In my group vacationing at Beaches Turks & Caicos, 9 were certified divers when we arrived and 2 were completing their dive certifications while there. Since diving is included in the Beaches “all-inclusive” pricing we were excited to dive right in as soon as we arrived. (FYI, diving is not always included at “all-inclusive” resorts, make sure you read up on what’s included before booking.)
To make sure we maximized our dive time I contacted Dean Joseph, the assistant manager of the dive center, a couple of weeks before our vacation. Dean was very helpful and arranged for us to do our pool checkout dive as soon as we arrived at the resort so that we could head out on the dive boat the next morning.
Beaches Tip. If you are a certified diver, but have not logged a dive in the past 18 months, the dive center will require you to take a $75 refresher course. You can also do this at your local dive center before heading out on vacation. The Beaches Turks & Caicos dive staff will be looking for a sticker on your dive card showing that you have recently completed a refresher course.
At the designated time of 3:00 pm all of our certified divers showed up at the dive center. Unfortunately it appeared as though Dean had not communicated our arrival to the staff there that day. After a few minutes of confusion we were able to sort everything out and we began our pool checkout dive.
The pool checkout dive was pretty straightforward. We all donned our dive gear and jumped into the pool. The instructor ran us through a couple of standard dive exercises (buoyancy control, mask clearing, etc), and then deemed us all fit for open water diving. After a quick briefing on the dive center’s operations we all signed up for the single tank dive headed out at 8:00 am the next morning.
Beaches Tip. You can complete your entire dive certification while on vacation at Beaches Turks & Caicos. This is an easy way to get certified, but it will eat up a good-size chunk of your vacation time. To avoid this, the two in our party that planned to get certified on the trip had completed the classroom and pool practice portions of the certification before we left home. The cost for them to finish their certifications was $250 each.
At 8:00 am the next morning the 9 divers from my group, and about 10 other resorts guests, were waiting outside the dive center. However, nobody from the dive center was there. At a little past 8:00 the dive center staff started to trickle in. Eventually the boat captain arrived and pulled the boat up, and the dive center opened so we could check out the gear we needed. Throughout the week we came to learn that the dive center runs on IST (Island Standard Time), which is to say “whenever we get around to it”.
Over the course of the week I did 6 dives at Beaches Turks & Caicos. The actual dives were great. I checked “swim with a shark” off my diving bucket list. I saw several lionfish, a giant lobster, and the biggest turtle I have ever seen. The best part, the dives were included in my resort stay. A dive package that would have easily cost me $600 somewhere else was already taken care of.
– The 8:00 am start time usually ended up being more like 8:30.
– On several occasions we got on the boat and discovered the air tanks had not been re-filled from the day before.
– Two of the days there were boat problems. Thankfully we never got stranded anywhere, but one of the days a two-tank dive turned into a one-tank dive.
– Other than a few items there was no “dive store” to speak of. One member of our party needed a new battery for his dive computer. He ended up having to take a taxi off-resort to get one.
– Overall I felt as though the dive staff were a bit rude. Almost like they did not want to be bothered by the guests. There were, of course, exceptions to this but there were only a few of them.
Since Beaches Turks & Caicos claims to be a 5-Star PADI Resort I decided to look up what this means on PADI’s website…
PADI Five Star Dive Resorts excel in providing traveling scuba divers with memorable scuba diving experiences by providing professional and outstanding service. These dive operations are progressive PADI Resorts that offer the full range of PADI scuba programs, have a good equipment selection and offer dive activities that promote aquatic environmental responsibility. PADI Five Star Dive Resorts are committed to providing quality diver training and continuing education programs that include dive experiences and environmental awareness. These dive businesses often cater to the traveling diver, but are also active in the local community promoting the benefits of recreational scuba diving and snorkeling.
After reading this definition and talking with the other divers in my party, a 3-Star rating is probably a more accurate description of this dive resort. While we all enjoyed the diving, the issues we encountered throughout the week left us all feeling as though the dive center is one area at Beaches Turks & Caicos were some improvement is really needed.