
(242-1723 ).  Open since summer 02,  one wont find a friendlier, more
generous or accomodating host, nor fresher/better seafood at more
reasonable prices. Chubby also treated us to stories of growing up a
fishermans son (his father runs the fish market) and a rundown of Island
goings-ons. An outdoor expansion should be done in summer 03 so guests can
enjoy ultra-fresh grouper, lobster, or just-plucked-from-the-water conch
under the stars. Chubby also offers other Island tour services. 

      We stayed at Turks Head Inn for historic charm and convenience. Its
shaded courtyard  hosted our included breakfasts and the hammock, post-dive
relaxing. Turks Head staff was accomodating; deluxe rooms on which we
splurged were comfortable and spacious.  Good showers had hot and cold
water whenever needed. Re Saturday night Kareoke: all guests get the audio
blast anyway so be downstairs with the crowd for the full effect.

      I left Grand Turk refreshed by the quiet, small community feel --
awakening to roosters crows and seeing cattle, feral donkeys and horses
wandering about. Folks greet and readily chitchat with visitors who make
the time. Everyone seems to know everyone else. Within a day or so after
arriving I felt more relaxed, accepted, safe and at home above and below
the water. Anxiety set in only when learning that Holland America may start
developing a cruise ship pier as soon as late 03. A broadened economic base
is argued, given loss of the salt industry by the 1960s. Too often poverty
and inadequate opportunity do accompany quaintness so appealing to
visitors, and Grand Turk has its issues. But some Islanders share deep
worries for what sudden, homogenizing cruise ship infrastructures of duty
free shopping malls and mass-appeal amusements might impose on this small,
open-hearted community. What will become of Grand Turks delicate reefs,
natural treasures and gentle, welcoming termperament? One prays for Grand
Turk politicians, the wisdom to absorb and pace any such development
without sacrificing its most precious human and natural gifts. Many
Carribean dive destinations invite exploration but can be satisfied with a
single visit.  Between its great reefs and and way of life, Grand Turk
beckons returns.

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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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