Paddleboarding the Mangroves in Turks & Caicos with SUP Provo

There are a couple of big ticket excursions/activities in the Turks and Caicos that get all the attention. Everybody wants to go horseback riding on the beach and snorkel the phenomenal barrier reef, but one of my favorite activities I did on my trip actually ended up being something that flies a little under the radar. Paddleboarding the island’s mangrove system!

Mangroves are called the ocean’s nursery because this is the best place to find baby sharks, sea turtles, puffer fish, and stingrays. There are a few companies that lead guided tours through the mangroves of Provo, but we chose to paddled with SUP Provo and not only did we have a great paddleboarding lesson and see plenty of marine life, but our guide Wes really taught us a lot about the mangrove ecosystem.

We met our guide Wes in the parking lot of the grocery store in Grace Bay and followed him to the east side of the island to a secluded launching spot. The tours can only happen during high tide, which is usually during the heat of the day (2-3 PM) and it’s HOT. Wear plenty of sunscreen (we wore rash guard shirts too) and bring along some water (either take a waterproof backpack with you or have some in the car for afterwards).

We all got a lesson on the beach before we got on our boards and paddled across a small channel to get to the mangrove islands. At its deepest point, the channel was 20-30 feet deep but we could see the bottom the whole time. Once we reached the mangroves, the water varied from 1-3 feet.

The scenery of the mangroves in the backcountry is a total departure from the tropicalness of Grace Bay, but make no mistake, it’s still the Caribbean. The water was calm and crystal clear which made for perfect viewing conditions as we paddled through the mangrove trails. We saw small lemon sharks right away and a couple of eagle rays at the mouth of the mangroves. As we paddled deeper into the mangroves, we saw plenty of snapper, puffer fish, and even a turtle!

At the deepest point in the mangroves, before we turned our boards around and paddled back out, we all sat down on our boards and Wes chatted with us about the ecosystem of the TCI mangroves which really made them come alive for us.

A few things we learned:

The mangroves are considered the ocean’s nursery, which is why it’s such a good spot to see so many of the species that we saw. Its protective nature keeps out bigger predators and acts as a safe haven for these sea creatures until they’re big enough to fend for themselves.

The mangroves are alive and actually one large organism.

The mangroves “walk” and so trails are constantly forming and closing as they move around.

The mangroves are only paddleable for a few hours a day at high tide.

We paddled out of the mangroves and back across the channel (be sure to save some energy for the paddle back-it’s challenging but the current helps!). Paddleboarding through the mangroves is the perfect way to see parts of the TCI that most tourists don’t see as well as gain an appreciation for the ecosystem of the islands and the role that the mangroves play, and it was an unexpected favorite part of our trip.

Book an excursion with SUP Provo here

More posts about this area:

Turks & Caicos Travel Tips

15 Things to Do in the Turks & Caicos

Horseback Riding with Provo Ponies in Turks & Caicos

Snorkeling in Turks & Caicos

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