To see marine life in one of the most tranquil locations in the Caribbean then check out Turks and Caicos. There are a large number of direct connections and more via the US and other Caribbean locations so it’s well worth taking the time to compare flights.
Turks and Caicos is a collection of cays situated where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic, north of Haiti, east of Cuba and form the southeast end of the Bahamas chain of islands, though not politically speaking.
While the Grand Turk town of Cockburn is the capital, the main tourist development is the western island of Providenciales which houses an international airport.
The island is close to a common migration route for the North Atlantic Humpback Whale and boats excursions around the numerous uninhabited cays in the stunning turquoise waters will result in sightings of bird life, iguanas sunning themselves, and reefs teeming with colourful marine life.
Turks and Caicos offer a wealth of whale and dolphin watching, but is most famous for one Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Jo-Jo adopted the waters close to the island and has chosen to voluntarily interact with humans though clearly remains a wild creature and should be treated as such.
In the late 1980’s when Jo-Jo’s strange behaviour became a local legend, there was some exploitation, and when inappropriate behaviour by guides and tourists resulted in reported ‘attacks,’ marine enthusiasts with a real understanding for the dolphin’s wish to protect himself from unwanted interaction, moved in to save Jo-Jo from possible captivity.
That interest in Jo-Jo helped Dean Bernal to found the Marine Wildlife Foundation now operating a range of Dolphin and Whale projects. The purposeful exploitation of Jo-Jo has ceased as a result of Dean’s fine efforts but the dolphin still seeks out the company of people.
There is nothing more delightful than setting off in a small boat from the beach and seeing a dark shadow racing up to greet the vessel while it’s still in the shallows of the bay. Jo-Jo chatters, plays with the anchor chain and accompanies the boat until he tires of it and goes off to find other company. It’s not a conventional dolphin watching experience but it’s the most enchanting thing, and one that will never be forgotten. Jo-Jo is approximately 25 years old and as his breed live to be around 40 or 50, this delight may continue for a number of years.
The best time to visit Turks and Caicos to see humpback whales is January to April when they pass through the 7000ft Columbus Passage as part of their annual migration for mating and birth. Whale song can be heard while diving and incredible displays as the whales play with their newborn can be seen from the boats. There are countless companies offering these trips and the official Turks and Caicos tourism site can point to the accredited companies.
The islands are a fabulous mix of luxury accommodation, the best in marine wildlife and a friendly and fabulous place to holiday. Once you have seen the white sands, green-blue seas, teeming reefs and amazing sites of beautiful sea mammals you will be captivated.
Linda Endersby spent 19 years in the airline industry enabling her to visit many beautiful places across the world. As well as writing about the places she loves, weekends as a bookseller offer her fabulous opportunities to research future destinations.