Turks & Caicos offers an incredible adventure-filled vacation for families. This sunny destination is made up of multiple fascinating islands and cays, each of which is home to spectacular beaches and ripe for good times. In addition to island hopping (which is totally possible in the TCI!), you and your travel crew can enjoy a wide range of activities on these islands including thrilling whale-watching excursions.
Whale watching is quite popular in Turks & Caicos. On these islands, you can embark on both private and group whale-watching adventures. It is even possible to have in-water encounters with these majestic creatures.
Before we talk about the best time of year, locations, and methods to go whale watching in Turks & Caicos, let's take a look at the species of whales you can expect to encounter at this destination:
Whale sightings are common in the waters surrounding the Turks & Caicos Islands, making this a popular destination for travelers interested in whale watching or embarking on exciting outdoor excursions. The annual migration of North Atlantic humpback whales takes place near Turks & Caicos from late January to early April. These creatures journey from cold water to the warmer waters near Turks & Caicos and the Dominican Republic in order to mate and give birth. There are a few shallow banks in this area that the whales are attracted to, including the Silver Banks, Mouchoir Banks, and the Gentry Banks.
The humpback whales that migrate near Turks & Caicos are believed to be from waters in the Northern Hemisphere. This includes areas off of north-western Europe, Greenland, Iceland, Canada, and from inside the Arctic Circle. If you're in the Turks & Caicos during this migration season you’re likely to spot quite a few whale calves swimming with their mothers. Aside from humpback whales, you might also spot pilot whales and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins off the coast. Dolphins are a common sight in Turks & Caicos waters year-round.
Good to know: Whale watching is a great option if you’re planning a trip to the Turks & Caicos in the first quarter of the year. Aside from this activity, there are lots of wonderful things to do in the Turks & Caicos for families traveling with children of all ages.
Unsurprisingly, the best time to go whale watching in the Turks & Caicos is from late January to early April when the humpback whale migration happens. This certainly is something that you can plan to experience with your family whether you go on a boat charter or have an in-water whale scoping experience. Although whale watching happens regularly and according to a set schedule every year, the number of whales that are spotted may vary.
The best time to visit Turks and Caicos overall is between December to mid-April annually. As this coincides with the whale watching season, it can be the ideal time to vacation on these islands. During peak season the weather patterns in the Turks & Caicos tend to be more consistent (more warm and dry) with fewer chances of rain interruptions. This is a plus if you plan on going on tours. There are usually more activities happening in the TCI during peak season and more visitors on the island at this time. Although peak season can be a great time to travel, the TCI is a wonderful destination to visit year-round.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are situated on a plateau that rises 10,000 feet (3048m) from the ocean floor. This plateau is partially split by the 6,000-ft-deep (1830 m) Turks Island Passage near Grand Turk and Salt Cay. This area provides a natural ease of movement for the whales, making it a prime location to catch sight of them as they migrate.
The western side of Providenciales and West Caicos are also incredible options for this activity. In these areas, it won't be hard to find a good vantage point from which to see these amazing creatures as they breach the surface along their journey. Try setting up somewhere within the Northwest Point Marine National Park or the West Caicos Marine National Park where there have been lots of reported sightings in the deep water just off these locations.
Expert tip: Have a grand Turks and Caicos vacation by getting to know some of the amazing things Turks & Caicos is known for. If you’ll be traveling with children, here’s the best of Turks & Caicos kids' fun and adventures.
Boat charters are the best option for whale watching in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Group charters tend to be more cost-efficient and there are quite a few tour companies in the various islands (including Providenciales) that offer this service. To get on a whale-watching boat charter in the TCI, you'll need to plan your trip during the whale-watching season when the tours are available.
When choosing a whale-watching charter, it is best to book well ahead of your trip as the whale-watching season falls during peak season. Tours tend to fill up quickly during this time. If you’re unable to book a specific tour that you're interested in ahead of your trip, you can always ask at your resort about which other whale-watching tours are available during your stay. If you’re an experienced sailor, you can beat the peak season rush by navigating your own boat to the Turks Island Passage, but be careful not to get too close.
Good to know: In Turks & Caicos, smaller boats tend to be used for whale watching compared to some other destinations. These small boats are often used for diving and fishing trips as well. The benefit of using these types of boats is that they often can help you to have a closer view of the whales.
Diving and witnessing whales in the distance certainly can be a vacation memory you’ll cherish forever. As vacationers go after this thrill, all efforts are made by the tour companies to make these adventures have as low impact to the whales as possible. This means that the boats typically stop a good distance away from the area where the whales are. From there, divers can get into the crystal clear waters of the Turks & Caicos with the possibility of curious whales swimming by.
The Turks & Caicos Islands are widely recognized as one of the best diving destinations in the world. Add the possibility of snorkeling with whales to this dynamic and what you have is an out-of-this-world adventure! While there are a few other destinations in the world where it is possible to snorkel or scuba dive with humpbacks, Turks & Caicos’ version of this is in a class of its own. The sunny temperatures of this destination, the warm ocean temperatures, and the thriving undersea life all raise the profile of this adventure. If you decide to go snorkeling with whales in Turks & Caicos, definitely keep your fingers crossed that the whales will be cruising in your direction!
When experiencing an in-water encounter with whales in the Turks & Caicos, you may hear whale songs from the humpback whales which can sound both eerie and captivating at the same time! It is said that male humpback whales can sing a unique, complex song that is 10-20 minutes long. The song can be heard for miles underwater.
During a whale diving experience in the TCI, it is common to see both adult whales and calves. Typically, whales will spend a few minutes in your area, but some visitors have reported whales spending over an hour in their vicinity. Whether just a glimpse or for a while longer, diving with whales is certain to be a magical experience!
Whale watching can be an exhilarating adventure whether you’re vacationing with friends or family. With a beautiful and almost always sunny destination like Turks & Caicos, the chances of great times are amplified. As fun as whale watching can be, we have to say the best thing about it is that you can do it multiple times during a TCI vacation and still be ready for more. This is all well and good as there are many different locations on these islands that are conducive to whale watching.
For all-inclusive family vacations in Turks & Caicos, it won't be hard to fit whale watching (or any number of activities) into your vacation itinerary. If you don’t spot any whales during your first excursion, don’t worry; you can always try again on another day. In the meantime, make the most of your time in these beautiful islands, hopefully in the comfort of a luxury-included all-inclusive resort!
Insider tip: A Turks & Caicos water park resort can be a great option for families who want to explore the best of Providenciales and spend lots of time in the water. From Beaches Resorts, families can explore a wide range of things to do including sailing in Turks & Caicos.