Turks & Caicos is such a beautiful island. If you are a beach person there are spectacular white sand beaches plus amazing multi-hued turquoise waters. I am sure Turks will be at the top of your favorite beach destinations! Recently, Condé Nast Traveler voted Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales (Provo) as The World’s #1 Beach. And now with so many outstanding resorts to choose from, the appeal has grown significantly. Add to that the close proximity of the islands to the U.S. and the fact that English is the official language and the U.S. dollar the official currency and it becomes even more appealing for those looking for a comfortably familiar island escape. Always a favorite with honeymooners and couples planning their dream wedding, Turks & Caicos is now fast becoming a great family destination as well. If you love the beach and water activities – this is definitely a destination you should consider.
The Turks & Caicos Islands consist of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited. The islands are located 550 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, just below the Bahamas chain and just to the east of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola. (Technically, the Turks & Caicos are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea.) The islands are home to roughly 30,000 full time residents, and welcome more than 200,000 tourists annually. Since the first resort opened in the ’80s, most of the island’s development has been in the last six or seven years; things are so new, it’s not just the turquoise water that sparkles or the white sand beaches that shine…it’s all the impressive enhanced and new resorts too!
The vast majority of people come to the Turks & Caicos to relax and enjoy the clear, turquoise water and its plethora of water activities. Provo has excellent beaches, particularly the long, soft beach along stunning Grace Bay, where most of the island’s hotel development has taken place. (Psst…It is said that some of the smaller, more-isolated islands in the chain have even better beaches – hard to believe! but seeing is believing so be sure to check them out.)
- Reefs are plentiful and are often close to shore, making snorkeling spots excellent. The reef and wall diving are among the best in the Caribbean. Surrounded by the third largest coral reef system in the world, the still pristine dive sites feature bountiful and diverse fish populations.
- The same reefs that draw colorful tropical fish draw big-game fish, so deep sea fishing is also quite good and very popular.
- If you are a golfer, Provo has one of the Caribbean’s finest courses.
- You can get a bird’s eye view of stunning beaches and cliffs with surprisingly affordable flightseeing options. Watch the aquamarine waters for sea life and you’re at a safe distance for shark-spotting.
- Day trips from Provo to the beautifully preserved Salt Cay are possible on Caicos Express flights for around $160 roundtrip.
- Rent a golf cart or bike to seek out great snorkeling spots and pirate graves.
- In February and March, you’ll be treated to daily whale sightings.
Explore the Islands – From developed Provo to sleepy Grand Turk to sleepier South Caicos, the islands offer miles of undeveloped beaches, crystal-clear water and abundant sea life. For such a small archipelago, the Turks & Caicos offers much diversity; each island has a unique personality, so tempted as you will be to stick to Provo and all it has to offer – don’t miss an opportunity to venture out and explore at least a couple of the other islands. You’ll be rewarded with stunning beaches that are truly secluded. You’ll view landscapes that take your breath away. You’ll meet local people that may become your friends for life. You’ll learn how creative people can be when they live in an isolated place. And best of all, you’ll step back in time to a more laid back era with old Caribbean charm. Ferries and light aircraft make the island-hopping trips on a regular basis (or somewhat regular basis – it’s the islands after all!), and your concierge at your resort can assist with arrangements.
East Caicos: One of the many uninhabited islands of the Turks & Caicos known for its plantation ruins and cave artwork. There are miles of beaches perfect for the adventurous beachcomber as well as beautiful views from the highest point in the Turks & Caicos.
Grand Turk: Founded by Bermudan Salt Rakers centuries ago, Grand Turk is the administrative and political center with Cockburn Town as its capital. The island is reminiscent of Colonial Bermuda with many historical buildings and has a countryside warmth to it. Just 7 miles long and a little more than 1 mile wide, Grand Turk is widely known as one of the top ten scuba diving destinations in the world.
Little Water Cay: This small, uninhabited cay is a protected area under the Turks & Caicos National Trust. On these 150 acres are two trails, small lakes, red mangroves, and an abundance of native plants.
Middle Caicos: At 48 sq. miles and with fewer than 300 residents, this is the largest and least developed of the inhabited islands in the Turks & Caicos chain, with a fantastic network of caves to explore.
North Caicos: Thanks to abundant rainfall, this 41 sq. mile island is the lushest of the Turks and Caicos. Bird lovers will see the home of the pick flamingo reserve, anglers can find shallow creeks full of bonefish, and history buffs can visit the ruins of a Loyalist plantation.
Parrot Cay: Once said to be a hideout for pirate Calico Jack Rackham and his lady cohorts Mary Read and Anne Bonny and now the ultimate getaway for the rich and famous, the 1,000-acre cay, between Fort George Cay and North Caicos, is now the site of an ultra-exclusive hideaway resort, a holistic health spa, and upscale homesites.
Pine Cay: Pine Cay’s 2½ mile long beach is among the most beautiful in the archipelago. The 800-acre private island is home to a secluded resort and around 37 private residences. Visitors are welcome by prior arrangement.
Providenciales: Arriving tourists typically become awe-struck when their plane starts its descent, mesmerized by the shallow, crystal-clear turquoise waters of Chalk Sound National Park. This island, nicknamed “Provo”, is by far the most developed of all the islands and is home to Grace Bay Beach and its miles of world-class resorts.
Salt Cay: (pictured above) Fewer than 100 people live on this 2½ sq. mile dot of land, maintaining an unassuming lifestyle against a backdrop of stucco cottages, stone ruins, and weathered wooden windmills. Little has changed in Salt Cay since 1900, when the Salt Industry flourished.
South Caicos: This 8½ sq. mile island was once an important salt producer; today it’s the heart of the fishing industry. Nature prevails, with long, white beaches, jagged bluffs, quiet backwater bays and salt flats.
West Caicos: Currently uninhabited, with stunning views of a dramatic coastline, world class diving sites and an array of wildlife, divers often spot turtles, eagle rays and a plethora of marine life just off its famous cascading wall, dropping to an amazing 7,000 feet just off the shoreline.
Airports: The main gateway into the Turks & Caicos Islands is Providenciales International Airport (PLS). There are smaller airports on Grand Turk (GDT), North Caicos (NCS), Middle Caicos (MDS), South Caicos (XSC), and Salt Cay (SLX). All have paved runways in good condition. Even if you are going on to other islands in the chain, you will most likely stop in Provo first for customs, then take a domestic flight onward. It’s easier now than ever before to get to Turks & Caicos, with new direct air service from a wide range of U.S. gateways being added all the time.
Taxis: You can find taxis at the airports, and some resorts provide pickup service as well. A trip between Provo’s airport and most major hotels runs about $12 per person. Transfers can cost more on the smaller islands, where gas is much more expensive. Taxis (actually large vans) in Providenciales are metered, and rates are regulated by the government at $2 per person per mile traveled.
Driving: Driving is on the left side of the road, British-style (T&C is a British Overseas Territory after all.) The maximum speed is 40 mph, 20 mph through settlements, and speed limits, as well as the use of seat belts, are strictly enforced.
Note: If you are staying on Provo, you may find it useful to have a car since the island is so large and the resorts are so far-flung, if only for a few days of exploring or to get away from your hotel for dinner. Car- and jeep-rental rates average $39 to $80 per day on Provo, plus a $15 surcharge per rental as a government tax. Reserve well ahead of time during the peak winter season. Most agencies offer free mileage and airport pickup service. Avis and Budget have offices on the islands. There are also local agencies if you prefer.
You’ll find plenty of bars, music clubs and exciting casino action on Provo. A must-see, the Infiniti Bar at the Grace Bay Club is the longest (and arguably the coolest!) bar in the Caribbean at 90 feet, stretching its black marble from the restaurant at the Grace Bay Club all the way to (and, seemingly, into) the ocean. The bar is the most active in the evening though it is a great place to hang out during the day too. It is the first infinity-edge bar in the world and features full restaurant service allowing guests to dine under shaded umbrellas with waves lapping at their feet. Casino gambling is legal in the Turks & Caicos and Providenciales features two full casinos. Casablanca Casino in Provo offers blackjack, American roulette, poker, craps and baccarat as well as a wide array of video gaming terminal and slot machines and is open from 7pm until 5am. The Player’s Club is located near Turtle Cove Marina and offers similar gaming options as well as a full service restaurant and bar upstairs. Most bars and nightclubs on the island offer video gaming terminals to test your luck.
Venture out from your resort for modern takes on Turks & Caicos’ classic island flavors. You’ll be treated to local favorites as well as delightful imports from other island nations. Island delicacies such as conch, prepared in a multitude of mouth-watering ways, will vie for your attention with Jamaican specialities such as jerked chicken and curried goat. If you’re slightly less adventurous with your palate, never fear, there’s always a good old-fashioned cheeseburger or tasty pizza prepared just the way you like it.
WHEN TO GO
High season in Turks & Caicos runs roughly from January through March, with the usual premium rates during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period. Several hotels on Provo offer shoulder season rates in April and May. During the off-season, rates are reduced substantially, as much as 40%. You can find specials even during peak seasons though, so don’t hesitate to call for specials any time.
There are two major festivals in the Turks & Caicos. In summer, big names play at the annual Turks & Caicos Music and Cultural Festival, usually held in August. At the end of November, the Turks & Caicos Conch Festival offers local boat races, live music, and conch recipe competitions at the island’s most famous culinary extravaganza.
Visitors to the Turks & Caicos islands will experience world class fishing and snorkeling, outstanding diving off one of the largest coral reef systems in the world and spectacular powder-soft beaches. With water so turquoise that it glows, you may find it difficult to stray far from the beach, and since the beaches are among the most incredible you will ever see, don’t be surprised if you wake up on your last morning and realize that you didn’t find a lot of time for anything else. Indulge your ideal vacation fantasy of the ultimate, relaxing island escape at one of the many award-winning resorts. Turks & Caicos – so easy to get to but so difficult to leave!
We at Colesville Travel constantly endeavor to help our clients find the perfect destination. If you love beautiful beaches, Turks and Caicos is for you. So call us today at 301-989-1654 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start planning your next vacation.
Colesville Travel, LLC
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