|Type||Tropical Reef /w One Wreck|
|Location||Turks and Caicos|
|Depth||20 to 100 feet|
|Access||Shore and Boat|
|Experience Level||Beginner to Advanced|
Ever look back at old family albums and laugh your posterior off at how bad the shots were, how old the hairstyles look, and utter repeatedly “What the hell was I thinkin?” Welcome to mine. These shots date back to 1998; my first underwater camera, my first trip to “the tropics”, and my first escape from a rather brutal Canadian winter.
The resort was called South Caicos Ocean Haven, a decidedly small resort that likely wasn’t any bigger when it went by the name Club Caribe: 22 rooms, nearly as many air conditioners, no TV’s and no phones. Favourable adjectives that come to mind are: basic, rustic, simple, tasteful, off-the-beaten-path, diver-centric, unencumbered, comfortable, clean, and… did I mention basic? The less flattering ones would be: spartan, lacking, undeveloped, and provisionless (if that’s a word). When I was there the new owner had taken over the place less than a year before and was still in the rebuilding phase – I’m sure it’s better now, if it’s still in business (it appears their website is no longer functioning).
The selection of dive sites available at the time was somewhat limited since they had not yet fully explored the area’s potential, but the sites we visited were excellent. Fish are plentiful since it is in a national park area which prohibits commercial fishing. Sharks, eagle rays, stingrays, crabs, trumpet fish, barracuda and eels were common sightings at each of the sites which were a maximum of 15 minutes from the resort.
As a wreck aficionado the highlight was likely the plane, reportedly a DC-10 but seeming much smaller than that, complete with requisite swash buckling tale of it being a drug runner. The Arches was another favourite – a small coral arch that seemed to attract a rather abundant amount of marine life. Due to the out-of-the-way nature of the locale, it being the only resort on the island, and diving being just about the only thing to do on South Caicos, this is a destination clearly intended for divers only. The island is small, the population is small, the number of divers it sees is small, and the number of activities is small, but that all adds up to one valuable asset: the place has not been “dived out”. The diver impact I could see was nil, the fish weren’t harassed regularly so weren’t as afraid of you as is common at more frequented destination, and having such short boat rides (particularly given the way flat hulled little Carolina skiffs like these abhor waves of ANY size) is a true blessing.