Turks & Caicos Explorer II

Turks & Caicos Explorer II –

Explorer Ventures welcomes you aboard the Turks & Caicos Explorer II, the liveaboard dive boat that travels to three beautiful destinations and offers three distinct scuba diving vacations: Turks & Caicos, the Bahamas, and whale watching at Silver Bank in the Dominican Republic. The Captain and crew of the Turks & Caicos Explorer II strive to provide scuba divers and vacationers with the highest quality and most innovative liveaboard experience possible. In addition to unmatched scuba diving, guests will enjoy excellent accommodations and delicious meals as part of their vacation package. Explorer Ventures dive boat excursions afford guests both safety and comfort as they travel to world-renowned scuba diving locations.

Turks & Caicos

Located in the Atlantic Ocean, the Turks & Caicos Islands are 575 miles (925 km.) southeast of Miami, Florida. The islands’ white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and extensive coral reefs make them a premier diving destination. Turks & Caicos is comprised of numerous islands and cays, some of which are uninhabited. The excellent underwater visibility, spectacular wall dives, and abundance of marine life all combine to attract divers from around the world.

Departures for your 8-day / 7-night diving vacation are from Providenciales. The Turks & Caicos Explorer II itinerary may include visits to Grand Turk, South Caicos, French Cay, and West Sand Spit, and offers a dive experience for everyone. You will make stops at dive sites such as Black Coral Forest where you will explore five different coral species, Provo’s Shark Hotel, G-Spot, replete with deep-water gorgonians, and Double D, where Eagle Rays are plentiful. In these pristine waters you can also expect sightings of Caribbean Reef Sharks, Grouper, Jacks, and Turtles, as well as large pelagics such as Hammerhead Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Black-tipped Sharks, and Manta Rays. Amazing wall dives present an abundance of macro life, Barrel Sponges, and hard-coral arches. Please note that selected dive sites may vary from one excursion to another, as they depend on weather and logistics.

All diving will be done from the vessel. Divers must be certified from an internationally recognized scuba diving certification organization. You will make up to five dives daily, including a night dive. The weather in Turks & Caicos is consistent year round. During the winter months the surface temperatures are in the upper 70s to low 80sF (25°-27C°), and during the summer months temperatures are in the low 90s (32°-33°C). The water temperatures range from a low of 72°F in the winter to about 82°F in the summer (22.2°-28°C), with low amounts of annual rainfall. Thanks to reliable ocean currents, visibility is normally between 75-150 feet or better (23-45+ m.). A 3mm. wetsuit is usually enough protection for most divers in the summer, and a 5mm. wetsuit with hooded vest provides adequate protection in the winter.

Grand Turk is the capital of the Turks & Caicos Islands, and is located approximately 75 miles (120 km.) from the island of Providenciales, known familiarly as Provo. Grand Turk, with its white, secluded beaches and healthy wall diving, is seven miles long (11 km.) by 1.5 miles wide (2.4 km.). The Grand Turk Passage is located very close to Grand Turk and plunges more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m.) to the depths of the ocean. Sloping gradually to amazing depths is a wall of coral that runs parallel to the entire island. You may very well find diving along this wall to be the highlight of your visit to Grand Turk. As you explore the sandy bottom, you will find a large fish and animal population along healthy reefs. At just about any time of the year you will encounter Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, Sharks, and Sea Turtles in the open ocean. Other dive sites at Grand Turk present arches, tunnels, valleys, or other interesting terrain. Opportunities abound for photographers and videographers.

Referred to as the Big Fish Capital of the Turks & Caicos Islands, many believe the waters around South Caicos have some of the best diving in the area. Here you will encounter a variety of large pelagics, tons of Eagle Rays, and numerous types of Sharks. Many of the dive sites at South Caicos are characterized by large walls of coral, where you will find Butterflyfish, Parrot Fish, Gorgonians, Sponges, Shrimps, Crabs, and much more.

The dive areas of French Cay and West Sand Spit are approximately six miles (9.6 km.) apart from each other. French Cay is deserted but provides very good dives. Two famous sites here are Double D and Half Mile Reef. Double D is actually two large coral mounds that rise from the ocean floor. Around these pinnacles you will see Jacks and Black Durgeons. The wall at Double D boasts an abundant carpet of vibrant, colorful corals. These sites also offer sandy bottoms where you will find Sting Rays, Nurse Sharks, and schools of Goatfish, as well as pristine coral formations. You may also be fortunate enough to spot the Groupers that reside in these waters, some reportedly as large as the size of a small car. West Sand Spit is an area of sand in the open ocean. Along this plateau there are beautiful Sea Fans, large Barrel Sponges, and coral pillars. The wall at this thriving reef is covered with lush, vibrant coral formations, and teeming with fish.

The Bahamas

Comprised of more than 700 islands, the Bahamas cover 1,000 square miles of ocean (nearly 2,600 square kilometers) and present both topographical variety and amazingly diverse marine life. Beginning and experienced divers alike will enjoy exploring blue holes, walls, caves, and shipwrecks, and thrill to see pelagics of all sizes. The Bahamas are located just 50 miles (80 km.) to the south and east off the coast of Florida. In many areas around these islands the water is less than 20 feet (6 m.) deep, and presents large stretches of intricate reef systems. Plunging many thousands of feet into the depths are a multitude of walls, whose tops begin from approximately 50 to 100 feet (15-30 m.) below the surface. The vast expanse encompassed by the Bahamas attracts an incredible variety of animal and fish life. You can expect to see all types of small critters as well as large pelagics such as Humpback Whales, sharks of all kinds, Eagle Rays, various species of Dolphins, and Whale Sharks.

The Turks & Caicos Explorer II will take you on a unique, exploratory trip to dive sites in the more remote region of the Southern Bahamas. Your 8-day / 7-night trip departs from either George Town, Great Exuma or from Providenciales, Turks & Caicos. Please note that selected dive sites may vary from one excursion to another, as they depend on current weather conditions and logistics. In general, you can expect to visit the areas of San Salvador, Conception Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, and Samana Cay.

The island of San Salvador is an exposed peak of a seamount and is entirely surrounded by walls. Hugging the western shoreline of the island is a massive submerged cliff. It begins at about 40-50 feet (12-15 m.) and quickly drops off to thousands of feet. These depths ensure you will spot an abundance of marine life ranging from tiny critters to Hammerhead Sharks. Favorite dive sites at San Salvador include Great Cut, Double Caves, Vicky’s Reef, Devils Grotto, Hole in the Wall, La Crevasse, and Sandy Cliff.

Great Cut offers a double drop off that resulted when a 200 foot-long (60 m.) section of wall split from the main wall. Double Caves is a spur and groove reef formation that starts at 45 feet (14 m.) and presents a series of caves and tunnels you can swim through to exit at 85-115 feet (26-35 m.). Vicky’s Reef is a 40-50 foot reef (12-15 m.) and wall dive. Look for Wire Coral and Elephant Ear Sponges along the wall, as well as the rare Whip Coral Shrimp. Turtles and Reef Sharks also congregate in this area. Devils Grotto offers a variety of swim-throughs for endless exploration. At Hole in the Wall you will see rolling mounds of coral, Eagle Rays, and the occasional Manta Ray. La Crevasse is similar to Double Caves but the crevasses are huge, more than 50 feet deep (15 m.). The outer wall has a virtually vertical face with many undercuts. You will see an abundance of sponges in this area. Sandy Cliff is another spur and groove formation that presents an amazing coral ridge at 30-40 feet (9-12 m.).

Conception Island, home to the Land and Sea Park, has an area of just six square miles (16 square kilometers) and is a nesting site for several species of green turtles and seabirds, in particular Boobies. Scuba diving at Conception Island presents spectacular walls replete with marine life. Photo opportunities abound at this site, where you will encounter Hammerhead Sharks, Turtles, Schooling Horse-eyed Jacks, Snappers, and Groupers. You will see Elephant Ear and Barrel Sponges along the wall, as well as high profile coral heads. Dive sites you may visit along wall at Conception Island include The Creek, Chutes and Ladders, Missing Link, Tunnel of Love, Grouper Ledge, and West Bay. All wall dives have spectacular swim-throughs and topography, and most start at depths between 60 and 70 feet (18-21 m.).

The area around Rum Cay Island presents never-ending dive opportunities. Here you will find excellent wall diving, wrecks, and limestone foundations among the many deep reefs. Schools of reef fish, enormous sponges, and a large variety of corals populate the reefs.

Unspoiled and pristine, Mayaguana Island presents surprisingly diverse territory and an extremely memorable scuba diving vacation. Most life here starts at about 70 feet (21 m.). The fish and other varieties of marine life that reside along the swim-throughs and walls are not shy, and may casually approach divers out of curiosity. The massive quantities and types of fish will amaze you.

At remote Samana Cay you will find shallow sandy areas and walls that drop to about 1,000 feet (300 m.). You will experience a long shelf of coral pillars and white sand areas where large fish and rays congregate. The walls are teeming with life, as they provide an optimum habitat for all types of reef fish and turtles.

All diving will be done from the vessel. Divers must be certified from an internationally recognized scuba diving certification organization. You will make up to five dives daily. The weather in the Southern Bahamas is fairly consistent all year. During the winter months the surface temperatures are in the upper 70s to low 80sF (25°-27C°), and during the summer months temperatures are in the low 90s (32°-33°C) with nearly constant sea breezes. The water temperatures range from a low of 72°F in the winter to about 82°F in the summer (22.2°-28°C). Visibility is normally between 75-150 feet or better (23-45+ m.). A 3mm. wetsuit is usually enough protection for most divers in the summer, and a 5mm. wetsuit with hooded vest provides adequate protection in the fall, winter, and spring.

Silver Bank, Dominican Republic

Every January, the Turks & Caicos Explorer II heads south for 11 weeks to follow the migration of Humpback Whales to Silver Bank, in the Dominican Republic. Silver Bank is a shallow underwater area located between the islands of Turks & Caicos and the Dominican Republic. This area is a Sanctuary for Marine Mammals, and provides protection and a safe haven for sea mammals. Humpback Whales have long migrated to the area of Silver Bank for breeding and calving. The warm, clear waters of Silver Bank make it an ideal location for viewing and photographing the whales.

The Turks & Caicos Explorer II offers guests the unique opportunity to snorkel with these majestic creatures. Your whale charter to Silver Bank, located approximately 80 miles (130 km.) north of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, includes two distinct types of encounters with Humpback Whales. Topside and from a safe distance, you will be able to observe the amazing show the male whales put on as they compete for the attention of the females. You will see them breaching and lunging as they court the females, or spyhopping out of curiosity to see who else is visiting these waters besides themselves.

You will also have an opportunity for a soft-in-water encounter with the most curious and least aggressive whales. Scuba diving is not allowed in the area of the Sanctuary, so you will enter the water wearing just your mask, fins, and snorkel. You may want to wear a 2mm. light wetsuit or shorty. Water temperatures average 78°F (25.5°C). Remember, your best opportunity for viewing these beautiful creatures in the water will occur if you move slowly and gently, and avoid quick, loud, aggressive behaviors that will frighten away even the most curious of whales.