Turks and Caicos Islands Feature

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The best beaches in the world

The main reason most people come to Turks and Caicos is for the beautiful beaches, which make everyone's top-10 list. At least one of these beaches will make yours, too. These flat, dry islands with fine coral sand are surrounded by crystal-clear waters that appear almost neon blue. The water is so bright in some places that it glows. And when you think the beach can’t be better or prettier than the last one you were on, it is. If you're lucky, sometimes you might have a beautiful strand all to yourself.

And even amidst the general beauty, some places stand out. People come to Turks and Caicos to see Grace Bay: 12 miles (18 km) of uninterrupted neon blue, with no rocks or seaweed, and powder-fine sand that won't burn your feet even in the heat of the day. If you can break away from Grace Bay, you'll be rewarded with many other exquisite strands right on Provo. Malcolm’s Beach has even bluer water (you must brave the adventurous road that leads to it), and Pelican Beach has tons of bright-white conch shells you can bring back home. On any of the cays you may have the beaches to yourself. Half Moon Bay and Fort George are a photographer’s delight, with curves in the sand, shells, and palms. Pine Cay might have one of the best strands: no rocks, just a long, secluded, gorgeous beach. Mudjin Harbour on Middle Caicos is the most scenic, surrounded by towering cliffs and isolated coves; around one T-shape coral cliff, waves crash on one side while the other is as calm as glass; at high tide the water meets in the middle. The most beautiful beach of all is North Beach on Salt Cay; with its perfect-color water and clean soft sand, you'll never want to leave.

The best deep-sea fishing

A Turks and Caicos vacation is all about being on the water. From the bright turquoise waters to the beautiful mangroves to the flats of the Caicos Bank, you can have your pick of watery environments. And one of the best ways to experience the best of Turks and Caicos is to take one of the many fishing excursions. Deep-sea, bone-, or bottom fishing are your choices, and a boat will allow you to see otherwise unreachable parts of the islands.

Bonefishing is exciting. Bonefish live in the shallow flats of the smaller cays and Middle Caicos. You'll get an up-close look at mangroves and the wildlife. The fishing itself is challenging and exciting. Your casting technique and endurance will be tested by the bonefish—they're relentless fighters. The key to a great trip is a great guide, and Arthur Dean at Silver Deep is one of the best. His extensive knowledge of the Turks and Caicos flats and his respect for the wildlife and the environment will leave you feeling that your money was well spent.

Excellent diving

With the third-largest barrier reef in the world, dramatic walls that drop from 20 feet to more than 6,000 feet, and mostly sunny days shining on crystal-clear, calm waters, the Turks and Caicos are a diver's dream destination. The steep sea walls close to the shore usually prevent waves from churning the water, and sea creatures thrive on these reefs. The visibility is consistently some of the best in the world, averaging 100 to 200 feet on most days. The Turks and Caicos were put on the map as a dive destination, and these waters are still one of the great places in the world to dive.

Each island in the archipelago boasts excellent dive spots. Providenciales has terrific reefs at Northwest Point. West Caicos has Spanish galleon shipwrecks and sudden drop-offs that are so deep they appear to be purple from the surface. Grand Turk has dramatic walls close to shore, so you can spend more time diving and less time reaching the sites. Salt Cay not only has sections of pristine reef that you will have virtually all to yourself, but the immediate area has excellent wreck diving and offers one of the best opportunities in the world to swim with whales in season. The best of the best is probably South Caicos, which claims to have the best visibility in the world, not to mention miles of untouched reefs waiting to be discovered. Expect to see sharks, dolphins, colorful reef fish, stingrays, and lobsters wherever you dive.

Great snorkeling

If you're not a certified diver, then the next-best thing (and perhaps the very best thing for most) is to take a half- or full-day snorkeling excursion to one of the many uninhabited cays and secluded coves. There are many companies to choose from, and all the trips can give you a great experience. Some trips are on catamarans, some on powerboats. Some companies allow you to dive for conch, some to snorkel for sand dollars. Some boats stop at Iguana Island to see the iguanas, some stop to let you snorkel on the reef, some stop to find the cannons in the water. But all stop on one of the cays so you can experience a quiet, secluded beach.

If you want a more private experience, then have a boat drop you off on one of many secluded beaches for the day, leaving you with a cooler full of food and drink, along with beach chairs, umbrellas, and snorkel gear. Then you can snorkel directly from the beach. You'll often be alone. Half Moon Bay is one of the most pristine spots for this kind of beach day, with sugar-white sand that lends itself to excellent swimming, brilliant snorkeling, and opportunities to walk and explore on land. Limestone cliffs frame the cove, and iguanas are the only residents. If you budget for only one trip, then go here.

A new island every day

With eight inhabited islands, you can visit a different island every day of your weeklong stay in the Turks and Caicos. From Provo’s Walkin Marina, you can take the daily ferry over to North Caicos, rent a car, and go on a quest to find secluded beaches. If you rent a car in North Caicos, you can drive over the causeway to Middle Caicos to visit limestone caves or hike the trails next to its glorious coves. During whale-watching season (mid-January to mid-April), you can hop over to Salt Cay, where whales get so close you can reach out and touch them. One of the best day trips is to Grand Turk, with its laid-back charm and old Caribbean architecture.

Air Turks and Caicos offers early-morning flights to Grand Turk that return the same day. It’s only a 30-minute flight to the tiny island, and touring everything Grand Turk has to offer will leave plenty of time for the beach. You can stroll down Front Street to see its original clapboard buildings, and say hi to the wild horses and roosters that share the walk with you. You can stop at the beautiful Anglican church with its bright white walls and even brighter red gate and walk past the bright-pink government house. Don’t forget to stop at the excellent museum. There's a lighthouse at the tip of the island. You can swim with peaceful stingrays on an excursion to Gibbs Cay. If there's a cruise ship at the port you can shop at the Ron Jon surf shop, Piranha Joe’s, and the largest Margaritaville in the world. Stop at the Sand Bar on the way back to the airport for a drink on the deck over the water and get to know the locals, then return to Provo in time for a delicious dinner.

Updated: 12-2013

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