Welcome to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Welcome to Providenciales. I’m Rod Hamilton, your DIY Area Specialist, and I am here to help you plan your trip to this wonderful fishing spot in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of Florida. I have been an avid fisherman for more than 40 years, chasing salmon, trout, and steelhead from my home in British Columbia, Canada, during the summer and flats species in the tropics during the winter. I have fished Providenciales on my own and with guides scores of times, and I have personally visited almost all of the important parts of this island nation. I know everyone you need to know in this area to help you plan a successful DIY trip. The where-to-go information in this Read more...
Rod Hamilton - Area Specialist
Welcome to Providenciales. I’m Rod Hamilton, your DIY Area Specialist, and I am here to help you plan your trip to this wonderful fishing spot in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of Florida. I have been an avid fisherman for more than 40 years, chasing salmon, trout, and steelhead from my home in British Columbia, Canada, during the summer and flats species in the tropics during the winter. I have fished Providenciales on my own and with guides scores of times, and I have personally visited almost all of the important parts of this island nation. I know everyone you need to know in this area to help you plan a successful DIY trip. The where-to-go information in this web section will point you in the right direction and almost certainly whet your appetite for more. When it does, rest assured that I have helped hundreds of anglers find their way to good fishing trips in Providenciales. I look forward to helping you plan your trip. You can contact me at email@example.com. Tel. 250-871-3113.
Lay of the Land
The Turks and Caicos Islands are situated 575 miles southeast of Miami and 39 miles southeast of Mayaguana in the Bahamas. Covering 193 square miles of the Atlantic ocean, Turks and Caicos Islands has one of the longest coral reefs in the world, making it a premier diving and fishing destination. The country is 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 two groups of islands are separated by Columbus Passage, a 22-mile-wide, 7,000-foot deep channel. In all, there are 40 different islands and cays, only eight of which are inhabited. The main focus of this report will be on Providenciales (known as Provo), North Caicos, and Middle Caicos. The country has a total population of about 40,000 with half residing in Provo, the hub of TCI tourism. Developed in the 1980s, upscale Provo offers many modern conveniences, including luxury hotels and villas, a wide variety of restaurants, well-supplied grocery stores, shopping, and golf. The US dollar is the official currency; most hotels, restaurants, and taxis accept credit cards, and banks, ATMs, Internet, and cell phone coverage are widely available. Provo is also home to a modern medical facility, medical and dental clinics, and an international airport. Highways serving Providenciales are generally in good shape, but exploring that dirt road you feel you have to go down can get a little rough with major potholes that never seem to get filled in. The Caicos are collectively called “the family islands,” and the farmer in the family is North Caicos — 41 square miles of lush beauty, known for tall trees and small farms of corn, cassava, beans, and okra. Home to 1,400 residents, the island is located 12 miles northeast of Provo, just a 20-minute ferry ride away. The ferry will get you to the Sandy Point dock where most residents live. Whitby and Bottle Creek are the other two main settlements, and all three towns offer taxi service, car rentals, and bike rentals. Middle Caicos is the most ecologically oriented of the brood and, at 48 square miles, is the largest of the islands. The three settlements — Conch Bar, Bambarra, and Lorimers — boast a total population of 300. Limestone cliffs with long sandy beaches are found in the north, contrasting with swampland and tidal flats in the south. Vividly green and ideal for agriculture, Middle Caicos is home to the largest cave network in the Bahamian Archipelago. Both islands have small grocery stores, nurse-staffed medical clinics, gas stations, a few casual restaurants, car rentals, and accommodations ranging from basic to luxury. Count on using cash for most transactions outside of Provo.
The major species here is bonefish. Just be aware that they are on the hefty side, averaging four to six pounds. There is a good chance of casting to fish here that weigh more than eight pounds when fishing flats next to drop offs and deep water. The spring tides provide a little better chance of seeing the larger fish on the flats, though the neap tides provide for longer quality fishing time.
Where to Fish
Of the 40 islands that make up TCI, I’ve fished and explored Providenciales, North Caicos, and Middle Caicos. Take note that it was illegal, at this writing, to sportfish within the boundaries of any national park or nature reserve in TCI. This means well-known locations such as Bonefish Point and Silly Creek on Providenciales are closed to fishing. Virtually the entire south shore of North Caicos and Middle Caicos falls within the boundaries of the North Middle and East Caicos Nature Reserve and is closed to fishing. Bottle Creek itself is open to fishing, but the cays of Bottle Creek are in the East Bay Islands National Park. The boundaries of all of the protected areas in TCI can found here: Reserves and parks.
Flamingo Lake – This lake is found where Venetian Road turns into Turtle Tail Drive. A consistent producer and easy to wade, it’s best to drive beyond the culvert separating Flamingo and Turtle Lakes and park on Turtle Tail Drive anywhere past the Harbour Club Villas’ driveway. Most of the fishing is done from the west end, through the narrows, and up to the small mangrove island seen in the middle. These fish see their share of flies but are definitely catchable and always present.
Turtle Lake – Across Venetian Road from Flamingo Lake is Turtle Lake. It’s completely dry at low tide and fills from the boat channel on each incoming tide. The fish arrive on the tide, feed up the middle of the flat, and spread out into the mangroves lining the shore. The fishing can be good, but the wading is tough. Either come here with a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, or wade out to the entrance, pick a spot, and wait for the fish to come to you. At low tide you can always cast heavily weighted Clousers on
long leaders into the depths of the boat canals. The bones hang out there with lots of jacks and the occasional large cuda on patrol.
Bristol Hill – Toward the end of Turtle Tail Drive, past Bristol Hill Drive, is a beautiful ocean-side flat. Park in the large undeveloped area adjacent to the dugout boat channels and walk into the bay. In front of you will be a group of small cays, known as the Five Cays. There are always fish here during the low and incoming tides, and it’s a pleasure to wade. At low tide the flat extends a long way west, and it’s known to hold some very large ocean bones. This is a nice place to bring the family for an afternoon.
Juba Sound – Drive another quarter mile past the Bristol Hill parking area and pull your car over to the side of the road. To the north is Juba Sound, which feeds Flamingo Lake and deserves more attention than it gets. Walk from the road north until you find the channel of deeper water that connects Juba Sound to the ocean. Bonefish use this channel on every tide, and it’s a great place to wait them out.
Turtle Tail Road – At the end of Turtle Tail Road is the ocean outlet for Juba Sound. There is a small flat on the inside of the outlet that fish use as they exit to the ocean. Following the channel into Juba Sound will also get you into some nice water.
Discovery Bay – Drive down Cooper Jack Road and turn right on Doubloon Close, then follow it to the gate and park. Walk the trail
down to the deserted Cooper Jack Marina development. The large bay to the west is Discovery Bay and an excellent location to find large singles and schools of bones. This is a big piece of water, so you can expect to spend an entire tide fishing. The flats themselves are easy to wade, and oftentimes just walking the shoreline is the best way to ambush fish. The creek system you see in the back is fed through an opening about halfway around the bay. Take the time to fish the entrance and flat around the creek opening.
Cooper Jack Bay Road – The entrance to the boat canal that feeds Turtle Lake is at the end of Cooper Jack Bay Road. The beach to the west of the canal entrance has some excellent fishing at dead low tide when the fish move out of the canal.
Bonefish Drive – Off Cooper Jack Road and Bonefish Drive is the creek behind Discovery Bay. This creek is seldom fished but is where the bones end up at high tide, entering from Discovery Bay. The better fishing in the creek is toward the opening to the bay.
Industrial Road – Just before Industrial Road meets the roundabout and turns into South Dock Road you will see the back of the creek that feeds Discovery Bay. This is another easy access, and it is simpler to get to the mouth from here than via Bonefish Drive.
Five Cays Road – Take the left off South Dock Road onto Five Cays Road. Fifty yards before the cemetery is a dirt road to the beach. This is a beautiful long beach that forms the west side of Discovery Bay. Depending on the wind direction, your best strategy may be to fish the beach walking north all the way to the creek opening. Moving south along the beach takes you to the cove in the corner and the fish plant. Fishing either from the beach or wading the flat is good in both directions.
Stubbs Creek – Where Five Cays Road turns to dirt, stay to the right and follow it for 0.4 miles. On your right is a steep rock road, and on the left is a faint trail into the creek and bay. Excellent fishing is to be found in both the creek and flats of the small cove.
Sapodilla Bay – This is a nice bay used heavily by the sun worshippers, so it is only good for fishing in the early morning and evening. Turn right onto Chalk Sound Drive and pull over 100 yards past the police station.
Taylor Bay – Continue past Sapodilla Bay for another 0.75 miles on Chalk Sound Drive to find the beach path to Taylor Bay. This small isolated beach is used extensively during the day but can hold fish in the early morning and late afternoon.
Silly Creek – Located in the Chalk Sound National Park, this is a well-known bonefishing area, but it is illegal to fish here at this time.
Bonefish Point – Located off the Millennium Highway and then 3.8 miles down Lightbourne Road, this famous bonefishing flat and creek system is within the boundaries of the Pigeon Pond and Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve. At this writing, it is illegal to fish within a nature reserve.
Juba View Lane – South off the Leeward Highway across from a cell tower is a dirt road posted as Juba View Lane. Follow the road south as far as you can and then park. The water in front of you is Juba Sound and is a good way to fish the northern shore without having to cross the entire bay from Turtle Tail Drive. The best fishing is to the west toward the narrows of Flamingo Lake.
Long Bay Beach – Located directly across the island from Grace Bay, this beautiful beach typifies what Providenciales is known for, but without the crowds, making it a great spot for to spend a full day with the family. The fishing is only so-so, but there are bones cruising the shore and it gets better as you move north toward Stubbs Cove.
If you are looking for a destination to combine a traditional Caribbean vacation with a few self-guided days, TCI is the place. On Provo there are a number of easy-to-reach spots where the fisherman can hit a flat in the morning and be back in time to share breakfast with the family. TCI is known for big fish, and on average they tend be slightly larger than a typical Bahamian bonefish. If you are fishing the south shore of North Caicos and Middle Caicos with a guide, it’s not unreasonable for most fish to be five pounds and bigger. Fishing on your own, you are sure to catch fish from five to seven pounds and may very well cast to the largest
fish of your life if fishing the oceanside flats. The fish on Provo in Flamingo and Turtle Lakes receive enough pressure
to be wary, but in other locations typical tactics and flies work fine. The big fish will often break your heart. In Discovery Bay and the oceanside flats, larger flies like the Bonefish Junk or rubber-legged Gotchas in size #4 are the ticket. Where there is more pressure, go with longer leaders and lighter flies. Bring along some heavily weighted tan-and-white Clousers to fish the boat channels. Provo has a lot of ocean beaches on the south shore that don’t get fished. Fishing on those beaches is not like fishing a traditional flat, but if you are with the family, take them to the more deserted south shore and bring your fly rod along. North Caicos can be a one-day trip from Provo. Book the first ferry, have a rental car waiting for you, fish the entire day, and catch the evening ferry home. Better yet, book the first ferry and have a kayak waiting for you from Howard of Last Chance to fish Bottle Creek. That’s guaranteed to be a terrific day. Here are some additional fishing resources: Bones on Providenciales, video; If You Love Me, Let Me Fish, an interesting and useful article; Bonefish Map, showing location of top fishing spots on Provo.
What to Bring
The easily accessible DIY flats on the south shore of Providenciales receive pressure and the fish can be spooky, so fly anglers here should plan on using 12- to 14-foot leaders with flourocarbon tippets and smaller sized flies. As for specific patterns, there are no secret flies here. For the in-close, spooky fish, bring light flies that don’t “plop” when they hit. Flies with rubber legs to add a little movement are a good bet. The key here on spooky fish is to use short strips only to get their attention, then let your fly sit until they pick it up. Don’t make long or fast strips. One fast or unexpected movement of your fly may be all it takes to make your intended quarry disappear. Traditional bonefish flies like Gotcha’s and Charlie’s work well, color to match the bottom and weight to match the depth. I usually tie half of my Gotcha’s with rubber legs to add movement. Not everyone is a fly fishermen, of course. Here are some suggestions on spin tackle to bring along on a trip to TCI:
Bonefish: Your rod will need to be multi-piece, of course, because of airline restrictions. A lot of modern spinning rods come in three sections, some in four. Assembled rods ought to be seven feet minimum. Depending on fish and lures to be used, consider rods that’ll handle eight- to 12-pound-test line. Reels should have 150-yard minimum line capacity. Nylon mono, fluorocarbon, or braid will work. The go-to original lure for bonefish are Phillips/Gaines Wiggle Jigs. They are still sold, but there are many look-alikes now. Aside from jigs, plastic shrimp imitations by DOA and others are excellent. Depending on what they’re eating, bonefish will also grab small minnow-imitative spoons. As for weight, 1/8-ounce jigs are the standard. Deeper muds and flats call for ¼-pounce lure weight. Bonefish have keen scenting ability. Jigs and various plastics can be tipped with sections of natural bait. Shrimp are the gold standard bait but bonefish like pieces of conch, even clams. Shrimp are normally rigged on a size one or two hook. Pinch off the tail and thread the hook up into the body where the tail was. A small split shot goes on the line just ahead of the hook. Other baits can be rigged as small strips or bits.
Barracuda: If you are going for barracuda on spinning gear, you will need heavier gear than for bonefish. Consider 15- to 20-pound-test line, and a reel that has 200-yard capacity. The rod (again seven feet or more) needs to be medium to medium/heavy to handle 3/8- to one-ounce lures. The most popular lure is green, orange, or red surgical tubing rigged with internal wire, hook, and weight ahead. These are readily available through tackle shops, or via mail order. Barracuda are great fun on plugs, too, ones that swim just beneath the surface. Obviously, wire needed.
Permit, other species: Other usual target species for spin tackle include the various jacks, snappers, and permit. The bonefish rig is fine for dock snappers, but medium-size snappers and jacks and permit are best fished with rods that’ll handle 12- to 15-pound-test line. Reel needs to hold 200 yards of line. Natural bait bits are best for dock snappers, while larger snappers such as the mutton or mangrove, will also eat small lures, typically what you’d throw at bonefish. And, of course, they’ll eat natural bait, too. A live crab hooked at the pointy side shell edge is tops for permit. Hook should be large enough to accommodate the crab without fouling. Permit like live shrimp, too.
Providenciales, covers an area of 38 miles and is the most developed island in the Turks and Caicos. It is here where most international flights arrive at Providenciales International Airport (PLS). During the winter season, American Airlines has three daily flights from Miami, and one a day from New York’s JFK. Direct flights are also available from Boston on Saturdays. Delta offers six-times-a-week service from Atlanta (no Tuesday flight), plus a second flight on Saturdays. US Airways offers daily flights from Charlotte, and was planning, at this writing, to add a second daily flight from that city. Direct flights are also available from Boston and Philadelphia on Saturdays and Sundays. Air Canada has direct flights from Toronto on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays; from Montreal on Thursdays; and from Ottawa on Mondays. TCI currently has two full-service international airports, one in Providenciales and one in Grand Turk, plus limited entry facilities in North and South Caicos. All the other islands have domestic airports except for East and West Caicos, which are uninhabited. As this is written an airstrip is under construction on West Caicos, but it was slated to serve only the Ritz Carlton resort being developed there. Most visitors arrive in TCI via Providenciales and, if that is not their final destination, they take a commuter flight to other islands after they clear immigration and customs and claim their baggage. You will need to rent a car to get around to the various flats, and there are plenty of options at and around the airport. Driving in is easy and a great way to explore Provo. Taxi service is very good on Provo, too, and plenty of them are available at the airport and Grace Bay. There are also several taxis on North Caicos if you need to be picked up at the ferry. TCI Ferry Service departs regularly from Walkin Marina in Leeward, Providencialis, providing service to Sandy Point, North Caicos. The 25-minute ferry runs multiple times daily and public holidays.
If you are looking for a destination that offers the full tropical resort and beach treatment, as well as good fishing, look no further than Providenciales. Your spouse and family will have a great time and not feel like they got dragged somewhere so you could fish. In fact, they may not even miss you when you’re gone. The non-fishing activities in Provo start with a visit to famous Grace Bay Beach for fun in the sun or air-conditioned shopping. From midday to the wee hours of the morning you can try your luck at Casablanca Casino or the Royal Flush in Turtle Cove. Finding food is not a problem in Provo. Restaurants presided over by talented local or international chefs are plentiful. Make sure you try some conch at least once. Explore Princess Alexandra Marine Park, the
world’s first conch farm. If your dream is to ride a horse down a beautiful secluded beach, you can do it in Provo. You can also get lowered 80 feet by rope into a swimming hole at the bottom of a naturally formed limestone hole. Cheshire Hall, a 200-year-old cotton plantation ruin carefully preserved by the Turks and Caicos National Trust, is a key attraction in Provo. On North Caicos, the shallow waters of Bottle Creek are perfect for kayaking, bird-watching, or quiet picnics. Look for flocks of pink flamingos at Flamingo Pond and Mud Hole Pond. Straw work crafts are still practiced on this island, which is widely known as the “breadbasket” of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Tour one of the Loyalist plantation ruins, the largest of which is Wade’s Green, and don’t miss the caves near Sandy Point where Lucayan artifacts have been found. Explore the huge limestone cave system of Middle Caicos or the spectacular seascapes of Mudjin Harbour and Crossing Point Bluffs. Miles of paved roads make biking a great way to see this island, but if you want to go off road, hike along the high cliffs and empty beaches in the company of seabirds and cacti. The historic walking trail between North Caicos and Middle Caicos provides access to the protected western shore of Middle Caicos and opens up to breathtaking views. Of course there is snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking on and around pristine deserted beaches too. If you don’t want to figure it out for yourself, guided tours are available.