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.
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