The Turks and Caicos Islands are an undiscovered natural wonder and tropical paradise with 200 miles of pink and white sugar-sand beaches... WOW!
You also get a 230-mile coral reef with Top-10, world-class diving and snorkeling, spectacular deep-sea and bone fishing, sailing, kayaking, wind-surfing, kite-surfing, whale and bird watching, ancient underground caves and lagoons, archeological sites, historic towns and a near perfect dry and sunny climate.
So Where The Heck Are They ...?
The Turks and Caicos Islands are part of the West Indies lying just south of the Bahamas on the edge of the Caribbean Sea 575 miles (930 km) southeast from Miami and 90 miles (145 km) north of the Dominican Republic.
Although politically separate, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos archipelagos share the same geology sitting atop a flat underwater mountain divided only by the deep,
30-mile-wide Caicos Passage.
Let’s Take A Tour!
The Turks and Caicos Islands consist of 30+ large islands and small cays in two groups. Only eight of the islands are inhabited.
The “Caicos” group from west to east includes: West Caicos, Providenciales, Pine Cay, Parrot Cay, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos and South Caicos.
The “Turks” group lies southeast of South Caicos separated by the 7000-foot-deep, 22-mile-wide Turks Inside Passage which is theonly known annual breeding ground for thousands of giant North Atlantic humpback whales.
This group includes: Grand Turk (the capital) and Salt Cay.
Read a quick overview of each island below.
If you’ve had the wonderful of experience of visiting the Bahamian out-islands, then you’ll recognize the Turks and Caicos.
"I especially marvel at the luminous turquoise water surrounding the islands that is so brilliantly beautiful it is mesmerizing."
Certainly you expect beautiful water color around virtually any island escape, but the vivid radiance and subtle hues you see in the Turks and Caicos are truly unique to this archipelago (which geologically includes the Bahamas).
In my opinion, it's the water colors and the fantastic beaches that are found on every island in the chain that define the tranquil environment of The Turks and Caicos Islands, which otherwise are somewhat flat, rugged and more desert than tropical when compared to other Caribbean islands.
“Provo” as the locals call it, is the most populated (approx. 20,000) and developed of the Turks and Caicos Islands and where most of the “action” is.
The stunning 12-mile-long Grace Bay Beach is the centerpiece of the island and widely regarded as one of the best on the planet. Conde Nast says its the best beach in the world.
You’ll find accommodation of all types including many high-class luxury resorts and restaurants, a casino, an 18-hole golf course, two marinas, international airport, shopping, banking and medical facilities. Although development is certainly picking up, life on Provo is still very low-key. Hotels have plenty of space and you won’t see a high-rise.
This tiny private island is the location of the high-brow Meridian Club which was the first tourist development in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Another private island frequented by the ultra-rich and chic society set and home of the luxurious Parrot Cay club.
Many diving and snorkeling sites and the oldest known shipwreck in the western hemisphere attract visitors here. Currently uninhabited, the Ritz-Carlton Molasses Reef Resort named after the reef Columbus’s Pinta supposedly sunk on, is set to open next year.
Called the “Garden Island,” North Caicos gets the most rainfall and supports more lush vegetation than the other Turks and Caicos islands. A small population (approx. 2000) is scattered among 4 settlements.
Great north shore beaches, excellent bonefishing, hiking, kayaking, birding and two national parks attract nature lovers, expats, escape artists, beach bums and adventurers alike. A handful of small, laid-back but comfortable guest inns and hotels serve the island and make for a blissful retreat.
Dramatic limestone cliffs, scalloped bays, pristine beaches, underground caverns, ancient archaeological sites, cotton plantation ruins, flamingos, a marine blue hole and a 10-mile coastal trail make Middle Caicos, like its neighbor North Caicos, an eco-tourist delight.
The largest of the Turks and Caicos islands, its three tiny hamlets support a small (pop. 500), friendly population. Only a few casual cottages and guest houses provide lodging. Perfect for secluded relaxation.
Reached only by boat and almost uninhabited, East Caicos is reserved for the more adventurous with flocks of flamingos, herds of wild cattle and miles of glorious, deserted beaches.
All this could change soon though. I don’t know too much about it, but apparently a new cruise ship terminal may be built here along with a bridge to South Caicos as part of the pan-Caicos highway slated to link all the closely aligned Caicos islands. No lodging.
Diving the impressive big wall along the east coast, witnessing the winter breeding of humpback whales and stalking bonefish across the 40-mile-wide nature reserve and sand flats of the Caicos Bank are the main attractions along with the same magnificent beaches found on all of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
A couple of charming B & Bs and three newly-constructed resorts invite you to enjoy this dreamy hideaway.
Funky Cockburn Town (pop. 6000) is the second largest town and 400-year-old capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Colonial buildings line the sleepy streets of this tiny outpost where wild horses, cattle and donkeys roam around. Be sure to visit the impressive Turks and Caicos National Museum.
The big deal here is the abrupt 8000 foot drop of the ocean floor that occurs just a few hundred yards offshore creating a massive buffet for the schooling tuna, wahoo and dolphin—you might catch a fish or ...two dozen. The diving is exciting as well. Bonefishing, wind-surfing, limestone cliffs, inland caves and beautiful beaches also await your exploration.
This picturesque island dotted with windmills and old salt sheds was once the epicenter of world wide salt production. Wild horses, donkeys and iguanas wander around the island and historic Balfour Town—a tiny settlement (pop. 200) with old, quaint two-story homes. Charming inns and hotels full of personality offer superb dinning. Beaches and swimming are excellent.
Salt Cay is also noted as perhaps the best spot to view the winter humpback whalebreeding. I have not had the opportunity, but I’m told they are often so close that you can wade out and touch them or swim with them! Awesome!
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