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My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

Port Orchard...
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My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

Hello all, sorry my trip report is so late, but here it goes:)

I arrived in Turks and Caicos on my birthday(Nov 6), I'm a solo traveler and every year I reward myself by seeing another part of our planet. I'm a scuba diver/snorkeler and because I'm law enforcement and money IS an issue, all my vacations will only be to tropical destinations.

I arrived on a hot Tuesday afternoon around 2pm. The airport is small and I think my plane was the only one unloading passengers, so while there was only maybe 100 people, I was still in line for about an hour. I think there was a new customs officer in training, as one line was moving a lot quicker than mine line.

One thing to note: when you land, keep your cell phone/camera put away. While the signs are small and may go unnoticed, they are everywhere, cameras/cell phones are a big no no at the airport(I saw one guy get yelled at pretty hard for taking a picture of his family at the airport.)

Anyway, I hired my car through Avis and after passing customs, I quickly grabbed my car and off I went.

On the islands you do drive on the left. While I did see some cars who had right side steering wheels(completely opposite of us here in the states) the car I hired was a "normal" left-sided steering wheel.

I didn't have a GPS unit with me, so I used a map that I had printed out(I got the map from here, just do a search for maps on the forum section, and the link I went to was from an on-island magazine, I've forgotten the name but you will easily find it when you do the search), anyway, I got lost just one time on my way to my resort from the airport.

It was a simple mistake, but I traveled about 6 miles in the opposite direction, as I was driving down a road a fellow motorist saw that I looked lost and actually followed me for a mile or two until I slowed down to turn around and then she flagged me down, she told me where to go(she had actually went a couple miles in the opposite direction she was headed just to help me out).

Arriving at the resort(Coral Gardens) was quick quick and easy(after I was helped), and because I paid for my room long before I arrived, check in was quick and easy too(for a more detailed review of Coral Garden please do a separate forum search for that resort, I just posted a detailed evaluation)...

My room was a basic garden view studio. It had a mini fridge, a television and cable(including hbo), a coffee maker. I checked my room thoroughly for any bed bugs and never found any.... My room was very basic but it was clean.

After I checked in to my room it was about 4pm and it starts to get dark around 6 so I only had about two hours of daylight left so I quickly through my bags on the bed and grabbed my go pro camera and fins and mask and off I went.

The resort is on the best reef in the island.

The swimming area is marked by a very large square shapped set of bouys... You must stay inside this square as many boats pull up to the beach on the otherside of the bouys and with the rough water they may not see you...

So while you must stay within the square shapped large white bouys, you will also see a circular set of red bouys that you must stay on the outside of.... So just stay inside the white square but outside the red circle....

Once you step on the beach(you will pass Somewhere Cafe, the on site tex mex style restaurant, you must try the black bean burrito), you will see a huge sign with all the rules.

Anyway, I entered the water and immediately saw a school of barracuda, they just hang out near one of the buoy ropes, they are pretty timid and swam away as I approached. After the cudas I saw my first Lion Fish, it was huge and while I know how destructive they are, it was still a beautiful fish. I also saw a couple puffer fish, striped spade fish and lots of yellow fin snapper(nicknamed the Provo Piranha, completely harmless fish but the are very curious, some got so close they actually kissed my mask).

After about an hour in the water, I ate diner at the somewhere cafe(great food, I don't eat meat so it was nice having Mexican food at my resort).., the price is kinda high, but that's common on the island, so if visiting the island just be prepared for higher prices and you'll be fine)....

At diner I met an awesome couple from Arizona, they were staying the wind song resort but eating at Somewhere...

The next day I awoke and went to the reef.

And I immediately saw two huge spotted eagle rays "flying" in circles right below me. As a huge water person I was in awe. The water was that typical blue hazy color that doesn't do well for long out visibility, so they just kinda appeared out of no where, I swam with them until the "flew" away, and as I turned back toward the reef I was maybe 10 feet away from the biggest barracuda I ever saw... We were really close to each other so I could see how big he was, I'm guessing about 5.5 to maybe 6 feet. He was on the inside of the red buoys and seemed content to stay in the inside, as I continued swimming parallel to the buoys so did he, we were swimming out to shore and he was paralleling me the whole time. After a while he swam away and as I looked down I saw a juvenile Nurse shark feeding on the coral. I dove down and caught it all on video. As I dove down the nurse shark was doing a roll and I got to see his underbelly. He was maybe 3 feet long. It was awesome. After the shark I saw a green sea turtle too.... I saw all that in like two hours... I was so hyped....

Later that day I was snorkeling again and saw the eagle rays again(in fact I would see turtles and eagle rays every time I snorkeled, which was twice a day, everyday)

On day three I again went down to the reef and saw the Rays and turtles.

I also took the Caicos Dream tours "all day snorkeling/conch hunting" tour.

They picked me up at my resort on the beach in their big cattermaran boat. There were two boats in our party, each boat had maybe 30 people so it was a fairly large party.

The crew was very nice and easy going. Lot and lots of rum punch(something I've come to love) and beer and soda was provided.

Our first stop was about an hour away. So we got to enjoy a couple Turks head beers(great beer btw) and rum punch.

We stopped at a reef a couple miles off shore. The snorkeling was nice, the wind picked up so the waves did as well. We were only allowed in the water for about 40 minutes, but it wasn't so bad cause the waves were really high plus all the fish that were at this reef, I was able too see back at my resort.

So by the time that 40 minutes end and were all back on board, it's almost 11am so we head over and do some Conch hunting.

I quickly found a pretty good size conch.

I wanted the shell really bad, but because I don't eat meat and therefore didnt want the conch to die for nothing, I made sure another guest would eat the conch, and once I knew the conch would get eaten, I had threw the conch in the boat.

Once we all had a Conch, we went to what the boat captain called "dead mans land", he said the beach we went to was a newer beach that was created by Mother Nature back when hurricane Donna blew threw the island.

The boat crews provided lots of rum punch, Turks head beer and chips, lobster, chicken, corn on the cob, baked potato, and garlic bread, and if course our very own fried up conch...

The boat captain showed us how to remove the conch from the shell and how to eat the thing:)

After lunch, we went to Shell Island where I found lots of sun bleached conch shells and sun rise tellen shells, and dead coral.....

After Shell Island it was time to head on back. It was about a two hour trip back but it was nice. We saw a large Southern Sting ray.

I would Def rebook with Caicos dream tours.

I arrived back at my resort around 4pm, and went up to take a nap.

I had dinner around 8pm, and met that same couple again but also met a local guy. He was British but had been on the island for 7 years and also an American private pilot who had flown his boss in that night.

We stayed at the Somewhere Cafe drinking til around 2am and then we all went out to some local bars. November is the down time and it really showed. Most places were very dead or completely closed.

I made it home around 4am and slept till around noon the next day.

U awoke and went right to the reef where I again saw the rays and all the other beautiful fish. At around 3 I headed into town for some souvenir shopping. I got a huge beach towel, a mini Turks and Caicos flag, and a bracelet and necklace, and a stuffed animal(a stuffed spotted eagle ray) for my son....and I had lunch at a place called tommy boys(I think that was the name), I had a good piece of pizza and a cold soda)....

The next day I went out and found a place called "Da Conch Shack"..... It's in all the guide books so it really was a must-do... I don't eat meat so while I didn't have any conch, I did have a couple of the world famous rum punch..

I also talked with the staff there, everyone was really friendly and outgoing.

It was a warm day so I took a swim in the water, the water was great and I saw lots if old conch shells....

After the conch shake I drove out to Chalk Sound...

Again, its in all the guide books.

Just like the guide books state, it really does have the most intense blue I have ever seen.

I didn't swim in the sound, but I did take lots of pictures and drove all the way around it....

I think I finished that day by going back to the resort and catching dinner at the cafe and just watching tv all night.

The next few days I just stayed around the resort, snorkeling and diving and taking it easy....

I met a lot of great fellow travelers, so so many awesome fish and took lots of pictures and videos....

I will always remember my trip to these islands.

Some side notes: Potcakes, I saw lot and lots of those stray dogs but I never saw any "packs", just one or two at a time.

Driving: once I got my bearings, I did lots of driving around and sight seeing. If I could do it, anyone can. Plus it was a great way of seeing parts of the island that I wouldn't have.

One thing I saw a lot of was people just waiting on the side of the road. I never saw any public transportation, so I don't think they were waiting for the bus.

money: while the currency is the US dollar, I was able to go to the bank and get a couple Turks dollar coins and Turks quarters(for my scrapbook)....

Safety: I'm a solo traveler and I never once felt scared. Sure I was never by myself out in the middle of no where at night(I don't put myself in potentially dangerous situations), so as long as your cautious, I doubt you would have any problems on the islands...

I found all the staff to be very friendly at the somewhere cafe, I forget his name, but the black guy who is there most nights(bald, and about 5'8 or so), was very nice and helpful...

Anyway, again I would recommend the islands to any water loving traveler and also the Coral Gardens resort as well....

Sorry for all the spelling mistakes, I'm at work and in my iPhone...

Canandaigua, New...
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1. Re: My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

Great details from so long ago.

Mike

Milford...
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2. Re: My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

Appreciate all the details of report!!! Thanks for sharing!

Washington DC...
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3. Re: My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

Nice report!

The magazine with the maps is Where When How, and you can download and print it at

Www.wherewhenhow.com

I too travel solo a lot, and had to see the world! I must say though, I take my family back to the "best places" (of course everyone has an opinion) and my daughter loves Provo! Such a family destination, you should consider retiring and taking your son!

Halifax, Canada
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4. Re: My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

Great trip report!

Sounds like you had some amazing snorkeling experiences and met some great people!

Thanks for sharing!

Vidor, Texas
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5. Re: My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

Sounds like you had a great time. Lucky you seeing the shark, turtle and rays.

Detroit, Michigan
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6. Re: My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

Because you stayed @ Coral Gardens we will forgive your delay and focus on what you experienced while there.Super trip reports like your's makes for a great read. I highly approve without any reservations. YES, I do get excited about my turtle friends. You did this trip right. DR. JIM

Atlanta, Georgia
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7. Re: My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

I enjoyed your trip report! I dive most days during my visits and admit I have never snorkeled at Bight Reef - I've only done a few night dives on that reef but I've never seen a Eagle Ray there. I honestly didn't know that was common. I might have to venture over there during the day on my next trip....

I also enjoy Somewhere! Fun, low key place!

Thanks for taking the time to write a trip report! and would love to hear about your diving experiences!

Edited: 18 March 2013, 17:46
massachusett
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8. Re: My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

Do you have pictures from your Go Pro camera you can post? Would love to see how they came out.

Thanks for posting

9. Re: My trip report(Nov 6 to Nov 13 2012)

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