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Turks and Caicos Holiday Planning Guide

Known as the location of one of the longest coral reefs in the world, Turks and Caicos offer scenic white-sand beaches, calm waters, and warm, sunny weather. Apart from the upscale resorts in Providenciales, which is known for its award-winning beach, the rest of the scenery remains mostly pristine and uncrowded. On a trip to Turks and Caicos, you can spend days lazing on a deserted beach, go island hopping, and enjoy a range of fun activities, from world-class snorkeling and diving, to hiking, sailing, deep-sea fishing, and bird-watching.

Places to Visit in Turks and Caicos

Islands and Towns of Turks and Caicos

Grand Turk: Historical sites and landmarks from the 18th and 19th centuries line the historic center of the main town, with museums, inns, and governmental buildings joining the modern developments of the territory's capital city.

Middle Caicos: With long sandy beaches, limestone cliffs, and coral reefs along the coast, as well as pre-Columbian archeological sites and cave systems inland, there is no shortage of sights and scenery on Middle Caicos to enrich your Turks and Caicos holiday.

Salt Cay: This island is known for its history in regional salt production and underwater marine environments--it also sits on the annual migratory route of humpback whales.

Providenciales: With idyllic beaches lapped by turquoise waters and backed by hotel resorts, the third largest island of Turks and Caicos is known for its landscape of prickly pear cactuses, which dot its hills and ridges .

Cockburn Town: This town contains a national museum that displays the history of the islands through exhibits dedicated to shipwrecks, slavery, salt production, and many other topics.

Popular Turks and Caicos Tourist Attractions

Grace Bay: Known for the island's longest beach that stretches for almost 20 km (12 mi), the bay is home to white sands, blue waters, and fantastic diving among a coral reef rich in marine life.

Thursday Fish Fry: Feast your taste buds on a variety of traditional island specialties as local restaurants prepare their most popular dishes in an outdoor setting with dancing and music.

Gibbs Cay: This uninhabited island serves as the perfect destination for diving and snorkeling.

Taylor Bay Beach: This secluded stretch of sand remains a tranquil paradise bathed by shallow waters allowing visitors to venture a long way out--it's the perfect spot to relax on your Turks and Caicos trip.

Chalk Sound: Explore the mesmerizing blue waters of Chalk Sound by kayak or paddleboard, or take a guided snorkeling tour to explore the marine world waiting just beneath the water's surface.

SunRay Beach: Snorkel in the clear, calm waters off this popular beach, where you can spot sea turtles and tropical fish or participate in a range activities like diving, banana boat riding, and surfing.

Bight Reef: Home to a variety of marine life, including turtles, rays, barracudas, and smaller tropical fish, this coral reef is a popular destination with snorkelers.

Sapodilla Bay: Kissed by shallow waters, this 275 m (900 ft) stretch of beach provides visitors with the opportunity to pass time by relaxing on soft sand, snorkeling, or dining on local Caribbean cuisine at a beachside restaurant.

Mudjin Harbor: The 4.8 km (3 mi) coastline is home to a variety of natural sights, including beaches, elaborate limestone formations, hiking trails, and open caves, just waiting to be explored on your Turks and Caicos vacation.

Caicos Conch Farm: Learn about the harvesting process of conches and an experimental form of fish farming at this working farm.

Planning a Turks and Caicos Vacation with Kids

Places to Visit in Turks and Caicos with Kids

Traveling with kids can be a daunting task, but a Turks and Caicos vacation can be anything but.

The island of Providenciales is home to lots of idyllic beaches, resorts, and natural sights--all of which make it suitable with tourists arriving with toddlers or teens in tow.

Day trips can be taken from the island to Middle or North Caicos, where visitors can explore natural wilderness and diverse local wildlife.

Things to Do in Turks and Caicos with Kids

If staying on Providenciales, Grace Bay is the perfect spot to let the kids frolic in the shallow turquoise waters, or make a sandcastle on the white, sandy shore.

The outlying reef protects the area from waves and helps ensure a stress-free experience on your Turks and Caicos trip.

Caicos Conch Farm is also found on Providenciales--there, children can learn about and interact with conches, providing them with an unforgettable experience and lots of memories to take away from the trip.

Little Water Cay, about 19 km (12 mi) from Providenciales, serves as an iguana sanctuary. Nearby, the tidal flats of North Caicos are home to flocks of pink flamingoes.

If your Turks and Caicos itinerary includes time on Grand Turk, then a visit to Historic Lighthouse Grand Turk will provide scenic views and a history lesson on the region's maritime history.

Tips for a Family Vacation in Turks and Caicos

A selection of resorts on Turks and Caicos offer kid-friendly activities sure to keep the family busy throughout each day of your vacation.

Depending on what you wish for your holiday in Turks and Caicos, your children can spend time on arts and crafts, lazing in and around a resort swimming pool, or take part in other water-related endeavors under the supervision of a licensed instructor.

To see more than just the resort pool, renting a car is easy and will allow the family to explore other, more remote and less touristy island areas.

Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Turks and Caicos

Cuisine of Turks and Caicos

During your Turks and Caicos vacation, it is imperative to try the signature delicacy of the islands, the conch. Most local restaurants serve this giant sea snail in several ways, so you can try everything from fried conch fritters to mixed conch salads.

For a more authentic dining experience, it is said that the less populated islands of North, Middle, and South Caicos and Salt Cay provide dishes that are closer to the roots of traditional Turks and Caicos cuisine.

Besides various conch variations, you can try many other seafood specialties made with fish or lobsters. One example of authentic fish-based cuisine is pan-poached grouper, served with peas, rice, and mixed greens.

Shopping in Turks and Caicos

You'll be able to shop for everything from luxury items to handmade local crafts while on holiday in Turks and Caicos.

One of the most popular items purchased as a souvenir is a conch shell, but there are some restrictions on exporting them, so double check what if any customs obligations you might have back home.

For other authentic handmade items, visit North and Middle Caicos, where you can buy traditional baskets, hats, dolls, and model sailboats that are distributed by the Middle Caicos Co-op, an organization representing over sixty local artisans.

Some island artisans also produce jewelry utilizing semi-precious stones, conch pearls, and sea glass, all of which are authentic and memorable gifts.

If in need of sporting equipment for your water- or land-based adventures, go to One Stop Sporting Shop on North Caicos. For the perfect trinket or souvenir, head to Mamas Gift Shop on Providenciales.

Know Before You Go on a Trip to Turks and Caicos

Interesting Facts About Turks and Caicos

● The world's third largest barrier reef system can be found here, along with extraordinary diving sites

● Turks and Caicos remain the location of the world's only conch farm

● No lakes or rivers can be found on Turks and Caicos

● Although it is a British territory, the country uses American currency

Things You Should NOT Do in Turks and Caicos

A few things that you should avoid during your Turks and Caicos trip include not appearing nude anywhere--nudity is illegal even on beaches.

Refrain from discussing sensitive political issues with friends or strangers while there--it's the best way to avoid causing an uncomfortable situation or appearing ignorant and insensitive.

Make sure you dress in presentable clothing when dining out (no beach garments, flip-flops, or sandals)--locals care a great deal about personal appearance and always dress up for going out.

Holidays & Festivals in Turks and Caicos

While small in size, the country is rich in holidays, events, and festivals that will make your Turks and Caicos holiday memorable.

At the end of July or beginning of August each year, Turks and Caicos Music and Cultural Festival allows visitors to hear a range of acts playing hip-hop, soul, and other types of music.

Every Easter Monday, the Kite Flying Competition on Providenciales, North Caicos, and Grand Turk dots the sky with kites of all shapes and sizes. Easter egg hunts and family-friendly games are also hosted during the event.

Valentine's Day Cup held at Bambara Beach on Middle Caicos is a regatta of model remote-controlled boats that has fixed itself into the annual festival calendar and enjoyed by both visitors and locals.

For a taste of local food, the annual Conch Festival celebrates this most popular delicacy. Held on the last weekend of November on Providenciales, the main event includes tastings of various seafood dishes and a conch-blowing competition.

Useful Turks and Caicos Travel Tips

Common Greetings in Turks and Caicos

You will be able to travel around on your Turks and Caicos vacation with ease as the main language spoken on the islands is English, with Haitian Creole and Spanish spoken to some degree.

The locals believe in respect and polite manners, and friendly greetings such as "hello" and "good afternoon" are expected. A handshake among strangers and acquaintances is acceptable, while hugs and kisses are common between close friends.

Climate of Turks and Caicos

Although arid in comparison to other islands in the Caribbean, Turks and Caicos benefit from a year-round tropical climate.

Summertime (June through October) is generally quite humid, with average temperatures falling between 29 C (85 F) and 32 C (90 F). Trade winds during these months help keep the humidity lower than expected. Monsoon rains and thunderstorms are common during this period.

From November to May (dry season), the average temperature across the region drops to between 27 C (80 F) and 29 C (84 F). During the middle of winter, daytime temperatures can drop to between 21 C (70 F) and 27 C (80 F).

An average Turks and Caicos year has 350 days of sunshine. That's a guarantee that you'll have beautiful weather for your Turks and Caicos trip, no matter what time of year you visit.

Transportation in Turks and Caicos

Getting into and out of the country is easy with flights in and out of Providenciales International Airport. Once on the islands and ready to explore the various sights on your Turks and Caicos itinerary, you can rent a car.

There is no established public transportation network on the islands, so taxis are often the only alternative to renting a car. This can prove expensive, particularly if you enter into an unlicensed taxi--drivers of those often double or triple the actual fare.

Cycling is a common way to get around Grace Bay, as flat paved roads provide access to a variety of destinations within the area.

If you wish to island hop during your Turks and Caicos vacation, various private boat companies charter services between the islands.

Tipping in Turks and Caicos

During your Turks and Caicos holiday, you'll often see a 10 percent service charge added to hotel and rental property bills. Restaurants may or may not include this charge in the total, so it's wise to ask before making a payment.

Tipping rates are similar to those of North America, but ultimately depend on your level of satisfaction--use your discretion if and how much to reward exceptional service.