The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory consisting of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands, two groups of tropical islands in the Lucayan Archipelago. The islands are located 550 miles Southeast of Miami just below the Bahamas and just to the East of Cuba.
The islands are known primarily for tourism and as an offshore financial centre. The resident population is about 31,500. The islands fell under British rule in the early 1800’s.
In 1973 the islands received their own governor and have remained a separate autonomous British Overseas Territory. However due to ministerial corruption in August 2009, the United Kingdom suspended the Turks and Caicos Islands’ self-government and took control of the islands again.
Providenciales is the tourism capital of the Turks and Caicos. It’s home to a busy international airport, some fairly eager development and its crowning glory, miles of beautiful white-sand beaches along its northern coast. This is the city most people will arrive through when holidaying on the islands, and, it was where I arrived too.
Turks and Caicos is a snorkelers and scuba divers paradise with its warm clear waters and colourful marine life. There are an abundance of snorkelling companies eager to offer you the best experiences.
Some Useful Information
ℹ️ Travel: Providenciales International airport is the main hub into the country. There are numerous flights in/out of the airport serving the US/Canada and The UK. There is no train service from the airport into the main resorts. Public transport is not very good. Aim for a rental car or use the numerous lines of private/rental taxi’s to transfer from the airport. Most people head to ‘Grace Bay’ – the drive is roughly 15 minutes and costs roughly GB£23 (US$33) depending where in Grace Bay you are staying.
ℹ️ Currency: The United States Dollar (US$)
ℹ️ Credit Cards and Banks: ATMs are common place in almost every shopping street, with several ‘bureau de change’ around the city centre, with almost every retailer accepting Mastercard and Visa. There is no fear of an establishment declining card payments.
ℹ️ Weather: As a small archipelago that is exposed to the open Atlantic Ocean, the Turks and Caicos often experiences rapid changes in the weather. It may be disappointing to see a forecast for rain during your stay, but the truth is that showers are often brief and localised. The best time to visit Turks & Caicos is April and May when the temperatures are comfortable and the crowds are fewer. From June through to November is classed as the Hurricane season.
What Does Turks and Caicos Offer?
Grace Bay Beach
Located in Providenciales the biggest attraction on the island is this famous stretch of sand, notably long and beautiful as with so many Caribbean beaches. The stretch of beach is peppered with hotels and resorts, its sheer size means that finding your own square of paradise is a easy.
Located in Cockburn Town I found it is small yet extremely lively bar is a popular hot spot with locals, expats and tourists alike. I ordered a burger here and I have to confess it was one of the best I have eaten, whats more, the food came with an incredible beachfront view!
The Turks and Caicos National Museum
Quite a quirky little attraction which offers a short reprieve from the beaches and shade from the sun. This great little museum has everything from shipwrecks to messages in bottles and the attraction is fairly reasonable on the entrance fee too (US$7/GB£4.50)
Island Thyme Bistro
This little restaurant and bar will create fond memories of your stay in Turks and Caicos. I found the food is great and is prepared and presented with a sense of enthusiasm.
There’s also a popular guest-chef night, where tourists have the opportunity to strut their stuff in the kitchen. Friday is pizza night and the restaurant prides itself on a flexible menu – I tried the roasted sucking pig which was delicious!
You have guessed it. An Irish themed Bar. I admit though I have a weakness for a sports bar and this became one of my favourite places….plus the food is mega cheap with a great selection of ice cold beers! Danny Buoys is the islands late bar. It has a huge terrace, sports on TV.
This is a moving underwater observatory that’s a big hit with the adults and children. It’s a cool way to see three different sections of the reef – as long as you are not claustrophobic.
There are four different tours to choose from and leave three times a day. Your ticket includes a free pick-up and drop-off at any hotel in the Grace Bay area. Check out their website here
Stingray and Snorkel Adventure
This is an organised trip to a place named Gibbs Cay were you can snorkel with the stingrays that inhabit the protected waters of this pristine island.
This 2 hour adventure in Grand Turk Cays Land and Sea National Park takes you by power catamaran to one of the best natural attractions of Turks and Caicos. You will stop along the way to snorkel in the barrier reef and then stand in shallow water to touch the rays as they glide past in the crystal clear water.
The tour begins by taking a catamaran for a comfortable 15 minutes ride to Gibbs Cay for your stingray encounter. The tour guide will make a stop for your small group to snorkel in the barrier reef, where parrot fish and butterfly fish are among the affluent species that swim through the colourful corals. The tour lasts around two hours and costs roughly GB£40/US$60.
For more information on Scuba Diving in the Turks and Caicos Islands visit: www.turksandcaicostourism.com/scuba-diving-turks-and-caicos-snorkeling-providenciales/
‘La Famille’ Shipwreck
In 2004, during Hurricane Frances, a privately owned freighter broke loose from its mooring and drifted into the Caribbean Sea. Today, the ‘La Famille Express’ rests on a reef in a few feet of water, abandoned and desolate.
It was built in 1952 by the Russian Navy as a cargo ship, the Fort Shevchenko. It was sold to an islander in the mid 1990s. Alone on the reef, rusting and decaying since the day it was wrecked, it serves as a visual landmark for boaters and a hidden attraction of the Turks and Caicos Islands.