This area is an expansive and largely inaccessible nature reserve on the west coast of Providenciales. Kayaking and paddleboarding is excellent in the mangrove wetlands, but due to the remote location and potential crime risk it’s recommended that arrangements are made through a local water sports business familiar with the area.
5-star rating for Frenchman's Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve by Visit Turks and Caicos Islands
The vast majority of the interior wetlands of Frenchman’s Creek is quite shallow, but bottleneck channels are often deeper due to the water movement caused by tides.
The Frenchman’s Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve is the largest section of protected land on Providenciales, and covers an area of roughly 8 square miles (21 sq km). Inside the nature reserve are many unique and special natural features, including West Harbour Bluff with Split Rock and the Pirate's Cave, Bonefish Point, Flamingo Creek Bay, the Proggin Bay salt flats, Pigeon Pond, and the White Flamingo Pond Blue Hole.
A wonderful spectrum of unique Turks and Caicos terrains and natural features are represented in the nature reserve, including lush red, black, and white mangrove wetlands, sandy beaches, coral reefs, ocean cliffs, dry and expansive underwater cave systems, blue holes, natural salt flats, seasonal fresh water ponds, and some of the best examples of weathered marine limestone ‘ironshore’ in the country.
Unfortunately, access to many of the spectacular sights is difficult, due to a lack of roads and accesses. Much of the interior and coastline is remote and causal visits are not feasible.
This sanctuary is a haven for a wide array of wildlife, including giant blue land crabs, many types of birds, and conch, hawksbill turtles, lemon sharks, and many types of fish.
West Harbour Bluff in the Frenchman's Creek Nature Reserve.
In addition to the natural treasures, Frenchman’s Creek is home to many historical sites, spanning from the pre-Columbian Lucayans to the post-Loyalist period. What was likely the second largest Lucayan village location in the Turks and Caicos is one of the many such important locations inside the nature reserve.
Frenchman’s Creek has ample evidence of logging. Stumps and worked lumber show that many of the larger trees in the area were cut down, most likely to be made into fittings for Caicos Sloops as although the trees found in these saline marshes never reach great heights, their wood is often quite strong and extremely resistant to rot.
In other areas are very old burn mounds, likely the remains of charcoal kilns from the post-Loyalist era. Examples of old glass bottles found in the area suggest that these events happened between the early and late 1800s.
Pigeon Pond in the Frenchman’s Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve.
Pigeon Pond is a land locked hyper saline shallow body of water found on the northeast end of the nature reserve. Although difficult to access, the area has unique rock formations and at times have large numbers of bird life. During the dry season, expanses of mud flats are exposed when the water level gets low.
Pigeon Pond is one of the few areas on Providenciales where there’s a decent chance of spotting Caribbean flamingos.
Juvenile Lemon Shark in the wetlands of Frenchman's Creek.
The southern half of this nature reserve is a maze of mangrove trees and shallow channels of water.
Small lemon sharks, bonefish, and conch are plentiful, and the area is great for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Conditions are good when wind speed isn’t too high, yet be aware that there can be currents in some of the channels when the tide is going out.
The best spot for launching is found about four and a quarter miles down the road (Tom Lightbourne Drive) to West Harbour Bluff.
The beautiful beach at West Harbour Bluff in the Frenchman’s Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve.
West Harbor Bluff is the southwest point of Providenciales and part of the Frenchman’s Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve. A cave, 200-year-old rock inscriptions, and limestone ocean cliffs are found on this small peninsula.
An unpaved road leads out to West Harbor Bluff, yet some stretches can be quite rough for small rental cars. If you'd like to explore the remote western side of Providenciales, it makes sense to rent a 4x4 or jeep.
To the north of West Harbour Bluff is the secluded beach of Bonefish Point.
Buccaneer palms in the Frenchman's Creek Nature Reserve. The palms in this photo were stolen, likely in 2017.
Sometime in 2017, hundreds of buccaneer palms (Pseudophoenix sargentii) of all sizes were stolen from the Frenchman’s Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve, including examples that exceed 12-14 feet tall (4-4.5 m). The buccaneer palm is a very rare native palm in the Turks and Caicos, and one that is considered to be critically endangered in the state of Florida.
This isolated seeding population of buccaneer palms included nearly every wild example of the tree on Providenciales and was very important to the environment and biodiversity of the Turks and Caicos, especially considering their genetic isolation from the likewise limited populations of the palms found on North Caicos and Middle Caicos.
To date, the government has been unwilling or unable to find and prosecute those responsible for stealing hundreds of easily-identified and unique palms, and the subsequent extensive ecological damage. If you have any information on the theft of these trees, please contact the Royal Turks and Caicos Police and the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources.
Government Proposed Reductions to the Nature Reserve
Ponds and sabal palm forests can be found in the interior of the nature reserve.
As of 2020, the Turks and Caicos Government continues to consider removing extensive areas from both the Frenchman’s Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve, and the adjacent Chalk Sound National Park. Such proposed reductions include West Harbour Bluff, the Pirate’s Cave and Split Rock, and most of the beach in the nature reserve.
Despite outcry and receiving almost unanimous opposition during their public consultation period, the government continues to consider these reductions.
Frenchman’s Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve is the largest section of protected land on Providenciales and covers an area that’s roughly two by four miles. Several different types of local terrains are represented here, including mangrove wetlands, sandy beaches, sea cliffs and inland saline ponds.