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The flight was non-stop from JFK to Provo. Flight was packed with couples and their toddlers because the Beaches Resort was running a special in Provo for families. Flight over was on time and not too noisy, even with all the toddlers. Connection on Skyking to Grand Turk was also on time and took only 20 minutes, or so. The plane was a small jet that seated about 18 and gave me a feeling of claustrophobia, narrow and low interior, but it was OK.
Did not get hit with weight charge by Skyking on the way over but got it on the way back. Somehow it was missed on the way there, or just overlooked. My weight was identical both ways. They only allow 44 lbs per person, including dive gear, and charge .40 cents per pound over that. That is really not spelled out till you arrive at the counter. Not sure if that is something new or not but be warned not to buy stuff on the island of Grand Turk to increase your weight .There are no great shops or stores on the island so I doubt you would be tempted to buy anything. That severe weight restriction for divers could cost the island some dive business. Since it is only .40 cents per pound, 10 lbs $4.00, it will not break the bank, just be aware that they check your weight closely.
The Hotel: Stayed at Osprey Beach Hotel. The hotel was nice looking, clean, quiet and charming. It was not congested and the beach was free of traffic. You could find your own space and sit quietly and read, or sun. Rooms were good and roomy and had TV, for CNN, and AC. Rooms have small balconies to sit on facing the ocean and a great place to dry your gear. Beds were OK but not like home. Advice I got from Lowwall about bringing my own coffee and sugar was extremely helpful. I was able to have a good cup of coffee in my room before breakfast each morning. Food at the hotel was OK – not much variety and no bargain prices. The owner’s daughter, Christen, at the front desk was accommodating and very helpful. If there was something you needed, or that was overlooked, she was sure to get it to you fast. They listen to and care about their guests. I recommend the Osprey
Restaurants: Not many to choose from. The best is a new place right across the small street from the Osprey called Michael Atrium. He is a great Jamaican cook. Ate at the Salt Raker and thought it was not good at all and the worst service. The Courtyard Restaurant is OK for breakfast but you can do a bit better at Michael’s Atrium. He gives a bit of flare and flavor to the food and attention the other places do not. The prices are OK for Grand Turk, $12 to $22 for main course dinners. We ate some lunches at the hotel, good soup and Greek salad, because it was convenient and quiet. Nice Ocean view too. Great place for evening tea, or drink, to watch the sunset. If you want great food you might want to go to some other island.
Diving: Just great! The best. It really is a gem .It is not over-populated and over-dove like Bonaire or Coz, to name a few. 5 to 12 minutes to dive sites. I highly recommend Grand Turk for diving.
Dive Op: Can’t say enough good things about Oasis Divers and Dale. Very helpful operation and never monitored or cut short your bottom time .If you are experienced they will let you do your own profile. Great reefs and great walls. Dale, the owner and manager, is great- very helpful and attentive to the diver’s needs and requests. Small boats, with 6 to 8 divers – DM are also boat captain. You do back roll in and take off BC in the water and hand it up after dive. It’s easy on the back. DM sets everything up for you for each dive and they store your gear after a day of diving. I took my reg and puter with me and set my own reg up for each dive, but you don’t have to. Good rinse tanks and enough of them, plus hose. You do one morning dive and come back in to dive shop for SI and then back out for second dive 45 to 55 minutes later. Afternoon dive is at 2:30. Dive shop is just a few hundred yards from hotel. Good staff at Oasis. I strongly recommend Oasis.
Dives: Just great. Better than Bonaire or Belize IMO. Great reef formations and great healthy walls, with fans, tube sponges, coral and fish life. These reefs are in good shape. I did 12 dives. More about my dives in a later post.
I saw no ill effects from the Cruise ships or any of the pod people, reef crushers, on the island. They seem to be at South end of the island. Oasis does not mix pods from the ships with divers. Saw a group of them snorkeling in 4 ft of sandy water with jet fans but that is all I saw of them. hope that does not change.
One negative, that I just thought of, was short fills a lot of times, 2750 -2850 psi's- not the end of the world. Once 2200, which I had switched to fuller tank. It was nice when I got 2900 because I did a 71 minute dive, my longest ever, so far. Never got 3000 psi's. Must be just some of the overworked compressor staff due to Cruise ships that Lowwall mentioned.
Coral Gardens- 71 ft - saw Alexander the large grouper that hangs there. DM was petting him and Alexander just stayed there and allowed himself to be stroked. Not a colorful reef.
Tunnels- 85 ft- nice swim thru.
Amphitheater- 77ft –good reef formation, small canyons, and valleys, nice cut in the reef to swim thru. Not a lot of fish that day.
Gorgonian Wall- 76ft. Steep, horizontal wall, great fans, sponges etc, more fish here.
Alien Nation- 60ft semi circle reef. Lots of small fish
Anchor- 63ft Old 19th century large anchor, schooling grunts and tang
Black Forest-78ft Great, steep, straight wall few hundred feet down, Spanish mackerel
Annex Amphitheater-67ft great reef configuration, barracuda, trigger fish, gunards
Sea Aquarium 74ft- saw porpoise on the way to this site. We were able to stop the boat and get fins on quickly, attach snorkels and dive in. Pod of 5 swimming around and turning over. Great thrill. They swam off. We started boat again but stopped soon after to jump back in with porpoise, same or different pod? and swam some more with them. It was magical.
Finbars Reef 64ft Nice reef, turtles
Annex south- 69ft Lots of fish life, deep chasm between reef –swim along top of reef at 65 ft and then it breaks and you are over chasm that is a hundred or so feet below you.
Mc Donald’s- 68 ft Nice arch swim thru. Lots of fish. Did 1 hour and 11 minutes on this dive, which is my longest dive to date.
All the diving was in calm seas the whole week with absolutely no current. The easiest diving ever. Water temp was a consistent 78*/ 79* and vis 60 to 90 ft. I strongly recommend the diving on Grand Turk, which I found to be better than Belize and Bonaire. Quiet, laid back island with nothing to do topside, except relax after diving.Took some photos, which I added.
Thanks. Would be interested in your impression when you return. Hope my report helped you a bit.
If you can, get a print out of that webpage weight allowance at .30 cents because they might honor it instead of charging .40, although I doubt it. I think that is due to recent fuel increases. I wish my agent had given me a heads up on that Skyking weight restriction. The other inter-island airlines out of Provo allow only 40 lbs and charge the same, .40 cents for weight over that.
Yes, we saw porpoise in the wild, pod of 5, but that was while going to a dive site -we stopped, put fins on & masks on and snorkeled with them for a few minutes. On another boat the porpoise were at their dive site and they got to swim with them up close, a few feet, for 10 to 15 minures. We were not that lucky because they were below us by 20 to 25 feet. Other than that we saw no pelagic but we did get turtles barracuda, Nassau grouper and Spanish mackeral.