Dive Into Turks & Caicos
Exploring the vibrant marine life is what brings many to the islands. The calm waters create ideal conditions for snorkeling, dazzling visitors' eyes with intricate corals and sunken ships. But that’s not all this country has to offer. For those who want a little more variety, there are hotels, spas, cruises, festivals and restaurants awaiting you. In fact, Turks & Caicos delights by serving some of the best cuisine, made with the freshest ingredients including the island’s seafood delicacy – conch. Above and below the water, there’s no place better than Turks if you’re in need of a break and a place to relax and get away.
Turks & Caicos Overview
Mapping Out Turks & Caicos
Turks & Caicos is made up of 40 different islands and cays, but only 8 are inhabited, making this Caribbean haven the ultimate escape. Providenciales, referred to as "Provo," is the main island with the majority of the resorts, restaurants and attractions. Provo has no rolling hills, verdant landscape or winding rural roads. But what it can claim is some of the best beaches in the region: wide and pristine swaths of white sand, fringed by impossibly blue waters that bring visitors back again and again. Grand Turk is the capital island of Turks & Caicos, but compared to Provo, there’s more of a small-town vibe on this island. The sleepy little village of Salt Cay is worth spending a day exploring. New projects are also in the process to bring tourism to Middle Caicos & North Caicos, but there’s already a lot to see here. Explore lush tropical foliage, caves and powdery beaches when you spend your time on these islands.
The main island on Turks & Caicos is commonly called "Provo" and is home to the island's claim to fame, the north-coast beach at Grace Bay. Once you sink your toes into its sugar-fine white sands and swim in the bathtub-warm waters, you’ll instantly understand why. The winds are gentle so the sands and surf never blow too hard, making this family-friendly beach perfect for swimming. Coral reefs border the shores, creating colorful scuba and snorkeling sites. And if you’re into water sports, you’re in the right place. Less than a mile from the shore, the seawall plummets 6,000 feet, making Provo a must-do for divers (the island also boasts the world’s third longest barrier reef). Take a paddleboard out for a leisurely journey through the mangroves, or join a boat or kayak tour of the cays that comprise the Princess Alexandra National Park.
The Island's Delicacy
You can't visit Turks & Caicos without tasting the island's seafood of choice, conch. You can find this tasty delicacy served in salads, gumbo, burgers and more. To top it off, Turks & Caicos is home to the only conch farm in the Caribbean, so it's a tour you won't want to miss. The Caicos Conch Farm is a modest operation that only takes about 30 minutes to tour but it's worth it, if only to see “stunt conchs” Jerry and Sally, who emerge from their shells on demand. At the Conch Farm, you can buy lamps and jewelry made from the pink-lipped mollusk, or simply pick up a polished empty shell as a memento. (Visitors may leave the TCI with as many as three, but they must be packed in checked luggage.)
Provo is gorgeous, but with roughly 39 other Turks and Caicos islands surrounding you, it’d be a shame to limit yourself to seeing just one. Be sure to take a day and see the other islands. Hop on the TCI Ferry and, 25 minutes later, you’ll be on North Caicos. Rent a car there and then drive across the causeway to Middle Caicos, where Bambarra Beach and Mudjin Harbour are two of the Caribbean’s most stunning–and least crowded–beaches. You can also see Wade’s Green Plantation and the Flamingo Pond, which has some of the prettiest pink flamingos around.
If you're staying off of Grace Bay Beach in Provo, then you'll for sure want to snorkel along the calm shores. The water is so still it will look like a swimming pool. And, you can venture south to Salt Cay for another gorgeous day exploring the seas. Salt Cay is very quiet and quaint. This slice of serenity will enchant you with its unspoiled town, peaceful beaches and warm waters. If you time it right, you’ll get to see humpback whales migrating south. Plan your trip to Salt Cay in the winter and early spring to see these majestic creatures swim the seas. Full of local charm, Salt Cay offers plenty of snorkeling and scuba diving.
Mix n' Mingle with Locals
Every Thursday evening, you'll find some of the best food served up fresh for you. Turks & Caicos' Island Fish Fry is now a favorite by both tourists and locals. You'll dine on fresh seafood cooked right on the spot, as well as jerk chicken, conch fritters and many other island specialties. A variety of food vendors are available, giving you plenty of options and flavors to enjoy. The island party includes live music, entertainment and one of the best ways to experience local culture in Turks & Caicos. Located at Bright Park, this happening Thursday night party is the place to be.
Turks & Caicos Quick Facts
English is the official language.
US dollar is the official currency.
All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport when traveling to and from Turks & Caicos.
The water is desalinated and safe to drink.
Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT -4 hours)
Tips & Transportation
Da Conch Shack, a seaside setup about 15 minute's drive from Grace Bay, is a must for lunch. Take a seat at a bench in the sand and feast on conch in all its iterations, from golden-fried to refreshingly raw, ceviche-style. And don’t leave without a cup of Rayon’s Infamous Rum Punch. (Just make sure you have a designated driver because this punch packs a wallop.)
One Gorgeous View
Located at Seven Stars Resort, Deck Bar is the place to be when the sun begins to set. This little gem of a bar and restaurant overlooks Grace Bay Beach and often features live entertainment. Savor the glorious sunset as it dips into the ocean.
Sip and Shop
While shopping in the Village in Grace Bay, look out for Flavors of the Turks and Caicos, which sells locally harvested sea salt, rum cakes, Turks Head beer, and five varieties of Bambarra rum, the local brand. (Tip: Plentiful samples mean you can sip and nibble as you shop.)
Providenciales International Airport (PLS) is the primary international airport for Turks and Caicos Islands.
Customs & Immigration
You’ll need your passport and a returning ticket when going through customs and immigrations. If you make any purchases while you’re visiting the islands, make sure you keep your receipts to claim the items on your return trip.
Getting to Your Hotel
To get to your hotel from the airport, it’s best to take a taxi. Many of the resorts will have taxis available for you, so it’s easy to hop off the plane and get your vacation started.
Getting Around Turks & Caicos
Traveling around town, you can take a taxi, rent a car or rent a bike. If you want to visit a neighboring island, then ferries are available for you.