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Monday, January 5, 2015

Off the Coast of Providenciales

I have a love hate relationship with the ocean. I love to look at it and be near it, but I hate to be in it (without a boat in between us) unless it only comes up to my knees. I faced my fear when we traveled to Hawaii where the first snorkeling excursion was a total disaster. I ended up hyperventilating and thinking I was going to die because I couldn’t see the bottom and Eric had to swim me back to the boat as I clung to his life vest. The second excursion went much better and I didn’t freak out once. The water was super clear and I even came face-to-face with a sea turtle, though I mostly had to hurry to get out of his way so he didn’t surface right underneath me.

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So, I’ve learned that pool noodles are better for snorkeling (for me) than a life jacket and there’s no way for me to not freak out when the water isn’t clear. The Bahamas has that lovely blue water where you can see the fish while swimming around, but if you really want to check them out, then snorkeling or diving is a must, especially when traveling to Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos where they have some of the best diving in the world. They have many miles of reef. That’s where the sea animals like to hang out. Here are some of the cool sea creatures you’ll want to check off your list:

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Right off the coast, you’ll be able to strap on a snorkel mask and see colorful fish and other ocean animals at Bight Reef, Smith’s Reef and Northwest Point National Park. If you aren’t that confident about braving the waters without a guide, this is the easiest way to view wildlife for cheap. Here are some of the locals to look for:
  • Anemones
  • Bandtail Puffer fish
  • Barracuda
  • Conch
  • Eagle Rays
  • Flamingo Tongue sea snails
  • Lionfish
  • Lobster
  • Long-nosed Trumpet fish
  • Moray eel
  • Parrotfish
  • purple Gorgonians
  • Sea Cucumbers
  • Sea Turtles
  • Sea Urchin
  • Smaller Sharks

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You can purchase snorkel gear for cheap or rent snuba or dive gear from many of companies along the coast. Obviously, the coral reef is an animal unto itself and amazing to be able to check it out separate from the many creatures that call it home.

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In deeper water, where some people like to go fishing, you can see some of these cool fishies:
  • Barracuda
  • Blue Marlin
  • Bonefish
  • Cero
  • Grouper
  • Kingfish
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Pompano
  • Sailfish
  • Sharks – Bull, Lemon, Tiger, Hammerhead, Bull, Reef
  • Snapper
  • Stingrays
  • Triggerfish
  • Tuna – Black Fin, Yellow Fin, Big Eye
  • Wahoo

If deep-sea fishing sounds awesome to you, there are several charter companies that will take you out and let you try your hand. Several of these fish are available all year round, but most have a season that’s best for fishing/spotting.

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Take a cruise to see some larger animals including bottlenose dolphins and migrating humpback whales if you’re visiting in January.

If getting into the water is just not your thing and you’d rather admire it from the safety of the beach, that’s okay too. You might still catch a glimpse of some frolicking dolphins or you can head over to the eastern part of the island and visit the Conch Farm. Stay on land and learn all about the Queen conch. This is the same conch that’s used to make fritters, ceviche and more delicious dishes on the islands.

No matter when you visit and how you see the wildlife, you can always find a great place to stay within your budget – either a hotel or a vacation rental – when you use Hipmunk’s accommodation search engine. You can also find more things to do in Providenciales by checking out the city guides. Get your swimsuit, sunscreen and underwater camera together and start planning your trip now.

Disclaimer: This post was inspired by my partnership with Hipmunk - a great site to find low hotel rates wherever you travel. #hipmunkcitylove
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