TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS (TCI)
Island News: Provo is booming in spite of the worldwide economic problems and it's easy to see why.....the islands are gorgeous and the weather is consistently good. Cold fronts rarely reach these islands. If you haven't been to the TCIs you should put it on your vacation agenda. The only downside in the past couple of years is pricing....the place is definitely expensive, though there are still good bargains, and good places to stay without spending a fortune. Just depends what you are looking for. For example, Harbour Club Villas and Marina is our top choice for anglers looking for a comfortable place to stay at a good price, with nearby access to good fishing you can do on your own.
The Islands are composed of two groups of islands: the "Turks islands" (Grand Turk and Salt Cay), and "The Caicos islands" (Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos, South Caicos, West Caicos). The groups are separated by the Turk Island Passage, a twenty-two mile wide, 7,000 feet deep channel. Of the forty islands and cays that make up this British colony, only eight are inhabited. The land mass, covering 193 square miles, is surrounded by a continuous coral reef; one of the largest in the world. The deep bodies of water and reefs create the ideal conditions for baitfish, making TCI a bluewater fishing haven. Blue marlin, wahoo, dorado, tuna and more ply these waters in their respective seasons.
Grand Turk, the capital, is the seat of government, and a scuba divers paradise, but this is not the main tourist island, and there is no good flats fishing here, although the bluewater fishing is very good. The architecture is reminiscent of Bermuda, and the town has a quaint colonial feel. The island is seven miles long by 1.5 miles wide, and the interior is laced with large creeks and lakes.
Providenciales, or "Provo" as everyone calls it, is the center of the TCI tourism industry, and in fact, Provo was created from scratch by developers in the 1980s, with Club Med being the first resort in 1981. Grace Bay Beach, a 12-mile long strip of perfect powdery white sand, is the center of resort development. The turquoise waters that lap the shore here rival any in the Caribbean for relaxed swimming, snorkeling, or pretty much any water sport you can name. Setting the idea of fishing aside, this is one of the best destinations in the Caribbean for an overall sand, sea, surf, golf (Provo Golf and Country Club) and tennis vacation for families and couples. It's a great spot for a romantic getaway too with a variety of upscale accommodations, excellent restaurants, and miles of deserted beaches on nearby cays where you'll never see another person.
Now toss in the fact that Provo and its neighboring cays are surrounded by bonefish flats, and you've got the ideal combination for anglers and non-anglers alike. If you rent a car you can fish all over the island on your own. The best flats are on the south side of Provo, and some of our favorites include Silly Creek, Cooper Jack Bight, Jim Hill Bight, and areas of Long Bay Beach. A wonderful out of the way place to stay is Harbour Club Villas & Marina overlooking Flamingo Lake. This lake, and others nearby, are loaded with bonefish, and while the bottom is fairly soft, its wadable, and you can fish to tailing fish most days without worrying about the tides, although mornings and late afternoons are best. If you want to rent a boat, a 16' Carolina Skiff for example, you can fish countless flats on your own from the Leeward Marina all the way to Parrot Cay. Or rent the boat and forget fishing--just go snorkeling along the reef, or stop off on a pristine deserted beach for a swim and a picnic.
The best place to rent a boat is Windsurfing Provo. The owner, Mike Rosati, is super helpful and friendly, and an excellent sailing and windsurfing instructor. Mike rents 16' Carolina Skiffs with a cooler and any other gear you need (no fly-fishing gear, you have to bring your own), including a waterproof map, for a day of exploring, snorkeling, and beaching. Of course you can reach all the flats you want too. Mike also rents Hobie Cats, windsurfers, and sea kayaks. Windsurfing Provo is on Grace Bay Beach, with two locations, in front of the Ocean Club, and the Ocean Club West.
ACCOMMODATIONS - Most resorts on Provo are condo resorts as opposed to hotels, so places are studio to four-bedroom units with full kitchens, though there are some smaller hotels. There is a huge range of choices, so here are some of our favorites in the various luxury/price categories.
Over-top-luxury -- Parrot Cay Resort on Parrot Cay, one of the finest private island resorts in the Caribbean, a place of total and complete pampering, with several miles of private beach and a wonderful spa. Fishing guides will pick you up and drop you off each day; Point Grace on Grace Bay Beach is small and elegant with magnificent two and three-bedroom suites on the water. Just ask and they'll send their Rolls to pick you up at the airport; Grace Bay Club, just down the beach from Point Grace, has exquisite Mediterranean-style suites, and the best and most romantic restaurant on the island, Anacaona.
Deluxe, everything you need -- The Sands at Grace Bay has sleek island condos with great views and the best beachside pool area on the island, plus Hemingway's Bar and Restaurant right on the beach. Ocean Club and Ocean Club West are sister resorts with beautiful gardens, nicely furnished condos (ask for an end unit on the beach), tennis, diving and water sports programs, and good restaurants. Ocean Club West is the newer property and is perfectly located in the center of Grace Bay. Royal West Indies Resort on Grace Bay is low-key and casually elegant, with a great pool, and one of our favorite restaurants on the island, Mango Reef.
Casual and inexpensive -- Harbour Club Villas and Marina is our top choice for anglers looking for a comfortable place to stay at a good price, with nearby access to good fishing you can do on your own. For the Harbour Club bonefishing packages see their special fishing web site Bonefishing T.C. Comfort Suites, across the street from Grace Bay Beach, has spacious suites, a pool, and is centrally located. Turtle Cove Inn, at Turtle Cove Marina, is an affordable two-story hotel popular with divers and boaters. Lots of good restaurants and shopping nearby.
Some of our favorite restaurants include: Coyaba at Coral Gardens; Grace's Cottage at Point Grace; Bay Bistro at Sibonne; Fairways Bar and Grill at the Golf Club; Coco Bistro on Grace Bay Road; Tiki Hut Cabana Bar & Grill, and Baci Ristorante, both at Turtle Cove Marina. These range from elegant to shorts and T-shirts, and run the price range.
Flats Fishing Patterns: Fishing in the Turks & Caicos is the absolute best way to play the odds against the normal winter weather patterns of cold fronts and wind. Cold fronts rarely reach these islands, so you can usually count on nice warm days every day through the winter season, although you'll have some wind, which is just the way it goes in the world of saltwater fishing. In the spring, summer and fall the weather is almost always gorgeous.
May 9, 2013 Fishing Reports - We continue to receive good reports from anglers very happy with the guiding services of Barr Gardner. Barr's contact info is below. Also, several of our clients have returned raving about the numbers of fish, and big boys too, fishing on South Caicos with Beyond the Blue. See details below if you want to get in on this amazing wade fishing action.
Our favorite flies include #2-6 Gold Shiner and Gotcha Clouser's Minnows, #2-6 Gotchas, #2-6 Veverka's Mantis Shrimp, #2-6 Pink and Tan Hoovers, #2-4 Spawning Shrimp, #4-6 Beck's Sililegs, #4-6 Greg's Flats' Fly, and #4-6 Tan Yarn Crabs. If you tie your own, make sure to add rubber legs. TCI bones really like rubber legs.
Guides we recommend: Captain Barr Gardner, Bonefish Unlimited Barr is a great guy to be out with, very well-liked, knowledgeable and friendly. He fishes out of a well-maintained flats skiff with a poling platform. He offers full and half day trips.
Captain Arthur Dean, Silver Deep. Arthur is a superior guide in every way--knowledge of the flats, boating handling skills, excellent casting instructor, amazing eyes, fun to be with, and a great singer. Kim loves to hear guides sing island songs on the flats, and Arthur is the best in the business. He fishes out of an immaculate Action Craft with a 115 hp Yamaha 4-stroke, a great boat, and super fast for reaching the remote locations around North, Middle, and East Caicos. Arthur also has two other very good guides, Godfrey and Darin, so don't hesitate to fish with them if Arthur is booked--which he usually is, so you need to call well in advance to make your reservation, and Silver Deep will give you a discount for advance bookings. Silver Deep offers full and half day trips. Be aware that half day trips limit where you can go. Try not to be shocked by the prices! TCI is very expensive and import duty on boats, parts, etc. is brutal for the locals.
Beyond the Blue Bonefish Charters, South Caicos - Also known as East Harbour , and The Big South, South Caicos is an eight square mile island of coral rock that has seen it all, from being the hideout for infamous pirates, to being part of the thriving turn-of-century salt business, to now being a quiet community of about twelve hundred people who make their living mostly from harvesting conch and lobster. Hurricane Ike devastated this island in Septebmer of 2008, but the islanders are working hard to restore the charming colonial style settlement. Today you will find some of the best scuba diving, blue water fishing, and bonefishing in the TCI’s. The hard white sand flats, ideal for wading, sprawl from Long Cay up to East Caicos hold high numbers of bonefish, and the nearby deep water drop-offs into Columbus Passage means lots of big bones too. All-inclusive bonefishing packages are available with Beyond the Blue Bonefish Charters. They take their anglers to the flats in a 24-foot 425 hp airboat that can literally skim across flats that are barely wet. This is some of the best wade fishing for bonefish anywhere, including Christmas Island or the Seychelles. This is a highly recommended trip. You can reach the island is via boat, or various puddle-jumpers from Provo.
REEF/OFFSHORE: - TCI has some of the best reef and offshore fishing in the world. The best marina is Turtle Cove Marina, about a fifteen minute drive west of Grace Bay. The marina is surrounded by a number of nice shops and restaurants, and there's also a small comfortable hotel. Contact the marina for the latest fishing report and for charter boat availability.
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© 2003 Stephen and Kim Vletas