Geography, Flora, and Fauna of the Turks and Caicos Islands
The landscape in the Turks and Caicos is relatively flat. In fact, the highest point of land is Flamingo Hill on uninhabited East Caicos at 157 feet. It is also quite dry; the chain experiences the least amount of rainfall of any island nation in the Caribbean region. The beautiful beaches that encircle the islands are made up of coral stone, crushed and ground into sand as soft as powder as it makes its way over the reef into the quieter, more protected waters. Its pearly white appearance creates a stunning contrast to the indescribable hues of the water.
French Cay is a bird-watcher’s dream, protected as a national park. Here you can see dozens of white-cheeked pintail, reddish egrets, and ospreys. The country's national bird, the osprey, can be seen on all the islands, but osprey nests are easier to see at Three Mary Cays on North Caicos or at Splitting Rock on Provo. Bright pink flamingos can be spotted on some islands, especially at Flamingo Pond on North Caicos, the pond on West Caicos, and at Provo's only golf course.
The official national plant is the Turk’s head cactus, so named because of its shape. The best place to see fields of them is on Ambergris Cay. Silver palms grow naturally in the scrub, adding a tropical flair to beaches such as Half Moon Bay, but the trees are most numerous on West Caicos. North Caicos is considered the “garden” island, as it receives the most rainfall of the islands and is greener as a result. The cays all have small limestone cliffs that have formed from years of ocean waves.
Huge blue land crabs come out in the spring after rains. You're more likely to spot one on the sparsely populated islands of North and Middle Caicos, although they can be seen on Provo, too. The queen conchs that thrive in the flats between Provo and Little Water Cay are an important part of the islands' economies. The Turks and Caicos have the largest population of conch in the world, and conch is the most important food on these islands. Conch diving and deep-sea fishing both require fishing permits. The most important indigenous species of the Turks and Caicos is the rock iguana. They're mostly found at Little Water Cay, which is also known as Iguana Island. So beloved are these iguanas that Little Water Cay has been declared a national park. Excursion companies will make a stop to view them.
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