turks-and-caicos-islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands, archipelagos comprised of 40 low-lying and mostly undeveloped islands boast miles of white powdery beaches, superb diving, accommodations, and gourmet restaurants. Much of the underwater excitement is found off the Turks, where wall dives are outstanding, and along West Caicos and Provo. Sport fishing is a big international draw, and the mangrove salt flats offer a prime habitat for bonefish.

Providenciales (known as Provo) is the hub for tourism. The island’s crowning glory is Grace Bay, a 12 mile stretch of velvety sand. Also on Provo, bird watchers enjoy acres of inland lakes frequented by white herons and pink flamingos. Just a dozen miles from Provo is North Caicos, which receives the most rainfall, making it notably greener with tall trees and lush vegetation. The southern part of North Caicos is swampy, with broad estuaries that are home to a vast colony of West Indian flamingoes. North Caicos is popular with vacation-home buyers, especially around Whitby, with its stunning seven-mile beach.

On Middle Caicos, you can sign up with a local guide and head for a settlement called Conch Bar where a labyrinth of caves are home to limestone formations and resident bat populations. Elsewhere, recent archaeological excavations have uncovered ancient Lucayan artifacts dating back more than 1,200 years. Uninhabited West Caicos and East Caicos are lined with fine beaches accessible by boat, and South Caicos was once a salt-producing island. Today it has a fishing port and a yachting center, along with miles of deserted beaches.

The capital and center of government lies east of the Columbus Passage on Grand Turk, where visitors can tour several restored churches and the Turks and Caicos National Museum. From January to March, visitors flock to nearby Salt Cay to spot humpback whales on their annual migration to the Silver Banks off Hispaniola.

AIRPORTS/GATEWAYS/FLYING TIMES: Airports: GDT: Grand Turk. PLS: Providenciales (XSC). Gateway/Flying Times: Atlanta 2.5 hours. Boston: 3 hours. Charlotte: 3 hours. Miami: 1 hour. 20 minutes. Nassau: 2 hours. New York: 4 hours. Grand Turk to Provo: 25 minutes.

CLIMATE: Summer: high/low 90/83 degrees F. Winter: high/low 75/70 degrees F. Avg. humidity – 35%. Avg rainfall 21 inches. Approx sunrise: Summer 0600. Winter 0630. Approx sunset: Summer 1900. Winter 1700.

DINING: Restaurants available: International. Local, Chinese, Caribbean, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, French. Tip where no gratuities are stated.

LANGUAGE: English.

NIGHTLIFE: Discos. Nightclubs. Dinner/Dances. Live Music. Casino. Festivals throughout the year.

SIGHTSEEING: Grand Turk: Governor’s Beach. Victoria Public Library. Lighthouse. Whale watching between January and April. Turks and Caicos National Museum on Front Street. The cultural history of the Islands, their discovery and the impact of early European settlement, natural and political history, and the role played in twentieth century space exploration are all recorded at the museum. Turks Inn. Waterloo Governor’s House. Governor’s Beach. Middle Caicos: Mudjin Harbour Beach. Bambarra Beach, craft demonstrations, sail boats races and the Caves. Salt Cay: The remains of the Salt Industry Sites – like the White House, North Shore Beach, underwater shipwreck and whale watching between January and April. Provo: The Hole. Conch Farm. Rock Carvings – made by shipwrecked sailors on Sapodilla Hill. Island Tour is recommended. North Caicos: Cottage Pond. Wades Green. Plantation ruins. Flamingo Pond. Island Tour recommended. South Caicos: Boiling Hole. Cockburn Harbour. Lobster Plants. Long Cay.

TO FIND OUT MORE: Please visit www.turksandcaicostourism.com