If you’re craving days spent hopping from one dreamy beach to another, Turks and Caicos may just be the ideal destination for you.
This tropical archipelago is located just east of the Bahamas and consists of dozens of islets and cays, of which only 8 are inhabited. This means it’s easy to go from a popular lively beach to an almost pristine one in no time, making it a perfect place to visit for those who want to mix things up a bit.
Moreover, the islands are surrounded by the third largest coral reef barrier in the world, making it a haven for those who love exploring underwater. The food scene is also wonderful, with options ranging from uber local eateries to high-end fusion restaurants.
If you’re currently planning your trip to Turks and Caicos, I’ve put together the ultimate guide to the islands so you can make the most out of your vacation to this incredibly underrated destination!
Know before you go
- Be aware that there is no public transport, bus, or train services in Turks and Caicos. There are taxis to take you around, but they are a bit pricey, so you might be better off renting a car if you plan to move from one place to the other OR if you plan to stay at your resort most of the time, book a ride from the airport.
- Getting around the islands: TCI Ferry Providenciales will take you and your car from Providenciales, the main island, to the Middle and North Caicos islands.
- Turks and Caicos is part of the United Kingdom. English is spoken and the currency used is the American dollar.
- Wi-fi is pretty decent throughout the islands, especially in Providenciales.
- The voltage is 120 and the plugs are the same ones used in the United States.
- The airport when you leave to go back home, is mostly outside. I would highly recommend NOT getting there more than two hours before your flight. I made that mistake in June a couple years ago and we stood outside pouring sweat for what felt like forever.
The best things to do in Turks and Caicos
Some of these items are on other islands within Turks and Caicos – so you will need to plan in advance of your trip.
Meet Jojo the Dolphin at Grace Bay Beach
Grace Bay Beach is considered the crown jewel in the Turks and Caicos archipelago.
Its exquisite powdery sand and eye-popping shades of turquoise waters have earned this gorgeous spot a place on the top-best beaches in the world.
Surrounded by off-shore coral reefs, the calm waters of this Providenciales Island beach are ideal for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. Close to the shore, you’ll find a vibrant reef that brims with marine life, including the famous Jojo, a friendly bottle-nosed dolphin that has been known to interact with humans every now and then and is considered a national treasure of Turks and Caicos!
Snorkel at Coral Gardens
Within walking distance from Grace Bay Beach lies Coral Gardens, a highlight of Princess Alexandra National Park.
Also known as Bight Reef, Coral Gables is a great starting point for snorkeling on Providenciales before venturing out to other snorkeling spots in the islands. The reef harbors a wide array of colorful fish, turtles, stingrays, and other fascinating marine life that are pretty used to humans, so they tend to be very approachable.
Kayak and paddleboard at Mangrove Cay
Hire a glass-bottom kayak or paddleboard and explore the alluring Mangrove Cay at your own pace.
This 286-acre cay is located close to Providenciales and just happens to be a wonderful place to kayak and paddleboard for newbies thanks to its calm waters. The red mangroves that gave the cay its name cover most of the area, creating a beautiful landscape of contrasting colors.
Kiteboard at Long Bay Beach
Long Bay is a gorgeous white sandy beach that stretches for 3 miles over striking turquoise waters. The large stretch of shallow waters and great southeast winds make it a mecca for kiteboarding during the afternoons!
Explore the islands of Chalk Sound National Park
A 30-minute drive from Grace Bay will take you to Chalk Sound National Park, which encompasses a beautiful lagoon separated from the ocean by a narrow stretch of sand. The shallow bright blue waters of the lagoon are dotted with tiny green-covered rock islands, where tons of iguanas love to hang out to soak up the sun.
Kayaks and paddleboard rentals are available for you to explore the national park and its islands on a self-guided tour.
Get local at Sapodilla Bay
On the coastal side of Chalk Sound National Park, you’ll find a peaceful strip of beach tucked away in a secluded cove.
Like many other beaches in Providenciales, Sapodilla Bay is eye candy. What makes this beach so unique is that it’s a favorite hangout spot for locals, making it the best beach in Turks and Caicos for a local experience.
Swim with stingrays at Gibbs Bay
Gibbs Bay is a beautiful small island located about a mile off the coast of Grand Turk. Also dubbed Stingray City, the main activity to do here is snorkeling with stingrays. They are quite approachable and sometimes will even allow you to pet them!
Gibbs Bay can be reached by boat. Tours depart from Grand Turk Island. If you’re not super keen on snorkeling or petting stingrays, though, the natural beauty of the island is still well worth the trip!
Turks and Caicos National Museum
Established in 1991 at Guinep House, one of the oldest buildings in Grand Turk, the Turks and Caicos National Museum’s main exhibit is the Molasses Reef Wreck, a 1500s caravel and the oldest European ship remains found on the American continent. It is unknown if it was built by the Spanish or the Portuguese.
Aside from the main exhibit, there’s plenty more to do at this wonderful museum, including admiring artifacts from the Tainos – or Lucayans – people who inhabited the Turks and Caicos since 700 A.D., as well as Spanish coins from the 15th century, historical flags, and other objects used by early European settlers that will give you a pretty good idea of what life was like on the islands throughout time.
See iguanas at Little Water Cay
Also known as Iguana Island, Little Water Cay is the only island in Turks and Caicos that harbors Rock Iguanas.
These endangered creatures can be spotted from boardwalks specially built to protect them and their natural environment. As you walk over the boards, you’ll be able to admire the iguanas without disturbing them.
Little Water Cay can be reached by kayak or boat. After seeing the iguanas, you can spend a few hours swimming and relaxing at the beach.
Dive and snorkel in the Columbus Passage
The Columbus Passage is a marine corridor that separates the Turks from the Caicos islands.
Thanks to its location, the passage is a popular route for migrating whales, dolphins, stingrays, and turtles, making it an incredible place to visit to explore the magnificent marine life that surrounds Turks and Caicos.
Eat everything at the Turks and Caicos Island Fish Fry
If you want to experience true island culture, you can’t miss the Turks & Caicos Fish Fry.
This local event takes place every Thursday from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm from December to August. Locals mingle with tourists in a festive atmosphere while restaurants sell their tastiest eats and local artists set up shop to showcase their goods.
Try out fresh fish, coconuts, conch, peas and rice, rum punches, and local beer while the sound of live music fills up the air and cultural performances take place.
Hike or bike the Crossing Place Trail to Mudjin Harbor
Located in the north part of Middle Caicos, Mudjin Harbor is a striking white-sand beach lagoon surrounded by breathtaking cliffs.
Even though Mudjin Harbor can be reached by car, a marvelous way to get there is by hiking or biking the historical Crossing Place Trail, which was originally established during the 17th century to connect the Caicos Islands for trade purposes.
Today, The Crossing Place Trail is now registered as a National Heritage Site will take you through beautiful hills, striking beaches, and caves as you make your way to Mudjin Harbor.
Walk over to Dragon Cay
Separated by a narrow strip of sand from Mudjin Harbor, Dragon Cay is a tiny limestone island that resembles a dragon when viewed from the beach.
The cay can easily be reached on foot on low and middle tides and the landscape you’ll find there is pure eye candy. In fact, most of the photos you’ll see of Mudjin Harbor feature Dragon Cay! As a tip, there is a small beach nestled in the interior part of the cay.
Delight in delicious island flavors
Among other things, Turks & Caicos is a foodie’s paradise.
Turks and Caicos cuisine is a blend of Lucayan, African, Spanish, Jamaican, and Bahamian cultures, so you can expect a great variety and fusions.
To experience the best of what Turks and Caicos has to offer when it comes to gastronomy, make sure to try the local dishes. Cracked conch, conch ceviche, boiled fish and grits, conch fritters, Johnny Cakes, blackened chicken and fish, crab and rice, coconut conch chowder, and hominy grits are just a few of the favorites. As you might have noticed, the conch is a favorite ingredient for islanders!
You can accompany your dishes with beer and rum punches. Of course, you can also find pizzas, hamburgers, and a whole lot of international food options all over the island.
If you’re a serious foodie, you might want to consider visiting the islands in November to catch the Food and Wine Festival, when chefs and wineries from all over the world gather to showcase their delicacies.
You can also do a “Taste of Turks and Caicos” food tour.
Fishing is one of the main activities in Turks and Caicos for visitors and locals alike. There are plenty of boat tours available where you’ll not only get to go fishing out to the open sea, but you’ll also get to cook your catch at a bonfire at the beach with rum in hand!
Get off the beaten path at Salt Cay
Once a thriving salt producer, Salt Cay is a tiny island that was once an extremely important place for Turks and Caicos when lack of refrigeration made it necessary to dry meat in order to keep it as fresh as possible.
Today, Salt Cay is a perfect destination to visit for those who want to see a more off-the-beaten-path place in Turks and Caicos. It’s the smallest of inhabited islands with a population of just over a hundred people that just happens to be a haven for secluded and pristine beaches.
You’ll find no paved roads, very few cars, no modern buildings, and only a few limestone colonial buildings in Balfour Town and three small restaurants. As for wildlife, you’ll find donkeys, wild cattle, and many iguanas. You can also spot humpback whales from late January to mid April.
Check out the Grand Turk Lighthouse
The Grand Turk Lighthouse and the keeper’s house adjacent to it are the main historical attractions on Grand Turk and the only lighthouse in the country.
The lighthouse was set during the 10th century to prevent shipwrecks. While it’s not operational anymore, its grounds are open for visitors to freely explore. After checking out the island, you can hike along the scenic coastal path north of the lighthouse.
Where to Stay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages and Spa
An all-inclusive and family-friendly beachside resort that homes five themed villages made to resemble Italy, France, the Caribbean, and Key West. Amenities include a 45,000 square-foot waterpark, 10 different pools, 21 restaurants, and a 12-mile long white sandy beach.
If you are looking for a true all-inclusive – this is where you want to stay.
Ritz-Carlton Turks and Caicos
Currently the newest resort on the island and sits along the azure waters of Grace Bay. If you are looking for a luxury stay on a stunning beach with world-class dining – this is your resort.
Grace Bay Club
Featuring a private beach, a spa, three different pools, and an infinity bar that extends right into the ocean, Grace Bay Club is a perfect go-to for those looking for absolute luxury. The hotel offers an adults-only section (The Hotel), a family-friendly section (The Villas Suites), and a luxurious, VIP-like section (The Estate).
Part of the Aman Hotels family and infinitely different from any other resort in the country. The resort sits on an 18,000 acre Nature Preserve and offers total seclusion for the break and escape you seek. Amanyara has a focus on restorative wellness.
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