The word iguana prompts images that range from Gordon Gecko to Godzilla. But the chance to see a real iguana in its own habitat is rare to those who come from more northern climates. The Turks and Caicos comprise a multitude of "cays", small low elevation islands made mostly of sand or coral. Each has its own unique features, but one in particular is noted for its unique creatures. Popularly known as "Iguana Island", Little Water Cay is located off the east coast of Providenciales and is home to hundreds of docile lizards called Turks and Caicos Rock Iguanas.
The iguanas used to thrive on all the islands in the Turks and Caicos. They numbered in the thousands. But the introduction of mammals like cats and dogs and increased land development reduced the population to the endangered status. Dr. Glenn Gerber with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has been working with the Turks and Caicos National Trust to preserve these reptiles.
The Little Bay Cay Reserve grants visitors the extraordinary opportunity to see these rare creatures in their own setting. Two boardwalks have been built on the trails so that people can walk along close to the approximately 2000 rock iguanas without stepping on them or disturbing their living area. The northern boardwalk is more strenuous due to elevation, but both boardwalks offer the same wonderful nature experience.
Visitors can reach Little Water Cay by kayak, ferry or boat from Leeward Marina, Providenciales. There are lots of travel options: take a boat excursion tour such as Shoreline Adventures, rent a kayak through various outlets such as Big Blue or board a ferry with Caribbean Cruisin'. The admission fee is $5.00, a nominal fee which goes toward preserving these reptiles whose existence is in jeopardy and who represent the cherished symbol of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
A visit to Little Water Cay grants a rare glimpse into the world of the iguana where the tourist can experience being a guest in this creature's home setting.