Category Archives: Providenciales

Visits to the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos

Turtles, Turtles, woohoohoo

Smiths ReefSmith’s Reef is in the Turtle Cove, and it totally lived up to its billing today! Big Turtle, Smith's Reef The reef was filled with turtles, all kinds of turtles, from greens, to hawksbills, to maybe even a leatherback! I say maybe on the leatherback, because this turtle was the biggest one I’ve ever seen. Check out the movie, and you’ll see the hawksbill to start with, then I get sidetracked by the big guy…

Barracuda, Smith's ReefThe first thing we noticed on entering the water today, was a big barracuda. He was about four, maybe five feet? Quite a way to start the swim! When I swam out to the green buoy and saw the two turtles, there was an even bigger barracuda. He was just enjoying the sun, like the rest of us!

Ocean triggerfish, Smith's Reef One thing we’ve really noticed, is how the clear the water has been. What a boon that has been! I’d have to say that only the Cayman Islands has come close to being as clear as these waters. Even when the current was strong, visibility was extremely good. One of the “problems” with the great visibility though, is that you can get easily distracted by something twenty or fifty feet away!

Ocean triggerfish, Smith's ReefOne ultra cool thing we saw today was a pair of ocean triggerfish. These trigger’s are large, about three or four feet tall, and although we’ve seen them in the past, they’ve usually swam away before we’ve gotten a decent picture. Well, not today! I saw a big one, digging in the sand, but he took off. I swam over to Pam and told her I’d just seen one right over there, and pointed. We swam a little ways, and he was back! I’ve got a movie of him digging in the sand. It’s a tad jerky to start, but watch through the early problems and you’ll be rewarded with a good closeup of this terrific looking fish. Kinda funny to see him spitting out the sand!

Turtle, Smith's ReefBut turtles were the story of the day. We saw at least eight, probably more! Two of them even met up for a meeting at the bottom! It was unreal. One young couple were out swimming with their five or six year old, and we pointed out the turtles. Well the little guy was in a tizzy to see the turtles! He got to see the two of them meeting, and it was a lot of fun to see his exuberance. Afterwards, we met them on shore, and they couldn’t stop thanking us for showing them the turtles!

Squirrelfish and an anemoneFor our last dinner here in Provo we decided to check out the resort’s restaurant called the Mango Reef. It’s right on the ocean, completely open air. The stars were twinkling, and the waves were gently washing into shore. It was a very romantic setting. There was a duet playing, all romantic songs. It was a terrific setting. And the meal itself lived up to the billing. We started with some coconut crusted butterflied shrimp, served with three sauces, ($14). They were delicious, but one sauce would have been fine!

HamletFor an entree Pam had one of the daily specials, tiger prawns served with an asparagus risotto ($34) She pronounced it very good, but I thought the risotto was a little thick. I had the Mee Goreng ($24) a very good mixture of julienne vegetables, angel hair pasta with chicken and shrimp. It was very tasty, but might have had a little too much pasta (although I did eat the whole thing!)

Dessert was tiramisu for Pam, and chocolate coconut pie for me. (Both $8) The pie was more cake than pie, but tasty nonetheless. Pam enjoyed the tiramisu, but I thought it was a little small, being served in a small martini glass.  Total bill with drinks was $109, without tip. It seems a little high, but still, we both thought it was well worth it. The music, the setting, the service – all impeccable.

 

More snorkeling

ParrotfishWe were going to try the North Shore, but Pam read too many scary stories, so we headed back to Smith’s Reef. The water was super calm, almost glassy, so we thought we’d have a great snorkel. And we did, but wow, there was a current so strong, if you stopped swimming against it, you’d be moved twenty to thirty feet in mere seconds! Not for the poor swimmer that’s for sure!

It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work too. We immediately saw a turtle, and we knew he was different than the last turtles we’d seen, because he had a tag on only one flipper. Yesterday the two turtles we saw had none, and two tags respectively. This was a smaller turtle and all he did was hang around the bottom, eating sea grass.

Grouper It’s a great spot to see fish, and we saw tons. One grouper was nestled in a little hole, and just watched us warily as we approached as close as eighteen inches. So long as we didn’t make any quick moves, he let us snap pictures. Pam loves this fish – and we’ve seen a lot of them here in Providenciales.

We got a bit tired fighting the current, so we only stayed in for a couple of hours. After a quick lunch, of left over pizza, courtesy of Baci’s, we went back the Coral Gardens. The current was sharp there too, but we went in anyway. And what a swim that was! Within about two minutes of being in the water I saw a little stingray, about three feet across, with a short tail – I guess from some predator biting it off.

The reef was just alive with fish, and lots of HUGE schools of horse-eyed jacks. We thought we’d seen a big school the other day, but wow, this one was twice that size. There was a big school barracuda, mostly under two feet, but there were a couple larger ones. There was a school of ceros, a kind of racing car like fish, speedy and sleek.

Lionfish We saw a couple of moray eels. We hadn’t really seen any, and today we saw two. We also saw two flounder, after not having seen any the whole week. Funny how that goes – see none, then get them in pairs!

We managed to spot a lionfish, out in the open mostly, and we managed to get a couple of good shots of him. That’s a first – usually the lionfish is under a shelf, hiding, and our pictures are not good. This one, is pretty good!

Cubera snapperI saw a big stingray laying in the sand and called Pam over to see him. She took one look at him and turned away, and I’m calling her – Do you SEE this HUGE stingray?? And she just points… under a shelf was the biggest fish we’ve ever seen. About six feet long, and weighing about four hundred pounds was a HUGE Cubera Snapper. Unfortunately, our pictures are dark and unclear, since he refused to come out from under the shelf. But holy cow, that was one big fish!

Cubera, faceWe had dinner at the Tiki Hut. It was so packed for the Wednesday night dinner deal, we went to Baci’s, but we decided to give them a whirl tonight. The setting is nice, on the water, surrounded by big boats. It was a little breezy, so a light sweater might have been a good idea. The waitress, Raissa, was friendly and efficient. We ordered some conch fritters to start ($8.00). They were served with a tangy sauce and Pam pronounced them better than the ones we had at Shark Bites.

Pam's big catch The Tiki Hut is famous for BBQ ribs and chicken, so Pam ordered the ribs ($18). They were a full rack, served with your choice of sides, and she chose onion rings and vegetables. They were fall off the bone good, and much better than the Shark Bite ribs. I had the West Indie Chicken ($21) which was a boneless breast of chicken pounded thin, then stuffed with tiger prawns, served with a rum cream sauce, fresh vegetables, and rice and peas. The vegetables were broccoli and carrots and they were cooked very well – not mushy and gross, but just perfectly done. The chicken was great. I’d order it again. For desert we ordered the bread pudding with vanilla ice cream ($8). It was a disappointment. It was not bread pudding, just some boring muffin with some store bought ice cream. Don’t order it. Total bill was $73, not including tip. A lot of places in the Caribbean put a service charge of 15%, but not here. It was a nice dinner, and I’d eat here again.

For some reason, there were fireworks when we returned to the condo. They were launched right beside our building, so we got a bird’s eye view! Not sure what it was all about, but a cool way to end the evening.

Smith’s Reef, Redux

Blue chromisOn Wednesday we headed back to Smith’s Reef. Why? Because it’s there! No seriously, there are five or six pieces to the reef, separated by seagrass, and we’d only explored two of the smaller pieces on Tuesday. We headed to the further point, and while it was slightly more difficult to enter, only a little rockier, it was certainly worth it!

Coral This is really an amazing reef. It’s so alive and gorgeous. The many types of coral give an amazing panorama, any which way you look. In fact, it might be its biggest problem! You can’t just focus on one thing, because you’re worried you’ll miss something fantastic, just to your right, or just to your left, or straight ahead! It’s so amazing. Pam calls it eye candy, but it’s way sweeter than that!

TurtleWe had been in the water about two minutes when we saw our first turtle, cruising over the seagrass. He was a good size, and it sure made us think that today was going to be a good swim. And it was… We saw so many things, it’s hard to even put them down on paper. Horse-eye JacksThere was an amazing school of horse-eye jacks, ranging in size from eighteen inches up to about three feet, just cruising over the sea grass. The huge leader of the pack just casually kept them on the move. Pam has a nice movie of them, and I’ll get it uploaded over the next while.
TurtleWe saw a second turtle out over the reef, just nonchalantly weaving in and out of the big coral heads. He had metal tags on both his front flippers, but they didn’t slow him down! I’ve uploaded a movie of him that Pam took. It’s a bit jerky, but it’s well worth watching. Note the amazing coral he’s swimming through. It’s a terrific thrill to paddle along beside him as he cruised about the reef.

StingrayThere was a big stingray, nestled snugly in the sand. I dove down trying to get him up and swimming, but he just watched me. His big eyes followed me around, but wasn’t too worried about me! I dove down a couple times, but I wasn’t a threat, or else he thought he was too well hidden! You be the judge!

FilefishWe saw this cool sand tilefish. He was a longish, thinnish fish, that moved really elegantly. His dorsal fins rippled in the current, and his bright white body bend and twisted around. Apparently they are a shy fish, but he didn’t seem to be too concerned, when suddenly he bolted down the rabbit hole! Check out the little movie Pam took of him taking a powder.

Juvenile Queen AngelfishThere were lots of Queen Angels, some very big. There were times three were within a foot of each other! Pam even caught a little juvenile with one shot. Not sure we’ve seen this many queens all in one spot. It’s been amazing to see so many of them… they are so colorful with their bright blue and yellow bands, your eye is just drawn to them.

GraysbyWe saw blue chromis, a beautiful bright blue and black fish, about four to six inches long, there was a big scrawled filefish, lots of coneys, and on and on. We saw a fish called a graysby, which looks very much like a coney, but is distinguishable by his distinctive black dots along his dorsal fin.

CoralIt was tough to get out of the water. An amazing amazing day of snorkeling.

For dinner we were going to go to a place called the Tiki Hut, where Wednesday is “cheap night” for bbq ribs and chicken, but the place was packed. So, we decided to give Baci’s another try. And we were glad we did! What a nice restaurant. Sunset Everything spot on, and enjoyable. From the maitre d who seated us, and told us of the specials, to the many waitresses, to the view… Usually when you are served by so many waitresses, it can be a disaster, but they were fantastic. They quickly brought us a basket of hot garlic bread, and took our drink order. We started with the antipasta mista, a selection of meats, cheeses and greens with a balsamic dressing, and a very nice caprese salad, served on a big beautiful platter for two ($16.95). For dinner, we made a mistake and ordered a pizza. Not that the pizza was a mistake, we ordered the large! And it was HUGE! We only managed to eat half of it. A small would have been more than enough. Total bill was $59 – and VERY well worth every penny!

Smith's Reef, Redux

CoralOn Wednesday we headed back to Smith’s Reef. Why? Because it’s there! No seriously, there are five or six pieces to the reef, separated by seagrass, and we’d only explored two of the smaller pieces on Tuesday. We headed to the further point, and while it was slightly more difficult to enter, only a little rockier, it was certainly worth it!

Blue chromisThis is really an amazing reef. It’s so alive and gorgeous. The many types of coral give an amazing panorama, any which way you look. In fact, it might be its biggest problem! You can’t just focus on one thing, because you’re worried you’ll miss something fantastic, just to your right, or just to your left, or straight ahead! It’s so amazing. Pam calls it eye candy, but it’s way sweeter than that!

TurtleWe had been in the water about two minutes when we saw our first turtle, cruising over the seagrass. He was a good size, and it sure made us think that today was going to be a good swim. And it was…

We saw so many things, it’s hard to even put them down on paper. There was an amazing school of horse-eye jacks, Horse-eye Jacksranging in size from eighteen inches up to about three feet, just cruising over the sea grass. The huge leader of the pack just casually kept them on the move. Pam has a nice movie of them, and I’ll get it uploaded over the next while.

TurtleWe saw a second turtle out over the reef, just nonchalantly weaving in and out of the big coral heads. He had metal tags on both his front flippers, but they didn’t slow him down! I’ve uploaded a movie of him that Pam took. It’s a bit jerky, but it’s well worth watching. Note the amazing coral he’s swimming through. It’s a terrific thrill to paddle along beside him as he cruised about the reef.

StingrayThere was a big stingray, nestled snugly in the sand. I dove down trying to get him up and swimming, but he just watched me. His big eyes followed me around, but wasn’t too worried about me! I dove down a couple times, but I wasn’t a threat, or else he thought he was too well hidden! You be the judge!

FilefishWe saw this cool sand tilefish. He was a longish, thinnish fish, that moved really elegantly. His dorsal fins rippled in the current, and his bright white body bend and twisted around. Apparently they are a shy fish, but he didn’t seem to be too concerned, when suddenly he bolted down the rabbit hole! Check out the little movie Pam took of him taking a powder.

Juvenile Queen AngelfishThere were lots of Queen Angels, some very big. There were times three were within a foot of each other! Pam even caught a little juvenile with one shot. Not sure we’ve seen this many queens all in one spot. It’s been amazing to see so many of them… they are so colorful with their bright blue and yellow bands, your eye is just drawn to them.

GraysbyWe saw blue chromis, a beautiful bright blue and black fish, about four to six inches long, there was a big scrawled filefish, lots of coneys, and on and on. We saw a fish called a graysby, which looks very much like a coney, but is distinguishable by his distinctive black dots along his dorsal fin.

CoralIt was tough to get out of the water. An amazing amazing day of snorkeling.

For dinner we were going to go to a place called the Tiki Hut, where Wednesday is “cheap night” for bbq ribs and chicken, but the place was packed. So, we decided to give Baci’s another try. And we were glad we did! What a nice restaurant. Everything spot on, and enjoyable. From the maitre d who seated us, and told us of the specials, to the many waitresses, to the view…

Usually when you are served by so many waitresses, it can be a disaster, but they were fantastic. They quickly brought us a basket of hot garlic bread, and took our drink order. SunsetWe started with the antipasta mista, a selection of meats, cheeses and greens with a balsamic dressing, and a very nice caprese salad, served on a big beautiful platter for two ($16.95). For dinner, we made a mistake and ordered a pizza. Not that the pizza was a mistake, we ordered the large! And it was HUGE! We only managed to eat half of it. A small would have been more than enough. Total bill was $59 – and VERY well worth every penny!

Smith’s Reef, Providenciales

Coral, Smith's ReefWow! WOW! WOW!! In case you didn’t get it, I’m impressed! Tuesday we headed to Smith’s Reef, a little up the bay from the Coral Gardens. It’s a much larger area, with several reefs, separated by sea grass. Smith’s Reef has to be one of the best places we have ever snorkeled, with more large fish here, than we’ve seen anywhere. The abundance of coral, healthy, thriving, and colorful is amazing for a shore dive. Sure, you can pay to get on a boat and head out to the ocean, and you’ll get impressive stuff, but there are very few places where you can just walk in fifteen feet off shore and see this!

Dog snapper We saw enormous grouper, porgys, huge dog snappers, margates, and the biggest schoolmasters we’ve ever seen. Even the wrasses were big, much bigger than we typically see. There were porcupine fish, lionfish, huge schools of barjacks, just tons of coneys in lots of colors. And coral – just vibrant and gorgeous, and so alive.

PorgysOver the seagrass we saw schools of yellowtail snapper, being escorted by dark black barjacks. There were lots of goatfish always with several kinds of dicks escorting them to scoop up anything the goatfish dug up. There were ceros scooting over the seagrass as we approached, one of the few nervous fish here. It’s been a strange thing seeing some fish just not care as we approached – when we’ve snorkeled in Aruba, we’re so used to them scooting off when we come around!

HogfishI’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it already, but it’s worth repeating – it’s cold getting into the water! Not used to the water being this cool. Once you are in, it’s fine, but wow – that initial shock is something! Still, it’s worth it because this is really some of the most remarkable underwater scenery we’ve ever seen.

Swimming buddyThere was a little fish, and I mean tiny, that hung around our face. Just one, one for Pam and one for me, and they swam with us the whole afternoon! Pretty funny. I’ve taken a picture of Pam with her little buddy, and I’ve added a big black arrow, because he’s so small, you might miss him!

ConeyYou might want to check out the gallery for Providenciales. I’ve uploaded fourteen pictures for today, but have only referenced about half that many in the post here. There was just so much to see on Tuesday. A most remarkable day. It will deserve another look, and we’ll probably be heading there on Wednesday. Apparently, we didn’t even get to the main reef, just two of the minor reefs. We’re hoping to see some eagle rays.

Somerset In the early evening, we took a drive around and saw some of the other hotels. One of them, called the Somerset had the most amazing display of bougainvillea! Just went on and on, all around the hotel, up the driveway, around the back, around the pool – just awesome. We found a little “cultural center” where we picked up a couple of souvenirs, and a nice shirt.

Sunset, April 17th 2012We came back to our resort, had a nice dinner on the balcony while the sun came down. The resort’s restaurant, the Mango Reef, had some live music. It was a duo, with a guitar and a lovely songstress. So we ate our dinner, being serenaded, while the sun slowly set in another spectacular display of color!

We went to the Casablanca Casino, a small intimate place. About eighty slot machines, a couple of roulette wheels and four tables of blackjack, and a craps pit. It was nice, got lots of play for our money. Ended the night down about seventeen bucks, so can’t beat that since we got free drinks all night!

Smith's Reef, Providenciales

Coral, Smith's ReefWow! WOW! WOW!! In case you didn’t get it, I’m impressed! Tuesday we headed to Smith’s Reef, a little up the bay from the Coral Gardens. It’s a much larger area, with several reefs, separated by sea grass. Smith’s Reef has to be one of the best places we have ever snorkeled, with more large fish here, than we’ve seen anywhere. The abundance of coral, healthy, thriving, and colorful is amazing for a shore dive. Sure, you can pay to get on a boat and head out to the ocean, and you’ll get impressive stuff, but there are very few places where you can just walk in fifteen feet off shore and see this!

Dog snapperWe saw enormous grouper, porgys, huge dog snappers, margates, and the biggest schoolmasters we’ve ever seen. Even the wrasses were big, much bigger than we typically see. There were porcupine fish, lionfish, huge schools of barjacks, just tons of coneys in lots of colors. And coral – just vibrant and gorgeous, and so alive.

PorgysOver the seagrass we saw schools of yellowtail snapper, being escorted by dark black barjacks. There were lots of goatfish always with several kinds of dicks escorting them to scoop up anything the goatfish dug up. There were ceros scooting over the seagrass as we approached, one of the few nervous fish here. It’s been a strange thing seeing some fish just not care as we approached – when we’ve snorkeled in Aruba, we’re so used to them scooting off when we come around!

HogfishI’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it already, but it’s worth repeating – it’s cold getting into the water! Not used to the water being this cool. Once you are in, it’s fine, but wow – that initial shock is something! Still, it’s worth it because this is really some of the most remarkable underwater scenery we’ve ever seen.

Swimming buddyThere was a little fish, and I mean tiny, that hung around our face. Just one, one for Pam and one for me, and they swam with us the whole afternoon! Pretty funny. I’ve taken a picture of Pam with her little buddy, and I’ve added a big black arrow, because he’s so small, you might miss him!

ConeyYou might want to check out the gallery for Providenciales. I’ve uploaded fourteen pictures for today, but have only referenced about half that many in the post here. There was just so much to see on Tuesday. A most remarkable day. It will deserve another look, and we’ll probably be heading there on Wednesday. Apparently, we didn’t even get to the main reef, just two of the minor reefs. We’re hoping to see some eagle rays.

SomersetIn the early evening, we took a drive around and saw some of the other hotels. One of them, called the Somerset had the most amazing display of bougainvillea! Just went on and on, all around the hotel, up the driveway, around the back, around the pool – just awesome. We found a little “cultural center” where we picked up a couple of souvenirs, and a nice shirt.

Sunset, April 17th 2012We came back to our resort, had a nice dinner on the balcony while the sun came down. The resort’s restaurant, the Mango Reef, had some live music. It was a duo, with a guitar and a lovely songstress. So we ate our dinner, being serenaded, while the sun slowly set in another spectacular display of color!

We went to the Casablanca Casino, a small intimate place. About eighty slot machines, a couple of roulette wheels and four tables of blackjack, and a craps pit. It was nice, got lots of play for our money. Ended the night down about seventeen bucks, so can’t beat that since we got free drinks all night!

More at the Coral Gardens

ReefWhen we woke up this morning, the ocean was very calm, so we thought we should head back the Coral Gardens. We’d talked about how we wanted to see this place with calm waters, so off we went. It’s just a short drive to the Coral Gardens from our resort. The roads are really very good compared to most other Caribbean islands we’ve been on. It’s getting to be fun driving on the left side, although Pam keeps thinking we’re going to go in the ditch!

Unicorn Filefish The Gardens certainly didn’t disappoint. We saw a bunch of fish we’ve never seen before. Starting with one that Pam has wanted to see called the unicorn fish. They are a fair sized fish, and sort of look like small whales. They have a long “thing” that protrudes from their head, but can be laid down their spine. There was a little group of four that never really moved no matter how close we dove to them.

Grey angelfishAnother first was a grey angelfish. We’ve seen tons of angelfish on Aruba, but they are usually the French angel. This is the first grey we’ve seen and they act pretty much like a French Angel, just a slightly different color. They have bright yellow fins too.

LionfishWe saw three or four lionfish. Not that we want to! They are voracious predators and not native to the Caribbean. It’s speculated that they originated from Florida private aquariums, and they are classified as a disaster to the Caribbean reef system. They look terrific, but they devour the smaller reef fish.

Queen triggerfish We saw a gorgeous Queen Triggerfish, my personal fave fish. She was a beauty, hanging around and not taking off like they usually do. That’s one thing we’ve really noticed here – the fish seem to just not give a hoot that people are around. They just go about their fishly business and ignore us.

Sapodila bay beachWe took a drive down south to Sapodila Bay. It’s a lovely beach, virtually deserted. It’s extremely calm, and has a beautiful sandy bottom. It’s perfect for swimming. It’s very shallow and you have to walk out a long way before it even gets over your waist. One thing about the water here, is that it is much colder than other places we’ve been. It’s been a bit of a challenge getting in, but once you’re in, it’s nice. Sapodila Bay wasn’t much for snorkeling but a guy told us that over on the far point, there was a wreck, with lots of fish. Pam wasn’t up for the swim so I decided I’d go take a quick look. Well…. if you’ve ever had the hankering to swim with lots and lots of barracuda, do I have a place for you! There were so many there, dozens and dozens of them (and I’m not kidding – there were probably 40 or 50), ranging in size from two feet up to six feet, that I figured I’d just get out!

SunsetHere’s a sunset picture, taken off of our balcony. It’s been a great way to spend the end of a day… sitting on the deck and watching the sun go down. There are virtually no bugs, so no need for mosquito spray. Just sit back with a nice drink and watch the show! Hope you enjoy Joy!

I’m adding a movie to this post – it shows all the highlighted fish. The Queen triggerfish, the grey Angelfish, the unicorn filefish, and the yellowtail snapper. The yellowtail is kind of like the Sgt Major in Aruba – every time you turn around, there are a bunch of yellowtails trailing you around! They’re your posse!