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“A whale of a dive experience!!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Salt Cay Divers

Salt Cay Divers
Ranked #1 of 5 things to do in Salt Cay
Certificate of Excellence
Saint Louis, Missouri
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“A whale of a dive experience!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 March 2014

I see there have been many positive reviews on Salt Cay Divers and I can only second their reports. As already mentioned, this is an out of the way place for relaxation, peace and quiet and connecting with nature. The latter includes SCUBA diving and whale watching. Internet is available, but on the slow side. In other words, the connection may be intermittent. My son had to do his AP English project over several days. We found the best internet connection at Porter's Thyme Out restaurant. No AC on the island but the trade winds were adequate for sleeping. Bring your own soap and shampoo/conditioner and whatever else you might need (hair dryer, etc.). Plan on walking around town if you didn't reserve bikes or golf carts far in advance. The bikes were $20 each per day and they really help you get around. We even rode it to the base of Taylor's Hill and around the salinas over the dirt/gravel roads. Watch out for roaming donkeys, cows and chickens. And yes, you will get a 4 AM rooster wake up call or the occasional very loud donkey brays. I even heard some of the other guests saying the donkeys butted their front doors.
OK, first the diving. I am a PADI Master SCUBA diver and I have dived all over the world. I wanted to come here so my 17 year old son could get certified in Basic Open Water diving. Originally Debbie told us to try to get the e-learning and the confined water training in the States. Well, it didn't work out that way. So we came hoping for the best. We met Richard who is one of the instructors and one of the dive masters. He is from the Philippines and is usually their custom, a very nice and can do it all person. After talking to Debbie, we decided to give it a try even though he already had another student signed up. Fortunately my son was a very quick learner and we got all 4 required dives and the in water training/e-learning done in just 3 days. A big kudos to Salt Cay divers!! I got a total of 7 dives in 3 days including one night dive. You could do one or two more night dives depending on number of divers going and your mood. All dives are done from a moored boat. Basically go down the anchor line and then head as a group to the wall. You will either go north or south depending on the very light current. Go back at 1,500 psi and spend a little bit extra time under the boat. Don't miss the large, black seahorse at Kelly's Annex very near where the buoy is attached to the bottom substrate. The wall is impressive as you approach it and you cannot see how deep it goes. Lots of very nice soft and hard coral all over the wall and on the shallows around 30 to 40 feet. Yes, there are some dead corals from the last hurricane, but overall the reef is in good condition. Yes, there were some lion fish-- most were hiding out in small caves and under ledges but we saw a few out on the open. No, there are no more large groupers but we saw plenty of small to medium sized reef fish, several barracudas, several eels, a few small nurse sharks, etc. Tanks were filled to at least 3,000 psi. Typically you go back to the dive shop after your 1st dive as all dive sites are within 10 to 15 minutes away. You can order lunch while doing your surface interval. The board gets filled out quickly so it is best to put your name early for diving or whale watching.
Secondly, about the whale watching. I only went on one afternoon trip that ended up way south around Big Sand Cay. We saw 8 spouts and several whales fluking and 2 whales simultaneously doing a spinning head breach. THE MOMENT came late in the day when we were able to have a soft in-water encounter with a humpback calve, its mother and a male. They were not the biggest specimens, but we were as close as 10 feet away in the water. Those magnificent, white pectoral fins just jump out at you. Other lucky guests were able to spend up to 30 minutes swimming with similar groups on other days. Come in January to March for the encounter of a lifetime!!
Thirdly, about the food. We ate most of the time at Debbie's Coral Reef Bar as she has a reasonable meal plan and the view of the sunset unmatched. You might even see breaching whales from the restaurant. The food is overall better and they have the early breakfast start (07:00) needed for divers. The meals are generally ordered several hours ahead of time and will be ready a few minutes after you show up on deck. I highly recommend the fish fingers for lunch and the chicken curry for dinner. The only other place we visited was Porter's Thyme Out. It has a little faster and more reliable internet connection, a more modern decor and some interesting activities-- Mafia nights, lobster mania, pizza night, etc. It also gets loud at times and Porter is quite a comedian. If you ask for a coke, he will counter with "powder or liquid form"? If you ask for water, he will ask "with or without fish" and a few other cute remarks. Oh, and you better keep a tab of what you consume as they will rely on your honesty on tallying the total. Personal check is preferable to credit card at both places.
What else? Please make your reservations far in advance. We were lucky get some diving in Salt Cay as it was completely booked up in Providenciales. Same goes for housing as mid March is the high season-- exactly the time we chose to come. If you fly by Caicos Express, you must pay immediately when booking the seats. Our reservation was cancelled after 24 hours even though the receptionist told us we could pay when we get there. Electricity is similar to US.
US Dollars is the currency even though this is a British Overseas Territory. People are generally very nice and helpful, but help sometimes comes with a price. They will offer to take you anywhere for a $5 or $10 charge.
To summarize-- a place to go to be 'far from the madding crowd' and to be with nature.
You will love it and Debbie will see to it that your needs are met.

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
Thank cowrielover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
splash004, Owner at Salt Cay Divers, responded to this review, 26 March 2014
Thanks so very much for coming to Salt Cay. I am so happy Provo was booked up so you had the opportunity to experience the Caribbean the way it was 25 years ago, but still is on Salt Cay.
You both were delightful and so happy we could accommodate your diving. Hope to see you in the near future. Debbie
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116 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Jefferson, South Dakota
Level Contributor
29 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“VERY RUSTIC, WITH A HINT OF WHALES!!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 March 2014

Short story is if you come here to be pampered, don't come. But if you come here with the right mind set that I am here to see whales, it will happen.

From the start of landing on a small runway in a small shack of an airport to the beat up cars and golf carts that they transport you around in, I seriously questioned what I was doing here and what kind of an operation is this. But let me tell you, Debbies passion is not to pamper you. Her passion is for the whales. don't go here if your expecting to be picked up in a shiny black SUV and then rushed to "SeaWorld". But if you want to have the experience of a lifetime of seeing a majestic animal in the wild in its purest form, don't wait, GO NOW! The whales were very active.

The morning started very slow. We definitely hit the next level of "island time" the minute we hit salt key. Things move slow here, but relax and enjoy what non commercialized island life is. Debbie took her time getting around and giving us the low down on what we could expect. And then we waited some more. and some more....finally we were on the boat headed out. We all were on the look out for whales, and not knowing what to look for, Karin(sp?) said he spotted something about 15 min into the trip. I didn't see anything. I truly at this point was thinking that I was part of some hoax and that there are no whales here. Then about 5 min later, I saw what looked like a plume of smoke come out of the water. Then I saw it again!!! so we followed slowly and approached the pod. Next thing I knew my wife hollers "BREACH, 2 oclock!!!!) the look on her face said it all. This is not a hoaxs. we were on the whales. my heart was pounding, but at that moment, I let all my prejudgments go. I embraced nature in its purest form. not some TV show that someone filmed for me to watch in bed.

We saw a total of 10 whales that day(4 hour trip) and we saw breach after breach after breach. The baby whales were very playful and showed off constantly. At this point, my trip felt complete. I had no other expectations. We did try and get in the water 2 times, but the whales were moving pretty good that day and didn't stop to rest long enough for us to get close to them underwater. The other thing I want to mention is that Francois and Karin and the captain of the boat never gave up. They tried the entire trip to get us on "resting wales" so we could swim with them. They are seasoned veterans at this and were very patient with our group even though our adrenaline was surging.

after we came in from our trip for lunch, we walked up to debbies little beach bar and had a very nice fish sandwhich and rum punch. There were about 7 island residents all sitting around and talking like family at the dinner table. They instantly embraced our group and we were part of the family within 10 minutes. We shared stories of where we came from and what we do and told fish stories. It was just awesome. I could go on and on about how fun this trip was, but you will never understand until you get there and do it yourself. So if you go, remember its like going fishing. There are days that you catch and days you don't. and remember this aint some fancy pamper the customer resort. You will definitely feel like you roughing it. But chances are you will see whales in the wild and make a memory you will never ever forget. Also, please tell the gray donkey in the airport and Gary the local welcoming department hello from the guys from south Dakota. And tell Porter, next time I will get my name on the wall after 4 howlers!! Thanks to all of you from me and my wife for a life long memory! We will never forget the day you gave us.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
Thank SDMEATGUY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
splash004, Owner at Salt Cay Divers, responded to this review, 26 March 2014
Thanks so very much for your kind review. I am so happy that you had such incredible adventure. The whales were putting on a show that day for sure.
Please come back when you are ready for another adventure.
I can assure you people will remember your name as they love to have people visit their island. Thanks again. Debbie
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Sycamore, Illinois
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Humpback and calf encounter”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 February 2014

AMAZING experience! We went on a whale watching trip on 2/17 with 3 other couples and three crew. Made it out to Big Sand Cay and started spotting breaching humpbacks. The sea was a bit rough so we went around to the calmer side of the Cay. Within minutes we were watching a very calm adult humpback breaching periodically .... WITH HER DAYS-OLD CALF! I wasn't prepared with a underwater camera because I never dreamed I'd be IN THE WATER WITH A WHALE! But I was, along with one other person and two crew. We quietly swam up to within about 15' of her and at first I thought it was just a cloud shadow on the floor of the ocean. But it was the mom whale and bumping up alongside her face and pectorals was her calf, only days old. You could feel the water move when she'd move her fins. Pretty awesome and a day I'll never forget. Thanks to Francois and Michelle and Debbie.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank OakenAcresKathy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
splash004, Owner at Salt Cay Divers, responded to this review, 26 March 2014
Thanks so very much for spending such a special time with us in Salt Cay. Please come back and join us for your anniversary. Stay warm and thanks again for sharing such a spcial week with us. Debbie
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
91 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 88 helpful votes
“Good, Nothing Bad, Nothing Outstanding”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 February 2014

The diving in Salt Cay is average at best for me. I've been to Tahiti and I guess I should have known that this wouldn't stack up. However, this review isn't on the quality of diving, but the dive operation. It's a tiny little island, so I gave that some consideration. Our first dive, it was us and two other people. The dive master was too enthusiastic about anything and the dive was poor. The second day, we dove twice and the new dive master was awesome. Dives were much better. You dive once, come back, then go out again half an hour later because almost all of the sites are 5 minutes from the dock. Would definitely recommend but don't expect some luxurious dive operation. Also, go when the whales are there and you may get a treat while out on the boat! We found two and got to whale watch a bit and try to get in the water with snorkels with them!

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
Thank librahi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
splash004, Owner at Salt Cay Divers, responded to this review, 25 March 2014
Thanks so much for taking the time to write a review. next time you will have to spend a few more days on Salt Cay and we will do everything possible to improve our services so they give you something you consider outstanding! Thanks for coming and hope to see you in Salt Cay real soon.
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Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“must see in Salt Cay!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 February 2014

loved loved loved our experience with Debbie and everyone at her restaurant! I came here for a very quick visit with a good travel buddy with the sole purpose of getting a glimpse at the beautiful humpbacks that swim through the gorgeous waters here. Debbie was kind enough to let us go out on her boat with some other whale watchers for an afternoon. While we didn't see any whales, we were able to hear them - thanks to some researchers who are on the island who brought an underwater mic and a speaker. It was amazing to hear the whales communicate with each other! Big thanks to Kieran, Michelle, and Francois who made this a very memorable afternoon amidst the choppy waters... so fun!!

Even if you're not a diver (we are raging snorkelers), please pay a visit to Debbie and her great outdoor restaurant and bar. Going to try and make it back next year for whale season :)

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Tara H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
splash004, Manager at Salt Cay Divers, responded to this review, 12 February 2014
Thanks so very much for your kind words. The whales are here evrday and put on the most amazing show today right in front of Coral Reef. You do need to come back a little later in the season as you were a bit early for whale season. Love you have you back, you are delightful. Debbie
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