Turks and Caicos is a collection of more than 30 islands and cays (pronounced keys), which offer fun explorations of hidden beaches, historical ruins and nature preserves for the curious and adventurous traveler.
The main inhabited islands of the Turks and Caicos include: Providenciales, Grand Turk, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, South Caicos, Salt Cay. While all the islands have a similar topography and share the same spectacular sea, each brings its own unique attributes to the Turks and Caicos family of islands.
Providenciales is the main island for tourism and is the most-established island in terms of what it has to offer for visitors. The international airport (PLS) and marinas are located here as well as an 18-hole golf course, world-class resorts, restaurants, shops and spas, a range of activities and amazing beaches. This island has a little bit of all the best parts of Turks and Caicos in one place. However if time permits, it’s worth venturing out to visit some of its siblings to get a true feel of what the Turks and Caicos is really about.
Steeped in history and still the centre of the Turks and Caicos Government today, Grand Turk is the patriarch of the Turks and Caicos family and plays an important founding role both here and abroad. Grand Turk is where Christopher Columbus first arrived when discovering the new world and today, it’s where the hundreds of thousands of cruise ship visitors arrive. The island is ideal for history buffs and scuba enthusiasts as it houses an impressive museum and remarkable dive sites.
The farmer in the family is North Caicos, where the slight increase in rainfall it receives enables it to be the most lush and produce-bearing island in the clan. Many of the people from North are known for practicing bush medicines and herbal remedies, but the vibrant green landscapes are only part of the attraction – the island’s residents are friendly and welcoming and its wide, untouched beaches are the real lures. A must see is the Flamingo Pond where you’d want to flip out your binoculars to catch a look at these beautiful birds in their natural habitat.
Connected to North by a causeway, is Middle Caicos, the most ecologically-oriented island in the brood. While all of Turks and Caicos is blessed with a bounty of natural assets, Middle has the largest land area and boasts the richest environmental treasures including a unique and intricate cave system, historic Lucyan ruins and breath-taking beaches.
Marine life is what South Caicos is all about. Boat building and fishing have been the way of live in South Caicos for generations and not much has changed. The health and wealth of the marine life here is something taken very seriously and is also one reason the esteemed School for Field Studies decided to set up a campus here.
Situated close to Grand Turk and separated from South Caicos by a deep water passage is Salt Cay, the wise elder who has remained unchanged for generations. This is a very small island with only a hundred or so residents and a few guest houses. A visit to Salt Cay is truly a unique experience – almost like going back in time. In fact, it’s likely that Salt Cay gets more visits from mammals than people. Its deep waters are a virtual highway for migrating humpback whales in the winter.
Turks and Caicos is characterized by its tiny cays, which dot the turquoise sea like little flowers and offer visitors an exceptional experience either because of the extreme luxury or simplicity offered. Pine Cay is a small island located between Providenciales and North Caicos. It is home to a private club and resort called the Meridian Club. Guests love Pine Cay for its solitude – there are no phones and no cars and only a handful of private homes in addition to the dozen guest suites at the resort. Its beach is among the best in the world and a great place for a day trip by boat from Providenciales.
Parrot Cay is where the rich and famous play and relax on 1000 unspoilt acres at the luxurious Parrot Cay Resort. This exclusive, private island is known for its celebrity guests (some of which have homes here such as Bruce Willis and Donna Karan) and its award-winning holistic spa (COMO Shambhala Retreat). Unfortunately, the island is off limits to non-hotel guests or residents, but it can be fun to cruise by in a boat!
While there are numerous small, uninhabited islands waiting to be discovered and explored, there are two that stand out for their beauty and location. West Caicos is an 11 square mile island that has been uninhabitated for over a century and is situated just off the coast of Providenciales. West Caicos is the future home of a Ritz Carlton hotel and villas. It also boasts excellent dive sites because of its 7,000 foot sea wall which can be reached by operators on Providenciales with a short boat ride. The island also has a protected wildlife reserve, filled with pink roseate flamingoes, manta rays, sea turtles and other indigenous wildlife as well as a number of pristine beaches.
Approximately 50 miles south of Providenciales is Ambergris Cay, a 1,100-acre private island that can only be reached by jet or sea. Bone fishing enthusiasts love the shallow flats around Ambergris Cay and naturalists appreciate the fact that one third of the island is a nature reserve that includes an abundant array of trees, shrubs, reptiles, birds, insects and lagoons.
This is just a small glimpse of what the islands of the Turks and Caicos have in store for you. We invite you to visit each one and get to know of family of islands and experience their unique charm for yourself.