2021 Turks & Caicos Visitors Guide
With 230 miles of white sandy beaches and one of the largest coral reef systems in the world, Turks & Caicos is a premier destination in the Caribbean for diving, snorkeling and just relaxing on the ideal beach. Turks & Caicos is a beautiful group of 40 islands just 75 minutes from Miami by plane. Only eight of these islands are inhabited, and each one is very different from the next.
Providenciales is the most well known of the Turks and Caicos Islands and is the center of the tourism industry with a wide range of hotels, restaurants, attractions, and facilities. Grand Turk and Salt Cay have some of the best diving, great architecture and the most tranquility of the populated islands.
Middle Caicos and North Caicos are the lushest with green forests and the biggest cave network in the Caribbean. North Caicos has a variety of plant and birdlife. Smaller South Caicos is the center for fishing, processing most of the nation’s lobster, conch and fish for export and local consumption. There are many secluded beaches with views of surrounding islands and the Boiling Hole, which fed the salt pans that once made South Caicos the island’s largest producer of salt. Parrot Cay and Pine Cay are privately owned islands and have the luxurious Parrot Cay Resort and Spa, and the Meridian Club.
Getting To and Around Turks & Caicos
American Airlines, US Airways, Delta Airlines, Air Canada and British Airways offer direct routes from many US and Canadian cities. Flights are usually direct to Providenciales Island. Transfers to other islands are in small prop planes. Lynx Air does offer direct flights to Grand Turk from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
North American visitors can show proof of citizenship with a birth certificate or voter’s registration card and photo ID, all other nationalities need passports to access the islands.
GETTING AROUND THE ISLANDS
Getting between the islands is easiest by plane. Sky King, InterIsland Airways and Turks & Caicos Airways fly between all islands except West and East Caicos, which are uninhabited. The Caicos Express ferry runs between Provo and Sandy Point on North Caicos. It stops by request at Pine Cay, Parrot Cay and Middle Caicos. Sand Dollar Tours has a private boat service between Salt Cay and Grand Turk.
Taxis are available on all the inhabited islands, but negotiate a price before going anywhere. Fares are usually based on distance and the number of passengers. Most likely a taxi will be at the airports to meet incoming flights, if not, you can call one from the airport. On South Caicos, Cockburn Town Airport has one taxi driver on the island that will most likely be waiting for you when you land. Provo Airport is just west of Providenciales and has plenty of taxis.
Cars and motorcycles can be rented on Provo and Grand Turk only. Drive on the left. One-speed bicycles can be rented at many hotels and sport rental outfits.
Activities & Attractions in Turks & Caicos
The Turks and Caicos Islands have 1,000 square miles of reef surrounding them, making this area an excellent diving location. Although if you don’t dive, the islands offer many other activities like sailing, windsurfing, boating, fishing, golf, tennis, animal sightings and hiking, although it will be pretty hard to leave the beach. They are some of the most beautiful you’ll ever see and have been named by Conde Nast Traveler “The Best Tropical Beaches in the Word.”
- Birdwatchers can find ospreys, sparrow hawks, barn owls, pelicans and frigate birds throughout the islands.
- Flamingos can be found on West, North and South Caicos; the Cuban Heron can be spotted on the latter.
- Cottage Pond at Sandy Point is a large pool of tropical vegetation. There are flocks of Flamingo at Flamingo Pond and Mud Hole Pond.
- You will find ospreys and their nesting sites on the adjacent Three Mary Cays, and a wide variety of other birds on the islands extensive nature reserves and sanctuaries.
- Iguanas on the nearby East Bays Cays are an outstanding example of the natural diversity of this green island.
Turks & Caicos is a world-class diving destination with excellent visibility (up to 200 feet), pristine reefs, tropical fish and marine life, and old shipwrecks to explore. The reef is relatively close to the beach which makes the beach dives a possibility.
From late December through April, the Humpback Whales pass by on their annual migration to the Mouchoir Bank, just 20 – 30 miles southeast of Turks & Caicos. During the summer, divers encounter Manta Rays.
The Provo Golf and Country Club is an 18-hole par 72 professionally designed golf course and is one of the top five golf courses in the Caribbean. Golf clubs are available for rent and dress code is enforced. On Grand Turk, there is a 9-hole golf course at Waterloo at Governor’s Beach.
Turks And Caicos Weather
From June to October, the average temperature here is between 85 and 90 degrees and the water temperature ranges from 82 to 84 degrees. This is typically the hurricane season for the islands. From November to May, the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees and the water temperature is about 74 to 78 degrees. A constant trade wind keeps the temperature moderate.
Grand Turk and South Caicos receive about 21 inches of rain annually, but as you go further west the average rainfall could increase to 40 inches. Turks and Caicos has just about 350 days of sunshine.
Where to Stay in Turks & Caicos
Privately owned Parrot Cay has the most exclusive and luxurious five-star hotels, Grand Turk is the most tranquil of the resort areas, and Providenciales, the most popular area, has the best variety of hotels and restaurants.
OSPREY BEACH HOTEL (Grand Turk; ospreybeachhotel.com; 649/946-2888), may be one of the most opulent on the island. A two-story building, the top floor rooms have cathedral ceilings, and all rooms have a private verandah overlooking the beach. The pool bar-restaurant serves drinks, tapas, and barbecue specials and a separate restaurant are on-site. Guests have golf privileges, a pool, and water sports.
ROYAL WEST INDIES RESORT (Providenciales; 649/946-5004 or 800/332-4203; royalwestindies.com), is a newer beachfront all-suite resort with elegant ocean view one and two-bedroom units. The resort sits on the beautiful Grace Bay Beach between Grace Bay Club and Club Med but is more affordable. On-site are two pools, beach access, snorkeling, boating, fishing, a bar, babysitting, car rental, and the Mango Reef restaurant and bar.
POINT GRACE (Providenciales; pointgrace.com; 649/924-7223 or 649/946-5096), is a British Colonial style boutique hotel overlooking Grace Bay. All rooms have large terraces, teak wood furnishings, hand-painted tiles in the bathrooms and Frette linens on the four-poster beds. Point Grace offers room service, some in-room hot tubs, kitchenettes, microwaves, cable TV, pool, spa, beach, snorkeling, windsurfing, boating, parasailing, fishing, bicycles, two bars, and a library.
CORAL GARDENS (Providenciales; coralgardens.com; 649/941-3713 or 800/532-8536), is a quiet beachfront resort near one of the most popular snorkeling reefs. There is an onsite dive shop, as well as car rental, boating, fishing and snorkeling. There are two restaurants for guests, fine dining at Coyaba or the casual Beach Café. European-style Serenity Spa offers numerous services and fitness classes.
TURKS HEAD HOTEL (Grand Turk; grand-turk.com; 649/946-2466) is a charming two-story hotel built in 1823. There are beautiful antiques, as well as more modern touches, so the hotel doesn’t feel too outdated. There is a bar and restaurant, nearby beach and guests have golf privileges.
PARROT CAY RESORT (Parrot Cay; parrot-cay.com; 649/946-7788), is a five-star resort with Mediterranean-style hillside buildings and seaside villas, some with private pools, and all with butler service and fully equipped kitchens and staff. The main dining room is a culinary treat, and the poolside restaurant serves delicious Asian dishes. Shambhala Spa is one of the best in the world. The resort can only be accessed by private boat from Leeward Marina.
ISLAND HOUSE (Grand Turk; islandhouse-tci.com; 649/946-1519), is a Mediterranean-style all-suites inn sitting up on a hill delivering amazing panoramic views from large porches. The palm-shaded pool has barbeque grills. And guests get golf carts to make their way around the resort. Fishing, bird watching, kayaking, sailing and diving are all popular activities here.
OCEAN CLUB & OCEAN CLUB WEST (Providenciales; oceanclubresorts.com; 649/946-5880 or 800/457-8787), are two beautiful resorts with lush landscaping, large ocean-front courtyard, and incredible pools. Guests have the use of both resorts, which are about a mile apart, and a free shuttle will transfer guests back and forth. The resort offers golf privileges, tennis courts, pools, gym, spa, beach, dive shop, snorkeling, boating, bar, and car rental.
TURKS & CAICOS CLUB (Providenciales; turksandcaicosclub.com; 800/269-0966 or 649/946-5800), was opened in 2002 to compete with the high-end resorts, and for some guests, it comes out on top due to the Club’s focus on intimacy and hospitality. The one and two-bedroom suites all have oversize verandahs and are well appointed in a safari theme, with raised four-poster beds draped in mosquito netting. There is a restaurant, pool, gym, beach, snorkeling, windsurfing, bicycles, and bar.
GRACE BAY CLUB (Providenciales; gracebayclub.com; 649/946-5050 or 800/946-5757), is a luxurious property that focuses on privacy and relaxation. The rooms were updated in 2003 with Spanish tile floors, beautiful wood furniture and rich fabrics. Every suite has a view of perfect Grace Bay. The oceanfront restaurant Anacaona serves delicious European – Caribbean dishes. Grace Bay also has golf, two tennis courts, two pools, hot tub, spa, beach, snorkeling, windsurfing, boating, parasailing, bicycles, and a bar.
PELICAN BEACH HOTEL (North Caicos; pelicanbeach.tc; 649/946-7112), is a small hotel on a stretch of a beautiful deserted beach. The rooms are spacious and have nice furnishings and are all finished with dark wood trim. The dining room serves wonderful food.
SIBONNÉ (Grace Bay, Providenciales; sibonne.com; 649/946-5547 or 800/528-1905), is a smaller boutique hotel close to the beach with balconies looking out onto the lush courtyard where hammocks hang in the trees. This quiet and relaxing hotel has a pool, restaurant, beach, boating, and bicycles.
Where to Eat in Turks & Caicos
REGAL BEGAL (Grand Turk; 649/946-2274), is an inexpensive local joint for cracked conch, minced lobster, and fish-and-chips.
SECRET GARDEN (Grand Turk; 649/946-2260), is at the Salt Raker Inn and offers local conch and fish dishes, grilled lobster tail, and nightly specials.
WATER’S EDGE (Grand Turk; 649/946-1680), is practically on the ocean. They serve conch in a number of ways; conch salad, cracked conch, conch Creole, curried conch, and conch po’boys. Burgers, pizza, sandwiches are also on the menu.
CALICO JACK’S (Grand Turk; 649/946-2466), is a tourist favorite. The menu is always changing but usually offers lobster, steaks, chicken curry, lamb shanks, pizza, and soups. There is a barbeque in the courtyard on Friday nights with live music by local musicians.
BACI RISTORANTÉ (Providenciales; 649/941-3044), is an intimate Italian restaurant with outdoor seating on the canal.
BANANA BOAT (Providenciales; 649/941-5706), is a busy restaurant and bar on the wharf. Fresh fish and tropical drinks are specialties.
MAGNOLIA WINE BAR & RESTAURANT (Providenciales; 649/941-5108), is a very successful establishment in Provo because of their expertly cooked dishes and excellent presentation. The menu ranges from French to Asian to Italian and Caribbean. The adjoining wine bar includes a great wine list.
TIKI HUT (Providenciales; 649/941-5341), is a popular spot at Turtle Cove Marina. Wednesday night is a $10 chicken-and-rib special, and they have a great pizza with white sauce on the menu.
SIMBA (Providenciales; 649/946-5588), is a gourmet restaurant in Grace Bay serving Asian and French cuisine with a Caribbean twist. Reservations are suggested.
ANACAONA (Providenciales; 649/946-5050), is a great spot for fine dining, although no shorts and no children under 12.