Conch Cruise in the Turks & Caicos

Oceans and Islands expert Marina had a fun experience whilst in the Turks and Caicos on a conch tour! Find out more in this blog.

It was my last morning in the Turks & Caicos islands and the final highlight of my trip before flying home later that day was a snorkel and conch cruise.

No effort needed to start with – just a short walk from my gorgeous suite at Gansevoort onto the beach and I was ready to be collected by boat with Caicos Dream Tours. We cruised along Grace Bay beach and, after another pick up, headed out to the reef where we had a snorkelling stop – equipment was provided if you needed it. The reef was in superb condition and teeming with marine life – large parrot fish, banners, needle fish, puffers and wrasse to name but a few. Visibility was excellent with vibrant colours. Our guide leapt overboard and dived down into the crystal clear waters using only a mask and snorkel and immediately began collecting lots of conch shells.

After our snorkelling time, we approached Half Moon Bay, which looked idyllic – I have never seen such crystal clear water and felt the softest sand in my toes as we got off the boat! We took our conchs ashore and set to work removing the conch from the shells and, using the claw, cleaned all the seaweed-style growth and washed the shell in the sea using a brush. The meat from the conch is commonly used in salads and our guides prepared a delicious dish for us – truly freshly caught! There was also plenty of beer, rum punch and soft drinks available, together with sandwiches and snacks, so we were well fed and watered. The islands host the Annual Conch Festival in November each year, where local restaurateurs compete for the best and most original conch dishes, which are then judged by international chefs. Fishermen also use the conch shell as a trumpet to announce to the community that fish is available for sale.

The north side of Half Moon Bay is a pristine beach between Little Water Cay and Water Cay around 1200m long. It has light vegetation and Casuarina trees. There is also a small sandy sheltered lagoon with shallow crystal clear water on the south side. As I walked across the sand to the trees, there were lots of Rock Iguanas of varying sizes to be seen (some got up quite close!). There are also plenty of birds around, including herons, egrets, pelicans and oyster catchers, so a great wildlife haven.

As I walked back to the boat and paddled in the water, a couple of stingrays floated quietly by my feet – it was lovely to see them glide gently by.  Apart from the sound of the water lapping at my feet, it was heaven just to take in the surroundings in the peace and quiet.

We then cruised back to the hotel and dropped off on the beach four hours after we left – it was a fabulous trip and highly recommended!

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