Morning work commutes are a hassle for most people. Carpool logistics, rush hour traffic, and the whiplash of leaving the freedom of the weekend for the monotony of the week can make some mornings, especially Mondays, less than thrilling. For a Big Blue Collective Eco Tour Guide like Kenorico Forbes, the only Monday blues he gets are the shades of azure, cobalt, and turquoise he sees whilst crossing the Leeward Going Through Channel on his way to ‘the office.’
With a smile on his face and an acoustic guitar on his back, Forbes, known as Rico, leads Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) and kayaking tours into the mangroves and uninhabited Caicos Cays with the joy of someone truly doing what they love. Following the 25-year-old to a sandbar that has appeared in the blue like a mirage in the desert gives us a chance to experience an incredibly unique approach to being on the water in Turks and Caicos.
For over 21 years, the Big Blue Collective, made up of divers, riders, paddlers, guides and captains, has specialized in Turks & Caicos eco-adventures. The team has focused on blending lifestyles devoted to nature and conservationism, with career paths that prioritize an uplifting team spirit and adventures that fuel a passion for the job.
Sitting on a sandbar in the middle of the Leeward Channel while Rico excitedly points out a passing baby nurse shark with the glee of a toddler yelling ‘plane!’, it’s clear to see that Big Blue Eco Tour Guides like Forbes truly live for the experiences they are sharing with the groups they take out into diverse ecosystems that range from shallow wetlands to mazes of mangroves, iguana inhabited cays and driftwood adorned white sand beaches just a short distance away from their home base near the Blue Haven Marina.
Philip Shearer, co-owner of Big Blue Collective, emphasizes the team’s commitment to providing intimate natural experiences with guides like Forbes, saying, “The oceans, the seas and these islands continually provide us with inspiration and surprises that keep us humble. We are staying true to our roots even while growing, we are steadfastly committed to small groups and a culture that minimizes our environmental impact.”
That ‘less is more’ philosophy shines through as waves from a passing boat wash up on the sand-bar where Rico is now composing a beautiful acoustic tune for an audience of one bobbing sea turtle. His tour is about appreciating the glorious simplicity of a sprawling natural playground, doing nothing to harm it, and making the experience as tranquil, knowledgeable, and enjoyable as possible for his guests.
There is no rush getting to Mangrove Cay, the 286-acre uninhabited island located close off the north-eastern end of Providenciales. Mangrove Cay, along with Donna Cay and Little Water Cay, make up the Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve inside the Princess Alexandra National Park. “Welcome to my office!” Providenciales born and raised Forbes says playfully as his SUP and our kayaks make landfall and we suppress our jealousy that this is actually someone’s job – someone’s life.
“These are black mangroves,” he says softly, as if touching and speaking to and about a beloved elder. Each word that follows is carefully studied and naturally delivered with the quiet confidence that has endeared Forbes to Big Blue Collective guests and team members alike. Counting his blessings, Forbes says, “I’m working for a great company, I work with an amazing team, I work in a beautiful environment, every day I meet awesome people and I get to bring my guitar to work. What could be better than that?”
Story & Images: Dominique Rolle/Caya Hico Media